Ikezawa, Satomi. Guru Guru Pon-chan. Vol. 9. Trans. Doug Varenas, Nunzio DeFilippis, and Christina Weir. New York: Del Rey, 2007. Summary
: Transforming with the Guru Guru Bone has prematurely aged Ponta, and her life is in danger. Though her friends conspire to prevent her from killing herself, she cannot bear to be parted from Mirai. And so, after a romantic night at the firefly river, Ponta appears to die. Fortunately, she's just sleeping, and she awakens at the last possible second to a life lived happily ever after, married to her beloved Mirai. Comments
: This was mangaka Ikezawa's longest series to date, and unfortunately, it shows. Guru Guru Pon-chan
gradually loses its momentum as it progresses and virtually grinds to a halt in the final three volumes; I suppose I should have stopped reading after volume five, before it lost its halo of goodness. After all, a happy ending is obligatory, and once the shoujo heroine and her lover are firmly united in their mutual passion, there's no story left to tell. The rest is afterburn. (You REALLY know it's over when they have sex for the first time. Man on dog/girl sex, in this manga's case...)
As such, the final plot twist was an utter waste of time. No way would Ikezawa kill Ponta off for good! (Ponta's based on her real-life dog, and I've yet to meet a dog lover who would write the death of her own dog into a work of popular fiction.) I found it to be emotionally barren, and the funeral scene, a convenient device to reintroduce and bid farewell to all of the supporting characters met along the way, just tried my patience. My patience was even further tried by a blackened Ponta's unlikely emergence from the cremation oven. And what was that? If she sleeps all the time, she'll keep regenerating and live as long as a human? Is that what the ending is supposed to imply? Or is their love still on dog years? That would be just too depressing.
When it comes to keeping animals as pets, people are willing to accept the pain of loss for the comparatively brief pleasure of companionship. I suppose one could make the same argument for love of any sort...I could especially see a Japanese person doing that, especially in an uber-idealistic genre like mainstream shoujo manga. And, in a way, reading this series was much the same as having a dog: The abundant pleasures of its presence in my life more than compensate for its later precipitous decline and painful departure. Notes
: paperback, 1st American edition; first published in Japan by Kodansha in 2000 Rating
- One of Del Rey's best licenses to date concludes with a whimper...or should I say "pathetic doggie whine"?