I picked up this series because Johanna kept making posts about each volume. Not all of the volumes get a “recommended” tag from her, but I became very curious and decided to try it out after reading a few more reviews from other bloggers. In general all of their reactions were about the same, it seemed like the reviewer liked the series a lot, but witheld outright recommending it because they felt how much you enjoy this series depends on how interested you are in dogs. Also this series is kind of an odd combination of adorable loving doggie tales, and the occasional bit of (light) fan service with a panty shot from the heroine. So it’s kind of hard for me to guess exactly who the target audience of this series is.
Release Status in the US/Japan
This series ended in Japan last May at 22 volumes. I currently have all of the released volumes in the US (15 Volumes so far), and the next volumes pre-ordered up through 17. I don’t have major concerns about being left with an incomplete series with Inubaka at this point. After all it would be pretty cruel to cancel a series with 15 out of 22 volumes released, and in general Viz seems pretty good at sticking to their guns and releasing an entire series. There are exceptions (ex: No.5 and Tough) where they’ve dropped series after a few volumes, but overall they have my trust in finishing what they start.
Suguri Miyauchi and Lupin (Breed: Mutt - unknown pedigree)
Suguri is naive and a bit slow, she also probably lets people walk all over her more than she should. But these characteristics are actually charming and not annoying on Suguri. When some characters have this same vulnerable personality design, (for me) it often just feels like it’s a cheap attempt to gain the reader’s love. After an episode where she was kidnapped as a young child, Suguri grew up living a sheltered life because her parents were always worried about the kidnappers that were never officially found. She was rescued from her kidnapper by the dog that was Lupin’s grandfather. She has a unique connection with dogs, she understands them and sense their moods better than most people. At the age of 18 she moves to Tokyo and takes up a stranger’s offer to work in his pet shop, she wants to break out of her cage and start living life. We see the world of pets in Japan through her eyes, and it becomes an informative experience. Lupin is your typical (unfixed) male dog, he loves food and the ladies. Lupin and Suguri have a close bond and occasionally accomplish incredible tricks together.
Teppei Iida and Noa (Breed: Labrador)
This is the “stranger” that invited Suguri to work in his Pet Shop (Woofles). Teppei is an extremely straightforward and goal oriented guy, he lives for dogs and hopes to someday create a place where all dogs (mutts and pure breeds) will find happy homes. Teppei is so dedicated to his goals that the pet store has become his entire life and he is happy with that. Although he is usually very serious he will lighten up when he talks about dogs and his goals. Suguri is showing many signs of liking Teppei, but it’s difficult to tell if her feelings are reciprocated at all. Most of Teppei’s thoughts are veiled from the reader and there are not many hints that Teppei feels more for Suguri than admiration for her connection to dogs.
The first part of this series is all about matching people with their pets, and in each story you usually learn about a new type of dog breed. The dogs are drawn very accurately, they look like they could jump off the pages. I’m also really charmed by the educational aspect of this series. I know so much more about dogs since starting this series. It takes a realistic view of dog ownership, you see almost every drawback and complication that dog owners face. You also may get to see a new point of view on owning dogs. Around where I live mostly everyone I know goes to a shelter and picks up an already fixed (mutt) puppy. But in this series I see what the world of pure breeds and their breeding potential.
Inubaka deals with both the life and death of pets, and one of the reasons why I think many people say this is a good series for dog lovers is because the deaths hit home harder for dog lovers. Those who aren’t fond of pets may not be able to easily relate to the character’s joys and sorrows as well. They also might not even begin to understand why people do so many unlikable tasks to preserve their pet’s life and happiness.
However! This series isn’t all about the dogs, we get to see the human characters develop and face personal hurdles as well. I would say that as you progress through the series, the further you are in, the more you get to see interesting developments. For example Suguri’s past resurfaces in a way that has me rolling around anxiously waiting for the next volume, and I worry about Teppei and the future of Woofles.
Recommended for all those that enjoy pets and manga!