“Lit” Pick of the week: “Goodnight Punpun Vol. 1” by Inio Asano

Courtesy of Shogakukan

Radar is committed to all forms of art and entertainment and as such, will pick one book as a reading recommendation every week. This week, Radar’s “Lit” pick is the manga, “Goodnight Punpun Vol. 1” by Inio Asano.

The stigma associated with graphic novels, including Japanese manga, as a form of literature can be attributed to the medium’s inclusion of and emphasis on illustrations, which some argue remove the role imagination serves when reading a traditional novel. However, that stigma is unwarranted as it undercuts the brilliant artistry involved in many works that feature pages upon pages of hand drawn artwork. One such example is “Goodnight Punpun Volume 1,” a remarkably touching, often hilarious and always strange, coming-of-age story wherein Japanese artist Inio Asano follows the titular character as he navigates a strenuous childhood in Japan.

Asano’s manga stands out among others in the medium due to its incredibly grounded and engaging story that, from time to time, ventures into the surreal when it explores the headspace of the titular protagonist Punpun ― himself a young, somewhat high-strung Japanese boy full of wonder for a life he hopes to understand. It is worth mentioning the decision to render Punpun as a bird, itself alienating him from the human world he inhabits that mocks him with its abstruseness in comedic contrast. “Goodnight Punpun Vol. 1” testifies to manga’s potency as a literary art form and Asano’s unique storytelling capabilities.

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