Cover of the first manga volume
|Genre||Coming-of-age, drama, slice of life|
|Written by||Inio Asano|
|Original run||March 15, 2007 – November 2, 2013|
A coming-of-age drama story, it follows the life of a child named Onodera Punpun, from his elementary school years to his early 20s, as he copes with his dysfunctional family, love life, friends, life goals and hyperactive mind, while occasionally focusing on the lives and struggles of his schoolmates and family. Punpun and the members of his family are normal humans, but are depicted to the reader in the forms of birds. The manga explores themes such as depression, love, social isolation, sex, death, and family.
Goodnight Punpun follows the life and experiences of Onodera Punpun, a young boy living in Japan, as well as a few of his friends. The manga follows Punpun as he grows up, splitting the book into around 4 stages of his life: Elementary school, middle school, high school, and his early 20s.
- Punpun Punyama (プン山 プンプン, Punyama Punpun) / Punpun Onodera (小野寺 プンプン, Onodera Punpun)
- The main character is a young boy who is most often depicted as a bird, although he is also shown in other forms as his character evolves. When he is feeling confused about life or depressed he consults "God" using a chant his uncle taught him.
- Aiko Tanaka (田中 愛子, Tanaka Aiko)
- Punpun's primary love interest. Early on, she suggests that she and Punpun run away to Kagoshima. She occasionally takes on the last name Orihara (織原).
- God (神, Kami, literally God)
- A being, displayed as a photographic afro head, that often appears in front of Punpun in his times of need (Punpun "summons" him by saying, "Dear God, Dear God, Tinkle tinkle hoy").
- Mama Punpun
- Punpun's mother, depressed and suffering from mood swings and anger issues. She has a very conflicted relationship with Punpun, to whom she gives her last name, Onodera, after she and Punpun's father get divorced.
- Yūichi Onodera (小野寺 雄一, Onodera Yūichi)
- Punpun's uncle, a 30-something freeter. Yūichi takes care of Punpun while his mother is in the hospital.
- Midori Ōkuma (大隈 翠, Ōkuma Midori)
- Yūichi's girlfriend who runs a cafe. She briefly joins Punpun's family during middle school and helps take care of him and his family.
- Sachi Nanjō (南条 幸, Nanjō Sachi)
- A young woman Punpun meets in his young adult life. She is an aspiring manga artist who grows to be one of Punpun's close friends.
- Masumi Seki (関 真澄, Seki Masumi)
- One of Punpun's childhood friends, who is a close companion of Shimizu. He is cynical and aloof, but cares deeply for Shimizu.
- Kō Shimizu (清水 コー, Shimizu Kō)
- One of Punpun's childhood friends. Shimizu has a wild imagination and depends on Seki. He later joins Pegasus' cult.
- Toshiki Hoshikawa / "Pegasus" (星川 敏樹, Hoshikawa Toshiki)
- The leader of a cult in Punpun's city and a recurring side character.
- Mitsuko Tanaka (田中 光子, Tanaka Mitsuko)
- Aiko's mother. A cult member, she is cruel and abusive to her daughter, and shows signs of mental instability. Though she ends up crippled, later chapters suggest this may be an act.
- Shishido Heiroku
- Punpun's landlord, who becomes his friend.
Asano announced the manga a year after finishing Solanin. Encouraged by its success, Asano said he was done with "feel-good stories". Despite initial opposition from his editor and publisher, he went through with the manga. Tokie Komuro, the Editor-in-Chief of Monthly Sunday GX, who is a supporter of Asano said that the only reason Asano was able to serialize the manga was because of his good track record and reputation from his earlier works.
When he initially planned the story, Asano wanted to chronicle Punpun's growth spanning ten years over seven volumes. The first half was supposed to be a romance, and the second half when Punpun and Aiko go on the run similar to a road movie. The manga grew to thirteen volumes because Asano wanted to focus on the art and because many characters developed their own side stories. Asano purposely emphasized elements of the first half like its silliness to increase the shock of the second half. With every dark turn in the manga, sales dropped, which Asano regretted because his readers were being alienated. He also saw his readers as an enemy when he received criticism, which led him to react harshly and cause more backlash. The manga also served as an outlet for Asano's doubts and fears, such as the fear that he might be a victim or perpetrator of murder.
When designing Punpun, Asano wanted to find a balance between making his male protagonist too handsome or too ugly and decided to let readers imagine his face. Asano originally planned to depict all the characters like Punpun's family, but his editor didn't like the idea. Asano utilized photography and computer graphics for the backgrounds of the manga. Outdoor backgrounds were created by taking photographs, converting them to black-and-white, and printing them so his assistants could draw outlines and objects on them. Interiors were created in 3D modeling software, which had the benefit of capturing angles impossible with cameras. When asked why he placed so much emphasis on the backgrounds, Asano said that it allows the drawings to have more impact, especially since characters like Punpun are lacking in dynamism. Asano later came to regret digitally processing his images because he felt he was ruining his pen art.
Punpun's depiction as a faceless caricature was meant to help readers identify with Punpun and encourage them to keep reading, both when he was depicted as a bird, and in his later forms. Asano also utilized Punpun's simple look for symbolism, like giving him bull horns to represent Altair, the cowherd star, to symbolize his love triangle as the Summer Triangle with Aiko as Vega and Sachi as Deneb.
Asano described the young Punpun as a fundamentalist, which leads to his regrets and dislike of gray areas later. Asano also ascribed these characteristics to the other characters: "The main characters in Punpun always remain children in the way their purity leads them to fail and become social misfits." At end of the manga, Asano was originally going to make Punpun die while saving a child of a friend, but he felt that it was too "clean" of an ending. He continued the theme of nothing going right for Punpun by making him live and by denying Punpun solitude after Aiko's death by pairing him up with Sachi. In the final chapter, Punpun's experiences are contrasted with those of his childhood friend Harumin to show Punpun from the perspective of a normal person. Harumin sees Punpun surrounded by friends, but in reality nothing went right for him, further emphasizing the theme of failure.
In terms of genres, Asano disliked the labeling of the manga as an utsumanga (depressing manga) or surreal, which he felt pigeonholed the manga. Since the manga was serialized in a seinen magazine, Asano created the manga for readers who could accept immorality rather than see the protagonist as a role model.
The manga was serialized in the Japanese manga magazine Weekly Young Sunday and, later, Big Comic Spirits by Shogakukan from March 15, 2007 to November 2, 2013. Shogakukan compiled the 147 chapters into thirteen volumes between August 3, 2007 and December 27, 2013. Some of these volumes have been sold as limited special editions with extras like: a phone strap, T-shirt, colored pencil set with figures, and lensless glasses.
In July 2015, Viz Media announced at Otakon that they licensed the manga and would be releasing the manga in seven omnibus volumes, with the first published on March 15, 2016.. The final omnibus volume was published September 19, 2017. The manga has also been published in France by Kana, in Italy by Panini Comics, in Germany by Tokyopop, in Taiwan by Taiwan Tohan, in Spain by Norma Editorial, and in Argentina by Editorial Ivrea.
|No.||Japanese release date||Japanese ISBN||English release date||English ISBN|
|1||August 3, 2007||ISBN 978-4-09-151218-5||March 15, 2016||ISBN 978-1-4215-8620-5|
|Aiko Tanaka transfers into Punpun Punyama's middle school class and they come to like each other. At home, Punpun walks into what looks like the aftermath of his father abusing his mother. While she stays in the hospital and his father separately, her brother Yuichi Onodera comes to live with Punpun. Punpun also learns that Aiko's mother sells miracle water and he makes a promise with Aiko to take her away to her uncle in Kagoshima. Punpun and his friends watch a porn cassette and stumble upon a taped-over confession from a man who has murdered his family, requesting that they locate the bodies and an award. Punpun and his friends, along with Aiko, visit the abandoned miso factory mentioned in the video.|
|2||December 28, 2007||ISBN 978-4-09-151259-8||March 15, 2016||ISBN 978-1-4215-8620-5|
|At the factory, they meet a girl, but don't find anything. However, on the roof of the last building they see the silhouette of a man. Most of the group flees, except Aiko who gets knocked out and Punpun who stays with her. At the same time, a cigarette that Seki had smoked causes a fire. The man approaches them, Punpun's life flashes before his eyes, and he faints, with the fire having been put out by rain. As the semester ends, Punpun dreads having to face Aiko after not being able to grant her wish. On the last day, she asks him to meet her later. However, Punpun finds out that his mother had jumped off her hospital balcony and instead visits her. Punpun spends the rest of the summer depressed and secluded, and when school starts again, Aiko ignores him. Punpun's parents get divorced and he vows to become an adult. Two years later in middle school, Aiko is dating Yaguchi, the badminton club captain, and Punpun still has feelings for her.|
|3||June 5, 2008||ISBN 978-4-09-151333-5||June 21, 2016||ISBN 978-1-4215-8621-2|
|Saving him from bullies, Seki becomes closer to Shimizu. One day when Punpun skips practice, Yaguchi befriends him. In badminton, Punpun's friend Komatsu starts to dominate Yaguichi, who is also suffering from achilles tendinitis. When Punpun confides his feelings for Aiko to Yaguichi, who is torn between his sports career and her, Yaguichi wagers his relationship with Aiko over the result of the upcoming tournament. Yuichi meets Midori, a worker at a coffee shop, who asks him out. Although they get along, Yuichi holds guilt from a past relationship and tries to drive Midori away, but she demands to learn about his past. Yuichi recounts how five years ago he was teaching at a pottery workshop and went on a date with the high school age daughter of one of his students. She revealed to Yuichi that after having had an abortion, she was being kept under house arrest by her mother and requested Yuichi's help.|
|4||January 30, 2009||ISBN 978-4-09-151413-4||June 21, 2016||ISBN 978-1-4215-8621-2|
|Yuichi took the girl to his apartment and they almost had sex, but Yuichi resisted because he knew he couldn't help the girl. When Yuichi returned to work after two weeks, his coworker Washio attacked the girl's mother with a hammer. As Yuichi ran outside to find a policeman, he met the girl, who revealed that she had seduced Washio into the act. Midori makes Yuichi visit the workshop with her and they learn that everyone involved in the incident is doing better now. Having the weight of his guilt lifted and feeling no more ties to the world, Yuichi attempts suicide by sitting in front of an oncoming train, but stops at the last minute. Him and Midori make a commitment to each other. At the badminton tournament, Yaguichi and Komatsu are the finalists and Yaguichi takes a lead. Punpun meets Aiko, who tells him that she only wants to love someone who is completely devoted to her and can take her away. Yaguichi's leg gives out and he concedes defeat to Punpun. However, when Aiko asks Punpun to leave together to Kagoshima with her, he refuses. Punpun becomes depressed and reclusive. Two years later, Midori has become close to the Onodera family and they prepare to move to a new apartment, but Yuichi has been missing for over a week.|
|5||June 30, 2009||ISBN 978-4-09-151430-1||September 20, 2016||ISBN 978-1-4215-8622-9|
|Having studied hard, Punpun enters into high school. Midori is running the coffee shop herself now and Yuichi's disappearance takes its toll on her. Yuichi had returned to work at the pottery workshop, but after he had an affair with a student, the woman's ex-husband demanded an exorbitant payment from him. Midori starts to rely on Punpun for comfort and one day at the coffee shop, she rapes Punpun. Seki, needing money, decides to work odd jobs along with Shimizu. A property manager asks Shimizu to help clean out an apartment where a man died, but he backs out. Seki is hired by a woman to murder her ex-boyfriend, but Seki changes his mind when noticing the nice weather. Seki and Shimizu become more determined to stick together. Punpun goes to karaoke with classmates, but doesn't enjoy it at all, leaving with a girl named Kanie who he asks out on a date. After finding out about the death of his grandfather, Punpun and his mother visit his home in Ōfuna, where he learns from Midori that Yuichi had come back home and the two had gotten married. While returning home, Punpun's mother gets irritated at him and tells him to not return home until the following day because she is having a man over.|
|6||December 26, 2009||ISBN 978-4-09-151479-0||September 20, 2016||ISBN 978-1-4215-8622-9|
|Punpun's mother is having an affair with a married man. She gets a panic attack and while threatening to kill herself, suffers from pneumothorax, becoming hospitalized. She befriends Harumin, whose girlfriend is in the hospital, and the pair discuss their problems, including her difficulty in connecting with her son. On his date with Kanie, Punpun visits an art gallery. Punpun tries hard to get her to like him, but they don't form a connection. As their date comes to an end and Kanie calls him narcissistic, Punpun forcibly tries to kiss her and is slapped. As she is getting discharged from the hospital, Punpun's mother tries to find Harumin, whom she developed a fondness for, discovering that he just left. Returning home, she finds Punpun still cold towards her and can't help but lash out at him. On a return appointment, Punpun's mother discovers that she has aggressive cancer. Two years later, Punpun's mother is on her deathbed and apologizes to Punpun for how she treated him, saying that she loves him.|
|7||September 30, 2010||ISBN 978-4-09-151499-8||December 20, 2016||ISBN 978-1-4215-8623-6|
|Punpun's father visits him and asks him if he would like to live with him, but Punpun declines. After Punpun graduates from high school, he works part-time jobs with his friend Mimura. On the train ride home, he spots Aiko, but is unable to find her when doubling back. Punpun moves into an apartment near the station where he saw her, hoping to find her again. After not having success, Punpun stops going outside and becomes reserved. His landlord, Shishido, who is worried about him, tries to offer him help. He takes him to a bar, where Punpun meets Sachi, who he had met at an art gallery on his date with Kanie. Sachi tells Punpun that she wants to illustrate a story he wrote in her guest book.|
|8||February 26, 2011||ISBN 978-4-09-151510-0||December 20, 2016||ISBN 978-1-4215-8623-6|
|Sachi spots Punpun while he is out searching and he goes to her house again. There, he opens up to her about his issues and Sachi accuses him of not wanting to actually find Aiko. After she pushes him, Punpun writes her a draft manuscript which she finds unsatisfactory. Sachi confides in Punpun that she used to be unconfident like him too, getting cosmetic surgery, so she has to keep pressuring him to try. Punpun resolves to keep working on the story and they work towards a final draft by the end of summer. Shishido offers to give Punpun a job once he gets a real estate license. After a misunderstanding, Punpun reveals to Sachi that he loves her, the two have sex and they start growing closer. A year later Sachi finishes the manga and prepares to show it to a publisher with Punpun.|
|9||October 28, 2011||ISBN 978-4-09-151529-2||March 21, 2017||ISBN 978-1-4215-8624-3|
|The publisher is unconvinced by Sachi and Punpun's manga, disliking the main character "needless" depression. While Shishido gets badly injured after being mistaken for a shoplifter, and ends up paralyzed for life, Punpun's childhood friends Seki and Kō, who stayed very close, drift apart as Kō joins a cult led by the mysterious and exuberant Pegasus. Punpun, having distanced himself from Sachi who is now continuing the manga on her own, starts using a fake name and acting like a completely different person to shield himself from his depression, but ends up running into Aiko by chance.|
|10||April 27, 2012||ISBN 978-4-09-151537-7||March 21, 2017||ISBN 978-1-4215-8624-3|
|Punpun reconnects with Aiko, but lies to her by acting confident and pretending that his life is much better than it actually is. Overwhelmed by his confused feelings, he ends up bringing Aiko to a hotel where he tries to have sex with her, barely stopping when she asks him too. Shocked and angered, she leaves the hotel room, stating that she regrets the two met again. Left in shock and despair by this event, Punpun reunites with Sachi, who has become a more successful manga artist on her own, and announces him that she is pregnant with her ex-husband's baby. Punpun confesses his lies to Aiko; she confesses in return that she herself had lied about her own life, as she is unsuccessful in her career and still lives with her abusive mother. Instead of accompanying Sachi to the abortion clinic like he promised, Punpun, who is visited by Aiko, has sex with her, and the two decide to leave the city together to start anew.|
|11||November 30, 2012||ISBN 978-4-09-151543-8||June 20, 2017||ISBN 978-1-4215-8625-0|
|Punpun and Aiko visit Aiko's mother to announce to her that Aiko is leaving, but she reacts by stabbing Aiko's side with a knife. Trying to save her, Punpun fights Aiko's mother, and ends up strangling her to death, killing her on purpose. The two bury the body in the forest and leave the town to flee from the police, deciding to go to Kagoshima like they had promised each other when they were children. As they travel, they grow more hostile and resentful toward each other and become more depressed. As Aiko's injury worsens, she tries to puncture Punpun's eye with a fork, but only ends up giving him a minor injury. Meanwhile, Sachi becomes worried about Punpun's absence and starts searching for him.|
|12||June 28, 2013||ISBN 978-4-09-151549-0||June 20, 2017||ISBN 978-1-4215-8625-0|
|Punpun and Aiko's relationship and injuries worsen more and more as they both display suicidal behavior. After Punpun comes close to killing a stranger for no real reason, the duo arrives in Kagoshima and decide to go to the nearby island Tanegashima. Once there, after an innocent evening spent having fun, Punpun decides to strangle Aiko to death with a rope before killing himself, but she talks him out of it, while also confessing that she is in fact the one who killed her mother, having stabbed her to death after noticing that she was still alive after her fight with Punpun. Meanwhile, Sachi keeps on searching Punpun by meeting with his friends and family.|
|13||December 27, 2013||ISBN 978-4-09-151555-1||September 19, 2017||ISBN 978-1-4215-8626-7|
|Punpun and Aiko continue their journey, as their depressions and relationship are at their worst. Aiko insists on how happy she is that the two fell in love, but when Punpun wakes up from their nap, he discovers that she committed suicide by hanging herself. Refusing to accept the truth, Punpun carries her body with him, but it is eventually discovered and taken away by locals. He comes back to Tokyo and attempts to kill himself near an old building he, Aiko and their friends visited back in elementary school, but is found by Sachi who saves him and brings him to a hospital. Meanwhile, Pegasus and his cultists commit mass suicide, but Seki rescues an unconscious Kō from the burning building. Although Kō survives, he becomes amnesiac, and doesn't remember who Seki is. A year later, Punpun, whose probation for the death of Aiko's mother just finished, has a normal job, having found relative peace in an unexciting normal life. Harumi, an old friend of Punpun from elementary school, meets him by chance in a street, and after a short, unremarkable discussion, the two part ways. As Punpun, surrounded by the friends he made through those last years, tearfully waves him goodbye, Harumi waves back, knowing that they will surely never meet again. At the school where Harumi teaches, a girl transfers into his class, and a young student falls in love with her at first sight, just like Punpun did with Aiko eleven years before.|
In 2009, the manga received a Jury Recommendation at the 13th Japan Media Arts Festival Awards. The series was nominated for the 2017 Eisner Award in the "Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia" category, for its first four volumes.
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It's almost too easy to call Goodnight Punpun a slice-of-life story or a coming of age manga. Although it is both of those things, it's also a bit of a fantasy, albeit a fairly mundane one.
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...after [Punpun] experiences statutory rape by Midori...
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