Goodnight Punpun: Undefine Yourself 

 

  Goodnight Punpun is a manga by Inio Asano that debuted in March 2007 and ended November 

2013.  It took me a long time for me to get around and read this story that many have deemed to 

be “the best manga of all time”.  Well, quarantine is a good time to catch up on your reading as I 

hope all of you have been doing.  And I took the opportunity to do this.  And Goodnight Punpun 

is a story that uses symbolism in a way that perhaps no story has ever before.  Certainly, no 

manga has before. 

   

  To fully understand this story, you must understand the creator.  At least a little bit.  Inio Asano 

had just finished up Solanin , his first big hit.  He was only 26 years old by the time he finished 

up.  Solanin was the first piece of work that I read of Asano.  It is about Meiko and Taneda, a 

couple who are two years of out of college.  Meiko works as an office lady, Tanedea works as an 

illustrator at a press company.  Tanedea is in a band but is not doing a great job of promoting it.  

Meiko decides to quit her job to find some meaning in her life as Tandeda decides to dedicate 

time to focus on writing his first proper song.  

 

  A lot of things happen along the way, even a few twists and turns.  But overall, it is feel-good 

story somewhat reminiscent of reality bite.  Well, at least a similar vibe.  Anyway, Asano at least 

felt that Solanin was a feel-good story and was done with writing “feel good” stories.  He wanted 

to write something with more grit.  Darker.  Something that showcased how deary life can get. 

  And that is an understatement. 

 

  Goodnight Punpun follows a young man named Punpun Punyama (later becomes Punpun 

Onodera) from elementary school all the way to his twenties.  In the first chapter you first see 

him drawn as a bird and then when he gets home, he sees his mother with a head injury and his 

father telling Punpun that a robber has broken into their home.  Both his parents are drawn as 

birds as well. 

 

  This starts the chain of events that takes Punpun down an interesting path to say this least.  

Before this in the chapter it is shown that he is just a normal elementary school boy with friends 

and a girl named Aiko Tanaka, is his crush.  The chapter is rather light.  The first volume (this is 

a 13 volume manga) is rather light for the most part.  After his dad is arrested for assaulting his 

mother and his mother is taken to the hospital, her brother and Punpun’s uncle, Yūichi Onodera, 

a thirty-three-year-old freeter (someone who lacks full time employment or is straight up 

 

unemployed excluding stay at home mothers and students) comes in to take care of Punpun.  

  You know how I mentioned symbolism?  Well, in the first chapter, Punpun is shown receiving 

a telescope from his father.  His father then speaks to him about Vegas and the summer triangle.  

While first reading this, I did not think much, if anything of it.  But as the story goes on this takes 

on a deeper meaning within the narrative and is a displayed of great subtle writing and 

symbolism on Asano’s part. 

 

  Yuichi comes in and provides some much-needed stability to Punpun’s life.  Punpun is a very 

passive character and this is shown right from the start with his romance with Aiko.  It is clear 

that while he does like Aiko, he is merely at the mercy of her whims.  She gets Punpun to 

promise her that he’ll go and runaway with her to Kagoshima to her uncle.  She says that if he 

breaks this promise, that she would kill him. 

 

  Punpun not only breaks his promise, but is stuck in inaction, leaving Aiko without any kind of 

notice.  Essentially, he was a no call and no show.  Granted, it was for a good reason as he went 

with his uncle to visit his mother in the hospital.  But the fact that he is filled with mental 

turmoil, yet does nothing about it shows something about Punpun.  He is not so concerned that 

he broke his promise to Aiko.  No, he is more upset over the fact that he told her that he would 

“protect her forever” and failed to do this.  This pride that he has causes a great deal of self-hate.  

What really began his self-hate was when his friend got hit by motorcycle.  Punpun felt that it 

was his fault and that he was inherently a bad person.  This is an identity that overshadows his 

whole life. 

 

  Pride is something that can be toxic once you latch onto it.  Reason is that you can never have 

enough of.  As Punpun goes on with his life, he cannot help but be attached to this pride that 

becomes a way to identify his sense of self.  When he goes on to middle school, he is haunted by 

the sight of Aiko.  It becomes even worse when he sees that she is dating someone.  Yaguichi, a 

popular badminton player who Punpun discovers is in fact a good guy.  They run into each other 

and even form a friendship.  Yaguichi confides in Punpun how Aiko is putting up a wall between 

the two of them, causing confusion in him.  Punpun reveals his feelings for Aiko.  Yaguichi says 

that if he loses the Badminton tournament that Punpun can have her. 

 

  As fate turned out, Yaguichi while in the lead gets an injury, causing him to lose.  Punpun is 

free to be with Aiko.  Aiko has even forgiven him.  Yet, Punpun turns her down.  Why?  What 

caused Yaguichi to get injured was seeing Punpun and Aiko holding hands.  Punpun notices this 

and feels guilt over it.  That he is therefore a bad person and would be someone of bad morals to 

take Aiko in this situation.  He simply tells her to go to him and walk away.  Punpun does not 

care about what Aiko thinks of him.  Punpun is far too self-absorbed with maintaining this false 

sense of self that he has built up. 

 

  Speaking of false sense of self, let us talk about Yuichi.  Yuichi as I previously mentioned is a 

freeter.  Outside of that, not much is known about him.  He is kind and is easily the best and 

probably only good male and adult influence for that matter.  But not much is known about him 

outside of him being a self-deprecating guy who likes women with swoll backsides.  

  That is, until he meets Midori Okuma. 

 

  Yuichi first meets Midori while visiting mama Punpun in the hospital.  Midori is mama 

Punpun’s nurse.  Later Yuichi meets up with a friend in a coffee shop when Midori recognizes 

him.  Turns out her dream is to own a coffee shop of her own.  So, she decided to quit her job in 

the hospital to go and be a barista.  I have found this to be something common in Asano’s works 

where a character has a sense of their purpose, but is tied down by their 9-5 only to break free of 

it in a way that is not socially acceptable. 

 

  Midori expresses romantic interest in Yuichi (who if I have not mentioned is seen as a bird as 

well) and makes a slight advance towards him.  Yuichi for whatever reasons decides to avoid 

her, forcing Midori to come up with ways to get him to open up.  Yuichi even confesses to 

masturbating to her in an attempt to turn her off.  

 

  This took place in the coffee shop late at night when it was just Yuichi and Midori with the 

owner out of town, allowing for Midori to practice what it would be like to run a coffee shop.  

When Yuichi goes to pay the bill and effectively not see her, she ups to charge to a quite 

unreasonable amount, forcing Yuichi to finally come clean about what is holding him back. 

  Yuichi goes into how when he was 28, he was a pottery instructor for middle age women.  He 

was with a woman of five years who was pressuring him for marriage.  He was stuck in a 

mundane job, a mundane relationship, an overall mundane existence.  That was until the sixteen- 

year-old daughter of Mrs. Yagi, a student of his shows up.  

 

  Immediately Yuichi is drawn to Mr.s Yagi’s daughter.  Her persona intrigues him, and her 

youthfulness engages him.  One thing leads to another and that sixteen-year-old girl finds herself 

in Yuichi’s apartment, alone.  She makes a move on him, but Yuichi resists.  He has to hide the 

underage young lady as his girlfriend comes in.  After complaining to him about how all her 

friends are getting married; Yuichi proposes to her and has sex with her.  Right in front of the 

young girl as she watches from his closest.  

 

  This sixteen-year-old girl complained to Yuichi about her mother.  How her mother kept her 

from living the life that she desired.  How she felt oppressed by her mother.  She tells this to 

another instructor and he attacks Mrs. Yagi during a class.  Yuichi sees her one more time before 

that’s that.  He breaks off the engagement, quits the job at the pottery class and this was when he 

became a freeter. 

 

  Despite all this, Midori still accepts him.  She does not hold this against him.  Yuichi for the life 

of him cannot understand this.  Like Punpun, it has nothing to do with her per se, but more or 

less with this false sense of self that he has built up.  This however is not about pride, but 

hardcore self loathing.  Yuichi felt that because he was perverted (even though he did not cave 

in and have sex with her) and that he was scum for even proposing to his girlfriend when he had 

no real desire to be marry her in the first place.  He is so chained to the past that he cannot allow 

him to be happy and have a chance at love when love is literally shoving itself in his face in the 

form of Midori. 

 

  Self-sabotage is a theme that is thoroughly explored in Goodnight Punpun.  We first see this 

with Punpun missing at the bat with Aiko not once, but twice.  With Yuichi we get to see a 

glimpse of what is yet to come with Punpun.  We get to see a man so fueled by self-hate.  So, 

stuck in his own head.  An inferiority complex that drains him of any real drive in life.  This 

leads to him massive self-sabotages.  From cheating on Midori with the wife of his friend who 

comes to collect millions of yen which leads to mama Punpun selling her home to bail him out.  

To Yuichi running away from this and trying to kill himself. 

 

  Midori is a character whose sense of self is only tied to the people, places and things in her life.  

While at first, she is a nurse, a noble position, she yearns for running a coffee job.  She quits and 

becomes a barista to the chagrin of her parents, following her dream.  With Yuichi she feels a 

deep connection with him.  This is why no matter what he does, she loves and accepts him 

anyway.  She is able to look over his behavioral because of the attachment that she has built to 

him. 

 

  However, she does crack and this has a profound affect on Punpun.  While Yuichi is gone after 

his friend comes to collect, Midori is lonely.  Her man is gone; hence part of her identity is gone.  

She is confused as to what do moving forward and is looking for anything that she can hook up 

to.  This is where Punpun comes in.  By this point Punpun is in high school and is itching to have 

sex.  He sees Midori as an attractive older woman, but out of reach.  In a way, she is forbidden 

fruit.  You can also say that he represents that to her as well. 

 

  That is until one day at the coffee shop.  He and Midori are alone, together.  In a moment of 

weakness she puts herself on top of Punpun and has sex with him.  While Punpun was certainly 

attracted to Midori, Midori essentially rapes Punpun, using him as a means to an end.  This is 

effectively Punpun’s loss of innocence moment and he is never the same again.  All the while, 

Yuichi returns to Midori as the two plan their wedding. 

 

  Punpun is now hyper sexualized and goes on a date with a classmate out of sheer sexual desire.  

I believe the combination of Midori and this date unlock his unique road to self-destruction.  

Even though he sees that he is not clicking with her, he pushes forward with the date.  All in the 

hopes that he can score with her.  Even prolonging their parting to see if he can make a move on 

her.  When she learns that he skipped seeing his mother at the hospital, she is disgusted by this,  

Punpun, doing what he knows, forces himself on her, getting slapped in the process. 

  

  At this point you can see that Punpun is not on a good road.  After Midori quite literally took 

his virginity away from him, Punpun has no idea as to how to create a real connection with 

someone.  And who can blame him?  His dad has been forced out of his life due to a retraining 

order.  All he receives are nonsensical letters from him.  His mother is so self-absorbed that she 

has nothing of value to teach Punpun shows him very little if any love.  Alas, Punpun is 

completely on his own in terms of being able to understand how to navigate his life.  And 

thus far while he has not been doing a bad job, is far too self-absorbed to be aware of what is 

going on with him. 

 

  Things get worse as Punpun’s mother has a tumor.  She is not able to overcome this and dies.  

Before this we find out that it was in fact his mother that was the one sending those letters with 

nonsensical stories, not his father.  Punpun finds this out after her death from Midori.  Punpun’s 

father comes to see him with Yuichi and Midori in his mother’s apartment.  Punpun realizes that 

he no longer recognizes his father.  His father feels like a stranger to him.  So, when he father 

suggests that Punpun comes and lives with him, Punpun declines, citing that he rather live alone 

to the surprise of everyone. 

 

  A very memorable moment happens after this when Yuichi takes Punpun on a walk to talk.  He 

gives Punpun the real life talk that no one has ever given to him.  Here he tells Punpun that he 

knows that Mirdori and him had sex after the two of them came clean about their past to one 

another.  But that he still loves him anyway.  The point is that Yuichi explains to Punpun that 

you reap what you sow.  And that as long as he knows this to not blame anyone but himself how 

his life turns out. 

 

  Yuichi’s wise words setup a turning in the story as when reading this, you cannot help but 

resonate with the truth of that.  There are people who identify as victims, and there are people 

who take responsibility for their lives.  Yuichi is warning Punpun to not adopt a victim mentality 

but to instead take responsibility for his life.  In a way, he is telling him to do as he says, not as 

he has done.  It is hard to say whether or not that deeply resonated with Punpun, if it even 

resonated at all. 

 

  Going through the coming days in well, a daze, while out in another town, Punpun spots Aiko.  

The girl that he has yet to be able to let go of.  This causes him to move to that town.  Punpun 

then basically turns into who Yuichi was pre meeting Midori and works a part time job at a 

convenience store.  He hates this job, though he is works with an old friend from high school.  

He rents a small one-bedroom apartment where he tells himself that if nothing changes, he will 

kill himself. 

 

  Part of me believes that Punpun does not truly want a physical death.  What he yearns for is a 

psychological death.  He is tired of who he and wants a change.  This is common among a lot of 

people.  The only issue is that like a lot of people, he is not willing to do the work.  He expects 

something for nothing and believes that moving and possibly meeting up with Aiko again will be 

enough to spur his life into a positive direction. 

It is not enough. 

 

  Punpun spirals into a deep depression.  To the point where he become a pyramid.  Now, Asano 

has said that the symbolism does not mean much, but I cannot take that seriously.  I believe 

Punpun becoming a pyramid is a symbol for him be trapped within a prism of his own negative 

limiting beliefs.  Trapped inside the confides of his own mind, not allowing himself to be free 

and become anew. 

 

 People tend to allow for themselves to be trapped within these defined identities and roles that 

we have become accustomed to.  For most people, these are identities that were built up in the 

midst of childhood.  Yet, we cling to these as if it is a crime to let go of these ideas of self.  And 

in a way it is a crime against this self that we are so attached to.  But alas, it is hard to see past 

the smog that the ego creates.  Instead, we get caught up in all the noise and act as though this 

sense of self is something that is sacred.  Something that needs to be protected.  

 

  Just going through life, aimlessly, Punpun ends up in a bar one night despite not drinking and 

meets Sachi.  Or should I say meets her again.  Punpun met Sachi while he was on that date in 

high school.  Sachi had made a painting and gave Punpun a card, requesting for some kind of 

review.  Punpun did her one better and wrote a short story for her painting.  Turns out that this 

left a strong impression on Sachi and she cannot help but be interested in Punpun, as Punpun gets 

drunk for the first time in his life. 

 

  Sachi is another turning point in the story.  She is brass, cocky, but smart and beautiful.  She 

sees Punpun and while she is disgusted by his pathetic nature, feels empathy for him.  She sees 

her past self in Punpun.  Someone who is helpless only because they have allowed themselves to 

be a victim.  Someone who has decided to continue to buy the stories that they have been telling 

themselves. 

 

  Thus, Sachi uses the fact that Punpun wrote a nice story about her painting as a gateway to get 

him to write a manga with her.  Punpun has no experience writing.  In fact, he has no discernible 

talent.  He is for all intents and purposes a N.E.E.T (Not in Education, Employment or Training).  

Not only that, but he has no ambition to achieve anything with his life.  He sees himself as 

nothing and just wants to be nothing.  

 

  Sachi sees this and wants to do something about this.  In a way she feels that if she can heal 

Punpun of his pain, she can fully heal herself of her own pain.  Punpun at first of course cannot 

see this.  He even goes as far to say that she has it easy being a good-looking woman and that she 

has no way of understanding him.  This is when she reveals to Punpun that she had plastic 

surgery.  That what he sees is not the real her.  

 

  This what breaks Punpun out of his prism.  Literally, Punpun goes back to how we have been 

seeing him the entire story.  All it took was for Sachi, normally harsh with her words towards 

Punpun, to open up.  Her vulnerability allows for Punpun to see outside of himself and realize 

that he is not the only person with problems in the world.  People become stuck inside of their 

own prisms, not noticing the fact that there are other people who are hurting just as much, if not 

more than they are.  We instead go throughout the day, feeling sorry for themselves.  Wishing 

that someway, somehow, someone would come and save us. 

 

  Well, Sachi is that someone who has come to save him.  They begin working on a manga with 

one another and eventually begin to have sex.  Their “relationship” if you can call it that, is very 

modern.  Sachi would later remark that her and Punpun were not the “lovey dovey” type and you 

really cannot disagree with that. 

 

  Sachi reveals to Punpun that she has an ex-husband who has come to see her.  As passive as 

Punpun is, he goes along with her.  In essence, he is the exact opposite of Punpun.  He is driven, 

being an executive producer on a t.v show.  He is brass, much more brass than Sachi.  He is 

forward and at least has outward confidence.  He basically belittles Punpun as he can sense his 

pathetic nature and tells him how the real-world works.  

 

  His brutal honesty while well…brutal is refreshing at the same time.  Punpun is a very 

frustrating character to follow.  His passive nature and victim mentality makes it hard to have 

sympathy for him.  Sachi’s ex-husband has no sympathy for Punpun and is willing to tell it like it 

is.  No holds bare.  

 

  Once they go to an editor friend of Sachi to pitch their manga, a simple story basically about 

everyday people, the editor is left unimpressed.  He basically tells Sachi that she cannot expect 

for anyone to care enough to read this.  That she needs to create a marketable manga first and 

then she could create a work of art that comes from her heart.  As you can imagine, she does not 

take this well and leaves distraught.  Punpun’s attempts to comfort her fail and there is distance 

created between the two. 

 

  The meeting with the editor is something that a great deal of artists have to contend with during 

their careers.  During their pursuit of artistic integrity.  When you go out in the real world and 

showcase your art for the world to see, often times the feedback that you receive is that what 

comes out of your heart has little to nothing to do with what the market is looking for.  If you 

create a manga the publisher is going to want to maximize profits with that with licensing with 

merchandise, creating an Anime, or even a live action adaptation.  The best way to ensure 

success is to release something that appeals to the masses.  Essentially, you have to conform if 

you are looking to achieve success in your career.  The hard part is to be able to create a work of 

art without selling out completely.  Few can achieve this. 

 

  Once Punpun and Sachi go on a “break”, Punpun seeps back into his darkness yet again.  

Feeling bad for himself and not being able to pick himself up.  One day, he sees a neighbor of his 

bringing home a girl that is different from his girlfriend. Punpun listens to them having sex and 

begins to masturbate to it, wishing he was that guy. 

 

  He then decides to become that guy, adopting a new persona.  He gains a jock style body to go 

along with it.  This actually frees himself from his own mind as he feels the freedom to be 

someone other than who he has been trying to be.  For the moment, he does not feel burdened to 

live up the identity that he has been attached to for the longest time.  He first tries this out while 

in a waiting area for driving school.  He picks up a young woman who is sitting beside him. 

  That is until he sees Aiko.  Here it is.  The moment that he is has been waiting for.  Funny 

enough he has been so caught up with his own depression and dating Sachi that he hasn’t given 

Aiko too much thought as of late.  But serendipitously, she is here.  He is just about not prepared 

to deal with her.  But he sure as hell is not going to allow for this opportunity to slip through his 

fingers. 

 

  She is as beautiful as ever and tells him that she is a model.  They both then begin to lie to one 

another about what has been going on in their lives to impress each other of course.  Punpun 

gives this whole fabricated life story about how he is this cool guy and Aiko lies about being a 

successful model.  They both lie about being in relationships.  Of course, they cannot let the 

other know just how pathetic they have become throughout the years. 

 

  It is funny to think about this.  They lie about who they wish they were rather than do the 

groundwork in their lives.  They are in essence two sides of the same coin.  Both have never 

quite had anything go their way.  Both maintain this victim mentality about life.  Both hold on to 

these ideas of self that have been there since they were children.  Both have just about no sense 

of agency.  Both cannot let go of the other. 

 

  After having sex with the random girl that he had picked up at the driving school, she begins to 

talk about his “soccer” career and how she wants to go and see him.  This is far too much for 

Punpun to hear as he excuses himself out of her apartment.  He realizes that he can no longer 

continue on doing this.  That he can no longer live this lie in hopes to living a better life. 

  Hanging out with Aiko one night, Punpun takes her a hotel, still trying to live up to the new 

image that he had built for himself.  But alas, he isn’t able to be congruent enough to does this 

and just comes across as too aggressive, causing Aiko to have some last minute resistance that he 

at first will not give into until Aiko forces him off her.  

 

  This is where Punpun begins to break down and for a second, reverts back to who he has 

thought he was all along.  Then Sachi informs Punpun that she and her ex-husband had sex and 

is now pregnant with his child.  Punpun, now back to his passive self, is allowing for Sachi to 

take the reins.  Sachi feels guilt for this and is confused as to what to.  She decides that she 

wants to abort the child and wants Punpun to be there with her.  Sachi knows that with Punpun 

being so passive that he is just going to do whatever she asks and Punpun even cops to this, 

furthering her guilt. 

 

  What destroys these plans is but of course, Aiko.  Turns out, Aiko has been getting beat up both 

physically and mentally by her own mother.  After getting beat up in both ways by her mother 

once again, Aiko decides that she has had enough and runs to Punpun.  They finally have sex 

with one another, and Aiko comes clean.  She wants to run away from with him to Kagoshima, 

just like how she wanted to years ago, shedding a great deal of light on what her reasoning she 

was back then. 

 

  Being a “nice guy” Punpun does not believe it would be proper to leave town without Aiko 

letting her mother know.  Aiko is of course against this, but Punpun insists, feeding more into his 

old image of someone trying to be a good guy.  So, Aiko caves in and they go over to tell her 

mother the news.  Meanwhile, Sachi waits for Punpun at the abortion center, alone. 

  Once Punpun and Aiko reach her mother’s home, Punpun sees the horror of her mother.  One 

thing leads to another and her mother begins to beat on Aiko, causing Punpun to attack her and it 

appears that Punpun has killed her mother.  It is interesting how Punpun went from wanting to 

“do right” by Aiko mother to killing her within minutes.  It shows how that image of his that he 

desperately wants is a mask that is fake as hell. 

 

  And that fake as hell masks fade.  Punpun’s face becomes dark and he grows horns.  I hate to 

say it, but this is my favorite version of Punpun.  In a lot of ways, Punpun is like Walter White.  

A disillusioned man who feels slighted by the world.  Once they taste blood, something awakens 

inside of them.  They go from someone who is a victim to empowered in a dark kind of way. 

  You can tell that he feels liberated.  This is because after believing that he has killed Aiko’s 

mother, he feels as though his life is over.  So, in a way, it was an ego death.  This ego allows 

him to stop pretending to be this “nice guy” that he has so desperately wanted to be.  And 

speaking of nice guy syndrome, it is so clear how much of a nice guy Punpun is.  He believes 

that he does the right things, is nice to women and etc, that he will be able to get what he wants.  

And when that does not happen most of the time, he would go into a downward spiral.  In a way, 

he has become more vulnerable.  

 

  With a freaked-out Aiko, Punpun takes her mother’s body, dumps it into a river and drives off 

to Kagoshima.  This begins one of the best depictions of an abusive relationship that I have ever 

seen.  Aiko has one can imagine is mentally unstable.  She is out of whack in more ways than 

one and even stabs Punpun in the eye to make sure that he only has “eyes for her”.  Punpun on 

his end is both physically and abusive to Aiko.  It’s funny, before this arc I saw Aiko as this 

narcissistic spoiled brat.  But she is perhaps the most tragic character in the whole entire story.  

She abused by her own mother for years.  She then goes into Punpun’s arms to only be abused by 

him. 

 

  At this point, Punpun feels as though he is destined to die with Aiko.  The guilt over killing her 

mother begins to set in as he tries to kill himself by taking pills.  On the news they find out that 

Aiko’s mother’s body has been found and that they are looking for Aiko.  Just as Aiko finds a 

job.  They of course cannot stay here and must move on. 

 

  Here we have Punpun once again feeling tied to another identity that he has created for himself.  

This time as a sort of devil/outlaw.  He is way more blunt, aggressive and dark.  While at a gas 

station convenience store he notices that a guy who is reading Sachi’s manga, but does not like 

it.  He follows him, confronts him with a baseball bat and starts to attack him before Aiko comes 

in and pulls him away.  Punpun has never been violent up until Aiko’s mother’s death.  Now his 

dark side feels free to come out and he believes that this is simply who he is. 

 

  All the while Sachi continues to work on her manga.  Her manga is obviously a success, but 

she is lonely.  Punpun is gone, she is not interested in getting back together with her ex-husband, 

and she is carrying her unborn baby.  She feels as though this success is hollow without anyone 

to be there with her.  She feels as though her success is hollow without Punpun being there with 

her. 

 

  Artists tend to be in situations where their work takes over their life.  Take a look at Eiichiro 

Oda, the creator of One Piece.  One Piece has sold over 470 million copies worldwide.  Oda’s 

net worth is at least $200 million and might even be as high as $230 million.  But of course, there 

is a price to pay for that kind of success.  Oda’s schedule is insane.  He works round the clock six 

days a week to be able to churn out the weekly manga.  And even on his day off (Sunday) he gets 

together with other people in the industry. 

 

  Work life balance as it were is key.  When Sachi was working with Punpun she had it.  Now 

that Punpun is gone, he realizes what she is missing.  She is missing someone in which she can 

share of experiences with.  All of the success that she has feels hollow to her without Punpun 

there to enjoy it with. 

  

  She begins to look for Punpun and asks around.  Little by little she begins to learn about him. 

Not just what she perceives him to be.  She learns through Punpun’s old high school friend and 

her best friend’s little sister that was on the date with Punpun when they first met that Punpun 

has overall be a well-liked person and not someone who was ever looked down upon.  That he 

was at one point a bit outgoing. 

 

  Not finding where Punpun is, she pays a visit to Yuichi and Midori, then Punpun’s father, who 

reveal even more about Punpun, furthering surprising Sachi.  She realizes that she had bought 

into the identity that she had created for Punpun so much that she could in fact not see him for 

who he was.  

 

  In regard to Punpun, he still has his hands full with Aiko, who believes that Punpun wants to 

kill her.  In a way she is only projecting.  However, she is half right.  Punpun eventually brings 

her to a beach where he wants to kill her and then himself, believing that he is destined to die 

with her.  She is able to dissuade him as they go on for a bit.  She also confesses that she killed 

her mother, not Punpun.  They even are able to share some more nice moments together despite 

how toxic their relationship has become. 

 

  But she knows that he is bringing him down.  She knows that she is ruining his life.  And with 

that in mind she kills herself.  This finally breaks the soul tie that Punpun essentially believes 

that he has with Aiko.  As he takes her body away he is now a free man and not a murderer.  He 

is also a man with nowhere to go. 

 

  So, he decides to go back home.  He goes down on the sidewalk, finishes the job of stabbing his 

eye out that Aiko could not do, and lays down, waiting to do.  This appears to be it for Punpun.  

A fitting end for someone who has lived such a tragic life with no end in sight.  Punpun now is 

able to get some peace. 

 

  No such luck.  Sachi shows up, finds Punpun, takes him to the hospital where he gets better.  

No, no, no.  Punpun is not afforded to luxury to die like he wants to.  He has no choice but to 

continue to live.  He has no choice but to wake up and deal with his problems for another day.  

He has no choice but to stay inside his own consciousness that he so desperately wants to escape 

from. 

 

  Wait, what about the “good vibes” cult?  Well I do not really have too much to say about that.  

Other than in its own way it does fit in with the story.  It is a funny example of how politicians 

will go to great depths to lure in innocent people based off their vulnerabilities.  Their 

vulnerabilities being that they lack a sense of self.  

 

  I never mentioned Seki, but he is basically like Punpun, except more mature.  He sees that the 

fraud that society is trying to sell him.  He has a girlfriend who cheats on him, a mediocre job, a 

best friend who is all whacked out and gets eaten alive by the good vibes cult.  Like Punpun, he 

desperately wants a way out.  But unlike Punpun Seki is able to maintain the will to live.  When 

he receives a high paying job where all he has to do is control a television remote I believe is 

when he accepts how wonky the world is. 

 

  Goodnight Punpun is a story that is about people who believe that they are who they have been 

their lives without ever questioning themselves.  In essence, this is a story about people who lack 

insight.  Asano is perhaps the best manga writer when it comes to creating characters that go 

about their daily lives wondering what is wrong without realizing that it has more to do with 

them than the outside world.  Just about everyone in the manga blames someone else for their 

problems without going inwards and seeing how they can a great deal of their suffering. 

 

  Punpun is easily one of the most complex characters in Manga, and perhaps in all of fiction in 

general.  He so desperately wants love and validation.  But he does not understand how to give 

any kind of value.  He so desperately wants a good life, but is not willing to put in the work to 

create it.  He is so much like twenty something year olds in this world today that it is not funny.  

Perhaps this is why the story still finds an audience to this day. 

 

  At the end of the manga, Punpun runs into a former classmate of his.  A young man who his 

mother met in the hospital.  He had caused his then girlfriend to crash on a bike, screwing up her 

face.  He currently has a new girlfriend who does not understand her, a job that he does not like, 

and is slightly suicidal.  He then sees Punpun with Sachi and her kid and catches up a bit.  

Though he is weirded out by the eyepatch that Punpun now adorns, he assumes that Punpun is a 

family man with a happy life.  

 

  Oh, how appearances never do tell the full story.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Support us on Patreon

 

Check out my novel, Peace: The Pursuit of Happiness 

 

Check out my new single: That's How It Goes

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