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Manga: Oyasumi Punpun

Take a poorly-drawn cartoon bird who never speaks, a broken family, an afro-clad 'god', mentally troubled children, outright insane adults, a large dose of surrealism as well as realism, and a soul-crushing amount of cynicism and you have Oyasumi Punpun.

Oyasumi Punpun ("Goodnight, Punpun") is a supremely bizarre Seinen manga by Inio Asano about the title character, Punpun. Punpun is a young, innocent, and naive child, who, in some kind of strange stylistic choice, is depicted as a simplistic sketch of a bird despite everyone outside of his family looking like a normal human. He has no real dreams, his father is an abusive deadbeat (at least, he appears to be), and his mother is a drunk who regrets having him, but Punpun has one thing: a pretty girl named Aiko whom he fawns over. Well, her, and an afro'd and slightly useless god he can summon by chanting 'Dear God, dear God, tinkle-tinkle hoy!'

The story begins as Slice of Life comedy, following Punpun through his childhood as he deals with his family life, his school life, his social life, and his budding romantic life. While noticeably dark, it also contains a hint of child-like innocence. However, as the series progresses, it develops into an extremely dark Coming of Age story, with all innocence being wiped away. While the humor remains, it takes a backseat to experiences of Punpun, his family, and his acquaintances as they deal with the hardships of adolescence, adulthood, and life in general. The story is split roughly into four arcs: Punpun's life in elementary school, middle school, high school, and as a young adult.

The series ended publication in Japan at thirteen volumes. The series is however available in Italy and France where other works by Asano were published, in spite of the apparent obscurity of the series and the very mature themes it addresses.


This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents
    • Aiko's mom abuses her verbally, emotionally and physically, and forces her to take part in her cult. The effects of this abuse on Aiko become very clear in later chapters.
    • The 16-year-old daughter of one of Yuuichi's art students claims that she is a victim, but it's ambiguous as to whether she was lying to get attention.
    • Seki's dad, who is a neglectful drunk.
    • Sachi's stepfamily comes off this way as well, although their abuse is more on the verbal/mental side.
  • The Ace
    • Yaguchi. Handsome, outstanding athlete, gentlemanly, and rumored to have a huge dick. He sadly lost (maybe) his athletic ability due to his injuries. He is also probably the only male character in the manga who is not broken or crazy in some ways.
    • Punpun apparently also used to be an ace in the eyes of others, being apparently good-looking, getting good grades, but not nerdy, cool, and aloof; at least until Azusa gave him a Heroic BSOD that completely drained him of all his self-confidence, leading him to where he is now.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: From Pegasus' list of predictions:
    "He correctly predicted the Aum Shinrikyo Cults Attack, 9-11, and even the Marimokkori character.
  • Attempted Rape
    • Punpun to Azusa, but she snaps him out of it before he can go through with it.
    • A similar experience repeats with Punpun and Aiko, although it's hard to tell whether she snapped it out of it or he stopped himself.
  • The Atoner: Punpun attempts to atone for killing Aiko's mother by killing Aiko and then himself. Luckily, he doesn't succeed.
  • Beware the Nice Ones
    • Midori. She rapes Punpun after Yuuichi's actions leave her emotionally distraught.
    • The 16-year old daughter of Yuuichi's art student. She used her body to persuade an adult to try to kill her mother, and Yuuichi was almost trapped.
  • Blatant Lies: Punpun's father keeps sending him letters that he is off fighting giant space aliens. Punpun didn't buy it when he was a little kid, and thinks his father is being an idiot. Justified since it was revealed that Mama Punpun was actually sending him those letters, so that Punpun wouldn't hate his father.
  • Book Dumb: Seki doesn't bother going to school, but is able to find work and take care of himself anyways.
  • Book Ends: The manga begins with Aiko transferring to Punpun's school, him falling in love with her, Punpun's friends telling him about sex, and Aiko telling Punpun that one day mankind will collapse. The story ends with this too, only with different people. There are also shots of a gym.
  • Call Back: In chapter 117, Aiko bites Punpun's hand so hard her tooth falls out, and she ends up looking like she did as a child.
  • Can Not Spit It Out: Punpun towards Aiko, initially. The entire Punpun family is like this in general, one of the motifs in the manga is how they cannot communicate effectively with each other.
  • Castof Snowflakes: Even outside of the Punpun family, every character has a unique design that makes them instantly recognizable, even minor characters who only appear once or twice or don't play a significant role in the story.
  • Catch Phrase
    • Punpun's elementary school teacher likes to say, "Juuust kidding".
    • Pegasus' is "Good vibrations!"
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Very much so. The story has a rather tightly-packed continuity, with small details, past events, or hidden connections that are easily overlooked coming into play at a later part in the story.
  • Chekhov's Gunman
    • Punpun and his friends actually meet Sachi very early on, at the miso factory. However, her face appears very different when she shows up again, due to her plastic surgery.
    • Harumi, after a large absence during most of Punpun's adult life, reappears during the ending chapters.
  • Cult
    • Aiko's mom is a member of one, much to Aiko's embarrassment.
    • The group led by Pegasus, which Shimizu joins, that plan on saving the world via a music concert.
  • Darkerand Edgier: By far the most dark, cynical and depressing of Inio Asano's works to date.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Subverted. Mama Punpun apologizes to Punpun before she dies for treating him badly, but even then Punpun still can't bring himself to love her.
  • Despair Event Horizon
    • Punpun reaches it after killing Aiko's mother. From that point on, he talks even less, becomes abusive to Aiko, constantly thinks about how long a murderer would spend in jail, and then plans to kill Aiko before killing himself to escape the guilt.
    • It's unclear when Aiko's is, but it seems to be either almost getting killed by her mother, and then seeing Punpun murder her; or hearing the radio transmission of the discovery of her mother's body and the search for her whereabouts, right after finding a new place to live with Punpun, as well as a promising job.
  • Domestic Abuse: Leading to Punpun's father becoming a Disappeared Dad after putting his wife in the hospital Expect it's subverted: it turns out that he only knocked Mama Punpun unconscious because she was unstable and trying to kill herself.
  • Driven to Suicide
    • Punpun's mom and uncle, but fortunately they are not successful.
    • Near the end of the manga, Aiko hangs herself. And not long afterwards, Punpun stabs himself in the eye, but he's saved from death by Sachi at the last moment.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all the torment of his life, his raping, attempted suicide, running away from home and severe depression, Punpun eventually recovers from his conditions, and returns to the world, as normal as he was before. The final chapters even show him as his original form — a cartoony bird — to symbolize that his innocence has finally returned.
  • Eye Scream
    • Aiko tells Punpun that he only needs one eye to look after her with, and begins to drive a fork through it. She stops herself, though.
    • Punpun stabs himself in the same eye in one of the final chapters.
  • Fan Disservice
    • There are many sex scenes in the manga, and none of them are meant to be sexy. A few of them are particularly disturbing to look at.
    • Mama Punpun's gravity-defying breasts come off as more hilarious than arousing.
  • Gonk: Tons of characters. They generally look normal with the exception of, say, having horribly glazed eyes staring in different directions, or gaping smiles. One of Punpun's childhood friends, Komatsu, has eyes that are a little too open, and sure enough, the audience loses sympathy with him at the same time he goes completely Gonk.
  • Growing Up Sucks
    • Seki certainly seems to think so.
    • The series itself seems to think so.
  • Heroic BSOD: Every major character seems to suffer at least one throughout the manga; Punpun in particular goes through several, for better or for worse.
  • Hope Spot
    • Chapters 130-131. You just know it's going to be better after Punpun shows that he still loves Aiko. But you're proven wrong when in Chapter 132, he plans to kill her and then kill himself in order to be free of his guilt from killing Aiko's mom.
    • Chapter 138. Even though Aiko appears to be dying from her wounds and there isn't a hospital in the near area, but even so, there's a small sparkle of hope that maybe, these two will finally get through and be happy together, as they make up to each other and then fall asleep next to each other... but then in Chapter 139, Punpun wakes up alone, which in itself is rather suspicious, but mere pages later it's revealed that Aiko hung herself.
  • Humans Are Good / Humans Are Bastards: The series alternates between the two so much, that it really becomes impossible to say which one is right in the end.
  • I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Punpun tries to pull this off with Aiko, but it doesn't work very well.
  • Informed Attribute: It is occasionally implied that Punpun and Yuuichi are good-looking. Because of the stylistic decision to represent them all as simplistic cartoon birds, we never get to see it.
  • It's All About Me: Several characters get called out for being self-centered, notably Punpun by Azusa and Sachi's pride by various people.
  • Karma Houdini: Midori never gets any repercussions for raping Punpun.
  • Left Hanging: Some events from the final chapters, such as what happened to Aiko's body after Punpun left her at the shrine, and Punpun being questioned about his murder of Aiko's mom by police, as well as the consequences of his actions, are not explored nor resolved.
  • Made of Iron: Several members of the cast suffer wounds that should've heavily injured, crippled, or killed them, and yet come out relatively unharmed.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The volume covers are a solid color embossed only with a picture of Punpun, or sometimes one of his relatives.
  • Madness Mantra: While only being spoken once during the actual chapter, it's debatable that part of the cover to book 9 could showcase Punpun's descent into his madness.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Punpun and his family. Punpun's design in particular actually goes through unusual changes later in the story, in a manner that's indicative of his state of mind at the time.
  • Not Good with People: Every major character in the story has some issues with people or dealing with others. Punpun and Aiko, in particular, are the greatest examples of this.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Shimizu, despite his dreamy tendencies, seems to have a pretty good head on his shoulders; he just merely lacks the independence to show it.
  • Put on a Bus: As the story goes on, Aiko become less and less prominent, and after Punpun leaves for high school she hasn't been seen since outside of flashbacks. However, she makes brief reappearances during chapters 76 and 89 before properly returning in chapter 99.
  • Raging Stiffie
    • Punpun on his date with Azusa. She doesn't notice.
    • And again on a date with Aiko after her return.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Averted. Punpun is raped by his uncle's girlfriend, and it's most certainly not okay.
  • The Rashomon: Mama Punpun's injuries in the first volume. Later, we find out that there's more to the story than just husband-on-wife Domestic Abuse.
  • Sadist Teacher: While not outwardly violent, Punpun's elementary school teacher seems to get a lot of joy out of screwing with his students' heads.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Far on the cynical side, as noted above.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Word of God actually spells it Pung-Pung, not Punpun.
  • Take That: Asano Inio makes quite a few blatant stabs at the current trend of childishness in anime and manga, including a very poorly drawn young girl in her underwear drawn in the last page of chapter 89 prompting readers to buy the next volume standing next to an equally poorly drawn anthropomorphic crocodile, and an unusually placed rant by a nameless character about the "impurity" of actual women over 2-D fictional variants.
  • Title Drop
    • Used at the end of an arc, right before the Time Skip.
    • A rather odd example: In one of the final chapters, during Punpun's dying moments, there is narration at the bottom of the page reading "Goodnight". On the next page, the word "Punpun" is spoken, and it's also the only one spoken on that page.
  • Thirteen Is Unlucky: The manga has an exact total of thirteen volumes, and... it's not a happy story, to say the least.
  • The Unreveal
    • What exactly Punpun looks like. In the final chapter, every time he's in the panel, his head is blocked by something. And the very last time we see him, he has returned to the bird appearance, albeit adult sized.
      • We do see him realistically drawn a couple of times, however both times the majority of his face is obscured.
    • We also never learn his real name. In his only onscreen spoken line, he says "My name is..." Then it cuts away. His old friend, Harumi, later says he can't remember Punpun's name.
  • Wham Episode
    • Punpun killing Aiko's abusive mother.
    • And chapters after, Punpun waking up to see Aiko has committed suicide.
  • Wham Line: Courtesy of Aiko, in chapter 132:
    "Punpun... Am I going to be killed here?"
  • What the Hell, Hero?
    • The most outstanding one has to go to Midori, for raping Punpun during her emotional distress.
    • From Chapter 102 and onwards, Punpun just keeps going through a downwards-spiral of these, the biggest being killing Aiko's mom.
  • What You Are in the Dark: The reason Seki doesn't kill a cheating boyfriend he was hired to kill.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Seki is afraid of fire, after the incident at the miso factory. He later overcomes it to save Shimizu, when the latter is caught in a deadly fire.
  • Woman Scorned: A woman who was cheated on by her boyfriend hired Seki to kill him. Seki being Seki, he doesn't carry through with it. The woman also regrets using him as soon as he gets her orders.
  • Yandere: Aiko threatens to kill Punpun if he breaks his promises. She was probably joking, but she certainly came off as frightening to Punpun.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Happens to Punpun and Aiko frequently, especially in the later volumes, when they're on the run after Punpun murdered Aiko's mom. The example that stands out the most would have to be the unfortunate radio transmission in chapter 134, reporting the discovery of Aiko's mom's body, and the search starting up to find Aiko, right after Punpun and Aiko finally find a job and a place to live.


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alternative title(s): Oyasumi Punpun
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