Graphic Novel/Manga Review #1 – Goodnight Punpun, by Inio Asano

Hey!

I don’t only read typical novels! I have a special love for graphic novels, and even some mangas. So, I decided to start talking about the ones I read. Expect some reviews of these different books from time to time!

Here’s the first one. A manga series called Goodnight Punpun, by Inio Asano.

 Warning: These books contain violence and explicit sexual behaviours.

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Covers credits to Shogakukan.

I couldn’t talk about a manga without showing you some images right? Here are the covers of all 13 volumes of Goodnight Punpun. Expect more during the post.

These books are by Inio Asano, a japanese writer and illustrator who accomplished general recognition with Solanin, which I’ll talk about in another review. His stories are known for trying to be as realistic as possible, going from philosophical, to naive, to horror and extreme violence.

Goodnight Punpun (jap. Oyasumi Punpun) follows Onodera Punpun from elementary school until his early 20s. He (and his family) are represented in a bird like shape. It’s all metaphorical of course but it’s emphasised when Punpun’s shape changes as he ages. His mental state is so powerful that it influences his outside. We see his struggles with his problematic family, his love interests, his friends and overall process of growing up.

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Here’s all the forms of Punpun. This amazing fanart was made by Felica Choo.

I haven’t quite read something like these books. It isn’t just about how beautiful the drawings are. It’s a full journey of discovery and dealing with tons of different problems. I can’t say that all the events are completely realistic but you sure can take something out of them. There are tons of different characters (and different stages to their lives) but none of them seem flat. They all have their fucked up minds, their problems, their interests; that something that makes them unique. I can relate with Punpun the most. He suffers from a lot of self-loathing and depression. He’s just a guy filled with demons, trying to cope with them while trying to seem as normal as possible. He bottles up everything inside, so he’s miserable most of the times. But all he wants is happiness and being loved, nothing more. That’s so simple but the path to that isn’t easy at all.

I love Goodnight Punpun so much that I might not have a very objective opinion about it. It took me almost a year to finish the series. I went through a lot of things during that time and it helped me in some ways. I also had to take long breaks between volumes because they totally messed with me emotionally. I saw myself and my life in those pages and it devastated me. I’ve always had trouble with growing up and becoming an adult. These books show all my fears in those pages. But what’s great about this story is that it doesn’t try to give you formulas to end your sadness and be ok with the fact that life isn’t easy. It just shows you Punpun’s experience and how he works himself to happiness. Or simple stability.

The author has not only a great drawing style but the writing is also flawless. Sometimes things get very weird but you don’t mind. The feelings and words are so real that the surrealistic events are no big deal. I love how it’s definitely manga but you can still get a graphic novel feeling. The story could be written just with words but the drawings complement it. They both work in a perfect marriage. This is another reason why I love these series so much.

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As you might have noticed, I keep these books and characters very close to my heart. This was not a very easy post to write but I hope that my love for this work comes across to you guys. I wish there was a way to get all the volumes but I can only find copies that are not in english, which is a total bummer.

I recommend this most vividly. Even if you don’t particularly enjoy mangas or graphic novels, this one is so different that you could probably end up liking it! I know that it takes a lot of effort, since it’s a very long story but the ending it’s worth it all, believe me.

Here’s one of the many beautiful things said during the books:

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Thank you for reading.

Cat.

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