Manga Reflection: Goodnight (Oyasumi) Punpun Edition

I’d like to start by saying that the following post not only contains spoilers for the series – it touches on very, very dark themes. The following post recounts very personal and serious topics such as suicide and sexual assault that are not for the faint of heart.

Goodnight Punpun is a coming-of-age story that follows Punpun Punyama/Onadera, an average boy with an active and curious mind as he deals with the divorce of his parents, making new friends, discovering sexuality, and other parts of growing up. The series is split into four parts, following Punpun through his Elementary- High School Years and Early 20s. Punpun is depicted as a bird-like creature (as is his family) and as the series progresses and Punpun becomes more corrupted by society, he becomes more human-like in shape. This series deals with suicidal thoughts, sexual assault, divorce, strained parental relationships, abusive relationships, abortion, religious cults, and so much more. The series is a gritty tale about growing up with deep and realistic themes that will make your stomach twist with anxiety if you aren’t prepared. The cast of characters is unique and fleshed out, dealing with a number of problems while various events are happening throughout the story – all leading back in some way to Punpun, even if indirectly.

Punpun came as a recommendation to me in 10th grade. I had recently left regular high school and began online schooling due to severe depression and an eating disorder. Needless to say, Punpun came at one of the darkest times in my life. I binge read all 13 volumes in about 3 days online, barely moving from my computer (at the time, it wasn’t out in English – it is now available through Viz Media). It gripped my soul and held on tightly and didn’t let go. I found myself breathless from how extreme and raw the emotions were. The series, while difficult to adjust to at first – the main character being a f*cking bird – quickly became something important to me in my darkest hour.

The series was one of the most realistic depictions of what I was feeling that I had ever read in my life. One particular line I will always recall is “frankly, Punpun was tired of himself.” This line described exactly how I felt at the time and Punpun’s intrusive thoughts, in the form of “God” felt like a representative of everything in my own mind telling me to die and that I didn’t deserve to exist. Goodnight Punpun helped my come to terms with many things.

It helped me face my own depression and suicidal thoughts. It helped me reflect on the feelings I felt when my parents divorced, as I was young as well like Punpun. Punpun allowed me to come to terms with being molested when I was younger and figure out how to cope. While the series is dark and never really takes a happy turn, it helped me face a lot of things that I needed to. I’m a very introspective person and the series really made me think about things.

There are times when it can be hard to reach out for help. Punpun just happened to come at the right time. While it is one of the most depressing series I have ever read, it helped me come to terms with more than I can easily write about. Just remember that there are times when even if you feel things are hopeless, there is always someone or something to help you get through things. You are not alone.

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