Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs Vol 14
Story and art by Yukiya Sakuragi
Published by Viz Media
Review by Julie Opipari
Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs is another series that always manages to wrestle some very real emotions from me. It’s due strictly to the subject matter, and people who know me personally know how much I love animals, especially dogs. A family isn’t complete without a slobbering, panting mascot to greet you every time you walk through the front door. The thought of not hearing a collar jingle is too awful to contemplate, and even when Buu is an obnoxious Greenie demanding brat, I still count my blessings he’s my dog.
Suguri, the heroine of Inubaka, is absolutely nuts about dogs. She’s moved from the country to Tokyo, where she works at Woofles, a pet shop owned by Teppei. The series is comprised of short story arcs, centering around the various customers of the store. Suguri is a caring and friendly young woman, and she probably gets a little too involved in the lives of Woofles’ clients. Part of the enjoyment from the series comes from Suguri’s character development. She makes many mistakes because she thinks with her heart instead of her head, but she learns some valuable life lessons from her missteps.
This volume is a bit of a hot button for me. Teppei has a black lab, and it’s his dream to raise puppies to sell in his shop. Suguri has a mixed breed dog, Lupin. She and her family never bothered to get him fixed, and it’s Suguri’s dream to see Lupin’s puppies. Teppei is adamantly opposed to the idea; how will she find loving homes for a bunch of mutts? The two argue over the issue, and despite Suguri acknowledging that Teppei has a good point, she still wants Lupin’s puppies.
Forgive me for a moment, as I ascend to my soap box. Both Teppei and Suguri need to reassess what they want for their dogs. There are tens of thousands of dogs and cats that are destroyed every year because nobody wants them and because nobody was responsible enough to spay or neuter their pets. I know. I have a dog that nobody wanted. Even being a purebred wasn’t enough to keep Buu in the good graces of his previous owners. He’s a good dog. He knows his basic commands, and he walks like a perfect gentleman on a leash. He knew how to do all of these before I rescued him. He was 50 pounds underweight, he had been abused, and he was very ill. He almost died before I could bring him home. This is a dog that somebody, somewhere in his past, cared enough about to teach him how to sit, stay, and heel. But not enough to provide a home for him for the rest of his life.
Now, before you start calling me a psycho tree-hugger, let me remind you that a comic book unleashed this torrent of feelings. Inubaka has a very simple premise. It’s about a girl who works at a pet shop. It’s about her learning to become independent, while doing something that she loves. It’s about a cast of odd and wonderful characters, and it’s about that special connection you can have with a dog. Each of the fourteen volumes to date have managed to make me feel something; sadness, happiness, and now even a flash of disappointment. This is another series that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Sure, every now and again there’s that oddly placed bit of fan-service, but the art is engaging and the content is compelling. It’s easy to relate to the characters, even the few I don’t care for, and they all have one thing in common. They all love their dogs, and they all think they are doing what’s best for them. Even if the readers may sometimes disagree.
When Julie Opipari isn’t mucking around the barn, she can be found trying to make a dent in the massive pile of manga that keeps following her home from the bookstore. Not wiling to admit she has a problem, she blissfully continues to anticipate the latest releases despite the cries of agony from her credit card. She cheerfully blames her addiction on the stresses of college and post traumatic work disorder, and is grateful that her family grumbles only occasionally about the amount of time she spends buried in her books. In addition to reading Your Manga Minute every Wednesday, you can read more of Julie’s work on her blog, Manga Maniac Cafe.