How far would you go for a bite of your favorite fruit? For Panpanya, they traveled to another country. It is chronicled in their new short story collection, Guyabano Holiday, the subject of this review. For the past 5 years, I have had a Panpanya-shaped hole in my heart. I was a big fan of their first short story collection in English, An Invitation from a Crab. Its offbeat sense of humor and commentary was very endearing. Panpanya has a unique voice, so I was excited to read their next work. I didn't think it would take half a decade, but it was worth the wait. Reading this was like cracking open your favorite drink you haven't had in a while. You take a sip, savor every last molecule, let out a satisfied exhalation of joy, and say, "Aw yeah. That's the good stuff."
As you would expect, the Guyabano Holiday story takes up most of this volume. Panpanya, ever the curious person, stumbles upon a drink when shopping at an Asian market called Guyabano Juice. After a swig, they fall in love with the taste and need more. Sadly, the drink disappears from shelves, and the Guyabano fruit can only be found in the Philippines. They resign themselves to a guyabano-less life. That is, until one fateful conversation with an acquaintance. They tell them their plight, and their friend just so happens to have a scheduled vacation to the Philippines. Would they like to come with them? With a plane ticket, the quest to find the Guyabano fruit is on. The adventure takes up most of the book, but there are other stories. They vary from a homework assignment to digging an underground passage for sweet potatoes. There's lots of variety, and they're all excellent.
Though the stories may be different, they share a common theme of curiosity. When Panpanya sees something interesting, they don't just observe, they investigate. Being curious is often punished in stories, but here it is rewarded. At the end of each adventure, Panpanya has expanded their view of the world. It also helps that I want to be Panpanya when I grow up. Besides being curious, they have a great imagination. You become interested not just in where the story goes, but in how their imagination affects the journey. They have a worldview and agency that I connected with and am inspired by.
It helps that I'm on the same bandwidth as their writing and art style. Panpanya likes to contrast simple character designs with detailed backgrounds. In certain stories, the contrast is made further by having the backgrounds inked but the characters still penciled. It's a fun way to keep the characters in focus. Of course, many of the "human" characters are not even actual humans. Some characters are drawn with simple animal heads or objects that I have never seen before. It's another quirk that makes the work so endearing.
A difference from An Invitation From A Crab is this has more prose. Kind of like illustrated poetry, some panels split between images and prose about Panpanya's inner feelings. They never overpowered the images, and I never felt like I was reading a "word book" (heaven forbid!).
Panpanya is a lot like the Guyabano; something that you may overlook, but once you get a taste of it you're left wanting more. Luckily, I don't have to go to another country to get more of it. So far only two collections have been published, but a third is announced. I can't wait for more official details from Denpa to come. So get curious and pick up this book. Who knows what amazing adventures you might find?
Guyabano Holiday Manga
Guyabano Holiday Manga features story and art by panpanya.
A trip to Tokyo's Asian market district, Ameyokocho, leads the protrag on a trip to hunt down the mysterious guyabano fruit! Little does the protag and their crew know that their curiosity will take them on a wild and mouth-watering trip to the Philippines!Add to CartLearn More