Review by: Kiki Van De Kamp
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat Manga)
Author: Hinako Ashihara
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shojo)
MSRP: $8.99 US
Release Date: Now Available
Was falling in love ever this deliciously complex?
Just when you thought that Ann Uekusa’s life was just starting to find some semblance of normalcy despite the scarring tragedy that was her mother’s suicide, there comes life opening up new possibilities and even more drama that makes up her complex yet interesting life. Sand Chronicles continues with more of what drew us to this intriguing shojo manga and this second volume is a great step forward for this series.
When we last left Ann, she was trying hard to compete with another girl for the affections of Daigo Kitamura, a boy she met when she moved to Shimane with her mother. It came as a surprise to Ann that Daigo actually had feeling for her too and on a train ride home they shared a most tender yet awkward first kiss. In short, the pair finally got together and we couldn’t have been happier for Ann. Daigo – as well as her friends Fuji and Shika Tsukishima – is the reasons she now lives so happily out in the country.
Oh but we could see it coming a mile away … that feeling of uncertainty that creeps up to change things in our lives and it does so with Ann. You see, her father walks back into her life after having left Ann and her mother when said father got into some financial problems. His return only complicates Ann’s life and with good reason she feels resentment towards him. I won’t go into details about what happens during this meeting but needless to say it’s quite dramatic and it ends with her father making Ann a somewhat shocking invitation. You see, he wants Ann to move back with him to Tokyo and attend school there.
Of course, Ann doesn’t respond right away because it would take her away from Daigo and her close friends. It’s not a decision she takes very lightly but for the sake of this review I’ll tell you that she does accept the invitation after she gets a startling phone call from her father’s female friend. On the plus side, she wouldn’t be alone because Fuji has already planned on leaving Shimane to attend school in Tokyo. There are two major reasons why he’s leaving and one of them is explained fully in a truly emotional scene. The second reason becomes very apparent in a scene between Fuji and Daigo.
Life in Tokyo, however, is the polar opposite of life in Shimane and Ann begins to feel the difference in a painful way. Leaving Daigo was hard enough and even though they talk on the phone it’s really not the same even though Ann’s Tokyo friends seem to think that LD (Long Distance) relationships are the best because when you get to see your boyfriend again it’s like rekindling the romantic flame all over again. Ann even runs into Fuji, who becomes the center of attention of all her female friends.
Daigo does come to visit Ann for her birthday in the last chapter and their meeting is downright sweet and funny at times. When he leaves, however, Ann is slightly distraught and calls Fuji for support. When the young man gets there he finds Ann a bit tipsy and in a scene that is sure to surprise he does something quite unexpected in the end.
I agree with fellow reviewer Sophie Stevens who said the first volume was just a tad shy of somber and overly dramatic and this volume seems to lighten up just a little. Still, this was the reason I loved the first volume and appreciate this second one … it’s a real drama. It does feel like we’re peeking into the complex life of a real person and in life we experience these highs and lows as well. Whether we’re caught in a love triangle or deep tragedy, Sand Chronicles delivers a wonderfully written and nicely drawn shojo that leaves us happily waiting for the next volume and the next one and – well, you get the picture.
Ann’s father makes an appearance and yet another obstacle gets in the way of Ann and Daigo’s sweet romance. The story takes us to Tokyo where we learn a little more about Fuji’s background and why he’s such a party-pooper. Things get even more complex later in the story.
The manga’s art doesn’t look too original but what we see is still very good and does justice to the theme. This is still a good-looking manga.
Still filled with juicy drama, Sand Chronicles, Vol. 2, lightens up on the tragedy and offers more of what we liked about the first volume. The characters are still quite endearing and there’s just a lot to absorb in these chapters. In short, Sand Chronicles is shaping up to be one of those addictive pleasures worth investing your hard-earned cash.