If you haven’t read any manga from Tatsuki Fujimoto, now’s a good a time as any. After raving about Chainsaw Man a while ago, I decided to check out Fire Punch as a palette cleanser.

It cleansed my palette with tears, alright.

Fujimoto follows the beat of his own drum, not worrying about conventional trends while also maintaining his own style. It’s here where his two most recent works, VERY lengthy one-shot stories, shine. Last year’s Look Back was a grounded take on the characters making it in the manga industry. This year’s flavor of the month is Goodbye, Eri, which feels like a culmination of Fujimoto’s work. With expert pacing, visual flow, and a heart-wrenchingly mysterious story, this is one-shot you need to check out.

All the World’s a Stage

Goodbye, Eri focuses on Yuta Ito, a child who received a smartphone from his mother. During his birthday, she requests something odd: To record her last moments before she dies. Up to the task, the reader gets to see Yuta’s life through the camera, which is stylized with four-panel pages. We get to see an Up “Married Life” style montage of moments in Yuta’s life with his parents.

It’s saddening to see his mother’s health decline, with the mundane everyday mixing in with sobering news. What I appreciate about this art style is that most of the panels are drawn in a shaky manner. This symbolizes the amateur effort of Yuta’s recordings. On the day that his mom will die, Yuta runs away saddened, refusing to record the final painful moments. As he runs away, the story ends with the hospital blowing up.

The end!

It turns out that this was part of a film submission on Yuta’s part, a documentary called Dead Explosion Mother. (A little on the nose there.) Endlessly mocked by his peers for the bombastic ending, Yuta decides to die by jumping off a hospital building.

Or so we think…

And All the Men and Women Merely Players

It’s here we meet Eri, the only person who liked Yuta’s movie. Inspired by the film, she challenges Yuta to create a film in one year. Thus begins the manga’s true narrative arc and relationship between the main characters. While I won’t spoil it, the story makes good use of the symbolism of recording a film and its final product. We only see what the camera wants us to see.

It’s clear that Fujimoto loves movies; it’s his trademark, after all. In Goodbye, Eri, enjoying films is the main conceit of the manga, and is central to the characters. Shout-outs to popular movies are peppered within the panels, and some film techniques like Dutch angles are used too.

Oddly enough, this one-shot has more in common with Fire Punch and Chainsaw Man than Look Back. This is because of the reliance of a fantasy element that ropes in readers, an ambiguous narrative surrounding the story. What is really happening in the story, and what’s just part of the film itself? You’ll need to read this at least one more time to fully appreciate the foreshadowing and smaller details.

They Have Their Exits and Their Entrances

Part of the appeal of Chainsaw Man is the furious pacing of the action scenes. Things just woosh by without a second thought. Goodbye, Eri does a similar thing with a lot of its montages. However, when it takes a chance to breathe, you take the moments in. The women in Yuta’s life change him drastically, and a sense of urgency is placed when he interacts with them. However, Yuta’s mother seems to have affected him in a way that’s not completely positive. (If you want a spoiler-free hint, she looks eerily similar to Makima from Chainsaw Man.)

Likewise, Eri is someone that Yuta only knows for a short amount of time. As the manga continues, he grows fond of his time with her and records every moment of it. After all, film is the only creative output he has. If there’s one thing to take from this manga, is that our lives are short and fleeting. However, film has the power to preserve our feelings and memories even when we’re long gone.

And One Man in his Time Plays Many Parts

Yuta is a troubled man that undergoes healing and changes throughout Goodbye, Eri. Losing his mother as a kid with film as his only outlet has made him insensitive to other matters. However, as he develops his friendship with Eri, he becomes conflicted as to what to do next. While pressured to conform to please his audience, there’s still a spark of childlike wonder in his personality. He’s like Agni or Denki in that he was forced to grow up early, but isn’t as traumatized. I’d wager that out of all of Fujimoto’s protagonists, he’s the one that’s least emotionally devastated at the end.

I know that Chainsaw Man part 2 is coming, but if Fujimoto made nothing but one-shots, I’d be fine with that. The tale of Goodbye, Eri is one that is bittersweet but hopeful.

The future is best!

(You can read Goodbye, Eri for free on Viz Media and Manga Plus. For more manga recommendations, check out Katamaris’ pieces on Chainsaw Man and Takopi’s Original Sin)

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About Katamaris

During the day, Elisha is an aspiring businessman, but at night, he's a wacky freelance writer. Born into the world with a fleeting knowledge of rhythm games, he loves shonen manga and still wants Pushing Daisies to have some closure. For any manga/anime/video game inquiries, please contact him at katamaris4ever (at) gmail.com

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