Sand Chronicles vol. 1 - Hinaki Asihara
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. (courtesy of Goodreads)
*Warning: Potential spoilers. My manga reviews tend to be more of a summary than a review. I find it hard to review manga in the same way I do regular books.
I've read a string of manga series lately that focus on the embarrassing, silly, humorous side of love. Unfortunately, most of the attempts at being funny come off as stupid to me. Perhaps it's a problem with translation or perhaps I don't appreciate the series' sense of humor. Either way, Sand Chronicles is a welcome change from the stupid funny manga I've read recently.
The first volume of Sand Chronicles starts when Ann is 12 years old and moves with her mother from Tokyo to the small town where her mother grew up. Ann is lonely and angry about moving. Her mother is miserable - seriously depressed. Ann's strict, over-bearing grandmother only makes things worse. Not too long after they arrive, Ann's mother kills herself.
Ann is of course devastated at her mother's death. But slowly she finds a group of steadfast friends and a place in this rural community. Her best friend is Daigo. She's also friends with Fuji and Shika, two kids from a wealthy family.
The volume advances two years to the point when Ann is 14 years old. Her friendship with Daigo is on the verge of something more. Both Ann and Daigo are just discovering it. But of course, there are those "mean girls" who want to thwart Ann's chance for happiness.
My only complaint about this volume was that I often had difficulty telling the characters apart, particularly the boys Daigo and Fuji. At this point, I'm not too upset about that, because it often takes me a few volumes to grow comfortable with the characters in a manga series.
I loved the emotion in this book. It felt real. Even the attempts at humor or the various troubles Ann got herself into brought out emotional reactions from me as opposed to rolling my eyes at one farce after another. The first volume is a heartfelt, serious beginning to what I think will be a wonderful tale of friendship and love.