Tatsuki Fujimoto is currently one of the biggest names in the manga industry, thanks to his Chainsaw Man, but that’s not to say his one-shot stories haven’t also been a great success. We previously discussed Look Back, a story of loss and moving on while losing someone important, and now it’s time for Goodbye, Eri.
Teenager Yuta enjoys making movies and carries his camera everywhere he goes. His home life isn’t currently perfect: his mom is dying and his dad is struggling to come to terms with it while staying strong for Yuta. One day Yuta’s mom makes a strange request. She asks him to record her treatment and initially, Yuta complies. We learn about these events through a series of movie-like panels that make up pages. But then it becomes obvious that treatment failed and Yuta’s father asks him to come and say goodbye. Yuta comes to the hospital but changes his mind last minute and leaves. As he is walking away from the building, it explodes.
Unexpected plot twits like this are somewhat that Fujimoto is quite good at. They leave the reader confused and wanting more. Such is the case with Goodbye, Eri too. Yuta edited his mom’s final months into a movie that he showed in his high school. But much like the readers, his classmates are also baffled and as it turns out not big fans of his directorial talents. Hurt and lost, Yuta tries to commit suicide but is interrupted by Eri, a girl around his age, who happens to be a movie buff. She makes Yuta promise that he will make a good movie while she mentors him. Although he was undecided at first, Yuta eventually agrees. We learn that his mother was abusive and used his interests to benefit her own image, by making him edit only the best of her. Yuta’s dad pushes him toward Eri by encouraging him to try again.
However, we find out that Eri is sick. The two decide to come up with a story that will celebrate Eri if she dies and offer a good story if she lives. What happens next is once again shown through a series of movie-like panels: they spend a lot of time together watching movies, having fun and even starting a romantic relationship. It’s quite difficult to tell if this was just for the filming or reality. But then Eri is also gone and Yuta is once again all alone. The movie they made is well-received by the public and the idealized version of Eri is forever remembered.
Yuta grows up and gets married. However, once again he is faced with tragedy: his father, wife and daughter die. Desperate, he decides to kill himself in a house where he used to watch movies with Eri. Upon arriving there he walks in and finds Eri, who tells him that she is actually an immortal vampire, stuck in a cycle of rebirths. She encourages him to live, stating that her predecessor would want that. Elated, Yuta leaves the house and as he walks away, the house explodes – leading the reader to believe that the final part of the Goodbye, Eri story was probably fiction and part of the movie he recorded with Eri.
It took me quite a bit to decide whether the time skip actually happened. Ultimately, it does not matter but I’d like to believe that it didn’t. Goodbye, Eri allowed us to see Yuta grow through Eri’s eyes. Ultimately, she was the only one who accepted and understood him until the very end. She gave his art meaning and allowed him to do what he loved.
The movie within a movie within a movie is quite an interesting concept and I’d like to see how it would carry over in an adaptation. MAPPA CEO, Manabu Otsuka, recently spoke about his desire to adapt all of Fujimoto’s works (the studio worked on Chainsaw Man). Goodbye, Eri has just enough material for a movie of a decent length and it’s already made to work for the format. Either way, if you enjoy Fujimoto’s works or unusual coming-of-age stories or even just movies, definitely give this short manga a go.
Viz Media is publishing Goodbye, Eri in English on June 28.
Anime Corner received a review copy of this manga.