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by Rebecca Silverman,

Doomsday With My Dog

GN 1

Doomsday With My Dog GN 1

The world has (somehow) ended and all humans are gone – except for one high school girl. Now she and her Shiba Inu Haru-san are on a trek across Japan, interacting with the aliens who have resettled there, the mythological beings who have come out of the shadows, and the other animals left behind.

Doomsday with My Dog is translated by Athena and Alethea Nibley and lettered by Elena Pizzaro.


Fair warning – the bonus chapter has nothing to do with the main story (per the creator, Yū Ishihara) and it reduced me to a sobbing mess. If you're sensitive to sad animal stories, you may want to (and can safely) skip it. I mention it right off the bat because the rest of the book is free from bitterness – our lone human survivor is a high school girl who's just living her best life with her best boy, to the point where the alternate-world “ten years later (had the world not ended)” piece really does come out of nowhere. There are extrapolations you can make about the heroine's actual post-apocalyptic life, but it's rough going if you generally avoid the “sad animal story” genre.

That aside, this is a joyously bizarre story of a high school girl and her dog roaming Japan after the end of humanity. Dogs talk, aliens have landed and become farmers, and mythological beings are emerging from folklore. It's full-color, four-panel weirdness, and there's something really engaging about that. Ishihara deliberately fudges the big details. Why can the girl understand all of the animals? How did the world end and why did she survive? Who knows! It's less important than the fact that these are things that exist and happened, and we're encouraged to simply roll with it and enjoy the adventure.

That's not to say that you can't come up with reasons based on what we get in the text. It is strongly implied that the girl – who is only referred to as “Master” by Haru; we don't know her actual name – stopped attending school regularly in middle school, although we don't know why. Is that why she survived, possibly because she was in some secret place alone when the world ended? Does her strong bond with Haru have anything to do with it? It seems possible that she could always talk to him, which may indicate that she was just different enough to become Japan's sole survivor, but the other bits of world-building are odd enough that any logic we might apply to the story is a moot point. For example, cats appear to have been victims alongside humans, which feels odd, because on the whole cats are more predisposed to take care of themselves than dogs in the grand scheme of domestic animals. There's also one strange moment when Siberian Huskies are counted as “Western” dogs, something generally not, as I understand it, part of more official canine classifications.

But in all honesty, this is the sort of manga that just wants you to go along for the ride without too much tortured thinking. The nonhuman beings Haru and Master encounter do a lot for this – as they wander, they meet other dogs who tag along for a while, tanuki, aliens, and people from Japanese folklore. The last two are definitely the most fun, with the aliens being the major recurring gag. An elderly couple looking to retire (who look like the 1950s stereotype of little grey men) settled on Earth as their equivalent of moving out to the countryside, and they've set themselves up as farmers with some real success. Our wandering pair stays with them from time to time, and at one point Master even tutors their visiting grandson, creating a weird but fun disconnect. A couple of other aliens also show up occasionally, including one whose pickup truck is fitted with a flux capacitor (à la Back to the Future), just one of several implications that time travel is possible in the story's world. There's also the heavy suggestion that all folktales are true; Master and Haru twice bump into the original girl who ate mermaid flesh and became immortal as well as having run-ins with a kappa and a kitsune at his shrine. Hopefully this is something that will continue to be expanded upon in future volumes.

As I mentioned before, this book is full-color, and its format is four-panel strips. There's not a huge amount of continuity, and although there are recurring characters (the aliens, Snow White the Shiba Inu who has a crush on Haru), there's no real sense of when things happen in proximity to one another. Storylines rarely take up more than three consecutive strips, and there's a sense that this is more interested in snapshots of life rather than telling a narrative. It's perhaps more comparable to newspaper comic strips than manga in terms of style. The art is pleasant to look at and the homages to 1950s science fiction tropes are a major highlight, while the variety of beings the characters encounter on their journey stands in nice contradiction to the majority of “teen girls after the world ends road trip” manga. In a notable difference from most publishers' approach to cultural notes, this volume puts them after each chapter, which I feel works better than throwing them all at the end.

Doomsday With My Dog's first volume is, by and large, fun. That bonus chapter is a blow (although very well done), but generally its breezy approach to post-apocalyptic adventure fiction sets it apart in a positive way. After all, who better to travel with than your fuzzy best friend?

Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. Yen Press, BookWalker Global, and J-Novel Club are subsidiaries of KWE.
Overall : B
Story : B-
Art : B

+ Nice full-color art, glosses after each chapter works well. Generally breezy and fun.
Not much continuity, can feel a bit repetitive.

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Production Info:
Story & Art: Yū Ishihara
Licensed by: Yen Press

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