Tatsuki Fujimoto has had a stellar career as a mangaka.
Chainsaw Man is my second favourite manga behind Attack on Titan and his one shot Look Back is an emotional rollercoaster.
I have also just started reading his first serialized manga, Fire Punch, which so far is already turning out to be one of the most insane manga I have read.
Well, Fujimoto recently released a new one shot Goodbye Eri, which, at first, looked like it was going to be a simple, emotional story, much like Look Back, before the story goes completley off the rails and explodes.
Ordinarily, me saying that would be a way of me dissing this story but no, this time I mean it as a compliment.
It leaves a lot up to the reader and this is what makes it so great.
Goodbye Eri begins at the 12th Birthday of Yuta, who’s parents have bought him a smart phone.
This pleasant Birthday gift quickly turns grim, however, as it is revealed that Yuta’s mother is dying from a terminal illness and she bought Yuta the smart phone to film her life all the way up to her final moments.
One bit of foreshadowing for what will be revealed about Yuta’s mother can be seen with the dad’s reaction to her request: how he looks between his wife and son, as if he wants to say something but then stops himself.
From here, the one shot proceeds pretty expectantly, with Yuta filming his mother’s life, their time togethor, and her degrading health.
Eventually, Yuta’s mother is dying in the hostpital, so his father takes him to film her final moments.
However, at the last second, Yuta gets cold feet and runs away from the hostpital as it suddenly explodes, leaving Yuta’s fellow students who are watching his movie in a state of shock.
Yep, Yuta created a film of his mother’s struggle with her terminal illness, only to add an explosion at the end, as if it was supposed to be an action movie.
His school mates take it about how you would expect, with many condemning and laughing at the movie.
One of Yuta’s teachers even pulls him aside to tell him off for “making a mockery” of his mother’s death with the explosion.
Yuta’s only response?
“That was awesome right?”
The teacher naturally does not take this well.
Yuta then interviews a bunch of other students about his movie, all of which criticize him for it, most potently one girl whose mother also died, who says she can’t forgive Yuta for adding the explosion at the end.
All of this leads to Yuta deciding to commit suicide, heading to the roof of the hostpital where his mother’s died to leap from it.
However, before he can, he is interrupted by a girl named Eri, who recognises him as the director of Dead Explosion Mother, and drags him to an abandoned building where she watches some movies with him.
Afterwards, the two talk, and Eri is the first person who speaks positively of Yuta’s movie, saying that she liked, “the way it blurred the line between fact and fiction,” something that will be very important later.
Eri goes on to state that Yuta’s movie was awesome and convinces him that he should make another movie next year to make everyone who laughed at his previous movie cry.
From here, we see the progression of Eri and Yuta’s friendship, just like we saw the progression of Yuta’s mother’s illness, only instead of the illness building, it’s the two friends watching movies togethor and making plans for Yuta’s next film.
There are multiple great moments of humor spliced in here, like when Eri pulls a peace sign whenever the heroes win and Yuta says “aww yeah,” every time there are nipples on screen.
We also get another key moment, this time between Yuta and his father, where the dad says that Yuta has always “sprinkled a pinch of fantasy on everything,” which explains part of the reason why Yuta added the explosion when his mother died in his original movie.
After this conversation, Yuta meets with Eri again and pitches her his new movie about himself meeting a dying vampire (Eri) after his movie is criticized.
Like his mother, the vampire is also dying, and the main character has to film her death to overcome the death of his mother.
Eri agrees to this film being the one Yuta will make and the conversation concludes with Yuta asking Eri to meet his father.
However, this meeting does not go over well because Yuta’s father is angry that they are making a movie, thinking it will hurt Yuta more, yelling at Eri to get out.
“And cut!” Eri cries out, revealing this argument to have been a part of their movie, since Yuta’s father has prior theater experience.
Then we get an interesting line from Yuta’s father, “To quote a friend of mine… creation is all about getting into the audience’s problems to make them laugh and cry, right? Well it wouldn’t be fair if the creator’s didn’t get hurt too, would it?”
The three of them then agree to reshoot the scene with that line in it.
I think this line may be a moment of Fujimoto speaking through the character of Yuta’s father.
Perhaps the “to quote a friend of mine” part of the line means that this is something Fujimoto thinks or something one of Fujimoto’s friends said to him, which he then decided to put into the oneshot.
Whatever the meaning of this scene is, it does lead into the moment where Yuta is hurt again, as he learns that Eri is also suffering from a terminal illness, after she collapses on a beach while filming.
In the hostpital, Eri asks Yuta to film her final moments, just like his mother wanted to do for him, causing Yuta to flee in a panic.
Yuta is then met by his father, who decides to show him his mother’s final moments on film, where we get one of the big bombshells of the one shot.
While Yuta’s mother lay dying in the hospital bed, Yuta’s father explained to her that Yuta would not come out of the car to see her, so he will be filming her final moments.
This causes Yuta’s mother to claim that her son was always useless, and we then get a bunch of panels showing her being abusive to Yuta and forcing him to film her life, revealing that Yuta made his mother look good in the film he made, having the power as the director to decide how she would be remembered.
Along with this moment being shocking and emotional, it also brings Eri’s comment about Yuta’s film blurring the line between fact and fiction to the forefront.
In that film, we see Yuta running away from the hostpital before it explodes, yet in the video of his mother’s final moments, his father says he is staying in the car rather than running away.
So how much of what we are shown before the explosion is real, if it was not just the explosion and his mother’s personality that were manipulated?
Is what we are seeing here fact or fiction in this story?
That is a question that the reader will ask a lot going forward.
Following Yuta’s talk with his father, he goes to see Eri and reconciles with her, agreeing to film her until her death, which he does so, all the way up until Eri is on her death bed, where she says to create a movie that will make everyone bawl their eyes out.
Cut to the school auditorium again after Eri’s death where, this time, the audience are all bawling their eyes out as they watch Yuta’s movie, to which Yuta pulls Eri’s peace sign at the hero’s victory.
An indeterminable amount of time later, Yuta is approached by the girl who said she could not forgive him for adding the explosion.
She reveals that Eri actually wore glasses, had a dental retainer, never dated Yuta, and actually had a massive temper to the point that this girl and Yuta were her only friends.
The girl then thanks Yuta for depicting Eri in such a positive light.
Taking her words into account, though, this means that every single moment we have seen between Eri and Yuta was either staged or recreated for their movie, again blurring the line between fact and fiction.
Then we get the biggest mind screw of all, as the one shot supposedly jumps forward decades later, as Yuta narrates that he eventually got married and had a daughter, but could never stop recutting Eri’s movie.
We then see the older Yuta, looking just like his father, only without the facial hair, and he says to his phone that his entire family, including his father, were killed in a car accident.
Not wanting to endure any more deaths, Yuta decides to take his own life, apparently going to the abandoned building where he and Eri watched movies to do so.
It is here that the mind screw part comes in, as Yuta walks into the abandoned building, and finds Eri, somehow still alive and watching his movie.
She comments that his movie is on track but something about it is not quite there, as films ending with the love interest’s death are overdone.
“It’s missing a pinch of fantasy, don’t you think?” She says.
Yuta says the film has fantasy because he turned Eri into a vampire, but Eri says that is fact because she really is a vampire, but one whose body dies every 200 years due to her overflowing memories.
When she died in front of Yuta, she revived three days later, without her memory.
Only the movie he made told her things about herself.
Although, given that it has been established that the version of Eri Yuka showed was idealized, she may have the wrong picture.
Eri then comments on the beauty of his movie, and how people can be immortalized through them (much like a vampire, I would say), to which Yuka agrees, before saying his titular goodbye to Eri.
Now, after much struggle, Yuta finally knows why he spent so long recutting his movie.
As Eri said, it was missing a pinch of fantasy, and that fantasy comes when the building explodes as Yuta walks away triumphant, bringing the one shot to an end.
Okay, so what the hell does this all mean?
Is Eri really a vampire?
How much of the film is real?
Well, the beauty of this one shot is that it is subjective.
Eri says at one point that stories which blur the line between fact and fiction, “make for a good puzzle.”
Allow me to state my own interpretation of this puzzle then.
I think that the parts with Yuta’s mother and Eri dying are real, although they are both depicted as idealized versions of themselves.
During the filming of Eri’s portion of the story, the two decided that there was something missing about the movie, as it “needed a pinch of fantasy.”
So, the two decided to get Yuta’s dad to play a future version of Yuta, shaving his facial hair to pull it off.
They then filmed the entire ending vampire scene with the building exploding at the end.
After this, they filmed the rest of the movie up until Eri’s death, whereupon Yuta compiled all of his footage into the film we are now seeing in the oneshot.
Or who knows, the entire thing could be a fictional movie, if you want to think of it that way.
There really are so many different ways to interpret Goodbye Eri.
But, no matter what you may think happened in this story, I think we can all agree, as Yuta says after his film Dead Explosion Mother debuts, “That was awesome, right?”
Tatsuki Fujimoto has done it again, delivering another amazing one shot that I will not forget for some time.