Goodnight Punpun Volume 3 Review

punpunTitle: Goodnight Punpun Volume 3
Author: Inio Asano
Publisher: Viz Media
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 440
Genre: Slice of Life, Drama
Publication Date: September 20, 2016

 At long last life seems to be looking up for Punpun, who was accepted into the best high school in town. He’s doing his mightiest to focus on school so he can forget his family. With Uncle Yuichi missing without a trace, Punpun gets a little to close with Midori. Even Ms. Onodera has been making an effort to look better and live life her way. Unfortunately, the good times come to a halt when a family tragedy strikes, leaving Punpun without the closure he needs to move on from his mother’s abuse.

The Story

spoilers

Josh’s Thoughts:

The third volume of Goodnight Punpun was very profound in many ways.  While the lewdness of the writing was still present, I felt that it was dialed back just a tad in order to focus on the realities of life. The third volume is broken down into four major stories with a bit of a side story thrown in.

The volume opens up with Punpun getting accepted into his high school of choice.  This is coupled with him spending time with Midori who is still worried about Punpun’s uncle Yuichiro.  Yuichiro went missing after his attempted suicide in the last volume and has not come home since. Midori ends up having sex with Punpun as a “gift” for getting into high school.  At this point, Punpun is starting to develop in his character, which I will touch upon in the next section.

The next story takes the focus off of Punpun and allows up to catch up with Seki and Shimizu, two of Punpun’s friends.  Seki is spending a lot of time thinking about life and humanity while Shimizu still seems to be a bit carefree.  Seki says that he needs money so he changes the phone number on a poster that someone else put up for handyman services.  A man reads the poster and stops the two of them, asking them if they would like to do some cleaning.  They agree, but as they do, Shimizu’s phone rings and Seki answers it. It appears they have another job so they end up each taking one.  Shimizu is stuck with the task of cleaning a house of an old man who died and decomposed before anyone found him. Sickened by the thought of having to do that, he declined the job.  Seki’s job, on the other hand, was a bit more profound… Seki was asked to murder someone!  A woman asked him to do so and Seki, still in his philosophical mindset, agrees to do the job.  He tails his target, but in the end he is unable to complete the job.

The third story has to deal with Punpun getting his first girlfriend.  Her name is Kanie and she met Punpun at a party he was invited to.  The two go on a date to Kanie’s sister’s art exhibit, but they arrive early so they end up passing time by going to an arcade.  Punpun is trying so hard to make an impression that Kanie sees through it and when Punpun gets the nerve to ask her out, Punpun is rejected and sent into a spiral of depression.  This story also ties into the fourth story which is the passing of Punpun’s mother.  She ended up having a hole in her lung in which she needed surgery for. The surgery was a success, but during the tests, they discovered she had cancer that had already advanced into the late stages and it could not be treated.

All in all, the volume really drove home the various peaks and valleys of life.  It showed you the highs and lows of things that can happen on a day to day basis all while putting a messed up spin on it. Out of the three volumes I have reviewed so far, this one was, hands down, the best one yet.  It draws you in and makes you connect with the characters on so many different levels.  The story isn’t just riddled with dark humor like it was in the first volume.  It was toned down a tad to help bring the reader deeper into an already dark world.  The most profound part of the story was when Punpun had to write his thoughts on Kanie’s sister’s painting of the Milky Way.  The way he described his life up until this point was very deep and thought-provoking.

Liz’s Thoughts:

This volume was mind blowing. I thought that the last two volumes would leave me prepared for the rest of the series. I believed I figured out Asano’s formula for writing. I was pretty sure nothing worse could happen to Punpun and his fucked up family since his life already sucks a lot. Nope! Not the case.

Like Josh mentioned, there are several stories running through this volume at once – all of which involve moral dilemmas that test the characters. I’m not going to go into a summary because Josh already covered that, so I’m going to just dive in with what I took out from the stories.

Punpun gets raped. Yes, Midori calls it a gift for getting into high school but Punpun did not consent to that. This was the first shocker in volume 3. I felt like this scene really painted Midori in a bad light that I couldn’t see before. I thought she was a good person who was just working hard to pursue her dream. Instead I learned that she is manipulative. Just the way this scene jumps out at you on the page is horrifying. I was shocked.

Seki and Shimizu are looking for money, so they go out looking for odd-jobs. While Shimizu’s job is pretty standard fare for a high schooler looking for quick cash, Seki is tasked with something a bit more… adult. Seki is given some decent money to carry out the task of hitman. Ultimately he decides not to be a murderer and gets to keep the cash. I liked this because while Seki and Shimizu seem to be hoodlums up to no good, they clearly have a moral compass.

Punpun and Kanie have a moment together that is short lived. Kanie truly is the good girl I thought Midori was in the previous volume. Punpun takes her on a date at the art museum to look at her sister’s art exhibit. As Josh mentioned, Punpun puts on a character to whom he thinks Kanie will be attracted so he can “stick it in”. Instead he ends up looking like a uninteresting ass. Just when it seems like he can’t be more out of place at the museum, he sees a painting that takes him back to the night he was looking at the stars with Papa Punyama. Punpun concludes that the artist must have been looking at the same sky on the same night and responds in a deeply reflective manner. He writes several pages worth of emotions and thoughts in the artist’s notebook.

And finally, we see the end of Ms. Onodera, who I think became a prostitute? It’s hard to tell since she is very open about her sexuality. It’s also known that she hated being married because she wanted to sleep around so she could just have friends with benefits. Either way, she looks significantly better here than she did when married to Papa Punyama. Somewhere between sexing and being under a surgical knife, she decides that she really does love Punpun. When she discovers that she has cancer and very little time is left, she rolls back to her original feelings and declares that she hates him. That’s a great feeling to leave your surviving relatives with.

Characters

Josh’s Thoughts:

There was a lot of character development throughout the series so I will start by talking about the main character, Punpun.

Punpun is now in high school so we see his character transform from something that was sweet and innocent in the first two volumes to someone who is still trying to fit into the world, but at a point where they are more aware of everything going on, if that makes sense.  Punpun had radical, childish dreams in the beginning, but now h eis thinking a bit more maturely, but on the same token, he is a budding teenager and so the thoughts of sex are invading his mind and, at times, are clouding his judgment.  When Punpun met Kanie, he was aroused for the majority of their date. He wanted to impress Kanie so much all for the sake of sleeping with her, but Kanie saw through it and hit the nail on the head stating that Punpun loved himself more than other people.

Even though people will read that and take it at face value, it actually makes you recall WHY Punpun only loves himself.  His father was a drunk and abusive towards his mother. His mother even admits that she doesn’t love her own son until she is on her death bed, his uncle skipped out and became suicidal and the one person he connected with, Midori, used him for a one time lay and then ended up marrying Yuichiro, betraying Punpun’s feelings.  Who else was supposed to love Punpun other than himself?  It was kind of a situation that he was forced into.

Yuichiro’s development happened behind the scenes in a retcon sort of way.  We hardly saw him throughout the volume, but when we did, he was back to his old tricks of trying to commit suicide.  This time, by having a cab driver bring him to the docks so he could drown himself, but the cab driver told Yuichiro his life’s story, realizing what was happening, and it ended up causing Yuichiro to rethink things.  Right after Midori had her affair with Punpun, Yuichiro ended up showing back up and the two of them got married.  Yuichiro, while still depressed, now has Midori to help counterbalance the darkness that resides inside of him.

Finally, Punpun’s mother saw some development as she finally admitted that she loved her son, but not before telling Punpun how she truly felt.  Not that it had to be stated as Punpun already knew, but it was kind of a last moment scenario where she knew that she had this one final chance to say what was on her mind before her time ran out. Despite this, we got to spend a lot of time with Punpun’s mother in this volume just to see how far off she had really strayed.  She sent Punpun away one night just so she could have sex with a man who was already married.  This was where she ended up having trouble breathing which lead to her medical problems. It was a character that you simply despised and through her you actually felt a connection for Punpun.  She played the supporting role character perfectly, but sadly we will have to wait until volume four to see how Punpun is going to cope with the loss of his mother.

Liz’s Thoughts:

Punpun developed quite a lot in this volume. In the previous two volumes you could feel some sense of hope as you watched little Punpun drag his feet throughout the day. As a reader you understood exactly what was happening in Punpun’s life, down to his parents hatred for each other. The big dreams he had in his head were signs of hope that he would develop the confidence he needed to succeed in school. You could see that he had an idea of what was going on between his parents, but his ignorance and young age allowed him to enjoy a sense of bliss. So although he had a rough home life, he could still enjoy hanging around friends and girls.

In this volume, Punpun becomes very one-dimensional. All he can think about is “sticking it in” when he’s around other people. I think that is directly related to the incident with Midori. Since he lost his virginity in that manner, he didn’t understand what was happening. He was lifeless while Midori did her thing. After they finished, she cuddled and told him she loved him. So it’s very likely Punpun believed this was “love” because all he knew from his parents was hate. His vile behavior towards Kanie didn’t have bad intentions. I actually felt bad for him after.

Midori’s true colors are revealed in this volume. I previously thought she cared about the people around her. Instead I see she is a destructive leech. Before raping Punpun she hugs him and casually says that she’d like to do something to hurt Yuichi. After raping him, she marries his Uncle and keeps the whole thing a secret. I am willing to bet she is saving this for a good time to destroy Yuichi and Punpun. I also feel that she is behind why Ms. Onodera sold the house. I don’t know why yet, but I bet it will come up.

Ms. Onodera is like a whirlwind in this volume. I felt bad for her because I think her behavior was consistent of someone with mental illness. She dresses up and sleeps around with a married guy. She then tries to get him to divorce his wife and ends up with lung caner. It’s as if her death was a reflection of the unfortunate life she lived. Even in the end when she realizes she loves her son and become a better mother, she relapses because she hates him more.

Final Thoughts

Josh’s Thoughts:

Like I said previously, this was the best installment in the series so far and it really drove home the reality of life itself. We got to experience a new Punpun, but there were still splashes of his former self peppered in there throughout the volume. His character is in a transitional phase and with the events of this volume, I’m sure we will see that transformation continue in the next volume.  While we did get to see Seki and Shimizu, we haven’t seen Aiko in this volume, which was a bit disappointing, but I feel as if we will get to see more of her in volume four as she was briefly mentioned when Punpun was recalling how everyone he knew has moved on to do their own thing.  That brief mention is something everyone experiences in life and even though it was a subtle mention, it, too, is something everyone reading the volume can relate to.  I can’t recommend this series enough. If you can get through the dark dialogue, there are some really well-crafted stories that just makes you sit and think about things and how everything can be put into perspective.

Liz’s Thoughts:

This volume is absolutely the best thing I have read. There is just so much development and realism in this series. Every character has their space and they all fit together perfectly like puzzle pieces. Even if you hate the character there is so much to understand and respect in them. They all have a purpose that is in some way tied to the main story- Punpun’s life.

Like Josh mentioned, there are several characters we don’t see much of in this volume, but to be honest I didn’t really miss Aiko. I don’t think she would have added anything to the story. I wasn’t expecting her. We were given one brief reminder of her and that was enough for me. I am sure she will be back when it’s her turn. Right now I’m more interested in Midori because she is so twisted. I’m really hoping that at some point we’ll get her backstory. It would be interesting if she came from a broken home like Punpun.

This volume is a good opportunity to look at the mental illnesses that form in people because of poor parenting. Punpun’s bad encounter with Kanie could be seen as a direct result of him losing his virginity to a 25 year old who raped him and then married his Uncle. It seems that everyone around Punpun has been abused in some way, so he ends up exposed to a wide variety of symptoms.

There was a lot to absorb in this volume so I am truly looking forward the next volme. I am looking forward to the developments that are going to happen with Papa Punyama. If you aren’t reading this series, you’re missing out on an amazing work.

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This item was provided for review by Viz Media

About The Author

Elizabeth Lotto

Elizabeth loves ASSASSIN'S CREED, SAILOR MOON, and Pusheen the Cat. When she's not reading manga, watching anime, or playing video games she's stepping up her fight game. She trains in a traditional, full-contact style of karate and practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Just like Sailor Jupiter, she will knock you on your butt if you even think Cosplay is Consent.