Monday, August 29, 2011

Manga Mondays (65): Sand Chronicles vol. 4 - Hinaki Asihara

Sand Chronicles vol. 4 - Hinaki Asihara


Summary

Can the sands of time bury the pain of the past?
Ann and Daigo's LD (long-distance) relationship is put to the test as time goes by and they find themselves spending more and more time with their childhood friends--aristocratic brother and sister Fuji and Shika--than each other. Is it just due to proximity or are deeper feelings at play...?

Twelve-year-old Ann and her divorced mother move from big city Tokyo to her mother's rural hometown. How will Ann survive her exile from civilization? Then, when her mother commits suicide, Ann has to grow up fast. As the years pass, Ann learns to trust and depend on her new friends--Daigo and aristocratic siblings Fuji and Shika. But when Ann moves back to Tokyo to be with her father, will she be able to maintain a long-distance relationship with Daigo? And do Fuji and Shika harbor romantic feelings of their own that might rip their childhood friendships apart...? (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

*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.

This volume is a mixture. You have normal teenage antics, love, sadness, anger, betrayal, and more. The volume starts of with Fuji's disappearance. He hasn't been seen in days, then weeks, then months. There's an undercurrent of worry. Then you have some innocent, fun playtime when Ann comes home for the holidays. The old group of friends get together for Christmas parties and even a failed attempt at dogsledding. It's a rare influx of levity and humor into the series.

Most of the volume focuses on Daigo and Ann's relationship. It's rocky, as most long distance relationships are. Daigo worries about how close Ann and Fuji are. Ann realizes just how much Shika likes Daigo. But most of all, we see how much Ann relies on Daigo. He masks the intense pain she has about her mother's death. "You're my snow cave. Like if there was a blizzard...but I was with you, I'd be all right. You comfort me. I can almost forget all the painful memories." These are bittersweet words. It's touching how Ann cares for Daigo. But the reader also sees just how damaged she is. Daigo is merely a stopper in bottle that's about to explode.

As the volume continues, we see more cracks in the windshield. Fuji returns. Ann tries to save him, but he ends up helping her as much as she does him. The more time they spend together, the more troubled her relationship with Daigo becomes. Daigo is jealous of Fuji. But Daigo also is scared and perhaps angry about Ann's fragility. They fight more and more. It feels like their relationship is on a downward spiral.

One of the coolest thing about this manga series is the Glossary at the end of each volume. It not only defines words, but gives cultural tidbits. For example, it explains the origin of warm, canned coffee from Japanese vending machines. Or it explains how certain phrases were translated. Some things, like jokes or proverbs, are significantly different when translated because a literal translation would make no sense.

6 comments:

  1. Very cool that cultural tidbits are included in the back, I always love learning little things like that:) I think learning how certain phrases are translated would be really interesting, do they include the literal translation as well?

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  2. Every time I read one of your reviews of this series I want to to go back and read it all over again.

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  3. Ah, the cultural tidbits is what has me interested. I like the sound of the mixture of emotions as well. Great review!

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  4. it's been a while since i've read a manga and this sounds really good. thanks! :)

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  5. :D I liked Sand Chronicles quite a bit when I read it last year (I think it was last year...)

    Lovely review!

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  6. I love the cultural tidbits you get from the manga's dictionary. Most of the time, I find the characters are given an additional layer when you find out how their name are translated. This series sounds better and better with each volume. I'm definitely going to get this one soon.

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