The Faceless in Oyasumi Punpun


This post will most likely contain light spoilers for Oyasumi Punpun. It’s nothing huge hopefully but just as a warning.

I’ve recently come back from a different world, one that doesn’t particularly leave me in high spirits. Over the course of two days, I have read and been captivated by a manga called Oyasumi Punpun, a coming of age story of a boy who has no identifying physical characteristics that the audience can see. Drawn only as a caricatured bird, the audience delves deep into the psyche of this young man as he journeys into adulthood.


Goodness, the art in this manga makes me want to cry.

At first, when we watch Punpun struggle through his early days in elementary school, his physique as a small bird like creature endears him to the audience. Cute things are innocent, especially cute animals, or at least we think that at first. Perhaps that was the intention, creating an innocence through an appearance that would otherwise be impossible with the authors realistic drawing style. At his young age, this appearance doesn’t make us judge him, it makes us understand him more. After all, when most of us were that age, the images we had of ourselves were always somewhat pessimistic. I was a scrawny girl who hated her legs, uncomfortable in my own skin let alone with others and even despite being of a different gender than our protagonist there is this certain sense of camaraderie.


As the years tick past, however, not much of a difference can be seen in our protagonist (I dislike using the word hero to describe Punpun). Sure there are defining traits that signify the changes he’s going through, like a hat or spiky hair, but his body shape remains oddly the same, the only change perhaps being a slight elongation of his physique. So, what does the image of him say now?

The more Punpun grows and the less he changes creates a wall between him and the reader. It’s almost as if this image of innocence has become a mask, a lie that he tells the reader as if to to say “I’m still the same Punpun.” In reality, however, we can see his changes, see as he struggles through the anguish of having to see his father go to jail, living in a house he doesn’t quite consider a home with a mother he does not appreciate. In the end his appearance is distrustful, a false image that is not the real Punpun and soon he changes for the worse.


Despite an earlier change, when he took the form of a simple pyramid (he was somewhat of a recluse during that time of his life until someone snapped him out of it), the first significant change we see in Punpun comes when he meets his childhood sweetheart after a long time, a person who was and still is very important to him despite the time that had separated them.  For the first time we see his body, but his face is still hidden this time by an image much more menacing than before. The change wasn’t immediate, since at the point and time of their reunion he had vowed to be someone different. The uncertainty he feels manifests when he realizes that the girl he loved when he was young is not the same young woman he sees now, and as a result a part of him snaps.


It only escalates from there and soon him and his sweetheart find themselves in a situation where there is no return. It’s at this point that Punpun undergoes his final change. His face is now no longer the mask of youth, but a state of mind brought upon by his cumulative experiences, most of which aren’t very uplifting. The innocence is wiped away in a flash and he becomes someone or something that outwardly expresses the darkness that has been festering within his soul.

Comparing him to his sweetheart is another thing altogether. She and Punpun are similar in many ways, and it appears she is the true victim of Oyasumi Punpun.  We see her grow, we see her change, we see her struggle through a life that is just as difficult and emotionally taxing as Punpun’s (if not more), but she wears her mask well. It’s a silent and cheerful facade that has been chipped physically and mentally by years of abuse, but she is nowhere near stronger because of it and is struggling to make it through life alone. The question is, will Punpun in his current state be the best thing for her or will he be the final straw? However, her story is perhaps best left for another time.


Random Stuff

  • Man was this a much more emotionally taxing read than I thought it would be. There was a comedy element, albeit a bit dark, but it was so drowned out by the depressing material and growing cynicism of the characters that in the end I found it to be more disgusting than anything else. Still, I was completely hooked.
  • I think I need to go watch K-On…

About Nishimura

An anime enthusiast who finds time to blog when she has no time to spare.
This entry was posted in Art, editorials, Manga and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Faceless in Oyasumi Punpun

  1. Marow says:

    I won’t read this, but maybe you should start using the “Read More” tag? >_<'

    • Nishimura says:

      Too many words, huh? I guess if it’s really that jarring I could give it a shot. Also, are you planning on reading this manga or is it just not your cup of tea?

      • Marow says:

        It’s not that it’s too many words, just that it’s not good if you become spoiled since it’s all visible on the front page ^^’

        I am interested in this one and I have known it for quiet some time, but I never got around reading it. I usually find reading on the web painful, unless it’s “not so serious” stuff.

      • Nishimura says:

        Good reason, I didn’t think of that. I did try my best to avoid spoilers but who knows what can be considered that nowadays.

        Reading on the web is painful, I tried to get myself to slow down with this one but I just couldn’t stop after I started. I love turning pages of a book though, which is something I’ll really miss once digital takes over. Once, if you ever decide to pick it up, let me know what you think of it, I’m dying to talk about it with someone.

  2. nenad8 says:

    As I was searching for something about Oyasumi Punpun on the net (don’t even remember what it was anymore) I stumbled upon this entry. I’m on chapter 124 of OP and just reading your post is kinda making me sad. Guess that’s a praise for your writing, well, and for Asano Inio’s. Anyway, I wanted to ask you if you have an account on I’m up for chatting about manga/ anime if you’d like.

  3. read&confused says:

    Did pretty much the same thing, reading the manga in 3 days. Never expected the manga to be so dark at first glance. The first two days of reading the it was almost like the themes were rubbing off on me. I was lonely and empty for no good reason at all haha. Luckily for me I had already planned to meet up with a friend that I hadn’t seen for a long while which was a good distraction from the loneliness me until i got back home and started reading again (lol).

    Third day now and it’s only been half an hour since I finished. I have no idea what to take away from this manga. Awesome breakdown by the way. It makes me think about how there probably are people out there living in similar circumstances that corner them until they finally snap. All I can say is that I am happy to be living a life that is much more mundane than this story, in a good way of course.

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