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So…”The Golden Sheep”…huh.
I’ll be completely honest and say that considering how depressing the first volume was this was not how I saw the manga ending. It definitely felt like it was building up to some sort of dramatic climax where pretty much no one was going to be happy, but in the end became much more like her previous work “The Gods Lie.” Still, there was plenty of good, and also some bad. Here are my final thoughts.
Bullying is Bad…or so I thought?
One of the reasons the ending was so surprising was because the message that was implied by the first two volumes was that bullying only leads to everyone involved being miserable. Yuushin spends years bullying Sora as a way to vent about his family life. Asari takes out her frustrations on Tsugu as soon as she returns, and even Tsugu remains oblivious to how her actions affect the others feelings.
Yet, despite all of this, in the final chapter of the series, the four reunite almost as though nothing happened to begin with. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Its an important part of life to be able to forgive and move on. However, it seems as though this aspect was almost entire glossed over. The series definitely could have benefited from at least one more chapter, and likely would have resolved this sudden shift in both pace and message.
Its Okay to be Not be Okay
Despite the initially confusing messaging of the series, one thing that the ending does convey is that having people with whom one can emotional and mental distress is important. Even though there is a lot of tension between the four main characters, by the end of the series they all lay their problems bair.
Tsugu struggles to accept the fact that her dad and mom simply do not want to be together, Sora struggles to admit his feelings to but ultimately comes to terms with it and waits, Asari’s guilt for bullying Tsugu comes crashing down on her, and Yuushin finally stops being an asshole to the people who actively care about him.
The reason the four of them are able to be friends again is because of their shared sense of guilt for how their relationship ended up. They all realized that they were at least in part responsible for how the others feel due their insecurities running unchecked and thus becoming more hostile towards one another.
The Art? Still Amazing
It would have been generally surprising to see the quality change so abrubtly in such a short series, but that still does not take away from the consistently gorgeous art in “The Golden Sheep.” Just like the other volumes, the final one manages to bring great art, both in the more detailed shots of the city, and in the more character focused shots that make up the majority of the series.
This was another curve ball that honestly just served as a nice addition to an already really good series, and while I did say that “The Golden Sheep” could have used another chapter, sacrificing this wonderful short story would be pretty tragic.
The story centers around a spirit who has to decide his earthly role and what to be born as. After seeing a run-away high school girl named Asako, he admires how pretty she is and decides to be born with her as their mother. The story gets sad very quickly as the spirit is neglected by Asako, and dies. However, not experiencing the pain of growing up to hate her, he decides he want to be with her for as long as possible, and so continues to be reborn into almost everything around her.
One thing that stands out is its use of reincarnation as a storytelling mechanic. Generally, in most eastern philosophies, reincarnation is something that happens outside of a person control, and most people who get reincarnated do not get to choose what it is they come back as. Additionally, people are usually reincarnated because they have some worldly thing binding them.
While the latter is true in this story, the first two things are flipped on their head. Even though the spirit acknowledges that he probably would have grown to resent Asako had he lived in his human form, he still want to make sure she is ok, and spends all of their time making sure she gets to live a happy life. It is a very powerful story that I think works well in a one chapter format.
What do you all think of “The Golden Sheep” Let me know in the comments if you’ve read it.
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