Sand Chronicles vol. 5 - Hinaki Asihara
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...?
Shika will stop at nothing to steal Daigo from Ann. And the competition ramps up when an attractive girl resurfaces from their past. Meanwhile, Fuji patiently waits to win Ann from Daigo. But who do Ann and Daigo want to be with...? (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.
Another heavy volume. Although all these volumes are heavy. There are few moments of humor. The volume starts after Daigo told Ann he needed a break, some time to think. He obviously needed quite a bit of time, because he never called her like he promised. Ann and Daigo are trying to forget their pain in the heat and relaxation of summer, but it's not working too well. Ann can't stand the wait any longer, so she flies to Shimane to meet Daigo. There's a beautiful page spread when they meet at the airport; they're holding onto each other like it's the end of the world, like nothing exists other than them.
That one embrace is about as close as Daigo and Ann get in this volume. Ann is increasingly haunted by herself. She's terrified that she is the proverbial albatross around Daigo's neck. That her darkness and sadness will only bring him down. And honestly...she's right. Ann is miserable and she depends upon Daigo far too much to mask her sadness. In the end, it's Ann who decides to formally break up with Daigo. Not because she doesn't like him, but because she loves him so much that she doesn't want to hurt him any longer.
Meanwhile, Shika and Fuji are doing their best to get at Daigo and Ann respectively. Prior to their break-up, Shika tries to convince Ann that she's going to kill herself in order to terrify Ann. It works quite well. The only one who gets hurt in the process is Ann. Unfortunately for Shika, Daigo sees right through her and is pretty disgusted. Fuji on the other hand appears to be more persuasive in his attempts to get Ann to give him a try. At least that's what it looks like at the end of the volume.
I love the feel of normal Japanese life that we experience in this series. While the plot is overdone, the characters are normal teenagers. It's interesting to see what they typically do during the summer. Or how hard they have to study to get into a university. I feel like I learn something with every volume.