Tag Archives: Manga

Final Thoughts: Aku No Hana Volume Three

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

In the end, there was no pleasure.
A boy split between the normal and the distant.
He tried to cross over, but his indecision left him stuck.

Aku no Hana is a weird series. I know at this point that might as well be the equivalent of saying “grass is green” or “the sky is blue,” but its worth reiterating since its story and characters seem to purposefully operate within that idea. Even despite the strange situation the main character Kasuga faces, it never seems to deviate from this question of normal. Anyway, here are my final thoughts.

A New Understanding of Nakamura

I recently realized that analysis of the series so far might be a bit off. Up until this point I assumed ill-intent from the character of Nakamura, used her criticism of normal as a way to write her off as jealous of freedom, when it is in fact Nakamura herself who seems to be the vanguard of such freedom, or at least that is how it seems now.

It is clear that, despite the things she has done up until this point, Oshimi wants us to view Nakamura as a sort of force for good. Rather than being a representation of the more conservative elements of society, Nakamura is in fact the more open and liberal one, someone whose ultimate goal could be interpreted as freeing herself, and by circumstance Kasuga, from the ways of old.

The only thing that stands for certain about her though is that she is indeed an agent of chaos, one who seeks to disrupt and escape life as she knows it. One might say she is…absurd.

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“Aku no Hana” and Absurdism

The bountiful references to 20th-century french authors reminded me a lot of Albert Camus, the French author, journalist and philosopher who wrote on the idea of the Absurd. Simply put, The absurd is defined as “the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life, and the human inability to find any in a purposeless, meaningless or chaotic and irrational universe.”

Kasuga is a character who is undoubtedly dealing with the Absurd. For all of the series thus far, Kasuga has tried to find meaning in living out his life in his small town. However, even despite trying to hide behind the intellect of others, Kasuga has failed to find a good reason as to why his existence has any meaning. He even admits this near the middle of the third volume, where he describes himself as “empty.”

Near the end of the manga, Kasuga is confronted with a choice: continue to the other side of the mountain with Nakamura, or go back home to his meaningless life with Saeki. Ultimately, though, he fails to make a decision, and because of this the three of them are caught by the police and are brought back home. Kasuga not only fails to make a decision but by effect fails to confront the Absurd. He is currently still stuck looking for meaning because he knows how hollow is really is.

Saeki and the Denial of Meaninglessness

When Saeki meets the two runaways on the mountain in the rain, she confronts the two of them, asking why Kasuga always seems to end up with her. Nakamura goes on her usual spiel, calling him a “shitbug” and a “pervert.” After that, Saeki tries to get him to come back, telling him that she does not care about what other people think, and that she is OK with the way Kasuga is. Saeki, though, also seems to cling to a sense of normal that Nakamura simply does not care for. As a result, she ends up clinging to him as a way of projecting her need for meaning, despite there not being any for Kasuga.

Good Pacing…I Think

One thing that stands out Oshimi’s work is just how much he knows how to pace a story. Each major reveal in the series feels like it has an adequate buildup, and not like he was rushed for time and just through something completely out. Each chapter thus far feels as though it has served a purpose to the wider story, which is more than I can say for some series even shorter than Aku no Hana.

Also, I am not sure if this was intentional or not, but the way the chapters are compiled make it so that each huge climax comes at the very end. While this may seem a bit repetitive, and probably is so tbh, it also makes the end of each volume feel like a real reward.

Conclusion

“Aku no Hana” does not seem to care about holding any punches. Its exploration of the absurd seems to be going full stop with no breaks. While it seems likely the characters will take some time to reflect in the next volume, that will likely come with some self-discovery, or at least I think it will. It really is hard to say given the series’ unpredictable nature. I hope you’ll join me next week as we continue on in this intriguing series.


How do you all feel about the series so far? 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: AKU no Hana Volume Two

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

In this small town, 
secrets live and die among only a select few.
The egos of many are so frail they need a paperweight.
Fantasy sometimes becomes so powerful that the ground 
dissapears under the veil of night.

“Aku no Hana” is without a doubt one of the stranger series I have read/watched. In a lot of ways, it feels like I should hate it, and yet the more I read the more I can’t help but get absorbed into the madness of it all. Apart from the first chapter, the second volume was almost nothing like I expected it to be. There are so many unknown variables, the biggest one being Nakamura, that it sometimes feels like the series is doing a 360 just to add a layer of confusion. Anyway, here are my final thoughts.

And the Story Continues

It was not enough for Nakamura to simply make Kasuga’s life miserable, nor is it likely that it will ever be enough, and as a result, she continues to make him feel the weight of his guilt. In this volume alone she nearly reveals Saeki’s clothes by pooring water on Kasuga while he’s on a date, becomes friends with Saeki as a way of making Kasuga worry, suggests to Kasuga that Saeki wants to have sex with him, and in the fairly infamous scene, forces him to write out all of the things he has done across their homeroom.

Meanwhile, Kasuga attempts to live his life normally while forming a relationship with Saeki. However, Nakamura’s antics cause him so much stress that right after he and Saeki begin dating, he says that he “hasn’t felt this free in years.” The relationship between Kasuga and Nakamura on its own already brings out a lot of tension, but when you add in the implications on Kasuga’s life on top of it, it becomes clear just how deep that tension really runs.

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Nakamura

I mentioned in my last post about “Aku no Hana” that Nakamura as a character seems to be representative of something more, of a society that only wishes to shame others for deviating from a designated cultural norm. The second volume provides another big piece of evidence for this.

In the classroom scene at the end of the volume, as Nakamura attempts to run away and calls Kasuga a coward, she mentions how society is obsessed with sex. However, instead of coming off as a serious criticism, it seems to come more from a place of jealously. In this scene, Nakamura represents a more conservative element of society that hates the emotional freedom that comes from modern society, not for any principled reason, but rather because those same elements lacked that freedom when they were younger.

Even more generally though, Nakamura could also be seen as representing the lack of freedom people had to pursue their own interests when they were younger, and the need to control others because of it. The message still feels a little weird coming from a series with the subject matter that it has, but nonetheless is still an important one.

Kasuga

On the other side of this interaction is Kasuga, who, after being manipulated by Nakamura, finally rebels, at least in a way. To keep Nakamura in the classroom, he does what she says, writing out his moral failures on not only the chalkboard but across the entire classroom, leaving it covered in black ink and descriptions of his endeavors. In a way, by fully admitting to the things he’s done, mainly stealing Saeki’s gym clothes, he is freed from her manipulation and can go on living without having to worry about what others think.

Still, part of me believes ultimately that this is actually what Nakamura wanted all along. By getting Kasuga to admit his guilt in a big display of passion, she can make him feel even worse, knowing full well that the shame will come rushing back as he falls from high of rebellion.

By the way, I guess I should take some time just to say that whenever I write these Final Thoughts posts on individual volumes, I never read ahead, so all of this is speculation, meaning everyone is totally free to make fun of me in the comments for how wrong I am provided there are no spoilers. So, have fun with that.

Conclusion

While I honestly thought this volume’s pace was going to be a lot worse, I am very happy about how wrong I was. the show just continues to build and build, allowing the reader to dive deeper into the madness and then feel the climax near the end. All of it is extremely well written, and on top of all the suspense, author Shuzo Oshimi forces people to contend with some pretty uncomfortable ideas. It is honestly hard to say where the series will go from here, but I am excited to continue, so be sure to come back next week as we dive in further.


Hope you all enjoyed the little poem at the beginning. I’m trying to make my posts a little more flavorful/personal, so I hope that added something more interesting. What do you all think of Aku no Hana? Let me know in the comments.

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: Aku No Hana Volume One

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

It seemed like, back when it aired in the spring of 2013, almost everyone was talking about “Aku no Hana.” Most of this was because of the series’ terrible rotoscoping and frankly horrid animation. Studio Zexcs definitely dropped the ball on that one. However, that was not the only reason people were seriously talking about it. “Aku no Hana” also presents within its story a pretty interesting theme, one that focuses on what really counts as perversion.

What is Perversion?

For those unaware, “Aku no Hana.” focuses on Takao Kasuga, a middle school boy with a love for books and bad grades. One day, after everyone goes home from school, Takao finds himself alone in his classroom, and notices the gym clothes of his crush Nanako Saeki. In a moment of non-existent self-control, Takao rushes home with Nanako’s clothes under his shirt. After doing this, he is approached by Sawa Nakamura, who tells Takao that she saw him take Nanako’s clothes. From their, Sawa continues to blackmail him.

The story and the message of “Aku no Hana” are actually pretty simple. It is easy to look at others as weird or different because their interests or “lifestyle choices” are different from the norm. From that perspective Takao is not actually that bad of a person. Ultimately, what he did was fairly minor, although still pretty creepy, caused very little material harm. Still, much in the same way that a story like “Lolita” tries to paint its main character Humbert as more sympathetic, it feels weird to do the same with a character like Takao, even if he is just a middle school kid.

Perversion and the Real World

Sorry, lol, but if you somehow expected this to be apolitical, then welcome you must be new to this blog. Hi there.

Despite “Aku no Hana’s” story not being the best argument for its message, its message is important. Many minority groups have been affected by describing their lives as “perverted” or “an abomination in the eyes of god.” One good example of this is interracial couples. Up until the mid to late 90’s, the majority of people in the U.S. actually dissaproved of marriage between a black and white couples. While this fact alone is not all that surprising given U.S. history on race, it is worth noting that many of the arguments against interracial marriage were from religious groups that called it a perversion.

The same holds true for members of the LGBTQ community and especially trans individuals. Even 2020, where not only has marriage for LGBTQ individuals been guaranteed under the law but also now job security has as well, many among fundamentalist religious people still think that the existence of these people is, in fact, a perversion of gods image, despite the fact that being gay or trans is completely natural.

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Ok, That’s Cool, But is it Good?

Well…tbh, yeah. While the message is, to say the least, a bit of a miss-match for the content, there is no denying the allure of a story like “Aku no Hana.” It is a tragedy that not only draws people in with its strange and yet surprisingly deep set-up, but continues to escalate even within the first volume. From chapter’s one to six the story gets more and more intense as the pressure builds on Takao’s conscious, slowly sprouting from a seed to a fully grown flower of evil.

…and the Characters?

Of all of the characters that have been introduced so far, Sawa Nakamura is by far the most interesting. She is introduced as an outcast, someone with no friends who is mainly content to just bully people, especially Takao. Her motives in all this, aside from just seeing the whole world burn, are unclear. However, she also seems to be more than just a sadistic bully. Sawa also seems to representative of society, one which wants to see those whom they deem perverted to suffer, which fits nicely with the manga’s theme.

Takao is, well, he’s there. Aside from being someone entirely interesting in his own right, he serves as the classic tragic hero, who lives only to fall, or something poetic like that I guess. It does make sense though, as Kasuga seems to be much more self-aware then the average manga protagonist. That self-awareness does make him more interesting, though, as he seems almost to aware of his inevitable downfall as he must constantly contend with Sawa or risk his secret getting out.

Finally, the Art

Unlike its anime counterpart, “Aku no Hana’s” manga actually looks really good. Even if I had not read it in the author’s notes, I would have assumed the locations were based on specific real world places and not just some imagined middle school area.

The character designs, although a bit plain, are unique enough to stand out, and in that way arguably match the tone of story, which gives the manga as a whole a more cohesive feel.

The flower that appears on the cover of Baudelaire’s “The Flowers of Evil” that is spread throughout the first volume is also a nice touch that not only further ties together specific characters, like Takao and Sawa, but gives the series a strong symbol which can represent a number of things, including sin, evil, perversion, etc.

Conclusion

Overall, this is a series I am really happy I started. Despite its morally ambiguous content, the entertainment value is more than enough to keep someone going. Plus, for what it is worth, the message is an important one that I think is worth paying attention to. Couple that with some fantastic artwork and incredibly deep characters, and “Aku no Hana” becomes a manga not worth ignoring.


Have you all read “Aku no Hana?” 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!

IPCC Finds Weebs May Be Forced to Use Manga as Toilet Paper in the Future

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

(The Following is Satire)

In a recent, very real report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), researchers found that deforestation and lack of soil management may lead to lack of available paper products. They specified that this would include lack of access to things like drawing paper, napkins, and toilet paper. The researchers project that this will begin to become a serious problem somewhere between 2050 and 2060, with an even worse timeline if people forget this information two second after reading it.

Among the researchers working on this report, Dr. Wee Aboo said that those who enjoy reading physical media of any kind may even be forced to use their favorite books and comics for other things. “What’s happening right now is unprecedented. Climate change is having such an incredible impact on our planet that it might get to the point where manga fans have to use their favorite series as toilet paper.


Thank you all for reading.

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 Three

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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.

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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.

Love Letter

So…”Love Letter”…huh.

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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

30 Day Anime Challenge Two: Day 15

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

It is day 15 of the second 30 Day Anime Challenge.

#15: Manga That Was Better Than the Anime

“Tokyo Ghoul,” no question. Tokyo Ghoul’s manga is one of best written, with some really good art to boot. However, as many are aware, its anime counterpart is definitely a lesser version of its story, one that leaves out a lot of important material from the original manga. Now, that is not to say that the anime is completely garbage, as some like to claim, but it does make it significantly worse from a storytelling perspective than the manga.


What manga is better than the anime for you? Let me know in the comments.

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!

The Onion (Anime Edition): My Hero Academia Mangaka Worries That People Don’t Like His Series

My Hero Academia Mangaka Kouhei Horikoshi said in an interview last week that despite how much money his franchise has made him, he can’t shake the feeling that people do not like his show. “I think about it every night,” he said, “that people just hate my series.”

The worry reportedly came after fans were interviewed on Japanese TV about the My Hero Academia anime and one fan said: “I thought the animation was a little lacking in parts, and the music could have been better, but other than that it’s pretty good.” Another fan said “I would really like to see more of Uraraka. She is one of my favorite characters in the whole show.”

After seeing the comments on TV, Horikoshi admittedly started crying. “I thought I was doing so well, but I guess I’m just a failure.” Many others have given their scathing reviews as well, such as Bleach Mangaka Tite Kubo, who, when asked about the series, said, “I really enjoy it. It’s bringing a fun new feel to manga, and Horikoshi is doing a great job.” Masashi Kishimoto, the author of the world famous Naruto, said “I really like how the story is centered around Ninjas with superpowers. Great concept, and great work from Horikoshi.”

In recent weeks, Horikoshi has even been feeling pressure from fans directly, with fans outside his house and signs that say “we love your work!” Despite his ongoing fight to impress his fans, it seems as though there are some that he will never get through to.


Thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos! Also, if you like what your reading, consider supporting me through Patreon. It would really help with content production in the future.

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