Review by: Kiki Van De Kamp
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Hinako Ashihara
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shojo Beat Manga)
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Release Date: Now Available
Are the sands of time running out for Ann?
The tired cliché of life being short is true but a lot does happen in that span of time and this is true even for Ann Minase as her life takes a sharp turn in a new direction. Hinako Ashihara has taken us through a lifetime of experiences and memories through Ann’s eyes and, in Volume 7, we continue to follow Ann as this realistic journey draws near towards the end in a truly deep and fascinating manner.
As Ann is reaching her Coming-of-Age ceremony (meaning she will be turning 20), Ann finds herself alone in the romance department. In the last volume, her brief fling with Fuji ended in a mutual agreement that they would never be happy together if Ann isn’t willing to forget Daigo. A few years passed since they parted ways but during a singles party with her friends – as fate would have it – she runs into Fuji again. Their encounter is definitely awkward but she learns that Fuji has moved on and is dating somebody that Ann got to meet.
Interestingly enough, Fuji gives Ann some of the best advice and (surprisingly) even encourages the girl to see Daigo seeing as their Junior High school reunion is coming up. Of all the people in her life, it is her ex-boyfriend that gives her positive encouragement to forget the past and work on the future. While Ann didn’t plan on going back to Shimane to attended the reunion, Fuji’s words convince her to go.
When she arrives, she can see that the lives of her friends in Shimane have also changed just like her Tokyo friends. People she never imagined would hook up are couples now and the skinny girl in her class is now rather plump but it is clear the Daigo is still very much the same guy she’s always known. On top of that, Daigo is no longer dating the girl that was once responsible for almost killing her when they were younger. With Daigo unattached, could there be a chance for them to rekindle their romance?
Without giving anything away, their reunion is an fascinating one and doesn’t go quite like Ann expected it to go as the young couple go for an amicable trip to a beach where the sand squeaks. It is there that Ann tries to reveal how she really feels but Daigo turns the tables on her and gives her some advice that will change Ann’s life and lead her down a path of confusion.
In the most interesting chapters of the volume, Ann – in her mid-20s now – finds herself confused about life and love. All around her, she sees that her Tokyo friends have found love and have families of their own. She finds some comfort in the words of a friend who was heartbroken over the breakup of her first love and is now getting married to the man that was really meant for her. Could the same happen for Ann? Could she find that somebody that would make her forget Daigo and Fuji and finally find the happiness she deserves?
Working a demanding job, Ann is physically drained but emotionally hardened to the point that she no longer cries and sees old self as weak. One day, riding a train back home (who she shared with her father, his wife and her half sister), Ann falls asleep on the shoulder of a handsome young executive named Keiichi. He’s not the most sweetest guy be he recognizes Ann’s new strength and the two start going out for a little while until Keiichi gets a job offer in the U.S. and makes a most startling offer to Ann.
In the final chapter, Ann’s decision and new relationship turns into something else as her grandmother begins to worry about her. It’s clear that our girl isn’t happy about the direction her life has taken her and her thoughts drift back to her mother and the place when she has taken her to see the world’s biggest hourglass. Something is not right with Ann and we won’t find out until the final volume.
Volume 7 of Sand Chronicles is a more dramatic turn of events for Ann as her life takes a turn in the wrong direction. You have to hand it to Ashihara who continues to take us on a journey that is the life of a girl as the series still continues to keep us glues to the pages of this powerful shoujo manga. We’ve been happy to follow this series and will definitely be there for Volume 8.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Now in her twenties, Ann finds herself even more alone now that both Fuji and Daigo are not in her life. It isn’t until her school reunion that Ann and Daigo do meet again for a moment that will push Ann into a state of confusion. While the lives of her friends have changed, Ann’s loneliness leads her to some questionable decisions.
If you thought that Hinako Ashihara’s words convey much feeling and emotion, her art does the job as well and sometimes even better. Ann’s life is an emotional rollercoaster and the art shows that without even nary a word.
With her life heading in a downward spiral, Ann finds herself wondering if happiness is possible in Volume 7 of Sand Chronicles. This volume easily speaks to all of us who feel that life isn’t going in the direction we want and, for Ann, the future looks even more unclear now as the series is heading towards its finale.
Review copy provided by VIZ Media