Title: Goodnight Punpun Vol. 4
Author: Inio Asano
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Slice of Life, Drama
Publication Date: December 20, 2016
Punpun is on his own now. His mother is dead and his father is useless. Living in his first apartment, Punpun finds himself lying on the floor most of the time, wishing he didn’t exist. But that’s life, Punpun. It sucks until you do something about it. One day he spots Aiko and his life changes trajectory.
The story for volume four of Goodnight Punpun shifts focus away from the side characters and places it directly on Punpun himself. He moves out of his uncle’s home and gets his own apartment along with a part-time job. One day while in the city, he spots Aiko as he boards a train. He spends most of his days following a routine of working and looking for Aiko with the self promise that if he doesn’t find her by the time his two-year lease is up on his apartment, he will die; however, that all changes when he gets re-acclimated with Sachi, the person he met at the art exhibit a while ago.
I loved the change of pace because while the supporting characters are all fantastic, we finally got caught up with Punpun to see how everything that has happened so far has affected him. While it seemed like he wanted independence at first, he actually wanted to be alone. This caused him to become an empty shell of a man and this is what this volume’s story was about: falling into despair and finding that light at the end of the tunnel. For a volume that’s around 450 pages, that’s pretty much the only story that it told.
The volume does do a time skip at the end and you get a sense that Punpun has begun to find his place, but then, the final pages shake things up and next volume seems to set up another test for Punpun. I can’t wait to see it!
This volume moves the camera from Punpun’s family and friends and aims it right at him. For the first time since the first volume, I feel like I really know who Punpun is. He went from a troubled little boy to a depressed, hopeless young man who really wants to be left alone. I can imagine his corpse being found, decayed and stinking after he has been dead for weeks since he makes little effort to be loved. It’s understandable; however, since he was dealt a messed up deck of cards. Fortunately, his landlord is concerned and tries to get him outside for some air to clear his mind. He eventually tries to talk Punpun into working for him, but as we know, Punpun just wants to lie on the floor and die. In a stroke of good luck, our depressed Sachi helps Punpun turn himself around.
As I mentioned before, the development was spent on Punpun. As we know, Punpun has a rough time expressing himself and usually locks all of his thoughts away in his head. I think I’ve seen more dialogue from Punpun in this volume than I have in the last two combined. He has learned to express himself more and more and when Sachi enters the picture, he beings to open up about himself, too. It’s a pretty big step in his character development as it seems like the one event Punpun needed has happened, but the biggest question is if it will last.
Sachi is a pretty fun character. We didn’t get much of her before in the previous volumes, but here we can see she is a pretty straight-forward and brash character, but she’s also kind and sensitive (to a degree) as well. Of course, much like all of Goodnight Punpun’s characters, she has a bit of a dark past, but I think this is done because it shows that nobody is perfect and that everyone has something in their past that they want to keep hidden. Punpun doesn’t really seem to care all that much about it because his past isn’t any better. The Sachi character really starts to grow on you and I’m enjoying her so far. Plus, with her ambition to reignite her passion, this series is turning into a really dark and twisted version of Bakuman.
Lastly, even though he was around for about the length of a cup of coffee in this volume, Yuichiro hasn’t changed one bit. All this time he has hid his wish to die, but made it very apparent to Punpun that his desire to die is still as strong as ever. The only change this time is he’s waiting for Midori to be the one to kill him. With the way Midori loves him, I highly doubt that’s going to happen, but I actually laughed at that part. Does that make me a bad person?
I love how we get to see Punpun’s deeper thoughts expressed for the first time. In the previous volumes, he seemed like a passive character even though he is the center of the book named after him. This made sense at the time, of course, because in the previous volumes everything was focused on his family and how screwed up they were. Of course we had moments of Punpun in school or hanging out with friends, but even then he was mostly a wallflower who was either trying to get some action or trying to fit in. Now we get to see what kind of person he has become. Unfortunately, Punpun isn’t a great guy but it’s understandable since he came from a loveless family along with all of the twisted stuff that has happened to him along the way. In this volume, Punpun feels insignificant and small. For most of the volume he is depicted as such. Then he runs into Sachi who motivates him to try living once more.
Sachi is a likable character. She’s definitely someone Punpun needs in his life. While she hasn’t quite figured out her own talents, she’s at least determined enough to pursue a hobby as a career and she drags Punpun with her. I’m surprised she gets brought back into the story since we met her so briefly earlier in the series. I completely forgot about her but the moment she stepped in and stated where Punpun should remember her from, I immediately recalled the scene. For a moment in time, my thoughts were in sync with Punpun’s. That’s very clever writing on behalf of the author. I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more of Sachi since their relationship has gone from casual acquaintances to something much more meaningful.
And, Josh, I can see Midori killing Yuichiro.
This was another great installment in the series! One of the hilarious (or maybe ironic?) parts was when Punpun signed the lease on his apartment. The apartment he got was one that we’re a little familiar with. To avoid spoilers, I won’t say how we are familiar with it, but if you read the past volumes, you would instantly recognize it and feel that, given all of these circumstances, that it is the perfect fit for Punpun… or at least the story overall.
I also liked the cameo from Punpun’s father and how he just appeared out of the blue. He hasn’t changed one bit… whether that’s a good thing or not. This series still does an amazing job of portraying life in a dark and twisted way and each volume keeps getting better and better! Bring on volume five!
I am always excited to read this series. I know for a fact that when I open to page 1, I’m going to be flying through the book at warp speed. The story is so engaging that I can’t stop reading. I love how the environments and characters pop in for a moment, disappear, and then come back chapters later. The story line definitely keeps you thinking and ties everything into a perfect circle. If you meet a character once, no matter how brief and insignificant the introduction seems, you bet you’ll be seeing them again. This series is fantastic and I can’t wait to read more.
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*Goodnight Punpun Vol. 4 was provided to us by Viz Media for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.