Here we are, my favorite story of all time. Let’s go.
So, up to this point, there’s been a variety of stories that I could call my favorites. They, at least in my eyes, are some of the best stories of their respective mediums, and have all influenced how I view, and judge stories even today. However, no story up to this point has influenced my view of storytelling in general than my number one, which I experienced for the first time three years ago.
Suffice to say, my view on stories has changed a lot since then.
1. Oyasumi Punpun
I’ve spoken at length about the greatness of Oyasumi Punpun numerous times on Reading Between, but allow me to digress.
I personally believe that Oyasumi Punpun is honestly one of the greatest stories of all time, exhibiting astounding literary strength, and a total control over its storytelling elements, while simultaneously telling a simple, powerful story that reflects everything I could ever want in any story, ever. Depicting realistic characters in a surreal way, telling many different stories, while also playing back into one consistent, unrelentingly depressing theme, this story…man, it was a trip.
The tale of the life of Onodera Punpun is a strange one, complemented by a hyper-detailed art style, that contrasts the design choice to make Punpun’s family all cartoon birds. Starting off as a comedy with a hint of darkness, Oyasumi Punpun’s true nature is quite clearly one of cynicism, portraying a world that, for as fun as it can be, is quite clearly a hard place. In this world, God as a presence may or may not be real, a cult is the closest thing anyone truly has to genuine hope, and the wishes of one’s heart don’t mean a damn thing.
The world Oyasumi Punpun creates is very, very clearly our own, but conveys it in a way I’ve never seen any other series really do. Other stories, such as Attack on Titan, Mother 3, 1984, are very brutally honest about the darkness of humanity, but always provide some sort of extreme circumstance that allows for it to happen, outside of real life. Others, like Clannad and Katawa Shoujo, are definitely very real in how they portray life and individuals, but ultimately portray the ideals, what we wish to see in the world. Oyasumi Punpun…doesn’t do that.
People work hard, people come to their own conclusions about God, about life, about simply enjoying what they have. And Oyasumi Punpun takes a look at that, and comes to its conclusion, that not everyone can be the hero, or have their happy ending. Sometimes, all someone can do is settle for what they have, and it leaves it up to the reader whether that’s a good thing or not.
And it is in this, why I love Oyasumi Punpun so much.
In Clannad, Katawa Shoujo, Mother 3, any of my top stories, you either get blatantly extraordinary events, or have explanations as to why an event means what it means. But Oyasumi Punpun doesn’t do that. It simply presents ordinary events and ordinary feelings. It allows the reader, by experiencing events second hand, to perceive for themselves the themes of the story, and the development of the characters.
Of course, these ordinary events DO build up to rather strange circumstances, but at no point does it feel out of place, or impossible. Almost every important event in the manga is certainly possible in real life, yet, is presented in a surreal manner that makes it seem like something…more.
And of course, throughout it all, it can’t be forgotten that Punpun is depicted as a cartoon bird, in the midst of a really crappy world. We see as his innocence is stripped away, how he struggles to build his own identity, and we see that many other people in the world face the same sorts of struggles. Life can’t be lived with just one ideal–and Oyasumi Punpun acknowledges this.
Overall, I think Oyasumi Punpun provides a reflection of society today: the woes that are faced by the average person. It reflects life today, the need to move forward, and the people who have a hard time doing so. For the depressed, the screw-ups, the victims, those struggling to find motivation to live every day, yet still want to keep moving forward, Oyasumi Punpun covers all those topics and more, by, almost paradoxically, not explaining them at all. It’s an emotional, powerful, poignant story, that I believe, deserves to be ranked among the best.
It is a story that is well carried out in every sense. It is stylistically pleasing, well put together, and provided relatable characters that were compelling to read about. It is a story that, at its heart, acknowledges the importance of simply being human: and for these reasons, Oyasumi Punpun is my favorite story–manga, anime, animation, movies, whatever–of all time.
So, that’s it for my top ten favorite stories of all time. If you’d like to check any other part, check out the rest of the top ten, the links are down below!