Junko Mizuno's Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu Vol. 1

The truth hurts, especially when people go to extraordinary lengths to hide it. Pelu learns this lesson in the opening pages of Junko Mizuno's Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu Vol. 1 when it is revealed that the reason he is so different than everyone else on the planet Princess Kotobuki is that he is not a person at all, but rather one part of the elaborate sexual and yet somehow asexual reproductive mechanism of the Princess Kotobukians. This revelation comes as a result of the baby that falls from between the legs of his sister Palu, prompting Pelu to abandon Princess Kotobuki in favor of Earth, where he intends to find a mate and make a baby of his own before returning home.

Preciosity defiled by the filth, fluids and viscera of reality are pretty much Mizuno's stock-in-trade. But to say that her stories neatly subvert the supreme cuteness of her imagery is to see only half the picture. Pelu's quest and the respective fates of the earth women he courts are ultimately about the complex interplay of truth and the stories (or lies) we tell ourselves to hide from the truth. Sometimes it is more harmful to acknowledge the truth than it is to live under false pretenses and sometimes the opposite is true. The trick is determining which is the case in a given situation.

Some of Mizuno's characters have a better grasp on this idea than others. When Asako is offered a recording contract after her shopping center concert, she refuses because she knows it was Pelu's voice that was heard over the loudspeakers and not her own. Despite the fact that this sequence of events leads to the eventual death of the boyfriend who worked so hard for just this opportunity--and not incidentally also caused the pregnancy that resulted in Asako's choking up at the moment she needed to sing--Asako's choice to accept the truth in this situation results in her ultimate happiness. Conversely, when Michiru cravenly capitalizes on the appearance of Pelu and the Space Hippo by constructing elaborate fictions about the circumstances of their arrival, it sets in motion a sequence of events that ultimately leads to the destruction of the neighboring poodle ranch, forcing Michiru and her mother to flee in disgrace. When Pelu confronts Michiru about her failure to be forthright about his appearance, her response is pithy and to the point: "Lies are more interesting."

Pelu himself, after confronting the truth of his own nature, adopts a stance to those around him which might be characterized as "radical truth." Pelu's commitment to honesty recalls Heidegger's notion of living authentically. But as even Heidegger admitted, we could not survive if we were to be in a constant state of authenticity. The bullshit that we deal to ourselves and to others is often necessary for functioning in society. Thus, when Danko overhears Pelu's rationale for falling in love with her--"it's better to go for someone who doesn't have good looks"--she isn't prepared to face such unvarnished honesty and it ultimately destroys her, albeit in a roundabout way.

Of course, all of this has little to do with why people buy Mizuno's books. The beautiful, buxom girls--a sort of army of Power Puff Bardots--and the painfully precious puff-balls with clouds for cheekbones have everything to do with her immediate appeal. But there is so much more complexity here than a simple dichotomy of our impossible ideals and the ugliness that lies beneath them. Mizuno points out the lies that we tell ourselves, but at the same time lets us know that these aren't necessarily bad things.

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