Sand Chronicles – Hinako Ashihara

Sand Chronicles is a coming of age story that is beautiful and heart-breaking to read. The pages will fill you with a wide range of emotions – intense joy one chapter, deep sorrow the next. Ashihara accurately depicts characters’ deep struggles with inner turmoil. I first started reading Sand Chronicles in Shojo Beat, a few years ago. With the jumps in time, it was hard to follow month by month, and I decided to wait until the entire series had been released to do a complete read through.

Ann and Daigo in Winter

The Gist: Ann reflects on her teenage memories of love and loss during her engagement. Starting with the winter her mother commits suicide, Ann, 12, is supported by her new friends in Shimane: Daigo, Fuji, and Shika. Ann eventually falls for Daigo at 14, and their relationship is intense. When Ann’s father returns to ask her to live with him in Tokyo, Ann chooses to leave Shimane and continue a long distance relationship with Daigo. Coincidentally, Fuji is also attending high school at a prestigious campus in Tokyo. While there, Fuji seeks out Ann and confesses he loves her. This causes problems between Ann and Daigo. More complications arise as the teens wade through their emotions. The story continues through high school, college, and until Ann is 26, always returning to Shimane and the friendships of her youth. When she has finally come to terms with the loss of her mother, only then can Ann forge ahead to fulfill her own happiness.

The Characters/Romance: Daigo or Fuji? That is what is asked of most readers, because there is always a favored man for Ann. I would characterize Daigo as being warm and charismatic. That is why so many chicks (story characters and real life fans) dig him.  Fuji, on the other hand, is more on the quiet, intellectual side, which tends to attract another type of fan base. The relationships in this story get very complicated and at times seem contrived. At one point, Ann loves Daigo, Daigo loves Ann, Fuji loves Ann, and Shika loves Daigo. Explainable, but still contrived. I think the most difficult part of this story for me was watching Ann deal with her grief. She holds onto it for so long, it makes everyone she is close to become hurt. Especially Daigo and Fuji, who both love her and only want to make her happy.  The best part is the final conclusion, which makes all the emotional upheaval of the story worth it in the end.

Ann and Fuji in Summer

The Artwork: I like Ashihara’s style. The colored pieces are softly toned. The story is mostly a serious and dramatic tale, so there is not big contrast in character styles, meaning not a lot of chibi going on at any time. The panels are easy to follow. The story follows the seasons, so a lot of the colored artwork is composed with summer, winter, spring, or fall themes.

The Audience: Steamy. Older teen would be most appropriate since there are some complex relationship issues. There is no nudity, but intimacy is implied. Also the topics of depression and suicide are prevalent.

The Media: Sand Chronicles is complete from Viz media at 10 volumes.

Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥♥♥

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Super mom and teacher until the kids go to bed, then romance manga addict and writer until the caffeine wears out! Specializes in the shoujo and josei genre of manga and anime.
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  • I just finished reading the first episode of ” Sand Chronicles ” for my high school English class . I really liked this manga, especially, the scene when Ann and Daigo first met, they were not compatible , but gradually they got along with each other. Also, I’m a big fan of Fuji, because he seems to like Ann, but he can’t say that he likes her, I think that’s a good point of him!
    If you have a chance, could you give some other recommendation of other series of manga by Hinako Ashihara.
    Thank you!

    • That’s cool that you’re reading it for your high school English class! I can link you to a page that has a list of Ashihara’s series. I have read her current series Bread & Butter and really like that one. I know her series Piece also won the 58th Shogakukan Manga Award in the Shoujo manga category in 2013. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my list. Did you pick Sand Chronicles or did your teacher?

  • I hadn’t heard of this series, I’m going to check it out.

    • I hope you enjoy it! 🙂 It’s not too long at 10 volumes. If you like it, I would also recommend “We Were There”. It runs along a similar story line. There’s a review of that series in the review index if you’re interested.

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