Manga First Impressions 3: Land of the Blindfolded, I.O.N., Sand Chronicles
Two more vol 1’s from Viz. But the first is a Vol 1 from CMX, another publisher who brings quality shoujo to the US.
(I should mention that the main story only takes up about 2/3 of the first book. There are also two unrelated short stories at the end that are rather sweet, both romantic.)
I actually heard of this story back when I first started reading manga and the concept intrigued me. I never knew it was released over here though until recently, and so I bought the first volume. It’s definitely a cut above other shoujo.
The story involves a high school girl named Kanade who can sometimes see the future when people touch her. She thinks of it like living in the land of the blindfolded, only her blindfold sometimes slips. One day she bumps into a young man in the hallway, Arou. He can see the past when he touches someone. He’s a bit bitter about the fact that he can’t change anything, but Kanade can. Kanade thinks she was given her gift to make things better. Arou’s philosophy is that they were given this gift to observe, and he won’t help Kanade.
The book plays with both of these ideas a lot, showing the good and bad of interference and non-interference, and how both Kanade and Arou are torn by what they have and what they can and can’t do with it. It hurts, being able to see what they do when they can’t change things, or when they screw them up worse. This draws them to each other, because no one else understands what they’re going through.
There are a few interesting side characters in this book as well. Kanade’s best friend, who is shallow and self-depreciating in her pursuit of the boy she likes, but completely aware of what she is doing and why. The boy she’s chasing almost qualifies as @sshole of the year, until the author shows that maybe that girl got through to him. And then there’s the new kid at school, another psychic who can see the future, but one who likes to play games with it, a jerk but one there seems to be hope for. All of them are three dimensional, and I look forward to reading more about them.
Most high school romances don’t concern themselves with the ethics of the special gifts the characters have, or about the characters surrounding them. The fact that this one does, and does it well, makes it a special series above and beyond the average shoujo romance. I hope it sustains that. B+.
Ms Tanemura is the mangaka of the very popular Full Moon wo Sagashite and Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, so I was familiar with her work. KKJ doesn’t have much depth and really is rather silly (a magical girl reincarnation of Joan of Arc who fights demon-possessed paintings? Okaaay.), but Full Moon wo Sagashite does have depth and I recommend it, only be prepared to cry. But considering how different those two works are I had no idea what to expect from this single volume story.
ION turns out to be a fairly standard shoujo romance that didn’t do much for me. Like Monkey High the characters are quite young looking, and act it. And while I don’t mind this in a book like oh, Kitchen Princess where the focus isn’t so much romance but following your dream, when the focus is solely on romance older is just better for me.
The book is about a young girl, Ion, who chants her name when she’s in trouble because it makes her feel better, maybe like a mantra or something (funny, when I do that it sounds conceited). But when she comes in contact with an experimental substance made by the psychic research club at school and starts chanting, she’s suddenly telekinetic! This leads to hijinks galore!
Young teens might think this is a cute story. Or they might be bored from comments I’ve seen on message boards. I tended to agree with the message board commenters. Another DNF.
I instantly fell in love with this series. It’s so good. 26 year old Ann is getting ready to marry and move overseas, and is packing up her things. An old hourglass falls out and makes her remember when she got it 14 years before, the year she met, I think, her husband to be.
It starts when her parents have just divorced and she and her mother have gone to live in the country with her grandmother. She’s such a real 12 year old, emotional, volatile, cynical, vulnerable, trying so hard to act the adult and help her mom make it through tough times yet still child enough to enjoy the world around her. Her own older self comments at one point, “I was still so innocent.”
I think everyone could identify with Ann. Her troubles are shown honestly, from her serious family ones to less serious problems with her period and friends. But the fun times are shown honestly too. Her friends never let her forget to laugh. Sometimes it’s the only thing they can give her. That leads to some incredibly funny moments, as does the mangaka showcasing everyone’s foibles through asides and comments in the background.
Volume one shows Ann gradually making friends, in the real way young people drift toward one another in small communities. Two of her best friends are boys her own age, the athletic Daigo, who she falls for and who likes her, and the upper class Fuji, who falls for her. It’s a love triangle that I have the feeling will last for the next 14 years, and we won’t know the outcome until we see just who she’s going to marry in the future. The whole set up lets me know that these relationships will be treated seriously, and that there will be some hard decisions for all three after they learn to see themselves and each other honestly. This has the makings of a great romance.
If there’s a short-coming, it’s in the second half of the story where for a moment it veers close to shoujo cliché territory when a rival for Daigo appears. But the reason for that section is all in how Fuji and Daigo respond, which seems to foreshadow an awful lot to me.
OK Viz, you sold me. I am a complete and utter fan. I want more of this story NOW. A-.