Ryo Hanada's Good-bye Geist is the fourth manga tankōbon to be released by Gen Manga. It collects the entire story of Good-bye Geist which was initially published in volumes six through eleven of the Gen monthly manga magazine between 2011 and 2012. The collected volume of Good-bye Geist was released in 2012. I had followed Good-bye Geist as it was being serialized and was delighted when Gen Manga offered me a copy of the collected volume for review. Prior to reading Good-bye Geist, I was not familiar with Ryo Hanada or any of Hanada's work. However, this shouldn't be too much of a surprise--Gen Manga specializes in finding amateur, underground, and independently created manga to publish in both Japanese and English. Good-bye Geist is one of the first of these stories from Gen to be completed and collected in its entirety.
Seven years ago a series of animal killings ended tragically after a student was stabbed at a local high school. When another series of killings surrounded by circumstances bizarrely similar to the first occurs, the students and staff of Senkan High School are understandably worried. They're concerned that once again the perpetrator's actions may escalate from killing small animals to severely injuring, maybe even killing, another person. Somehow, Yuki Okazaki becomes embroiled in the incident, but the killings aren't the only things she has to be nervous about. College entrance exams are coming up soon, for one. She has also been repeatedly molested on the train during her commute to school and a fellow schoolmate, Sousuke Matsubara, has been secretly recording her with his cell phone. Yuki turns to her friends and a teacher for help, but the results of doing so are somewhat unexpected.
What I find the most compelling in Good-bye Geist is the development of the relationship between Matsubara and Yuki. Matsubara is extremely awkward socially; he makes other people feel uncomfortable and they are hesitant to approach him. At the beginning of the manga, Matsubara gives off a creepy vibe--he is recording Yuki without her consent after all. But Yuki is also carefully watching Matsubara. She doesn't write him off immediately and even reaches out to him. The act of looking, watching, and observing is very important in Good-bye Geist. This is particularly significant for Matsubara who has a difficult time making direct eye contact to being with. Hanada emphasizes eyes and gaze in the artwork. Many panels rely on the characters' glances to convey meaning.
Good-bye Geist has a marvelously ominous atmosphere to it. The storytelling is somewhat fragmented and Hanada employs flashbacks and flashforwards rather liberally. At times the ambiguity caused by this is an effective narrative technique, but at other times it makes the plot unnecessarily difficult to follow. The climax and final conflict in particularly seem messy and even a little forced. This is unfortunate as so much of Good-bye Geist develops organically. Who the culprit behind the killings is, although revealed, isn't explicitly stated or shown which may be confusing for readers who haven't picked up on all of the hints. And I'll admit that I'm still unclear of the significance and implications of a few of the scenes included. But even considering some of the difficulties with the storytelling, overall I really enjoyed Good-bye Geist. I'd certainly be interested in reading more of Hanada's work.
May not be available in a library...