Manga Spotlight: The Gods Lie

The Gods Lie is a coming-of-age story that focuses on a sixth grader named Natsuru Nanao and the events of a summer that ultimately change his life.

The Gods Lie
Written by: Kaori Ozaki
Publisher: Kodansha, Ltd.
English Publisher: Vertical Comics
Release Date: April 19, 2016

Natsuru lives with his mother, and the two of them have only lived in town a few months. The girls in his class have shunned him since he turned down Valentine’s chocolate from the most popular girl in class; however, he doesn’t seem to mind much, since he has soccer to focus on. But at the beginning of the story, Natsuru is surprised when Rio, one of the girls in his class, actually starts talking to him.

But when the coach for Natsuru’s soccer team falls ill with cancer and is replaced with a new coach that he can’t stand, Natsuru decides to skip out on the soccer camp he’s supposed to go to. In order to make his mother think he’s gone, he leaves home and doesn’t plan to go back until the camp is over. But he hasn’t truly figured out how he’s going to do this, and luck comes his way when he encounters Rio in the park. She offers to let him stay at her house if he pays a rental fee. He accepts her offer, and Natsuru discovers some startling truths about his classmate during the time he stays with her and her little brother.

Even though The Gods Lie only runs for this one volume, Ozaki has done an incredible job of developing the characters and the storyline. This development is so good that as a reader, I came to care about the characters and what would happen to them. I thought it was also effective how Ozaki started out making the story seem like it was going to be something simple, but then she would seamlessly introduce a new element or plot twist that made this manga become much deeper than it appeared on the surface. Even though I knew how the story would have to realistically end, it still affected me greatly when I read the ending. I was so caught up in what I was reading that I actually teared up and started crying because Ozaki was able to convey this part of the story in a way that served as a kind of “emotional punch in the gut.”

While The Gods Lie is ultimately supposed to be Natsuru’s story, as a reader, I found myself caring more about Rio as the truth of her situation unfolded over the course of this story. Being around Rio and learning the truth about her ultimately serves as the catalyst for the change that Natsuru goes through at the end of the story, but I ultimately came away from this story with the sense that Rio was a strong character in her own right and not just a catalyst for another character’s evolution.

When it comes to the art, Ozaki relies on a more minimal art style. Honestly, I think this style really works with the story that’s being told. If you think about it in the sense that the first page establishes the fact that the story is Natsuru’s flashback, then having a simplistic art style like this lines up with the perception of how childhood is usually viewed as a more simplistic time for most people’s lives.

Overall, I thought that The Gods Lie was a very well done manga, both with its art and its story. When I checked this out from the library, I never would have guessed just how deep and heavy the story would end up becoming by the end. If you enjoy reading dramatic stories with kids a focus, then you will likely enjoy The Gods Lie. However, you may want to have a handkerchief close by if you have a tendency to weep after reading or seeing something sad.

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