by Yukiya Sakuragi; adapted by Ian Reid
published by Viz; $9.99 US
It’s been almost half a year since we left Suguri at the pet shop, trying to find a suitable home for the abandoned mutt Hinomaru, but it took me no time at all to get right back into the story.
The poor dog risks becoming a victim to a murderous pet abuser, but that overwrought drama soon settles down to more believable conflict. A new family wants to adopt Hinomaru, but to do so, they have to accept that the dog may react strangely at first, given his history and abuse by a former owner. Although I could see where the story was going, I was emotionally involved in hoping for a happy ending for everyone. Dog tales just do that to me, and the animals are drawn so well that I want to reach out and pet them.
The killer does serve one useful purpose — reminding the reader that these are animal lives at stake, that decisions to get or keep or give a pet shouldn’t be casual or based on whim or fashion. The responsibility is significant, and if you can’t live up to them, at least you can imagine yourself with a pet for a little bit with this book. Those kinds of lessons underlie amusing or thoughtful tales of bringing together dogs and owners. The pets can’t speak for themselves, so Suguri serves as their voice, championing their causes.
She takes even more of the focus in the other main story. Fifteen volumes into the series, Suguri returns home. Back in the first book, there was mention of why she always wears a dog collar and why she’s so attached to her dog Lupin. When she was a child, another dog of the same name rescued her from kidnappers.
In the second half of this book, she finds out more about Lupin’s lineage, including how he’s descended from that previous hero dog. Along the way, she discover more about the crime and its aftermath, answering readers’ long-standing questions. In my case, I was left with more, based on how the whole thing was handled. It seemed unbelievable, even with the explanation given, but it’s also a setup for something in the next volume. It’s typical to have continuing storylines across volumes to bring readers back; I just wish this one weren’t so creepy.
In this volume, there’s also a one-page, cartoony “how to draw Lupin” and a set of international pinups featuring Suguri in revealing themed outfits accompanied by dogs from whatever country she’s representing. That sums up the art appeal of this series — well-drawn puppies accompanied by sometimes fan-service of the attractively cute heroine.
Even though I sometimes have reservations about some aspects of this title, I always enjoy reading it, because it lets me imagine all the fun and love of having a dog. (The publisher provided a review copy.)