Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs Volume 1
It’s a standard manga premise — young girl doesn’t know what to do with her life, stumbles into something she’s good at and starts becoming an adult as a result of the experience — made palatable through the many pictures of very cute dogs in Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs by Yukiya Sakuragi.
Suguri is, to be blunt, a cheerful idiot. When a dog pees on her, for example, she laughs and says, “Oh, that always happens.” The story begins when she gets into a car with two older strangers with nefarious intent. Instead of something worse happening, she gets ditched at a rest stop. There, her dog Lupin mates with a champion being taken for breeding. (The strangers aren’t so smart, either, since they pick up a girl accompanied by a large dog.)
To make up for the lost value of the purebred puppies, she agrees to work for the dog’s owner, Teppei. He manages a Tokyo pet shop and has a weakness for strays, including his high school buddy Kentaro, who works with him but really wants to be a musician.
Suguri complains about her parents being overprotective, but she casually reveals that she was kidnapped as a child, so the reader is left thinking that they have good reason, especially given her naivete. Her new boss considers her simple-mindedness a virtue, since it gives her some kind of empathy for the animals. Her abilities extend to making all the dogs in the shop so happy that they all pee when she first arrives. Plus, she always wears a dog collar in honor of the animal that once saved her life.
This is all very silly, but as I said before, the dogs are really cute, especially the puppies. It’s fun to watch them and watch Suguri learn to take care of them. I found it surprisingly enjoyable to learn pet care along with her. Even though she’s silly, she’s good-hearted, and like an irrepressible friend, she really grew on me.
It’s unfortunate that this book is rated for Older Teens (perhaps because of panty shots and poop jokes, or maybe because the whole cycle of a dog’s life is pictured) — this would be a great choice for kids wanting a pet, to learn how to take care of one.