Sand Chronicles

Sand Chronicles Volume 1 by Hinako Ashihara (amazon)

Just what I need, a new shojo addiction! I’d read good things about this new series and I caught a chapter in Shojo Beat, so I was looking forward to the first volume. Ann’s parents have just gotten divorced, so she moves with her mother Miwako to the small town where her grandmother lives. Moving to Shimane causes some problems. 12 year old Ann has a hard time adjusting to the gossipy nature of the small town, where everyone knows everyone else’s business. She makes friends with a boy named Daigo, who is the son of an old friend of her Mom. Ann also makes the acquaintance of a couple of the rich kids in town, Fuji and his sister Shiika. When family tragedy strikes, Ann’s new friends are more important to her than ever.
It’s clear that Ann and Daigo are destined for romance when she gives him a black eye during their first meeting. A love triangle involving Fugi, who has a legitimate case of poor-little-rich-boy-itis, also seems inevitable. Where Sand Chronicles stands apart from a typical shojo title is the life issues it explores at the same time it chronicles budding romance. Everything is not OK in the small town of Shimane, and tragic events continue to have an effect on Ann several years later. The book starts with a framing story of grown-up Ann packing to move overseas with her fiance. I’m curious to see who she ends up with. Sand Chronicles starts with the characters during the winter when they are 12 years old and then moves further ahead to the summer when they are 14. Ashihara’s art captures the transition from childhood to the gawky early teen years. Seeing Ann, Daigo, and their friends age through a single volume of manga is another appealing aspect of Sand Chronicles, since so many other shojo titles just keep their lead characters in perpetual high school.