Sand Chronicles 5Posted: May 18, 2009
Now, I’m going to be hard on this volume, but only because I like this series so much. The characters are well-written and have all of their own individual problems, hopes, dreams, idiosyncrasies, and… well, absolutely everything else that makes a person a person. There are very few shoujo series that are driven by the subtleties of character relationships that this one is, and it’s all about the characters clashing on these minute points. It’s interesting to watch, and it hasn’t really let me down. I’m going to be a bit cranky here, but I’m cranky because I love it so much, and not because it’s doing anything wrong.
Having grown up in a small town, I watched the (figuratively) incestuous dating practices between people who had known each other their whole lives. They would routinely sweep in to hook up with their best friend’s partner when the relationship went south. These relationships rarely lasted more than a few months, and the feelings associated with them were quickly forgotten. At least until those two people decided to go out again. Because, really, you just didn’t have a whole lot of options.
I think a lot of why I like this series is because it’s easy for me to identify with the kids in Shimane. Fuji likes Ann, Ann likes Daigo, Daigo likes Ann, Fuji’s sister Shika likes Daigo, Daigo and Fuji are friends, and Ann and Shika are friends, and they all grew up together (or were together six years, in Ann’s case). This is a situation that’s easy for me to understand, because it totally happened all the time when I was growing up. It’s also unusual in manga, where normally people seem to drift apart between elementary/junior high/high school.
Now, there can always be drama, even when you’ve known someone long enough to remember the last time they wet their pants, but NOT THIS MUCH. It’s really hard for me to identify so well with the early volumes, and then get to this one to find that the characters have all maintained their positions in each other’s lives for six (or five, was it?) years of adolescence. Ann and Daigo are still going out, and Fuji still hasn’t made a move on Ann. Kids fight, break up, go out with their friends, break up again, and then go back out, all while staying friends with everybody. That’s just how that works. Even the people who wind up getting married do this. There just aren’t very many kids who are mature enough to maintain a relationship unbroken through junior high and high school, especially long distance. Certain scenes between Daigo and Ann made me realize the unlikeliness, and I just felt so let down.
The other thing that bothered me was how constantly dark things seem. The specter of Ann’s mother always seems to hang over everything, which is understandable, but I’m not sure why it has to. I can understand how she would get worried about Shika because of it, but I don’t understand what that had to do with her relationship to Daigo. Is it because Daigo helped her when her mother passed away? It’s going to be very depressing if she can’t bring herself to be happy because of her mother’s death. The depressing situation isn’t really helped out by the fact she loves Daigo and can’t bring herself to be happy with the relationship between the two. She initiated events herself this volume, and yet they both still love each other, and neither seems all that willing to let go of their feelings. It’s kind of hard to read.
But maybe next volume will be more positive.