Welcome to This Week in Shonen Jump, our weekly check in on Viz’s various Shonen Jump series. Viz has recently changed their release format, but our format will mostly remain the same. We will still review the newest chapters of one title a week, now with even more options at our disposal. The big change for our readers is that, even without a Shonen Jump subscription, you can read these most recent chapters for free at Viz.com or using their app.
This week, Brian checks in with “Goodbye, Eri.” If you have thoughts on this or any other current Shonen Jump titles, please let us know in the comments!
Written and illustrated by Tatsuki Fujimoto
Translated by Amanda Haley
Lettered by Snir Aharon
Reviewed by Brian Salvatore
“Goodbye, Eri” is a 200 page one-shot by “Chainsaw Man” mangaka Tatsuki Fujimoto that wrestles with questions of art, grief, memory, storytelling, and intent. That description doesn’t do the story justice and, frankly, I’m not sure there’s one that could. While not quite on the same scale, there is a similarity to Synecdoche, NY present, where the story is about the artist and their work, but we are viewing both their work and something outside of it. The story isn’t very straightforward, and it wouldn’t be surprising if some readers didn’t click with the layering and misdirections that pop up.
But if you’re in, this is a supremely satisfying read. There are a number of twists throughout and, while some of them are expected, others are absolutely not. I don’t want to say too much about the actual plot here, as to say anything will somewhat spoil or cloud a reading of this story. It is also a story that will feel very personal to any reader who has watched a long illness wreck havoc on someone they love. For me, I brought so much of my own experience to the reading, that it is hard to extricate myself from the work. In addition, so much of the story is about a poor reading of a creative work, that it seems crass to attempt to explain a take on the story.
All of that is to say that this is not a conventionally easy story to review or talk about. However, the one piece that can easily be discussed is the artwork. Fujimoto uses a blurring effect at various points which, as would only be appropriate for this story, can represent different things. Are the blurs an indication of fact and fiction crossing over? Are the indicating film versus non-film? Are they how a character sees the scene through tears? Fujimoto’s art has to work on a few different levels here, since it is showing both ‘reality’ and fiction, as well as allowing the reader to, at times, be unsure which we are watching and, at others, to make that crystal clear. This is something that would often be achieved by using color and black and white, or colors that have different saturation levels, to help unlock the key, but the black and white offers no such assistance.
But the amorphous nature of the story even effects Fujimoto’s character work. Eri, when she appears, is a revelation of beauty. Is that how Yuta sees her, or is that how she really is? Or, is that how Yuta has cast her in this role? Fujimoto needs all of his characters to work on those three separate levels or the entire premise falls apart. The story itself plays with this at points, too, where characters are seen so fundamentally differently between not just mediums but through people as well. This is reflected subtly in a variety of ways, and so when we see Eri or Yuka’s parents, depending on how we are seeing them, they look quite different.
Much like another Charlie Kaufman script, Adaptation, the end of the story pushes the concept further and further, and the blurred lines of reality and fiction are lost forever. But in that, Fujimoto is able to give Yuta some semblance of peace, or at least present a piece of art that shows Yuta at peace. Again, it is a tough story to write about. But the best art often is. Let Yuta’s camera guide you through “Goodbye, Eri.”
Final Verdict: 9.5 – A haunting, beautiful, though provoking, messy, knotty experience.