Sand Chronicles vol. 7 - Hinaki Asihara
*I'm sorry I've been so absent the past week, both with posts and comments. It turns out that moving in and unpacking is even busier than moving away. Things are sort of calming down now (well, not really, but I hope they will in a few days) and I want to get my posting and commenting back to normal.
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...?
Can the sands of time bury the pain of the past? R to L (Japanese Style). Ann's junior high school reunion is coming up, and she hasn't seen Daigo in two years. How will their reunion go? Then, finally, the story behind Ann's engagement. Who is her fiancé...? (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.
Sand Chronicles is unique among the shojo manga I've read in that it takes the characters past high school. I've read a few series with epilogues featuring the characters as adults, but the last 4 volumes of Sand Chronicles feature them in their 20s and 30s.
Ann and her friends are 20 now. Ann is living the life of a college student, going to singles' parties, studying, and caring for her baby sister. She hasn't gone back to Shimane in years, but now has an invitation to her junior high reunion (I wonder if they actually have those in Japan. I can't imagine having one in the US. High school, yes, but not junior high). She musters up the courage to go to her old town and see Daigo for the first time since they broke up.
On an interesting side note, Ann meets up with Fuji briefly at the beginning of this volume. Fuji is dating his cousin Mariko and seems quite happy. It's clear that he's moved past Ann. He still cares for her, but he can let go of his past. Ann can't get past Daigo. And Daigo can't get past Ann. Their love is too strong.
Daigo and Ann spend time together in Shimane. I'm glad sparks aren't rekindled here. They definitely are still attracted to each other, but they're not good for each other right now. Ann is too damaged and still wants to escape through Daigo. Daigo realizes this now. He argues forcefully that Ann needs to be strong and learn to find happiness within herself, not within other people. It's amazing how caring and insightful he is.
The volume ends when Ann is 26 years old. She's forced herself to become hardened. Work, work, work...never show any emotion. She meets a young man on a train and they hit it off. He's an arrogant jerk. He hates everybody, but especially women who cry or argue. He wants a strong woman who is also completely subservient. The reader is screaming at Ann to drop this jerk and run away as fast as possible. But no, their romance is quick and they're soon engaged! Fortunately, Ann is saved when she has the gumption to challenge Sakura. He takes offense and immediately breaks the engagement. Yay!