Monday, July 30, 2007

Manga Monday 40

This week Manga Monday will be confined to a small amount of material since I had to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows quickly to avoid spoilers... That and get some much-needed rest after the days of craziness that ensued around the book (since I work in a bookstore and all). So all I've really had time for in the world of comics was the latest issue of Shojo Beat, which saw the final chapter of Nana being serialized in the magazine, and the debut chapter of Hinako Ashihara's Sand Chronicles!

Sand Chronicles from Hinako Ashihara took over the slot briefly held by Yume Kira Dream Shoppe. The first chapter kicks off right, letting us know immediately what kind of series we're in store for, with likeable characters and interesting dynamics. Overall, Shojo Beat's offerings as of late seem to have been a little lackluster, so it was nice to read something of high quality that is going to be a regular feature. Sand Chronicles follows a young girl, Ann, who moves to her mother's rural hometown after her parents' marriage falls apart, leaving behind a life of high fashion and sophistication. Her immediate dislike of her surroundings is only amplified by her mother's emotional state and the hard grandmother they've moved in with. But it's not all depression and a fragile homelife - there are plenty of laughs and absolutely adorable scenes of cute animals: some of the cutest scenes I've ever scene: good, funny cutesy that would have made the whole chapter worth it if the rest had sucked (which it didn't). And while all seems bleak at first, Ann quickly makes friends and readers will enjoy their time getting to know the inhabitants of this town and the polite new girl that's stumbled upon it. A strong debut with great art and complex characters. A

Nana didn't exactly conclude its Shojo Beat run with a bang or anything. It was just another great chapter in the series. I know some series-altering event occurs very shortly in the series, but I guess we'll have to wait for the collections to get to that point after all. However, with the publisher's decision to produce the rest of the series (which is moving further into a mature readers category) in shrink-wrapped volumes, a series that I hear is second only to Nana in the world of shojo manga will be taking its place next month: Honey & Clover! A-

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