Sand Chronicles 10Posted: April 11, 2011
Hinako Ashihara – Viz – 2011 – 10 volumes
I completely forgot I hadn’t read the last volume of this series. The main story ended in volume 8, so this was just more supplementary material, this time looking at the life of Ann and Daigo. Mostly Daigo.
After I started reading it, I remembered why I was reluctant to pick up more. As much as I liked Sand Chronicles, I began to get frustrated with Ann later on. She just couldn’t be happy. It’s not something I can relate to, so I was frustrated when the combination of life dumping on her and her bad decisions, turning away from happiness, began to culminate into something ugly at the climax of the series. I like drama, but this series was a little depressing and unrelenting, with few happy moments to lighten things up. At least for me.
This story… reminded me a lot of what I didn’t like about this admittedly wonderful series. It was about Daigo’s life as a grade school teacher. He draws a lot of inspiration from one of his former teachers, and he goes so far as to bring her back into his life when their paths happen to cross again. Ann is happy for Daigo, since he finds he’s on uncertain ground with a lot of his current students, and this teacher’s advice really helps him. But later, Ann finds out from a gossipy neighbor that the teacher is lying about her personal life, and the source of much of her life’s inspiration. The fact that she is a teacher, and lying, becomes an ugly truth that casts the worth of all her good advice into doubt.
I was pretty appalled by this. The issue is the type of personal detail that… is really nobody’s business. The type of thing that you would ignore out of politeness if you found out the truth. And it has no bearing whatsoever on the advice the teacher’s given Daigo, in the past and present, but it’s a major crisis of faith for both Daigo and Ann. That the smooth sailing of the story is significantly rocked by something like this is, again, one of the problems I have. The characters just… love to look for reasons why they can’t be happy.
Obviously, this short story does have a happy end, and there’s a lot of awesome moments, too, the type of things that make this series worth reading. The series has a big emphasis on making memories and holding onto happiness, both in the past and present (but again, I take issue with the fact that the reasoning seems to be that you do this because you can’t be happy all the time). The story begins with Daigo opening a time capsule he made in grade school along with Fuji and others from the series, and there’s a lot of discussions and flashbacks about what they found in it. There’s also a lot of flashbacks to Daigo’s grade school days as his students do things that remind him of Fuji and himself. He goes to great lengths to do events like mochi pounding, star gazing, and other activities that the students genuinely enjoy, and the students themselves have a lot of small conflicts and inner turmoil that’s resolved by Daigo and other events. There’s lots of cute little moments that do a good job of reflecting regular, every day fleeting glimpses into life, and it’s a wonderful little story because of that. I just wish the drama wasn’t over something so petty and irrelevant.
This series is a definite classic, it’s just one that didn’t sit right with me. It’s the type of thing I’m still happy to recommend though, because it is very good shoujo, and I liked these side stories in the last two volumes a lot. The whole series is full of little moments that resonate true to life, as opposed to the slightly more comedic dramas I prefer. And at ten volumes, it’s not too much of a time or money investment.