SAND CHRONICLES (Sunadôkei, “Hourglass”) (???) • Hinako Ashihara • VIZ (2007-ongoing) • Shogakukan (Betsucomi, 2003-2006) • 10 volumes • Shôjo Romantic Drama • 16+ (mild violence, adult themes, infrequent partial nudity, sexual situations)
The title of this manga refers to a giant hourglass at the Nima Sand Museum in Japan, but more generally to the passage of time. After a divorce, 12-year-old Ann and her mother move back in with Ann’s grandmother in rural Shimane Prefecture. While her mother broods over the feeling that she has failed in life, youthful Ann explores the surrounding woodlands, and meets two boys: rich and troubled Fuji Tsukishima, and cheerful, blue-collar Daigo, who comes from a family of farmers and hunters. Soon, Ann falls in love with Daigo and they vow that they will always be together, but can a childhood love forever? This novelistic family drama is told in flashback, beginning when Ann is 26 and then jumping back in time 14 years. Each chapter jumps ahead a season or a year, and in the process we get to know characters gradually, naturalistically, almost without realizing it. With its themes of age and youth, love and time, it’s an ambitious soap opera for a young adult audience.
Today’s winner is Jessica M. of California. Congratulations, Jessica!