Writer/Artist: Satomi Ikezawa
Translated by: David Ury
Adapted by: David Ury
What They Say
Ponta the Labrador Retriever uses the fabled Guru Guru Bone to change into a human girl, winning the heart of Mirai Waki. But what if using the bone is killing Ponta?
The transformation has taken its toll and may be too much for Ponta's body to handle. Realizing that his loved one may die, Mirai hides the bone, leaving Ponta in dog form and making it impossible for them to be together. But can a love like theirs be stopped? The stunning conclusion to Guru Guru Pon-Chan is finally here!
One of the advantages of being a manga reviewer is that I'm exposed to titles I'd probably never have tried otherwise. Though picking out titles I'm not too sure about has backfired sometimes, it's also introduced me to gems like Guru Guru Pon-Chan; and while Pon-Chan's writing and artwork have been hit-or-miss throughout its nine-volume run, on the whole it's landed many more hits than misses. It's only appropriate, then, that the ninth and final volume caps the series off with a flawed but largely satisfying conclusion.
(Because of how the story plays out in this volume, there's really no way that I can discuss the plot without giving parts of the ending away. Be warned that major spoilers follow.)
Volume 9 of Guru Guru Pon-Chan mostly follows down the same path that Ikezawa started taking at the end of Volume 8: the humor turns increasingly dark as the story progresses, gradually dissipating altogether as the plot winds down. Most of this volume's comedic moments arrive in the first two chapters, when Mirai and Yasuke decide to keep Ponta in her canine form for the sake of her own health. Ponta wants nothing to do with this plan, of course, and stubbornly thwarts their attempts to hide the Guru Guru Bone. Once Ponta makes it clear that she's going to do things her own way, she and Mirai return to the cave that they discovered back in Volume 3 in order to make the most of Ponta's ailing health. During the duration of this trip and its aftermath, Ikezawa wisely chooses not to compromise the story's serious turn with over-the-top gags: the humor during the last two chapters is relatively subdued, giving the dramatic elements room to breathe and fully develop. The wedding march/funeral procession sequence in the final chapter is especially touching, and the bittersweet scene that follows lends a nice sense of closure to some of the secondary characters that faded out of the story earlier on.
The only place where this volume really falters is at the very end, when Ikezawa introduces a plot twist that really doesn't belong. Sure, it fits in well with the rest of the manga's tone -- but it's also illogical and forced, and it doesn't seem to have any purpose other than to put an artificially happy spin on things at the end. The last 22 pages of the manga undo a lot of the interesting things that Ikezawa had been building towards since the end of Volume 8, and the story could have ended on a stronger note without them.
Nevertheless, I still strongly recommend this volume -- and the series as a whole -- to readers who are willing to weather the story's ups and downs in quality. Though Volume 9 loses a bit in laughs compared to earlier volumes, it more than makes up for it with some of the series's strongest dramatic moments.