Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms

I’d finally read enough positive reviews of this series to pick up a copy. Took me long enough, I suppose, but I guess I don’t really need to read every new release as soon as it comes out.

This really is a very charming slice-of-life kind of series tainted with a horrible sadness. I think I preferred the first story, because I just did not see the ending coming and it looked like things had gotten better for the main character before they got much worse. The main character was a very happy, normal young woman who seemed like she was going to enter into a relationship with a young man. She carried a horrible guilt about surviving the bombing of Hiroshima, however (the story is set 10 years after the event), and it affects her relationships with other people since she doesn’t feel like she deserves to be happy since so many died so long ago. It seems like she learns to live as a survivor, but then other obstacles get in their way, and it turns into an extremely bittersweet tale.

One of the most disturbing images I’ve ever seen in a manga came when the girl and her mother were bathing at a public bath house and the girl was watching all the women with their scars from the bombing. The conversations the women were having were in sharp contrast to the scars, and the main character mentions that there’s something wrong with the city. It’ll stay with me for awhile, to be sure.

The second story was told in two parts and was set in more modern times.  Where the first story sort of indirectly dealt with the lives of the survivors in Hiroshima 10 years after the bomb dropped, this one was more about the descendants of these survivors.  It’s extremely indirect though, and it gets to its point in a very roundabout way.  Mostly this story is about a young woman who fears her father is going senile so she follows him on one of his “walks” one day and runs into an old friend.  The subject matter is pretty light and fun until the end of the story reveals what is actually going on (why the father had wound up where he did, why it was the woman ran into her friend, and what happened that made her father and mother meet).  I liked this story quite a bit too, but I still favored the first just because the sad ending of that one struck more of a chord with me.

But yes, everything everyone says about it is true.  It’s an absolutely wonderful story.  It is sort of about the victims of the atomic bomb dropped in WWII, but not directly about them.  I liked it a lot for that, and also for being able to tell an extremely light and happy story while being one of the most depressing comics I’ve ever read.


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