Wanderful Days (Manga) Review

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Plot: Akira is a scary looking kid that everyone takes as a devil or delinquent. He’s earned the nickname of The Rabid Dog Fujishima, though he’s not nearly as bad as everyone makes him out to be. While he is a bit rough around the edges, he has a great love of dogs and is actually quite kind. One day, Akira saves a dog from being hit by a car. Sadly, he dies in the process, but his soul is inserted into the body of the dog he saved. He gets adopted by a kind girl named Hinata who takes him in and names him, coincidentally enough, Akira. As he tries to adapt to life as a dog, he discovers that Hinata is one of the few people who actually shows legitimate caring for him; both before and after he died.

Breakdown: On the surface, this looks like a really silly manga. And, yeah, the premise is a bit of a hurdle to get over, but it’s, surprisingly, a pretty good one-shot. You really feel for Akira’s plight even if they play up all sorts of the obviously awkward aspects of being a dog, even some that are played up pretty much just for awkwardness based on the fact that he’s actually a teenage boy. For instance, she bathes with him and sleeps with him, and even lets him, accidentally, put his face in her naked crotch.

Akira was just born with a really ‘evil’ looking face. Even as a baby he was feared by people, including his parents. Because of this, he didn’t have any real friends and no close relationships. He was challenged by all sorts of thugs and earned a reputation due to his fighting back, and kicking ass at that.

Hinata’s a very kindhearted and slightly airheaded girl. Her parents died and she lives alone, though she doesn’t seem to take care of herself very well since her room’s a pigsty and she constantly forgets to lock the door.

When the people at Akira’s school learn that Akira died, they all either don’t care or rejoice since they viewed him as a devil. The only one to cry or even show any sadness over Akira’s death is Hinata. We learn that Hinata actually knew Akira through one chance meeting when they were a couple years younger. She was crying and injured for some reason and Akira, also visibly wounded, probably due to a fight, stopped and tried to cheer her up and tend to her wounds.

In a pretty touching scene back in the present as Hinata mourns Akira’s death, Akira tries to cheer up Hinata in the way most dogs would – he licks her face. But not in a creepy way. It’s touching because it’s just sad all around. Absolutely no one but Hinata cares that Akira died despite the fact that he wasn’t even a bad guy; he just looked scary and had fights forced upon him. If anyone would need cheering up after that, it would be Akira, but all he cares about is Hinata’s feelings and treasuring that, despite only meeting her for a second, she was able to see him for who he was and mourn his death.

They remain as a happy family until one of Hinata’s creepy classmates comes into Hinata’s apartment uninvited (the door was unlocked – She has a bad habit of doing that). When he believes she liked Akira and not him, he attacks her with a box cutter. Akira protects her and nearly gets stabbed, but Hinata protects him and gets cut in the process. Akira then goes crazy and knocks the boy out of the apartment and into a tree.

With the threat gone, Hinata points out just how similar he is to Akira and proudly enforces the honor of the name of her lost friend Akira. With a bark (wan; the Japanese sound for a dog bark, hence the pun title WANderful Days.) he gladly accepts his ‘new’ moniker and place as Hinata’s loyal dog.

Some people pointed out that it might’ve been better if he turned back into a person in the end or if Hinata died and became a female dog to be with him forever, but I’m actually pretty okay with how this ended. Technically, the first option would’ve been fine because the soul of the original dog is still around. He’s actually the weakest part of the manga because he basically just instructs Akira to act like a dog and do perverted things. If she wanted to keep the dog and have Akira back, it could’ve happened, but time would’ve needed to reverse or something because you can’t just say he’s dead and have him get better……Then again, dying and becoming a dog isn’t any less believable.

The second option just seems terrible to me. It’s a bit predictable and I don’t want Hinata to die just to become a dog and have a dog-mance with Akira. In the end, while romance was a factor a little, all Akira wanted was a true family and someone to really care for him. All Hinata wanted was a family and someone to love. In the end, they both got that. The only thing that really bothers me is that…..Akira’s time on earth is still pretty limited. He’s a dog, and seemingly a somewhat old-ish dog at that. Chihuahuas have decent life spans, but they’re still nothing compared to how long Hinata will probably live.

Then again, I guess we’re not meant to think that far ahead and just live in the now. Akira and Hinata are happy and together, and that’s all that matters.

The art is nothing too special, and it’s done in fairly typical shoujo style, but it’s pretty good.

In the end, this is a pretty good one-shot that I’d gladly suggest to anyone looking for a touching tale of friendship/kinda romance. If you can swallow the slightly off-color premise, then you’re pretty much golden.

Additional Information and Notes: Wanderful Days was written and illustrated by Sakura Roku. It was serialized in Gangan Online.

Year: 2010

Volumes: One shot

Rating: 8/10

Recommended Audience: There are some panty shots and censored genital shots. Moderate violence and scary situations. 10+

 

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