The "life-and-death sibling" story follows Utsutsu and Yume Hasegawa, a boy and his little sister who find themselves all alone. One day, Yume sees a mysterious red butterfly and her body undergoes a strange metamorphosis—into a creature that eats humans. Utsutsu struggles to find a way to restore his sister.
If you enjoy incest, gore and a lack of story then you would probably enjoy this. However I don't think anyone enjoys the latter of those things which is probably why so many people hate it. Though it may be unfair to say there was no plot, it was just awful and hard to follow with practically no character development other than the brother and sister. And even they didn't have much depth to them. The only part of this manga that is simply "not shit" is the art, which is surprisingly good.
I am also very justified in my criticising of this manga as I
took the time out of my life to read the entire thing. I now realize that this was a mistake and I want my valuable time back. If you are thinking about watching this -or god forbid you have already started- then I suggest you read this last part to yourself a few times; It's shit!
Pupa as a whole gets a lot of undeserved flak for getting "incestuous" vibes. Sure, having Yume gorge on Utsutsu's flesh while Utsutsu somehow deems enjoyment from it is vore to an extreme, but there is a reason for his actions. It is easy just to point at these scenes and say "wow, that's disgusting how could someone write this?", but it's also incredibly lazy to not try and evaluate the characters actions and viewpoints. Utsutsu's life in particular is just a downward shit show of every single thing in his life leaving him, with the only thing left a sister that he's tried to
protect, and will vow to protect to the end. Utsutsu's love for Yume could have an incestuous undertone to it, but in reality Utsutsu's love and unwavering protection for Yume is because it's the last single thing on Earth that he has left to hold on to, a point a lot of people for some reason don't want to grasp.
What Pupa has crafted between these two characters in specific, it has managed to ignore in basically the rest of the side characters, characters whom often show up to drop a portion of information before leaving again, notable exceptions being Maria and Utsutsu's father. While Maria shows up more than other side characters, she is pretty much a vehicle of pure insanity that drives the story forward. It's easy to fault this as just lazy writing; it's also easy to say that fleshing out side characters is bad for the story, since the entire manga is Utsutsu and Yume's journey to stay together. What choice you choose to make from this is up to you.
Pupa's bleak story shows Utstsu trying not lose what is most important to him, but also the madness of him trying not to become what he hates the most. The longer Pupa goes on, the more it's shown that Utsutsu is a lot more like his father than he is willing to admit. The same shrewd look that his father would give becomes one of his own when he least expects it, and with it his father's more sadistic qualities of relishing in the pain of others. It becomes a part much later on where Utsutsu has to face the issue himself before being able to accept who he is and moving on.
The story itself suffers from a couple pacing issues, but does its best to try and show how Utsutsu and Yume deal with terrible situation after terrible situation. It's easy to say that until the final pages of the last chapter, nothing at all goes right for either of them. Pupa is basically a "Us vs. The World" story, but The World really, really, really hates Utsutsu and Yume. What Pupa gives in heartwarming reunions, it dishes out 3 times as much in absolutely insane situations to prove just how much Utsutsu and Yume need each other (more so how much Utsutsu needs Yume), to the point where if one was lost, the other can't live on.
A main driving force for the manga is the art itself. The level of detail added, especially to the final volume, is absolutely breathtaking. Besides the odd moments where Mogi Sayaka draws Pupa with a more cutesy look to it, the gore is drawn to a point where some of it made me sit there and just appreciate the effort that was put into the manga. The art itself does a good job of adding to the story, while not distracting yourself from it (it helps because the story gets outright ridiculous at times).
Is Pupa a manga that I'd read again? Probably. I will most likely just flip through pages of it again to appreciate the art itself. While the story itself might lose some of it's luster in that I know what the twists are as the story goes along, seeing how each character breaks is really bleak and entertaining stuff to read. Pupa isn't a read for everyone; it's going to make you accept some things in life that you would rather not dwell upon (child abuse, being left by your parents, dealing with shit you'd rather not), but it is still an enjoyable story to read nonetheless.
What could I say ? Well... Pupa is highly disturbing. The main themes are incest, violence and more violence. Im not saying that I could dislike violent mangas (I highly enjoy reading Berserk) but here, the universe is not clear and the story is quite hard to follow; it lacks detail and logic in its development. The characters are empty and lack of real personality. The art is the only real value here; I have to admit that some scenes were wonderfully drawn, with much details, but a positive point won't change my mind on this manga: it isn't really worth the read.
I have read only the 7 scanlated chapters so far, so, this review is based only off of them, but I do believe they are enough for me to judge the manga, because, based on the summary of the untranslated parts, there doesn't seem to be much more to it.
Pupa claims it's a lot of things - "Horror", "Drama", and, most ridiculously, "Psychological". It's none of those things.
Basically, it's a guro hentai manga without any sex or nudity.
Well, no, that might be a little unfair of me. I have read guro henti mangas with better story, characters and art.
The manga tries to handle a
difficult subject right off the bad - domestic abuse. Of course, it fails to do so in any meaningful way, and uses domestic abuse just for shock value, and as a plot device. The father who abused the main characters is not presented as a complete person, but just as a psychopath, plain and simple, which is the easiest way out when you don't actually want to deal with the implications of domestic abuse.
So, the domestic abuse is used as a reason for the main character being so protective of his sister.
Oh, and his protectiveness clearly veers into incest territory. Of course, this is never addressed, and it's played for comedy/fetish, to the point where he even enjoys her eating his flesh. Now, I would have no problem with this at all, if it wasn't so fetishized. I don't find that gross or disturbing, I just find it kind of...boring, and tired. Uninspired, if you will. It's just there to appeal to people who like that, and it isn't adressed in the story at all. Thus, the comparison I made before to a guro hentai manga.
Also, I have no problems with incest...when it's handled properly. But here, it isn't even addressed - it's just there. Same as all the other stuff.
All of the characters are really...flat. None of them have any sort of depth. The main two characters sure as hell don't, and the side characters(specifically the classmates of the main characters) might as well not be there, as their presence doesn't make too much of a difference.
The main character is the typical shounen protagonist - not to smart, but full of determination and will - that's rather bad, but I've seen worse.
His siter is...well, the stereotypical little sister, that clings to her brother, depends on him for everything, and can't live without him...so, a character made for little-sister fetishists, basically.
The other characters are not even worth mentioning. I already did mention their father, who is just a psychopath and nothing else, really.
I usually dont' care much for the art, but since this is supposed to be a "horror" manga, I do have to mention it.
In short, it's rather bad. The majority of doujins I have seen have better art. The majority of the aforementioned guro hentai mangas have better art.
The gory scenes are, well, ok for what they are though. I have seen better, but if you like gore, you will probably find them to be fine, at best. But there's no horror here, just a lot of gore.
In conclusion...this is pretty weak manga. It's got gore, if you like that. It's got some little-sister/incest fetishism, and guro fetishism, if you're into that. But, that's about it. I would even say that reading a guro hentai manga might actually be better than reading Pupa, because at least you can masturbate to those. They might even have a better story and characters. In fact, they probably do.