"I could almost feel the dog's breathing," said by the mangaka himself, Jiro Taniguchi. A statement where I personally can relate to, about how it feels like, how raw the emotions are, that comes after the loss of a beloved pet.
For chapters 1 to 4, the story was told like a diary of some sort, describing the everyday life of a couple living together with their pets while chapter 5 is a standalone story of a family man.
Chapter 1: Raising a Dog
First chapter focused more on the struggle and the pain of taking care a beloved who has embraced old age up until in
its last days of being able to breath. It may be talking about a dog but when you think about it, dogs and we humans are not all different when we come to that stage in our lives.
Chapter 2, 3 and 4:
This is like a new beginning for the couple. Adopted a cat, sheltered a youngster that opened up another perspective of how their lives would have been if they chose to have what they obviously lack at the moment.
Chapter 5: Promised Land
This particular chapter is like a shorter version of Jiro Taniguchi's Haruka na Machi E, a version to better understand the protagonist's father. It is about finding one's self and it doesn't have to be about becoming successful in an endeavor. One only has to find that which his heart so desires.
About Jiro's art style in general (I have only read 5 series from him, as of this writing) - the protagonists always have the same outline or facial features. This is most evident when a character is an average middle age man. This time though, he drew animals as characters (a dog, cats, and a leopard) and I should say he presented them as realistic as possible. The sceneries, like always, are amazingly beautiful - simple yet sharp, detailed and well-thought out.
The characters are set to be plain, typical for their roles. To be blunt, I say they are pretty much forgettable. A couple and a family man - I can't even remember their names but only the animals involved.
I skipped 'enjoyment' because it doesn't feel right to include it on my review. The word itself seems inappropriate. There's no action to thrill me, no "oh ah" denouments, no plot twists to make me "aha" "uha" "uhmp" "ah" ("ah"). Yet, the absence of those elements doesn't make the manga dull at all. This is the type of manga wherein you are sure to like it by its contemplative storytelling.
If you have lost a pet either due to illness or old age, the first chapter will surely break you - in a good way. As for me, it made me reminisce those beautiful times I spent with a pet cat I adored unconditionally. I feel Taniguchi's need for trying to not to forget those days when he was with his beloved pet. By retelling it in his work, the memory of that time will never be erased and will forever stay in his heart.