February 16, 2010
Yukiya Sakuragi – Viz – 2010 – 21+ volumes
I will be the first to admit that this series is little more than shallow fun. It took me a long time to get into it, but I can say as of now that I’m enjoying each volume quite a bit, which goes against a lot of my better judgement. Suguri is a positive main character that has her hands in a lot of interesting things (from dog dancing to finding homes for mutts to discovering dog lineage), but she can also be annoyingly ditzy, and the episodes, while enjoyable, stop just short of turning the series into something more. As I’ve said before, the series does its best to appeal to dog lovers, but doesn’t really try to reach outside that circle. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s a fine dog manga. One of the best I’ve read. But just keep in mind that that’s all there is to it while you read it.
It’s also pretty calculated at certain parts to blatantly appeal to the reader’s sympathies. When the dog that finally finds a home is ejected for reasons that are obviously not his fault, we feel bad for Suguri. When he finally does get a permanent home in a wealthy home with a couple kids and a yard, and the ten commandments of owning a dog are panning through with cheesy shots of the family playing with the dog, I mean… it’s kind of a bittersweet moment, since it goes to the trouble of chronicling the dog’s life. But most readers are going to be aware that it’s really trying hard to be sad. If you’ve ever owned a dog (I haven’t), it probably stirs some sad memories too. Whatever.
Older plotlines do come up towards the end of the book when Suguri’s visit to home lead her back to the man that kidnapped her as a girl. I wasn’t aware that this had happened, but I wasn’t missing out on anything at all since the whole story is explained in this volume (more points for Inubaka – it really is a series you can pick up and enjoy at any volume, a rare thing for manga). It’s serious, but again, I feel like it’s going through the motions of being a pretty serious stalker story rather than going for actual plot and character development. Within the context of the series, however, it works just fine.
One thing that still bothers me is that it is still immediately obvious that this ran in a men’s magazine. Suguri wears silly costumes, short skirts, and she’s the perfect cute, naieve, and ditzy girl. The story is pretty vanilla and very close to being family friendly at most points, but then something disturbing will happen, like a teenage boy admitting he wants to keep a 4-year-old girl as a pet, or a weirdo who slaughters pets in the park, and then it’s not so okay for all ages. A real shame, since it’s otherwise a very sweet, shallow, and enjoyable series. And it still is, just not for anyone under, say, thirteen or fourteen or so. And it’s rated Older Teens, appropriately, so that’s fine.
This was a review copy provided by Viz.