[Review] Goodbye Eri – The Fujimoto Oneshot That Lies To You (Sort Of)

After the incredible Look Back (which I reviewed a few months ago) Fujimoto is back with another one-shot, and I’m gonna be honest guys, this might just be recency bias, but I think this is my favorite of all his works so far. Now that I’m done needlessly hyping up something any sane person should be hyped for, it’s time to take a look at Goodbye Eri by Tatsuki Fujimoto (which can be read through this link on MangaPlus).

The Premise

I won’t be spoiling anything major in this review, but the premise is rather simple (at first). A young boy is tasked with recording his dying mother’s final moments, and when he shows the movie to his school, the reaction is unexpected, to say the least. Fujimoto’s author trademarks are all here, the dominant women, beautiful panelwork, a passion for cinema so incredible that you half-expect the manga to turn into an animated movie halfway through, and a charmingly crude sense of humor that doesn’t quite toe the line into complete schlock.

Most of all, Fujimoto showcases his talent for capturing the mundane beauty of everyday life in all of its messy and awkward glory.

Goodbye Eri is a little bit of Look Back, Fire Punch, and Chainsaw Man’s story beats and visual language. All combined, it truly feels like a fantastic encapsulation of everything good about Fujimoto’s storytelling. Something about the way it messes with the reader and takes them on an emotional rollercoaster while telling you that yes, your emotions are being manipulated right now, is so honest that I can’t help but be charmed by the story’s bluntness.


I love the themes of how manipulative media is but at the same time showcasing why it is such a strong tool for dealing with complicated human emotions. Fujimoto understands on a deep level the nuances of human emotion in a way very few other storytellers can do. The story takes you through all these terrible and wonderful events in this one person’s life, and at many points, you start thinking to yourself “which of these events are real?”

Fujimoto’s answer, at least in my opinion, is that it doesn’t matter. Or maybe it does. Like who cares, you’re the one reading the story, feel how you want to feel. The story is purposefully confusing you because, at the end of the day, media is supposed to make you feel things. The narrative might get you there, incredibly striking art might push the point home, but at the end of the day, if a story doesn’t leave an impact on the people who consume it, then what was its point? Nothing.

The Brilliance of Repetition

One thing that I didn’t get to talk about as much in my Look Back review was Fujimoto’s use of repetition in his stories. While I am unaware if there are any interviews where he explains himself, I hope you guys humor my take on why he uses this element so much as a narrative tool. Fujimoto uses repetition in his manga for two things. The first reason is to evoke feelings of nostalgia within the reader while they are reading the manga. Secondly, the repetition is there to enhance the realism of a scene, immersing the reader even further into the characters’ lives.

Take this panel, for example:

The shifts in Eri’s face are so subtle that at a glance, you wouldn’t even consciously notice. However, these small changes in expression are picked up by your brain, and it registers it as not only familiar but real. At some point, you’ve seen people make these slight shifts in expression, and while your conscious mind can’t place why the art looks so familiar at first, your memories certainly do.

The Handheld Feel

Another element that I wanted to bring up quickly is how effectively Fujimoto mimics the visual style of a handheld camera. It’s already difficult enough to mimic that effect in animation, but conveying that same “dynamic” motion into a static page is something else entirely. Fujimoto manages to do so brilliantly with some simple framing choices.

Fujimoto mimics the feel of a handheld camera through things like unflattering closeup angles or “candid” shots of characters not even looking at the “camera”. There are also the artificial blur effects he adds to make the panel look “lowres”, like how a camera would. It’s a simple thing, but the effect is really good.

It almost feels like he takes screenshots of real videos and then just draws over them.

The Characters

Won’t dwell on this part too long, but Fujimoto continues his trend of making unbearably relatable people in his stories. They talk in ways that make readers go “damn, I’ve said that before”, especially if you share Fujimoto’s passion for media. The characters are all fleshed out incredibly well, but as the story keeps pointing out, you don’t actually know any of them at all. You are seeing them through the lens of the story, and after it’s done, you won’t know anymore.


We get so invested in the lives of these characters that are completely fictional, and any emotions we pull from them are purely one-sided. The author won’t know how we felt unless we got out and tell him, and the characters aren’t real, and therefore unable to respond at all. A huge theme of the manga is how creators inject a lot of themselves into their work and glamorize it as a way to cope with their complex emotions. It’s a strange sort of parasocial relationship because the creators themselves aren’t truly showing who they really are, it’s just an idealized (or incomplete) version they want their audience to see.

Conclusion

Goodbye Eri is a beautifully crafted story about the complexities of media, the idea of “knowing someone” you’ve never actually met, and the fleeting beauty of life that humans desperately try to capture through film. With that, I’ve said everything that needs to be said. Well, I haven’t actually, but it’s like 3 A.M. where I am and I need to sleep.

I really feel like I should end with something fun and meta here, so I’m gonna end with a shill of the next thing I’ll be talking about. Toodles.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s