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.
Pupa is a great manga if you love horror/edgy stories. Sure, there's lots of NSFW parts but who reads manga during work amirite? If you're sensitive to gore and graphic scenes, this isn't a manga for you (Not that that's a bad thing by any means). If you're like me and don't mind it or even enjoy it, this manga is great. There's some weird parts involving vore and incest, but overall I thought it was a great book It's a shame the anime adaptation wasn't as good, I would love to see it as one.
Heck, it keeps telling me to write a longer review.
I can't think of anything else to say, read this if you're into dark themes and don't if you don't.
So, lately I've been obsessed with psychological horror and this manga didn't really fulfil that desire. It is more horror than psychological horror, but honestly, it's not that bad. Sure, it mainly only focuses on the main characters and other than them there is no character development, and there are a few plot holes, but there are only 5 volumes and there is only so much you could do. If you are bored and are looking for a horror manga, then this one is a good read. I liked this manga because of the ideas and also for the "bad qualities" of it. When I
say that, I mean cannibalism, incest and domestic abuse. It isn't romanticised or anything but because the manga includes those darker aspects, it makes it more interesting but also controversial. Honestly, you should read this book and decide for yourself whether it is good or bad since it really is a very different read depending on who you are. I hope this was helpful!