With the release of The Golden Sheep, mangaka Kaori Ozaki tells the story of the passage of time, broken friendships, an uncertain future, personal growth, and the lack there of.

Guitar playing high schooler Tsugu Miikura just moved back to her old hometown after having to move away to Osaka several years ago due to family circumstances. She is overjoyed to reunite with her childhood friends after so long. However, it seems that the bonds between her old friends, Sora, Yuushin, and Asari, have cracks in the foundation. Yuushin has turned into a thug of sorts, Asari has grown both bitter and jealous, and Sora’s suicide attempted is only stopped by Tsugu’s intervention. Tsugu learns of what happened to her hometown in her absence and learns the friends and the world she once knew are gone. This leaves Tsugu wondering what to do with her life now.

While it might appear to be nothing more than just a shojo manga at first glance of the back cover,The Golden Sheep dives head first into a number of topics that might surprise readers. The story line does not shy away from inconvenient topics about growing up and change. A second read through might have readers examine panels for little details that might have been overlooked the first time around. The plot goes along what might seem like a familiar path with a number of coming of age indie films, but it doesn’t let readers who might guess what happens next get comfortable. Ozaki tackles the subjects of the manga in an excellent way, especially showcasing how the Tsugu’s friends became who they are now. Fan’s of Ozaki’s other work, The Gods Lie, will enjoy this series.

The second volume of The Golden Sheep hit bookshelves back in December, with the third volume released back in March. Ozaki’s other work, The Gods Lie, is also available to be picked up from Kodansha Comics.