Sand Chronicles 9Posted: August 13, 2010
Hinako Ashihara – Viz – 2010 – 10 volumes
The main story ended last volume, so what we have here are three short stories related to the characters. The first and best, taking up more than half of the volume, looks at the friendship between Daigo and Ann’s mothers when both were growing up in Shimane. There’s lots of commentary on caring too much about what those around you think versus being happy with who and where you are, the latter is something I love to see come up in manga. Ultimately it doesn’t make a judgement call on either, since the story ended how it did it’s left to the reader to decide, but there are good and ugly things about both outlooks in this short story.
Daigo’s mother is a great character, though. It’s set up so that she’s the one telling the story, and she’s very nearly the main character, but it’s Ann’s mother that is the subject. It’s also way less sad than I thought it was going to be, and I loved that it didn’t dwell on the more dramatic points of their lives. Actually, it showed more happy things than sad, and did a really good job of giving us just enough of what might be considered the problems that led to her eventual suicide.
The second story catches up with Ann’s former fiancee, Sakura, the gruff businessman who moved to New York. He’s not happy right now, either, but we see what makes him tick, and see him soften up, courtesy of an accidental encounter with Fuji’s sister Shika and Ann’s little sister Chi. Chi’s a fun little girl, and I’m glad she’s around to lighten the mood, both here and in the main story. She’s one of the best things for Ann, I think.
There’s also a short story about Fuji as a young boy and his relationship with Santa Claus. It’s very short, and I could take it or leave it, but it’s nice to see.
I was expecting not to like these last two volumes as much, since everything’s already over and done with, but I was surprised by how much that story about the Shimane of 30 years ago lent to the plot of the main series. It also helped you see Shimane as a place a little more too, and… well, it was wonderful to see everyone’s mothers the same age as the characters we just read about, and how what seemed to make them evil in the present was more of a strength in the past, or really just made them who they are. Fumi Yoshinaga plays with similar themes in “All My Darling Daughters,” and it’s something I love to see, alternate takes on people who are portrayed as disagreeable. Real alternate stories, I mean. It’s super-easy and super-lazy to spin something around to make a former foe into a sympathetic character. Bah. This isn’t that. This is something different and very touching.
But now that I know that these last two volumes of short stories aren’t just tacked-on (mostly… I liked the Shimane story well enough, but I’d feel differently if this book only had the Fuji and Sakura stories in it), I’m curious to see how much more insight volume 10 has to offer.
This was a review copy provided by Viz.