Month: August 2017

Review: Sand Chronicles Volume 1 (In Which The Protagonist Hits Hard Like Ow)

Posted August 31, 2017 by Kim in manga / 0 Comments

SAND CHRONICLES VOLUME 1 BY HINAKO ASHIHARA
SERIES: SAND CHRONICLES (SUNADOKEI) (#1)
PUBLISHER: VIZ MEDIA, LLC
PUBLISHED: JANUARY 1ST, 2008
SOURCE: PURCHASED
GOODREADS | AMAZON | barnes and noble

After her parents get divorced, Ann Uekusa and her
mother move from Tokyo to rural Shimane. Accustomed to
the anonymity of city living, Ann can’t get used to the
almost overbearing kindness of the people in her
mother’s hometown. But when personal tragedy strikes,
Ann discovers how much she needs that kindness.

 

Trigger Warnings

Suicide and depression.

[collapse]

I’ve found that one of the hardest things about unhauling books is that I can never shake the nagging feeling that I’m giving away a story that I might have loved if I had just given it a chance. Sometimes I go straight to youtube and try to find my determination by watching book unhauls, and I remind myself that these are stories I passed over for years. Sometimes we just have to miss out.

Sometimes, like in the case of Sand Chronicles, I can give myself a reprieve from the war in my brain over do I keep it  — do I send it to Narnia because manga volumes are not the same commitment as a young adult fantasy trilogy. So I took a day and read it, and it felt like transporting back to the time I was reading the manga We Were There. The emotional roller coaster of drawn out angst and heartbreak over many years is not the kind of story I want to strap myself into right now. I’d rather leave off with the bittersweet ending of volume one that promises the beginning of new relationships in Sand Chronicles. Quite frankly, if this series shares the same atmosphere as We Were There, I’m a little afraid it’s just going to be a story that drains my emotions.

That isn’t to say that Sand Chronicles won’t be an impacting read or an important one. At its core, it is the story of a girl who has to work through tragedy one step at a time from an incredibly young age. The first thing that caught my attention was Ann’s reaction to moving from a city to the countryside. She shared much of what I imagined I would feel being relocated to a place with no bookstores and a hell of a lot of snow.

No friends. No bookstores. No privacy. No manners. No nothing.
I didn’t want to come here… Mountains and snow everywhere. This
village is even more stifling than Tokyo.”
(20)

Before setting up the sudden transition to Shimane, I would have liked a little more exposition covering Ann’s life in Tokyo. The slow reveal of explanations following her parents divorce might happen in later volumes, but at the very least it would have made sense to know why Ann’s little sister didn’t move with them. Instead, we get a brief introduction scene with the little sister trying to commandeer Ann’s bags and stealing her shojo manga before dropping off the face of the universe. Does she live her dad? We don’t even get the sister’s name, much less another mention of her, even after the difficult events of volume one unfold. I don’t have a little sister, but I’d like to imagine that I would at least give her a call once in a blue moon.

My pet peeve with Ann is her tendency to hit people while making it seem completely justified?? She goes beyond revenge (spite I can understand because even if it’s an accident, no one likes to be hit) slapping or kicking (please remember that her punching bag is 12 and apologized for accidentally hitting her after she jump-tackled him) and she actually beats Daigo up until he is black and blue. Uh, the hypocritical way she proclaimed that boys shouldn’t hit girls while she fucked up the face of a family friend’s child really rubbed me the wrong way.

and then she laughs at his bruised face but I’m just like what the hell I would never let you within ten feet of me

Sand Chronicles was a lot more emotional than I expected, and it’s the type of story that might be appealing if you’re interested in watching characters really grow up and make inevitable mistakes when they eventually go to high school, get their first job, or live in their own apartment as an adult. This manga hosts a lot of classic archetypes— the mean girl, the rich kids, and the childhood friend — but it avoided feeling like its cast were all caricatures of one aspect. There are layers to a lot of the characters we meet, even if I don’t understand some of their decisions. Sand Chronicles has a decent start, but with so many other stories that engage me more, I’m happy to leave these characters where they are in the end.

A BIT OF A SPOILER IF YOU HAVEN’T READ VOLUME ONE BUT…

You can’t tell me that there isn’t at least a love triangle in the future because the moment Fuji was introduced all the warning bells were sounding. Love triangles are probably one of my least favorite tropes because they make my ships all wacky and Will, Tessa, and Jem (my babies hello) are enough for me okay. They’re enough. Love triangles are even harder to enjoy for me in a contemporary setting because without magic and people eating demons, they can become such a large focus of the story and nope I don’t want that angst (just choose one. please pick a person any person. or pick them both I. don’t. care.)

Rating Report
Characters
2.5 star rating
Plot
3 star rating
Writing
3.5 star rating
Pacing
3 star rating
Art
4 star rating
Overall 3.2 stars

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