Stargazing Dog - A Manga Review

For this Throwback Thursday, another manga review first written for my Special Topics in Librarianship: The Graphic Novel class in December 2014.

The Artist Librarian reviews "Stargazing Dog," a poignant story told through the eyes of Happie, the family dog. From the time he burst into their lives, he observes his family, witnesses their separation, and loyally stays with “Daddy” as they road trip aimlessly across Japan.
(c.) 2011 by NBM Publishing
Title: Stargazing Dog
Creator: Takashi Murakami
Published: English version 2011 by NBM Publishing, original Japanese in 2008.

About the Book:
"Translated from the Japanese bestseller, this story centers on Oto-san, a man who finds himself abandoned by his family and friends with nothing in his life happening the way he had planned. He embarks on a road trip to escape it all, and he soon discovers the only one he can count on completely is his faithful, recently adopted dog, who helps him see the light at the end of the tunnel. Illustrating the valuable lessons of friendship and loyalty, this is a heartwarming tale of two endearing characters and their shared adventure into the unknown."

The Artist Librarian's Review:
This was a poignant story told through the eyes of Happie, the family dog. From the time he burst into their lives, he observes his family: witnessing the break down and then finally the separation of his family members. He remains the companion of "Daddy" as they road trip aimlessly across Japan. Happie is the only "person" left in Daddy’s life and they loyally stay at one another's sides until the end. The last part of Stargazing Dog follows the social worker tasked with identifying the body of the man found in an abandoned vehicle. The body of the faithful dog reminds him of his treatment of a loyal pup from his childhood.

I’d heard of elderly in Japan passing away alone and not being found until months later.  This manga reminded me of those stories (and of Hachi). Why did Daddy use a fake name at the pawn shop near the end? It didn’t seem like he wanted anyone to find him after he was gone … Was it to avoid shame? I thought it was interesting to note a slightly different culture and mindset. But something made me sad to think that his daughter or wife wouldn’t know what happened to him. Even if he and his wife didn’t split on the best of terms (it seemed they were both kind of resigned rather than angry) … I don’t know, I still think that his family would want a funeral or closure. Even if you were a “cat person” (like me) I don’t see how you could dislike Happie … I think any pet owner would be moved by his loyalty and sweetness. 

For regular manga readers, I’d recommend it to folks who enjoyed Chi’s Sweet Home (though Chi is a cat) because the story is told from the pet's point of view … I’d feel pretty comfortable recommending it to teens and up, as I didn’t remember anything really graphic (I don't know if it would interest younger readers). Though they might not be able to really relate to the protagonist, it might give them insight to the older family members or adults in their lives …

For non-manga readers, if they were interested in “animal stories” or memoirs, such as Dewey, Marley and Me, Hachi, etc. I’d recommend Stargazing Dog.

Do you have any favorite animal stories or graphic novels?  
Stargazing Dog - A Manga Review Stargazing Dog - A Manga Review Reviewed by The Artist Librarian on 10/22/2015 10:11:00 AM Rating: 5

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