GuruGuru Pon-chan Vol. #02 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, December 26, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Translated by:Douglas Varenas
What They Say
Thanks to the invention of the Guru Guru Bone, Ponta can now change from puppy to teenage girl at will. But human customs are hard to master, and she keeps finding herself in strange and awkward situations. Will Ponta have to spend Christmas in the dog pound? Will she ever attract her one true love, cute high school buy Mirai? She's certainly lovable enough - maybe that's why transfer student Go Fujinaga falls for her instantly! Romantic misadventures ensure, as Go moves heaven and earth to induce beautiful, innocent Ponta to look his way...
The front cover features a cute picture of human Ponta holding a bouquet of flowers in her mouth. But while the image itself is adorable, the color pallete of neon oranges and pinks is not. The result is a book that catches the eye, but not in an appealing manner - something that could turn potential readers off on this series. The back cover has a smaller image of Ponta in her dog form. The extras in the book are standard for Del Rey - ads for other products, a translation supplement explaining cultural notes from the book and an untranslated preview of the next volume in the series.
Satomi Ikezawa's artwork is typical shoujo - with pretty boys and large, expressive eyes for her girls. Her art reminds me more of Korean manwha art than traditional manga art. Background details are cut for the sake of focusing a lot on facial expressions, which is key to many of the characters personalities. You get so used to seeing Ponta be upbeat that when she looks downtrodden, it really drives the point home moreso than some of the words. There are a few powerful images in the book, especially the scene where Ponta in dog form shields Mirai from Go's wrath during their initial meeting.
The translation feels natural and the SFX and honorifics remain intact.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Christmas approaches in the Koizumi household, Ponta does her best to stay out of Yuka's way in order to provide her owner/friend a clear route to capturing Mirai's heart. But Ponta's sacrifice takes an emotional toll on her and she falls ill. Things don't get any better for her when she winds up in the dog pound and is rescued by her friends.
Much of the volume focuses on the growing relationship between Ponta and Mirai. There's an encounter between the two of them on New Year's Day which leads to Mirai acknowledging that he is attracted to Ponta in her human form sexually. This bothers him, as he doesn't want to become known as a pervert who sleeps with dogs. But during the festivities, Ponta transforms back into a dog and encounters a young man who instantly hates Mirai because he believes Mirai is cruel to dogs.
That young man actually turns out to be a new classmate - Go Fujinaga - and he also falls quickly for Ponta in her human form and starts the beginning of a three-way triangle since Go believes Mirai (having seen him with Yuka during the holidays) is a playboy. The triangle takes us up through a hilarious chapter surrounding chocolates (aka mouse poop) and a touching chapter regarding the stress Ponta is going through. The final chapter in the book deals with Ponta having a part-time job, which almost results in her naivete being taken forgranted and gives Mirai the chance to save the day.
One of my complaints about the first volume of GuruGuru Pon-Chan was that Ponta seemed to be a little bit over the top. But as the story started to move away from doggie toilet-humor and into the emotional ramifications of Ponta's transition from dog to human, the story starts to pick up. A key event is pretty subtle, and that's Ponta's own maturing. She's as cheerful and energetic as ever, but she's not over-the-top the way she was at the beginning of the series.
This series is really starting to explore the timeless themes of love transcending cultural morals and of finding out who you are. Ponta becomes more endearing as she starts to master her human emotions and a lot of focus is spent on Mirai as he struggles with his growing feelings for her. The chapter "Ponta is Ponta" is especially telling of just how much Mirai and Ponta both have grown in a short amount of time. Comedy is added with Go's antics and both times I read this volume, I immensely enjoyed it.
Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: C
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Del Rey
Orientation: Right to Left