Thu, 1 January 2009
Manga Review of Sand Chronicles Volume 2 by Hinako Ashihara. Translated by Kinami Watabe. Adapted by John Werry. Originally published in Japan by Shogakukan as "Sunadokei". Pubished in US by Viz Shojo Beat, $8.99, Rated T+ Older Teen
It's been three years since Ann's mom dragged her away from Tokyo to her small country hometown of Shimane after a messy divorce with a bankrupt husband. Ann managed to rebuild her life with some new friends, Daigo, Fuji, and his sister Shika. Over time, Daigo even became her boyfriend. She's been living in a dreamworld these past years, never contemplating or wanting to accept that situations and relationships change over time. Now she is going to have to face reality. First of all, she learns that Fuji is moving to Tokyo to go to a prestigious high school, ruining the blissful comraderie of her circle of friends. Secondly, after being absent from her life for years, Ann's father shows up out of the blue, saying that he has reformed his ways, paid his debts, and that he wants her to move back to Tokyo with him! When her dad reveals that he had stayed out of her life because of a promise to Ann's mother, she faces a hard choice. Should she move to Tokyo to be with her dad or stay in Shimane because she doesn't want to lose Daigo?
Yep, Sand Chronicles is about drama. But it's good drama. Hinako Ashihara wades into themes and situations that most shojo creators would shy away from in fear. Cleverly, she set the whole series up as a flashback. When volume 1 opened, a grown up Ann was getting married and packing to move abroad. This kinda set up a mystery type question. Namely, who is she getting married to and what happened in the intervening years between the events of the manga and the present? Who does she end up with? Has the man she's going to marry even appeared in the manga? Will he ever? Also, the fact that Ann is so aware of the inherent changeability of human emotions over time gives her a depth way beyond other shojo heroines. And let's just set the record straight, Ann IS a heroine. Because she is dealing with emotional issues that might permanently break some people in her situation. Even though she doesn't want things to change, she does eventually make decisions, whether for good or bad, instead of waffling for 20 volumes over what she should do. Hopefully, I won't be eating dirt over this statement in the future because she seems to be showing feelings for Fuji these days. I didn't really mention it in the summary but Fuji also has a big role in this volume. Even though he is the scion of his rich family, there has always been a rumor that he was the illegitimate offspring of his mom's many affairs. In this volume, he gets to meet his suspected father, and he might just wish he hadn't. Sand Chronicles is the best shojo manga I have ever read and ranks up there with some of my favorite works, regardless of genre.
My Grade: A
Check out my podcast review of Volume 1 at this link:
You can also view a free preview of the first volume of the manga at the Viz website: