Next week, on Apr. 19, 2016, manga publisher Vertical Comics will be releasing “The Gods Lie,” and the publisher provided us with an early look at this dramatic slice-of-life manga, from Kaori Okazaki.
“The Gods Lie” is a one volume manga, so I do want to give fair warning before we get started. While I will try to avoid it, this review may contain spoilers.
The story of “The Gods Lie” revolves around Natsuru Nanao, a 6th grade boy, who has a passion for soccer. After an incident with a popular girl at his new school, Nanao finds himself ignored by the opposite sex, but thanks to his love of soccer, he doesn’t see himself missing out on too much, until the day a girl, the quiet and reserved Rio Suzumura, finally talks to him.
After she speaks to him, Suzumura seems to have caught Nanao’s eye, just a bit, and when he brings an injured stray cat home, he must quickly find it a new home, because his mother is allergic. He finds the stray a new home, thanks to a chance meeting with Suzumura and her younger brother Yuuta. This random encounter, sets into motion a series of events that will show Nanao secrets that Suzumura has been keeping, and as the two grow closer, he struggles with what he should do.
As Nanao and Suzumura grow closer, Nanao also struggles with his desire to play soccer. A new coach, rubs Nanao the wrong way, thanks to maybe not the best teaching techniques, after he takes the place of the old man who had been the teams previous coach, who has fallen ill. This puts Nanao in a place, where he really isn’t sure if he wants to continue, going so far as to even lie to his mother and skipping out on an overnight summer camp.
The relationship between Nanao and Suzumura is an interesting one to see develop. They really grow close in a short amount of time, and once the secrets are out, they start to tear Nanao apart, as he struggles with what he should do for the siblings.
After reading the description of “The Gods Lie,” I was initially really worried, especially because I wasn’t familiar with the story, before reading it. While it was still sad, I think I was expecting something much worse, and was glad to see that it didn’t go that far, even if it still managed to bring out plenty of emotions as I read it.
Visually, the manga has a nice look. The art is beautiful, and it does have a fair amount of detail, including backgrounds. The characters also have designs that seem to fit them perfectly, Suzumura is cute, much taller than her classmates, and her quiet demeanor does seem to match her design, while the shorter Nanao, has a design that does seem to get across his energetic and somewhat optimistic attitude.
The flow of the translations read like normal conversations between friends, with no moments of awkward wording, or things sounding out of place. The text is also sized well, and the font is easy on the eyes.
It is a little strange, but “The Gods Lie” is a sports manga, and at the same time, it is a drama filled slice-of-life series that will definitely pull at your heartstrings. The cover art definitely doesn’t give it that appearance, it is a beautifully drawn color image of Nanao and Suzumura, dressed in a yukata, surrounded by flowers, that doesn’t really scream, “sports title.” Nanao is an athlete though, and soccer does play a part in the story.
Though that aspect of the story is interesting, in its own way, the Nanao/Suzumura relationship was the best part, for me. Nanao’s internal struggle later in the manga was such a hard thing to see, and even though his decision might not have been the best thing to do, he did do it with good intentions. Suzumura’s struggle was also difficult to watch, and there was definitely an “oh no” moment that left me anxious all the way until the end.
Kaori Ozaki does manage to wrap up the story in 216 pages though, which is pretty impressive, given the type of story it had to tell. With a story like this, it is easy to think that a couple of volumes would really be needed to get everything across, but “The Gods Lie” manages to fit a lot of drama, into one short story, without it feeling like the pacing was rushed.
It you enjoyed reading “A Silent Voice” or “The Garden of Words,” and you’re looking for another great manga that tells a serious story, then “The Gods Lie” is definitely one worth looking into.
The Gods Lie
Publisher: Vertical Comics
Written by: Kaori Ozaki
Illustrated by: Kaori Ozaki
Number of Pages: 216
Release Date: Apr. 19, 2016
(A review copy of “The Gods Lie” was provided by Vertical Comics.)