I’ve read many mangas that have made me cry, pulled at my heartstrings, and made me perceive the world in a brighter light. However, recently, I came across one that completely altered my views in a darker sense. “Oyasumi Punpun” by Inio Asano wrote and illustrated such a cynical, yet beautiful story I found myself getting sucked into.
The story surrounds the life of Onodera Punpun, a normal boy who lives in Japan. As he encounters many unusual people from school and tolerates the exhausting life he has at home, he carries a low opinion upon himself and has a timid nature. He’s depicted as a small bird, but develops into a human body with a long, black head with four eyes stacked on top of each other. The manga follows Punpun as he grows up, breaking up the book into four different stages: elementary school, middle school, high school, and early 20’s.
I always knew everyone in the world had good and bad traits to themselves. A good first impression usually comes with showing all your good traits, therefore, leaving people to think that that’s how you normally behave. “Oyasumi Punpun” makes it clear for readers to understand that what people show on the surface isn’t how they actually feel inside. In fact, what Punpun showed on the surface, at times, didn’t have any correlation to what he was feeling at all. It makes me wonder how deep every person can get and how small of a person I am to be a such a little factor in someone’s everyday life, as I continue to live mine.
I started the comic around two summers ago on a very humid night. I was terribly bored, craved for something new to read, and stumbled across its comic strips while scrolling through tumblr. It seemed extremely fascinating so I decided to search up the first chapter. I found that I was dragging myself to finish the first thirty chapters so eventually, I stopped reading. I don’t like forcing myself to finish stories I don’t have interest in. However, the intensely good ratings it received made me go back and I’ve kept an on and off relationship with the story from two summers ago to now.
I finished the manga over the weekend, speed-reading through about eighty chapters. It took me about five hours to finish reading the series on the lazy Saturday that just passed.
Whenever I finish stories, I’m usually left in a temporary awe. To me, most books tend to strive for that “temporary awe” vibe by their last sentence. However, I found “Oyasumi Punpun”’s ending to be very normal. I admit, it makes me realize how long and intricate the whole story is (spoiler alert, kind of) by making you think it could all possibly happen again, but it didn’t leave me in awe. I think that’s what makes this story so significant, though. It was so well-thought-out and beautifully illustrated, and the ending was simple and satisfying.