Friday, July 10, 2009

Land of the Blindfolded, vol. 4

The story: In this volume, Kanade sees the future of the student council president -- and it involves a crush on Arou! Shaken by the vision, Kanade turns to Masahiro for help. Of course, Masahiro keeps Kanade's secret, all the while holding it over Arou's head as an example of the trust she has in him, and not Arou. Understandably, Arou gets caught up in self-doubt, too. What will Kanade do about the future she's seen and will it come to pass?

Reaction: This volume was all about love and I really enjoyed it. From Arou and Kanade better understanding one another, to the love shared between Masahiro and the puppy he saved in the second volume, I really appreciated all the tender and funny moments. While some might consider it sappy, I thought it was touching more than anything else. Additionally, both Masahiro's and Arou's flashbacks helped me better understand their characters.

Deep thoughts: In chapter 15, Arou harvests the school garden with the help of his classmates, then cooks them a delicious lunch with all the vegetables he grew. Watching everyone working together and enjoying the literal fruits of their labor brought to mind this article on urban farming in the New York Times. Teaching people how to grow food is not only tasty and nutritious, but it also creates a sense of community, much like Arou did.

Artwork: While reading through this volume, I really noticed the nuances of emotion and reaction all of the characters display. Tsukuba Sakura does an impressive job of relaying emotion without resorting to cheap visual cues. Instead, she illustrates everything from wide-eyed amusement, frustration, endearment and possessiveness with a great deal of skill that really helps "show" the story, as opposed to "telling" the story as many other shojo manga do. Of course, I was also happy to see that super cute puppy make another appearance!

The verdict: Highly recommended. This is not your everyday shojo story and, while it does have a main couple, Sakura doesn't focus entirely on it either. By not exhausting the reader with endless moon-eyed scenes between Kanade and Arou, this story explores all facets of love and caring for others. Land of the Blindfolded is available in the U.S. from CMX.

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