Please note that this article contains a discussion of murder, suicide, abuse, and depression.
Inio Asana's Goodnight Punpun chronicles protagonist Punpun Onodera's development from childhood to his mid-20s. The story explores his gradual disillusionment with the world around him and culminates in the murder of his muse's abusive mother.
Punpun experiences such darkness during his subsequent runs that it is difficult to see how he will ever recover. Punpun's presentation as an anonymous character was intended to help readers understand his predicament. Goodnight Punpun's ending is neither happy nor sad after all the dark detours the series has taken; it is simply an ending.
Who Is Punpun Onodera?
The series's protagonist is Punpun Onodera, whose actual name is never revealed and whose face is primarily drawn as a bird. Punpun is very aloof because she grew up in a broken home with an alcoholic father and a distant mother. He once imagined himself as an astronaut who would prevent the extinction of the human race.
Punpun is overly kind and goes out of his way to please those around him, often to his own detriment. Punpun descends into depravity as a result of his failure to accomplish his objectives and his lack of empathy for the people around him. He develops into a cynical, self-hating person as an adult. Punpun's love interest, Aiko Tanaka, is the only source of hope.
Punpun Onedera and Aiko Tanaka Share Understanding
Punpun's enduring love interest is Aiko Tanaka. Similarly to Punpun, Aiko is the product of a broken home, in which she lives alone with an abusive, occult-obsessed mother. What Aiko wants most is to lead a normal life surrounded by people who understand her.
Aiko thinks that becoming a model will bring her the normalcy she so desperately needs. Her inability to produce a natural smile, a result of her unforgiving circumstances, wastes her chance to achieve this life through modeling. Punpun is the only person who, in Aiko's opinion, can comprehend her because their broken worlds are similar. She develops a romantic interest in him as a result of this understanding.
Punpun's Biggest Regret Was Breaking His Promise.
Punpun and Aiko were attracted to one another naturally in elementary school, but their romance suffers as a result of a broken promise to run away to Kagoshima together. Punpun, who genuinely wants to see her happy, makes a sincere commitment to follow through on her request but then changes his mind at the last minute. When the two meet up again as adults, they decide to carry out their childhood promise, but when they tell Aiko's mother they are leaving, she attacks them. Aiko's mother stabs Aiko and then tackles and strangles her as Punpun defends herself from the attack. Later, Aiko confesses to Punpun that she killed her mother with a knife when he left the room. Following this incident, the two flee.
Punpun's main source of sorrow is the broken promise, which was the result of her innocent youth. Because he didn't keep the promise when he was younger, he now obsesses over doing so as an adult. But all Aiko asks of Punpun is that he acts like the kind boy she knew in elementary school. There is a mismatch between Punpun's desire for whimsy and Aiko's equally pessimistic worldview and Aiko's desire for stability and understanding from Punpun. Punpun and Aiko's time spent traveling together highlights this gap as they come to terms with the fact that their true selves fall short of what they had anticipated from one another. Punpun had no idea that Aiko would be a more typical teenage girl, and over time, he has become more detached and cynical, which is far from what he once was.
Punpun and Aiko Were Destined for Disaster at All Times.
The two develop a dislike for one another. Punpun's resentment is a result of his realization that the promise that has caused him pain and grief internally and has led him down the path of a murderer was never based on a shared desire to escape reality; Aiko never desired to flee from the difficulties of life, but rather wanted a fair chance to confront them—something her upbringing never gave her. On the other hand, Aiko loses faith in the self-hatred and violent Punpun of today because the thoughtful and kind boy she fell in love with has long since been replaced by someone unrecognizably different.
Punpun has decided to kill both Aiko and himself as her stabbing wound worsens and word of the murder spreads. Aiko persuades him to think differently and predicts a future when he will value life. Aiko promises to visit a police station the following day and give a detailed account of everything. In a heartbreaking but cruel turn of events, Punpun promises to take the brunt of the criticism and put up with any repercussions as long as Aiko waits for him. Punpun's descent into darkness hasn't stopped him from loving and caring for Aiko, as Aiko realizes. She realizes that he cannot lead a normal life while she is present, which is unfortunate because it is all she has ever wanted.
Punpun and Aiko enjoy each other's company while sitting in the sun before drifting off to sleep. Punpun awakens to find Aiko has hung herself. Punpun then wanders aimlessly until he reaches an iconic location from his childhood before stabbing himself in an attempt to end his own life. He is found and saved by his ex-girlfriend Sachi.
Punpun Lives On: Is This a Good, Bad, or Simply Thing?
Years later, Punpun speaks to Aiko in a dream. He apologizes to her for breaking their childhood promise and states that although they promised to never forget each other, that he would eventually forget her. This moment, while sad, is Punpun's acknowledgment of Aiko's attempts to help him, and his proclamation that he will live on in spite of his pain is in some sense him honoring her legacy.
The final panel depicting Punpun sees him surrounded by friends. This scene seemingly redeems Punpun, but the weight he carries and the death of Aiko add heavy nuance to Goodnight Punpun's closing moments. Perhaps Goodnight Punpun's ending isn't meant to be sad or happy, but simply an ending acknowledging that no matter who you are life goes on.