Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Land of the Blindfolded, vol. 8

As you may have noticed, posting has been pretty non-existent around here during the past week or so. Unfortunately, I'm experiencing some technical difficulties with the home computer I use for writing reviews. Hopefully, I'll be able to have it taken care of soon. Until then, expect fewer posts than normal. Now, on with the review!

The story: High schooler Kanade has a unique gift that allows her to sometimes see the past of people and objects. When two mysterious boys with similar abilities transfer to her school, they become her closest confidants. In this volume, the whole gang is back from their hot springs vacation and life gets back to (somewhat) normal. Namiki follows an extremely unlucky day with an incredibly lucky birthday surprise. Then, poor Kanade gets sick and puts Arou in a tough position. At one point, Eri, Kanade's best friend, learns about Arou's similar gift when a school thief strikes. By volume's end, Arou's uncle Suo can't contain his curiosity about his nephew's strong ability to see the past. Will his jealousy push him to the brink?

Reaction: There are some good self-contained stories in this volume that I really enjoyed and the last chapter raises some concerns that I hadn't really thought about before. Regardless, it was nice to see Namiki's birthday celebration, as it was to see Arou's classmates' support. While Kanade has been close to her classmates for some time, it seems that only now are Arou and Namiki beginning to experience the same. It's very heartwarming and is great evidence of the character growth the three leads have experienced, especially considering their personalities at series' start.

Deep thoughts: Maybe it's just me, but the author's notes in this series seem a bit more extensive than many others. The only other mangaka that comes to mind that pens extensive author's notes throughout volumes is Aya Nakahara of Love*Com fame. Here, I feel like I know Sakura Tsukuba better and have a real feel for what she's doing with this series. Then again, maybe it's just that I'm actually reading the periodic asides, as opposed to glancing over them as I might in other series, especially those that are more "slice of life" moments or personal asides.

Artwork: There are some really great panels in this volume, possibly the best of the entire series. I especially liked the opening page of the last chapter -- Arou, wrapped in bandages, walks towards a burst of light set against a black background. It's stark and depressing, but is set against the joy these characters are experiencing. I also liked the chapter cut pages, particularly the first one where Namiki looks like a beaten soldier. There's something world-weary about his look that juxtaposes nicely with the chapter that focuses on him.

The verdict: Highly recommended. This is an amazing series that I'm sorry I didn't get to sooner. There are some typical high school moments, but they are done so much better than most other shojo stories. This story has a lot of heart, due in large part to its heroine and the group of people she has surrounded herself with. I'll honestly be sad to see this series end in the next volume. Land of the Blindfolded is available in the U.S. from CMX (online preview available).

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