Sand Chronicles Volume 8
by Hinako Ashihara; adapted by John Werry
With the conclusion of High School Debut, Sand Chronicles is now tied with Nana for my favorite shojo series. This volume concludes the main story, but there are two more books coming with additional bonus stories.
To bring things full circle, in this book, the adult Ann is setting out to revisit the sand museum in Nima that provided her the hourglass token that drove so much of her young life. Once again, her journey — the places she sees and people she meets — sparks memories in her about how she thought her life would turn out with Daigo. I love the art montages Ashihara uses to symbolize how remembering sends a flow of images over you.
Quiet nostalgia pervades this book, and as an adult reader, I really appreciate it as suited to my time in life, on a quiet afternoon. Yet there’s plenty of action and movement and expression, particularly in this chapter, as Ann meets a young boy, one of Daigo’s students. He’s cute and pouty and curious, all the characteristics of kids in one helpful little plot package. The final take is immensely powerful in the way it wraps all of Ann’s emotions into one beautiful wish of love.
Another child, Ann’s step-sister, features in the second half, the epilogue. Using youngsters as observers and sounding boards is a great way to emphasize the message that “life goes on.” Ann finally makes her peace with her mother’s suicide at her gravesite, a necessary step before she can finally, fully move on to her own life choices. Her story to us may be over (for now), but in another sense, it’s just beginning.
We are the sum of our memories, and I’m glad this series is part of mine. (The publisher provided a review copy.)