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Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms: A Manga Review

Article by Scott Tingley, July 4. 2007

I think this might be my first attempt at reviewing anything Manga, so I hope it works out.

For my first attempt I have chosen a fine piece of literature that would be palatable even to those comic readers that have decided that they hate manga as though all manga was the same. Here is the publisher's description:

A best seller in Japan (180,000 copies), this beautiful, award-winning manga appears in English for the first time. What impact did World War II and the dropping of the atomic bomb have on the common people of Japan ? Through the eyes of an average woman living in 1955, Japanese artist Fumiyo Kouno answers these questions. Kouno's light, free style of drawing evokes a tender reflection of this difficult period in Hiroshima 's postwar past. As the characters continue with everyday life, the shadow of the war and the atomic bombing linger ghostlike in the background. Kouno's beautiful storytelling touches the reader's heart but is never overly sentimental.

Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms , by Fumiyo Kouno , is written as two interconnected stories that examine the effect the dropping of the atomic bombs in 1945 had on its survivors even decades later. A stain, a thread, a shadow is ever present with the survivors and their families

In the years immediately following the bombs anyone in Hiroshima or Nagasaki on those days could be struck down without warning. This is painfully portrayed in the first story, Town of Evening Calm . This is the beautiful and bitter story of Minami Hirano , a survivor. She has survived the ten years and finally has a chance at happiness, but the specter of the bomb is always there to snatch it away. It is though her entire world has cancer in remission - She is waiting for it to come and take something away.

The second part of the story, Country of Cherry Blossoms is a roundabout story of current day young adults who are connected to the bomb by their ancestors. The final few pages of the final chapter tie the whole book together.

I know nothing about the different styles of manga art, but Kouno has a very pleasing style unfettered with many of the manga staples that, personally, I don't really enjoy (exaggerated facial expressions, etc). It is a light, clean style that fits the times of joy and times of despair that the book portrays.

This is a special book that has had a lot of attention in its other translations and should get attention in its new English edition. It has a place in a high school or middle school class studying war and its effects on the average person.

by Fumiyo Kouno
104 pages
Black and White
ISBN-10: 0867196653
ISBN-13: 9780867196658



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