Story & Art by Kaori Ozaki
Translated by Daniel Komen
Production by Risa Cho & Lorina Mapa
The Golden Sheep has reached its final volume! Yuushin has reunited with Sora and Tsugu in Tokyo, while Asari experiences social isolation in their hometown. As their lives each head down new paths, the children face their climatic battle with adolescence.
While Asari’s presence in the previous volume was relatively small, she is given ample attention this time around. The distance between Asari and her classmates has continued to grow, mentally taxing Asari as a result. Asari has consistently feared exclusion due to the trauma from her childhood hospitalization. As such, she has tried to remain sociable with her peers to prevent reliving that loneliness. Asari stopped at nothing to appease her peers, but in doing so, she threw away the friends who wanted to be there for her. At her lowest point, Asari is forced to reflect on her past mistakes and what she values most.
Sora and Yuushin were the prominent characters of Volume 2, and with their character arcs having progressed dramatically, this volume finally brings their conflict to a close. Sora and Yuushin’s relationship transformed from being a heartfelt friendship into something cruelly abusive. Yuushin used Sora as a punching bag for his frustrations over his sense of inferiority, but this only made him feel worse. While Yuushin’s actions towards him can’t be changed, Sora still regrets abandoning him during his darkest time. Both feel responsible for tearing apart their former bond, and despite their messy history, their longing for that bond still remains. Both these boys have grown to realize that their friendship is more important than their resentment, and they want to head into the future on amicable terms.
While most of The Golden Sheep’s main cast has grown with each volume, Tsugu’s character has remained relatively static. Tsugu has been averse to the changing world around her. She wants her life to stay the same and fears that she will become more distant from her family and friends over time. In her time of need, Sora serves as her pillar of support. Sora’s newfound confidence and sense of self-worth convey to Tsugu how change is a natural part of growth, rather than a source of turmoil. It serves as a fantastic reversal of Tsugu’s support for Sora at the beginning of the series, culminating in a truly heartfelt moment. Tsugu will face the future head on, no longer fearing what may come about.
As usual, Kaori Ozaki’s artwork for the series is consistently gorgeous. Every panel has a great sense of space, allowing the characters to feel distinct within Ozaki’s soft environments. The manga’s facial expressions are also superb, especially during the emotional peaks of the volume. The end result of Ozaki’s efforts is a manga that is both narratively and visually compelling, allowing it to truly captivate readers.
The Golden Sheep has come to a beautiful end, as its characters look optimistically towards the unknown future. The series has been a fantastic coming of age story, capturing the struggles of adolescence through its touching narrative. While the series must come to a close, this will certainly be a manga worth remembering.