Gotoubun No Hanayome ch95-97: The Bittersweet Journey Of Growing Up

So nothing too important is happening plot-wise in Quint Quint right now. On the surface.

The truth is that while nothing too important may be happening plot wise, character wise, a lot of important transitory development has been happening.

These past few chapters have been focusing on the changing personalities and relationships of the characters. Ichika has successfully become an actress, not having to go to school anymore. Itsuki is still struggling with going to cram school and her marks, because she wants to become a teacher, Yotsuba is once again repressing her feelings and Nino is still pursuing Futarou, but has become more withdrawn and cuts a more subdued figure now.

They’re also nearing the last big event of their school life, the school festival. It’s a bittersweet transition, and these chapters display the conflicting emotions present within the characters in a painfully beautiful manner. The quintuplets are going in their own directions in life, some still keeping their feelings repressed like Yotsuba, Ichika having given up completely, Itsuki still unsure of herself and Nino still in love with Fuu-kun. The characters are maturing, they’re no longer the temperamental teenagers they were at the beginning of the manga, but fully fleshed out characters.

It’s honestly saddening to read these later chapters, because they reflect a sort of growth that belies the immaturity that is the fountain of youth. It’s a representation that life does not stop for anybody, and that it keeps on going and going and people keep on changing and making their decisions and may even become unrecognizable.

Even sadder is the moment when you realize reading these chapters that Ichika has now truly become an adult. She was the one who began the entire cycle of growth(aside from Yotsuba) in the quintuplets by branching out and trying to become an actress, and she was also the first person to actually recognize her feelings for Futarou. Now, she seems to have accepted that she’ll never be with him, or at least that currently, it’s no use pursuing him. Rather than being sad, that’s almost depressing, because shows that Ichika has matured. She has learnt how to sacrifice some part of her dreams for another part of her dreams. It’s what makes an adult an adult, they learn to sacrifice things.

The beauty of youth an immaturity is that compromise is not an option, acceptance is not an option, you have to fight till the last minute. Once you accept your defeat, whether it be in a fight or analogous to real life, it’s akin to giving up, and giving up is what makes up the faded colors of adulthood.

On one hand, such character growth makes for a much more complex and engaging story, being more realistic and mature, providing a different kind of beauty compared to earlier, but it also takes away from the nascent beauty of this manga. If we consider this manga in terms of chocolate, then the earlier sections of this manga would be sweet milk chocolate while now we’re facing 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate. Both are equally good, but with much different dimensions of flavor, texture and complexity.

Negi Haruba-sensei is… I don’t even know what to call the guy anymore, his work does not carry any label anymore, it’s a pure reflection of mind and soul beautifully woven into a piece of art that is almost blinding to behold.

Call it nostalgia, melancholy, partiality, but this manga incites so many different emotions and questions.

There is a chinese concept in art, deriving complexity from simplicity and returning complexity to simplicity, and Haruba-sensei has mastered them both and is displaying them in full force. At the beginning of the series, the simplest scenarios and facts raised a lot of complex questions. Take for example the fact that more than one of the quintuplets is in love with Futarou and we know he ends up married to one of them , so the questions raised are along the lines of whom does he choose? How does he end up falling in love with one of them? What is the reaction of the other sisters? How do the others move on? How do others fight and deal with this situation? How do they individually react to Futarou and so on and so on. Now, that the situation has become much more complex, the questions are much more simpler, with much simpler answers, answers we don’t have. Questions like, will the sisters ever return to how they were? Does Ichika truly give up? Will Yotsuba confront her feelings properly? Will Miku be truly content staying on the sidelines? Will Nino give up of Futarou? All of these questions can be answered with a yes or no. As I said, simplicity from complexity and complexity from simplicity.

The chapter titles themselves also hold so much weight once you stop and begin to ponder their implications. The manga has transformed from a tale of youth to a tale of growing up, and though the two tales may seem quite alike, they’re actually very different, both in meaning and in feeling. Just look at them- ‘They Begin To Split’, ‘Their Daily Lives Continue’ and ‘Their Daily Lives Begin To Change’. When they have finished changing, then we shall have reached the climax of the series.

This last picture pretty much sums up where this manga is headed and how I’m feeling about it. “It is getting darker earlier than expected. I suppose summer is also coming to an end.” This one short line contains heaps and heaps of meanings. Summer is a metonymy, a stand-in for youth, for the specific liveliness that is only present in school days and which dies when you become an adult. Ichika became an adult faster than her sisters, hence it got dark earlier for her than the others, and summer is coming to an end, which also probably means the series will also begin wrapping up now.

It’s been an amazing journey following this manga and I have full confidence that Haruba-sensei will provide us with a satisfactory ending that sates the thirst of any parched throat having reached the end of the manga. Gotoubun No Hanayome is manga which should become a cherished memory for anyone who reads it.

I just felt like I needed to write this post because, once again, I felt strangely melancholy reading these chapters today.

Farewell for now my dear readers, we shall meet again soon enough.

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