Manga-ka: Yukiya Sakuragi
Rating: Older Teen(16+)
Released: February 2007
Synopsis: “Alone except for her loyal mutt, Lupin, Suguri moves from the country side to the big city to find a career and a new life. In her first job at a pet store, she meets an assortment of quirky dogs and even stranger owners! On a walk to check out their new home, Lupin “courts” another dog while owner Teppei isn’t looking, shattering his dream of a litter of purebred puppies. To make up for her mongrel’s wayward wooing, Suguri offers to work at the pet store Tepeei manages.”
Inubaka is the story of Suguri, a young teenage girl out in the big city trying to find herself a home and a career. After a mishap with her dog, Lupin, getting a little too friendly with a female dog they came across, Suguri deems herself indebted to the female dog’s owner, Teppei. To make up for it, she offers to work in his pet store. It doesn’t take long for Teppei to realize that Suguri seems to have a sixth sense for dogs, a natural at taking care of them and hardworking, even if she is a bit clumsy and air-headed.
Inubaka manages to be both entertaining and educational. Interesting characters and ridiculously adorable puppies littering every page keep it entertaining while readers learn how to tend to such young animals alongside Suguri. Along with these attributes, it also tugs at the heartstrings like few other mangas ever could. If you’ve ever owned a pet or have a love for animals, you may want to have some tissues handy for one of the chapters in this book.
Suguri is a spacey main character in the way only a female manga lead can be and her naivety often borders on unbelievable. Despite this, she’s a nice lead and manages to be surprisingly likeable. It’s sweet seeing her care so much for these animals and swoon alongside readers with how cute they are. The pet shop owner, Teppei, has a more together and down to earth attitude but he’s as passionate about taking care of the puppies as she is, along with all the knowledge necessary to do so. Mixing his experience with Suguri’s sixth sense and it’s no wonder the little dogs are so happy to see them.
Yukiya Sakuragi’s artwork is pretty but nothing too spectacular. The characters look nice with more rounded features and design diversity. Sometimes the art lacks a polished consistency but it’s paced smoothly and is nice to read through. What stands out the most is the care obviously put into the dogs who are sweet and loveable, even with all the honest depictions, and drawn with such detail that you can tell their specific breeds, as opposed to being just generic dogs.
Overall, Inubaka is recommended to animal lovers and fans of shoujos that don’t rely on romantic interests to be entertaining. It’s got humour, education and cute puppies galore. It may leave readers wondering how this series is going to last as long as it does, but it manages a strong first volume that’s a treat to read, a break from the romantically bogged down shoujos and adrenaline pumped shonens on the market today.