Series Review: Sand Chronicles

Series Review: Sand ChroniclesSand Chronicles, Vol. 1-8
by Hinako Ashihara
Published 2010 by VIZ Media
192 pages. Trade Paperback
Source: Library
Genres: Comics, Manga, Shojo

five-stars

After her parents get divorced, Ann Uekusa and her mother move from Tokyo to rural Shimane. Accustomed to the anonymity of city living, Ann can't get used to the almost overbearing kindness of the people in her mother's hometown. But when personal tragedy strikes, Ann discovers how much she needs that kindness.

When I began reading manga (which was only two months ago), I never expected to read something that was truly touching. I thought it would all be fun and cute. This series changes my mind completely about the type of manga I like. Sure, I enjoy reading funny manga like Special A or cute manga like Fruits Basket, but I enjoy reading manga with a realistic story line and deeper meaning much more. It’s just better that way. That’s what this series was for me and I can only hope I’ll find more like it.

The artwork is a little muddier than I like. I’m more partial to defined drawing, rather than the scratchy drawing so often found in shoujo manga. I think it’s meant to give a more dreamy quality, but I just find it a bit on the annoying side. Since I liked this series so much, I’m willing to put that complaint aside.

The character development in this series is just unreal. I didn’t think manga was capable of that kind of thing. I couldn’t have been more wrong in that assumption. Ann’s development throughout the series is heartbreaking and incredibly realistic, considering her age. She goes through so many of the screw-ups and indecision that comes with being a girl in her teens or early twenties. I felt that I could relate to her throughout most of the series because I have gone through a lot of the same things. Daigo has a tendency to be a little more hard-headed, but it definitely the more mature of the two. He makes no secret of his complete devotion to Ann, even when she’s too messed up to realize what’s in front of her. He’s unwavering and therefore a more static character. However, this doesn’t hurt the series, as it is about Ann growing up, not Daigo. The situation Fuji and Shika find themselves in is a little more dramatic. They too are developing characters and both do a lot of growing up. Their search for their true identities is one that gives the series a bit more intrigue. They both learn a lot they didn’t know about themselves along the way.

This is certainly the best written manga I’ve come across. If you’re into manga, or are thinking of trying it out I highly recommend this series. It’s definitely girly shoujo manga, but it’s got a great story.

Series Review: Sand ChroniclesSand Chronicles, Vol. 9
by Hinako Ashihara
Series: Sand Chronicles #9
Published 2010 by VIZ Media
200 pages. Trade Paperback
Genres: Comics, Manga, Shojo

Can the sands of time bury the pain of the past? What were our parents like at our age? We'll never really know... But now you can get a glimpse into the teenage years of the mothers of Ann, Daigo, Fuji and Shika. How was their destiny shaped? Plus, Ann's little sister visits Shika--and Ann's ex-fiancé!--in New York City.

Honestly, this series should have ended with volume 8. I mean, the story was pretty much wrapped up. Sure, there was a little that wasn’t resolved with minor characters like Ann’s ex-fiance, but who cares?

The part at the beginning about Ann’s mother was interesting, but still something I could have survived without. The second half, where Ann’s little sister runs into her ex-fiance in New York was pretty pointless. I guess he learned from it, but he was never a major character so I could have cared less. The bottom line? I wasn’t that interested in this one and ended up skimming some of it.

Series Review: Sand ChroniclesSand Chronicles, Vol. 10
by Hinako Ashihara
Series: Sand Chronicles #10
Published 2011 by VIZ Media
200 pages. Trade Paperback
Genres: Comics, Manga, Shojo

Daigo digs up the time capsule he buried twenty years ago when he was only ten. What message did Daigo leave for his future self? And what does it take to live life fully and without regret?

Still, I stand by my earlier statement: it should have ended with volume 8. Ashihara swears this is really the last one.

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