Tag Archives: Kaori Ozaki

Final Thoughts: The Golden Sheep Volume Two

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Its creating a strong opening for a story can be relatively easy, continuing the same level of emotional investment for a story can often be pretty difficult. Weaving together even two or three different story lines so that they make sense in the context of a broader narrative requires a lot of good writing ability. Luckily, mangaka Kaori Ozaki has that in spades, as the second volume of “The Golden Sheep” was, to put it light, very good.

The Golden Sheep, as a slice of life romance, has a lot going on with its characters. As a result, there is stuff going on both on the surface and underneath it.

Most of the stuff that’s actually happening has to do with Tsugu and Sora. After running away near the end of the first volume, the two find themselves working at Tsugu’s grandpa’s croquette shop. At this point, Sora is still very confused with his current situation. Although he wants to be there for Tsugu, he also finds himself thinking about why he is even in Tokyo to begin with.

While there, the two start to really enjoy themselves. Sora becomes pretty invested in working at the shop, and also starts developing feelings for Tsugu. These feelings, while not obvious at first, become strong to the point of him actively avoiding her, throwing himself even further into his work making croquettes.

Meanwhile, it seems like Tsugu is generally happier than when she was living with her mom, even if she is reticent to admit it. She also gets her guitar back from her dad, but when she asks him if he wants to see grandpa, he just runs off. While the scene itself was not anything special, it demonstrated even further just how dysfunctional Tsugu’s family really is.

On the other side of things, Yuushin continues to deal with a lot of emotional baggage throughout the second volume. Tsugu’s return to her hometown has clearly stoked a lot of bad memories for Yuushin, and it certainly did not help make Sora’s situation any better.

Advertisements
Advertisements

It seems as though, despite it having been a long time since then, Yuushin still ultimately blames his father’s explicit interactions and the subsequent shame that he felt from it for his current state. People were quick to turn their backs on him, assuming “like father, like sun,” and simply were not wiling to trust him.

As a result, Yuushin has, understandably so, become jaded and not willing to accept other people into his life. However, this type of attitude is only understandable up to a point, which is something the manga demonstrates quite well. Not only does bully Sora to the point of suicide, he also takes advantage of Asari and sexually assaults her, afterward telling her that he’s not who she thinks he is.

Up until this point it seemed as though Tsugu was also a good friend who was being hurt by Yuushin, and while to a large extent that is true, it also seems that Tsugu, despite knowing about Yuushin’s toxic behavior, is still encouraging it.

After the incident with Asari, Yuushin decides he wants to take the pro-boxing license test, and thus begins training. His coach eventually gets his parents permission for him, and the two head to Tokyo for the exam. When the two first get there, they find Tsugu and Sora after they were featured on a popular TV show.

Yuushin comes to the croquette shop, at which point he knocks food out of Tsugu’s hand and attacks Sora after being told to leave. Even after all of this, though, Tsugu still wants to go see him. Whether or not this will ultimately lead to some dramatic change from Yuushin has yet to be seen, but Ozaki definitely does a good job of making him out as the stories ultimate villain.

Just like the first volume, the second keeps up the amazing quality of its art until the end. Each frame is incredibly detailed, even during the scenes where there are lots of buildings and people. On top of that, there are very few scenes that feel unused. Each frame feels important the story, even in a very minor way.

The Golden Sheep continues to be an excellent romantic slice of life even into its second volume. It is clear from the quality of the writing here that Kaori Ozaki knows how to continue stories beyond the one volume framework. There is of course one more volume left to go, but my guess is that its also going to be incredible.


What did you all think of the second volume? Let me know in the comments, but please no spoilers if you have already read the series.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

Final Thoughts: The Golden Sheep Volume One

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Kaori Ozaki’s “The Gods Lie,” was, in a lot of ways, a devastatingly sad tale. From the initial story of a young boy growing up disillusioned with, to the evolution of its characters, and its seamless transition into a romantic tragedy gone wrong, it is a work that is not only heartbreaking to read, but touches on issues that are important in the real world. Her follow up work “The Golden Sheep” follows a similar path.

It revolves around Tsugu, a high school girl who, after leaving her hometown for a few years, returns to find her friends Sora, Sally and Yuushin exactly as she left them, or so she thinks. As time passes she discovers that the friends she left behind in elementary school are not the same as they used to be.

Advertisements

Tsugu’s return to her hometown marks a noticeable change in both her friends and herself. What Tsugu initially does not realize about them is that their relationship dynamic has changed dramatically. Yuushin, who was once the proud protector of the group, now bullies Sora for his money, and Sora feels so bad about what happened to Yuushin when he was younger that he just sits there and takes it.

Meanwhile, Sally, who has yet to muster the courage to confess to Yuushin, now feels like she is competing with Tsugu. As a result, Sally takes her anger out on Tsugu, pushing her away by bullying her quite literally behind her back. Tsugu realizes that life is not the same as it was when she left. Her friends are different.

Much like its predecessor, “The Golden Sheep” is incredibly well written, at least so far, and does a great job at layering important messages into the story. Whereas “The Gods Lie” focused on child neglect and abuse, “The Golden Sheep” tells a very similar tale about bullying, and how time changes people, both for the better and the worse.

The way this is mainly told is through the Yuushin and Sora. After Tsugu left the year they graduated from grade school, Yuushin was bullied due to a news story about his father having sexual relations with a teenage girl. After reuniting with Sora in middle school, he begins to bully him, as a way to take out his aggression on him.

Sora, on the other hand, feels as though he abandoned Yuushin, and as a result simply takes Yuushin’s bullying without much resistance. In fact, Sora feels so bad about his situation, with a mixed sense of guilt and anger, that he attempts to commit suicide by locking himself in a car and suffocating from burning charcoal. It is only after Tsugu notices and saves him that he realizes his own value.

One thing that seems not necessarily problematic, but more so interesting, is her characters tendency to use running away as a problem solving mechanic, even though both mentally and materially it solves almost nothing. In both “The Gods Lie” and “The Golden Sheep,” running away becomes more a means of momentary relief than anything else.

Advertisements

Another thing this manga and the “The Gods Lie” share is amazingly detailed artwork that works to enhance he storytelling. One scene that stand out really well is the one featured at the beginning of the first volume depicting Tsugu rescuing Sora. Out of context, the scene is depressing, sure but is on its own not incredibly emotional.

It is only after hearing Tsugu and Sora’s backstory that the artwork really enhances the scene. It shows a crying Tsugu, her favorite guitar in hand, shattered in half trying to save one of her only friends from himself. The detail in Tsugu and Sora’s face, as well as on the guitar really adds to the power of the scene as a whole.

The dynamic between the four main characters is also incredibly complex. Each new piece of information that is revealed about one of them feels like it affects all of them. When it is revealed that Sally has a crush on Yuushin, and that Sally is jealous of Tsugu, she begins to bully her. This in turn makes their relationship more similar to Yuushin and Sora’s than to the relationship of true friends.

Overall, the first volume of “The Golden Sheep” feels like an excellent opener to what will undoubtedly be an emotional complex series.


How do you all feel about “The Golden Sheep?” Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

Final Thoughts: The Gods Lie

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

It has been a while since I have actually read anything manga wise. Most of the time I usually just look to see if there is an anime, and if not I move on. However, I felt drawn in by this manga in particular, if for no other reason than it was a one-shot and something I could finish pretty quickly. However, while I finished the manga in a little less than an hour, I can tell “The Gods Lie” is one that will stick in my mind for a long time to come.

Advertisements

Why Do the Gods Lie?

One of the things that I really liked right off the bat about this story is how much it feels like a refined version of Makoto Shinkai’s storytelling formula. Now, part of this might just be that the manga is, overall, a little bit shorter than the amount of time it would take to watch a Shinkai movie, and I think one of the things his movies suffer from to some degree is a lack of brevity.

Author Kaori Ozaki not only brings that needed brevity into the form of a one shot manga, but also manages to add a little more substance to the story, something that “Your Name” lacked a lot of.

The message of the “The Gods Lie” is one that resonates not only in more peaceful times, but especially during times of tragedy and unrest. Ultimately, no matter who it is, at some point, there will be an event that is beyond there control. Sometimes, its good to be lied to. Constant tragedy and unfairness make life so much worse, and so if they do not know about it, people do not have to be as hurt by it.

Subtlety

When it comes to shifting a story into the visual realm, there is a lot to be said for using still saying the loud parts quietly. One of the things Ozaki excels at when it comes to her storytelling is the way she is able to foreshadow using just one or two frames and very little dialogue.

A good example of this comes in chapter four, when Rio explains why her grandfathers remains are buried in the ground, and also why there father is gone. Instead of their father saying that he’s leaving, Ozaki uses the Yuuta’s request for real crab as an excuse to leave, saying that he’s going crab fishing in Alaska as an excuse to leave the two of them. Their father’s sullen expression in a few of the panels makes this a bit more obvious.

Natsuru

Originally, I thought that the main character Natsuru was actually going to be the weakest part of the story, and while it could be argued that he is, I still think he adds much more than he takes away.

Much like Rio and Yuuta, Natsuru is going through a lot in his home, although to a much lesser extent. With his father gone, Natsuru’s mother is the only one supporting him. On top of that, although he loves soccer, his friends are likely going to stop playing when they go to middle school, and his old coach is in the hospital with cancer.

It seems as though the two of them see a lot in each other, in the sense that the two of them are missing a lot from their life, and so when they meet, the two help to heal each other emotionally.

Advertisements

Names in Storytelling

While this is nothing new, I really appreciate when a writer goes the extra mile to incorporate the meaning of the characters names into the story itself. Natsuru’s name, being a combination of “summer” and ” has two major meanings within the story. One comes from his birth, as his mother explains, and the other is tied to the overall story. up until they met Natsuru, Rio and Yuuta had been holding out for hope.

When the three of them meet, it changes each other’s lives significantly, to the point where Rio and Yuuta are saved from their terrible situation. Because Rio and Yuuta were able to stay until summer, their lives were made better. In the same vein, Rio last name, which means “a reason to live,” is relevant because Natsuru became her reason to live.

Conclusion

This manga, much like the works of Makoto Shinkai, is an emotional roller coaster, to say the very least. While it may only be one volume, the amount of depth and character development present is equal to a series ten times its size. “The Gods Lie” is a story that will make people forget its ending was even happy.

Still, Kaori Ozaki’s creativity and writing ability, combined with her detailed drawings and refined style make this manga worth reading and re-reading. This is an easy insta-buy for any fan of shorter manga, and manga in general.


No, but like seriously, go read this, and if you have already, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!