Guru Guru Pon-Chan
Volume 9

Author: Satomi Ikezawa
Artist: Satomi Ikezawa
RRP: £6.99, US $10.95
ISBN: 978 0 099 50646 1
Ages: 13+
Available 02 August 2007

Ponta is a young, healthy and perfectly normal Labrador, that is until she is given the magic Guru Guru bone, which enables her to change into a beautiful young woman. As a woman Ponta has fallen in love with the boy next door Mirai Iwaki. After some considerable soul searching and reticence, Mirai realises that he too is developing feelings for the human Ponta. The path of true love, even one as unconventional as theirs, is never smooth and just as the two declare their love for each other Mirai's ex-girlfriend arrives on the scene, as does a male dog who takes a shine to Ponta...

Well we are onto the last book of Guru Guru Pon-Chan, by Satomi Ikezawa, which follows Volume Eight, which is an unnecessarily obscure way of saying that this is Volume Nine. For those of you who do not remember... Ponta is dying - her continual changing back and forth between human and canine is slowly killing her.

In chapter thirty-four, Roken Ponta, Mirai has the unfortunate task of trying to explain to Ponta, as well as Ponta's owner and inventor of the Guru Guru bone (which allows her to transform) Yasuke Koizumi, what is going on. Through panic and guilt Yasuke makes Mirai bury the bone, in order to stop any more degeneration. This is quite a touching chapter, especially when Mirai is trying to explain to an ever increasingly anxious Ponta, the concept of death.

Chapter thirty-five, My Feelings, looks at how Ponta views her condition. She has a stark choice, either to remain an infirm dog or to continue to change so that she can be with Mirai, to the shortening of her life. This being a love story, albeit with a girl/dog, obviously love wins out and Mirai agrees that Ponta has the right to choose what she wants.

Chapter thirty-six, I Love You, and Mirai and Ponta finally consummate their relationship beneath a canopy of fireflies - thankfully when she is young woman. But when the two young lovers go to sleep only one of them wakes up.

Chapter thirty-seven, Ponta's Mirai,and it is the day of someone's funeral. I won't spoil the ending, though you will most probably be able to hazard a guess, lets just say that fans of the book will not be disappointed.

Guru Guru was always going to be a strange book to a western audience not schooled in the iconography of transformation that is so prevalent in Japanese society. In a society where rigidity still very much hold sway - the young, usually represented as girls of school age - the idea of change is very appealing, so the idea of a dog that turns into a beautiful young woman would not be seen as odd.

The series as a whole was quite sweet and very appropriate for its target audience of young women. The artwork remained consistently high, though this was made all the easier with the limited number of characters involved, which restricted the chance of confusing the characters.

Charles Packer

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