I think this is how blogs work. I think I’m suppose to write about stuff I like? I’m going to start sharing some obscure manga favorites of mine.
Some years ago I stumbled onto Oyasumi Punpun by Inio Asano. It was being published in Japan in “Weekly Young Sunday” which had stopped printing before the final chapters, which is probably why I never got a hold of the ending until recently.
While I was reading it, I had the same feeling I did when I heard the song Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. “How the do people come up with stuff like this?”
Oyasumi Punpun breaks all the rules of traditional manga – no typical love story with pretty-boy/girl wide eyed characters, no magical winged cats with their adorable magic powers. The story is a gritty, down-to-earth slice of life… while high on LSD. The art style is experimental and unique and the writing is captivating.
The main character (punpun) and his family are depicted as cartoonish birds against a realistic background of humans. The story starts with Punpun during his childhood in a dysfunctional family, then follows him as he grows older and discovers love, friendship, sex, and adulthood. This description really doesn’t do it justice, though, since you really have to read it to see what I mean. As you get further into the story, all the characters get emotionally very complex and it becomes almost confusing at times to follow. There are fantasies about afro-headed gods and prophetic hobos… seriously trippy stuff.
All in all, Oyasumi Punpun is a real gem. Admittedly, it’s not for everyone, but it really struck a chord with me. It’s a beautifully spun tale on how life is not always beautiful. Of the hundreds of comics I have read over the years (and really, it’s been hundreds – probably?) it is one of the most masterful combinations of story and art. For slice-of-life fans, this is definitely a series you’ll want to pick up.
(On a side note, I have almost zero interest in comics without a good story. On some occasions, I’ve heard my friends like watching animes or reading mangas for the art. I am not one of these people.)