It’s been a long time since I’ve checked in with and reviewed Happiness. With the time-skip at the end of the last volume, things have really changed a lot. As such, shall we venture in? This is Happiness Vol. 6; is it good?
It’s been many, many years since Gosho was nearly killed and Makoto and Yuuki vanished. She’s now living a quiet, normal life with an office job. Everything seems fine…but underneath the surface, her past still haunts her to this very day. Some things cannot be easily forgotten or moved past like one would hope.
If I was to describe Happiness Vol. 6, it is “quiet” and “reflective”. This volume focuses solely on Gosho and only her, showing exactly what she is up to and how she has been living her life. There’s nothing supernatural, no violence, no blood, and no vampires. In an odd way, much like how certain arcs in superhero comics are made for jumping on points, I would describe this volume the same way. It’s all about how a young woman is trying to live her life after surviving a tragedy many, many years after the fact and how one little event can bring all the pain back.
On that level, the sixth volume of Happiness is just perfect. It’s a perfect character study of a person dealing with resurfaced trauma, even if it is ridiculous, supernatural trauma. It’s wonderfully written, terrifically paced from start to finish, and the characterization and handling of the subject feel appropriate and sensitive to the matter. Everything is articulated incredibly well, capturing that horror and uncomfortableness rising again, which is seen very well in the second chapter where Gosho reads an article about Sakurane. In a way I would almost recommend the volume as a standalone read, easy to jump into for newcomers while continuing the story and depth for longtime readers.
I would say the biggest weaknesses are mostly within the story progression and pace. The story moves very slowly, with plot points and development coming in very sporadically and after long stretches of no progression. Plus the writing is very decompressed, making the book a quick and breezy read. You could easily finish this book in less than twenty minutes with most of it being dialogue-lite. Now, these are only really problems for those wanting more story or something that would last longer, which this series has never really been about. As it stands, while I can see some people having an issue with this, it doesn’t actually take away all that much from how well-written the book is.
When it comes to the artwork, it still looks so good. While this volume lacks the trippy art style and wild visuals that we have seen in previous ones, the art is still very on point when it comes to the layouts. Everything flows perfectly from panel to panel, depicting the slow buildup of dread or one emotionally breaking down as everything falls all around them. The second chapter is terrific at that from beginning to end, from Gosho reading the article to attempting to leave her apartment and how mentally exhausting it is. The facial expressions and body language are just knocking it out of the park in these scenes as well, capturing this depression and brokenness within Gosho that makes you just feel for her. So much is said without a single word of dialogue that I’m in awe.
Is It Good?
Happiness Vol. 6 is good, very, very good at that. Its decompression and slow plot progression can be a bit frustrating, especially after everything we were hit with in the last book, but the writing, characterization, and artwork trump all of that easily. It’s a fascinating character study in a series that can be easily picked up and read by anyone, with lots to get out of it. The horror is low at first, but the creeping dread keeps building up well. I look forward to the next volume very much and hopefully you do as well.