Ongoing Investigations: Case #070

I had trouble putting into words how I felt about Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms. It was powerful yet quiet; whimsical yet jarring. This story involves people who lived through the atomic bombings of WWII and the generations that come after them. But instead of being about the bombings proper, it’s really about their lasting meaning and effects. These are personal anecdotes the first of which is a poignant and sad, while the second is about understanding and the future which is a nice way of contrasting them. It would almost seem patronizing to see the first story play out happily. However much these bombings bring a string of emotions to the surface, the stories are kept even by the drawing style which is charming. A beautiful and just a little thought provoking read.

I picked up Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms entirely on a whim while entering a raffle for a trip to Japan at Kinokuniya. This is definitely a prestige release that will win awards and praise from critics but will be avoid by mainstream readers. The manga is about two interconnected stories about how two generations deal with the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A powerful story that deals not only with how the Japanese people had to rebuild but the stigma of the bombing as well. The first story is very melancholy while the second story is lighter but does not break the mood. Both stories go quickly. It only took me about half my train ride to finish the whole book. It was a solid mature story that looks at an important but ugly time in modern history without being preachy or depressing. This is first and foremost the story of the charters whose lives are touched by the bombing more than the bombing itself. But this is the best way to talk about such events. The art is very light and vibrant which helps keep the story refreshing despite the weighty material. A great read for anyone who wants something with a deeper message than your average manga.

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