Inubaka Vol. 6 (Viz Media)

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inubaka6-header.jpgA girl who is "crazy for dogs" meets her match in a dashing, sarcastic pet store owner in this canine-related dramedy.

 

 

216 pgs. b&w; $9.99

(W / A: Yukiya Sakuragi)

 

Inubaka is a bizarre niche book, designed to appeal to romance fans who are "crazy for dogs." The story, such as it is, follows the adventures of Suguri, a teenager with the preternatural ability to commune with dogs, as she works, lives, and plays at Woofles Pet Shop, a dogseller located in downtown Tokyo. Teppei, the shop's dashing, sarcastic owner—think Cowboy Bebop's Spike Spiegel without the martial arts skills or dark past—provides an obvious romantic foil, and a supporting cast of artfully drawn dogs, regular customers, and neighbors provides endless canine-related dramedy.

The cover to Inubaka Vol. 6 by Yukiya Sakuragi. Click for a larger image.Vol. 6 delivers more of the same, with a slight twist—fresh off her victory with the German Shepherd Henry at the national dog agility trials, Suguri is neglecting her own beloved mutt, Lupin. This subplot runs throughout the volume, which also includes a trip to a "dog café," a dog training competition involving muffins, a lost kitten unwittingly thrust into a failed student film shoot, and a bizarre incident in which Lupin and an adorable puppy manage to discover undetonated WWII bombs in a porno screenwriter's backyard. We also learn about the canine phenomenon of "false pregnancy" as Noa, Teppei's purebred Labrador, decides to nurse the kitten as her own baby.

I think it's fairly easy to see the source of Inubaka's strange appeal—in addition to high talent for drawing realistic dogs, writer/artist Yukiya Sakuragi has a delightfully insane storytelling strategy, leaving no stone unturned in her quest to stick to the book's doggy theme. I'm reminded of the Saddle Club series of young adult novels from the 1980s, a series where a trio of horse-loving high school girls managed, somehow, to have every adventure you can think of that even remotely involved horses. Half the fun of reading Inubaka is laughing out loud at the absurd and convoluted lengths that Sakuragi goes to in order to sustain the series' premise. In Vol. 6, we still don't get any insight into the source of Suguri's power over dogs, or any real development of the romantic subplot between Suguri and Teppei, but Inubaka continues to deliver humor, surrealism, and random facts about dogs—and really, what more could you ask of this book? | J. Bowers

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