Cover of Stargazing Dog as published by Futabasha
(Hoshi Mamoru Inu)
|Written by||Takashi Murakami|
|Magazine||Weekly Manga Action|
|Original run||5 August 2008 – 3 February 2009|
Stargazing Dog (Japanese: 星守る犬 Hepburn: Hoshi Mamoru Inu?) is a Japanese manga by Takashi Murakami. The story is narrated by a dog name Happie, who lives with a working-class Japanese family until one day the man's wife requests a divorce, and he takes Happie on a road trip to southern Japan, eventually running out of gas near a campground. Daddy and Happie live there for a while, until one day Daddy dies in his car of a preexisting heart condition. Happie continues to live there, eventually dying too.
The book sold over 400,000 copies in Japan and attracted a film adaptation. Murakami also wrote a sequel to the story, "Sunflowers", about a social worker who is driven to uncovering the story of Daddy and Happie. NBM ComicsLit published English translations of both stories in one volume titled Stargazing Dog in November 2011.
The story is told from the point of view of a dog named Happie, who is adopted by a working-class Japanese family as a puppy and lives with them for several years. The dog enjoys living with them and especially appreciates the daily walks Daddy, the name he gives to the man of the family, takes him on. However, years later, the man's wife requests a divorce. Now homeless, jobless and with little money, an upbeat Daddy decides to take Happie on a road trip to southern Japan. Along the way, the pair stop at a convenience store, where Daddy spots a dirty-looking young boy attempting to steal bread. He buys it for him instead, and the boy invites himself into Daddy's car. Daddy agrees to take him wherever he wants to go, but the boy is mostly silent. They sleep in the car, and the next morning Daddy discovers that the boy is gone and has taken his wallet. Not long after, Happie experiences extreme pain while urinating and Daddy rushes him to a veterinarian, where he learns that Happie has kidney stones. They operate, and Daddy is forced to pawn almost everything he owns to pay the bill, leaving him almost penniless. They continue on, eventually running out of gas near a campground. They live there for a while, living off the food they can scrounge and catch and sleeping in the car, until one day Daddy dies in his car of a preexisting heart condition. Happie continues to live there for two Winters until one day he perishes as well. The police discover their bodies about three months later, with Happie's body resting next to Daddy's feet.
Stargazing Dog received mostly positive reviews from English-language critics. Publishers Weekly said, "The short book offers some profound insight on the human condition (by way of the canine condition) without being too sweet or sappy". However, the reviewer criticized naming the dog "Happie" as heavy-handed and called the decision to tell the story from the dog's point of view "borderline saccharine". Ed Sizemore of Manga Worth Reading placed the book on his list of the ten best manga published in English in 2011, adding, "Everybody and their brother has praised this book and rightly so. It’s as moving as everyone says."
- Price, Ada. "BEA Show Daily 2011: The Graphic Novel Scene". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
- Sherman, Bill. "« Back to Article Manga Review: Stargazing Dog by Takashi Murakami". Blog Critics. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
- "Comics Review: Stargazing Dog". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
- Sizemore, Ed. "Ed Returns to Present His Top 10 Manga of 2011 Posted in Manga News on December 30, 2011 by Ed". Manga Worth Reading. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
- "Finding Graphic Novels in Unexpected Places at BEA 2011". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
- Smith, Andrew. "‘Stargazing Dog’ an emotionally wrenching tale". Encore. Retrieved 13 February 2012.