Monday, February 04, 2008

Manga Monday: Sand Chronicles

Sand Chronicles (Volume 1)
Hinako Ashihara
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Contains spoilers!

I began reading Sand Chronicles in Shojo Beat, but dropped the magazine soon after Nana left the lineup, deciding that reading the anthology (to discard) and then buying the book, like is done in Japan, is just too expensive for me, particularly with my favorite shojo title leaving its pages. The one thing I missed and often thought about buying the magazine for since then, is Sand Chronicles, which I'd only read a few chapters of at the time. But the first volume has been released and I'm happy to share my time with these characters again. It was definitely worth the wait. While much of this volume was retreading what I'd already read, a little less than half wasn't. And really, I didn't mind revisiting events I'd previously read.
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Sand Chronicles follows a young girl, Ann, who moves to the rural village of Shimane after her mother's unsuccessful marriage falls apart in Tokyo. Accustomed to the city life, Ann finds the adjustment a difficult one, especially after tragedy falls in the form of her mother committing suicide. Her mother had had a harder time returning to Shimane than Ann ever realized and wasn't strong enough in the end to endure the trial. Following this event, Ann's few friends support her to no end, in which she finds the comfort to draw out of herself years later.
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This is really an emotional book once the opening chapters have unfolded. Many events really strike close to home for me, so perhaps the story speaks more to me than a typical reader, but I will admit to crying while reading this volume. Things are very subtle, very believable, and are masterfully paced through Ashihara's beautiful illustrations. While I did think that Honey and Clover was a good addition to Shojo Beat after Nana's departure (and most people will probably cite it as their favorite), I prefer Sand Chronicles to what little I've read of that title, and am thankful for Shojo Beat's hand in introducting me to the series.

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