Title: Goodnight Punpun Vol. 2
Author: Inio Asano
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Slice of Life, Drama
Publication Date: June 21, 2016
The second volume of Goodnight Punpun continues the story of a young boy named Punpun and his family who are depicted as little birds. In this volume, we follow Yuichi on his journey to self-acceptance. Here, we learn more about the seemingly lazy uncle who has moved in to substitute for Mr. Punyama. Meanwhile, life continues to stack the deck against Punpun and his family, leaving us to wonder what will happen next?
The first volume took me by complete surprise. I didn’t expect something like that at all out of a book with a title like Goodnight Punpun. Knowing the kind of manga VIZ prints and having no prior knowledge of this series, I thought this would have been a story suitable for children, but I was completely wrong on that front. Underneath all of the brash dialogue and dark scenarios, you realize that this is a story about life and volume two of the series further backed up that notion.
There are two big stories here in volume two with the first focusing on Punpun and and his crush Aiko. Punpun suspects that Aiko has begun to date his friend Yaguchi. Yaguchi and Punpun are both in the badminton club and on the precipice of a match that would send Yaguchi into the prefectural tournament, Yaguchi states if he wins that match, he will take Aiko for himself, but if he loses, Punpun can have her.
The other big story focuses on Punpun’s uncle Yuichi. Yuichi is at a crossroads in his relationship with his girlfriend who wants to push the topic of marriage onto him, but Yuichi discovers Midori, a 25-year old girl who has dreams of owning a coffee shop. Midori becomes the catalyst that gives us a very dark and morbid look into Yuichi’s past and why he decided to stop teaching pottery. In fact, the situation turned from something lewd into something that was downright shocking. You also feel some sympathy for Yuichi, but at the same time you also see just how pathetic he is as well. It’s a weird feeling to describe because you don’t feel that he is pathetic due to the stuff he had to go through, but you feel that his life has ended up in a pathetic state… if that makes sense.
Overall, I loved the stories in this as they remind you that life isn’t full of rainbows and gummy bears. We tend to hold each other’s hands through life and pretend we live in this plastic society, but Goodnight Punpun is that wake-up call about the realities of life and how grim things can actually be.
In this volume, Yuichi is definitely the star. While we still get a front-row seat to Punpun’s life problems, we finally get to see more of his uncle. As Josh mentioned, this volume follows two major stories: Yuichi’s background and Punpun’s deteriorating relationship with Aiko. Since youngsters have one-track minds, it’s not unexpected that Punpun cannot get over losing Aiko to his friend, Yaguchi. To make matters worse, Yaguchi is athletic and popular. He is determined to win. He also has a good sense of awareness and acknowledges that Punpun still loves Aiko. This causes him to make a bet – if he wins his next match, Aiko is his forever. If not, she’s open game for Punpun.
The majority of the pages follow Yuichi and his dark past. Apparently Yuichi was very different in his younger years, holding a job as a pottery teacher and maintaining a long-term relationship with a girlfriend. These are two attributes you can’t imagine the present Yuichi having. Eventually Yuichi meets a younger woman in a cafe, who happens to be the same nurse who watched Punpun’s mother in the hospital in the previous volume. She pursues Yuichi and ushers in his backstory, of which we learn a great deal.
Punpun didn’t get much development, but at the same time, he did. The way he acts and thinks hasn’t changed all that much, but I did pick up on one thing. The older Punpun gets, he is drawn and depicted differently. He started off as a clean drawing of a little bird and now his character art is filled with dissonance. His lines are a mess, his figure is distorted and I wondered just what that is. I came to the conclusion that his character design is a representation of how Punpun feels and the more distorted and rigid his drawing becomes, the more his mind and thoughts are filled with turmoil. If you go back and read his thoughts throughout the first two volumes, you can see the angst continue to build and the more it does, the more distorted his appearance becomes. I thought that was a nice touch!
Yuichi gets the majority of the development here. He moved in with Punpun and his mom after his dad was locked up for domestic violence back in volume one, but now we get to peer inside the character and experience his turbulent past. His past was rather sad, yet, disturbing and at the end of the volume, just when you think Yuichi has it all sorted out, it appears he relapses. It makes you wonder if there is any hope for him as it seems no matter how many times he tries to dig himself out of hit situation, he just ends up right back in it. Because of that, I did find the character a bit on the annoying side because his life just seems like a rollercoaster. I actually start to wonder if it’s best to just leave this character to his own devices and late fate sort it out.
This volume did a wonderful job of making me want to read more. The stories were detailed and full of emotion and the humor was as dark and as crude as you would come to expect from this series. The best humor comes from God as you can truly feel the love he has for Punpun in this volume. Goodnight Punpun is a series that just paints a picture of the grim realities of life and if you want something that is dark and twisted, but yet, sends a message straight into your heart, then this is a must-read series!
This volume was very touching to me – it confirms my suspicions that Goodnight Punpun is intended to show the brutal side of life despite the cartoonish art-style. In fact, the style really works for this series because the content is so serious and often heart-breaking at times that it would be hard to get through the massive volumes in one sitting. Despite the nature of the story being told here, I find Goodnight Punpun very enjoyable. This story really shows life for what it is – there are no flowers and rainbows to be found here. Punpun is a child born into a family of alcoholics and mental illness. When you realize the alternative to his abusive father is a suicidal uncle, you truly feel that the story here is authentic and could be the real life of any child you come across.
Goodnight Punpun is a serious story told in a light-hearted way. I recommenced checking it out because it’s a roller coaster worth riding. I’m looking forward to reading the next volume.
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This item was provided for review by Viz Media