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Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms

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Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms by Fumiyo Kouno, published by Last Gasp / Futabasha

Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms

© Fumiyo Kouno / Futabasha

The Bottom Line

With it's soft, delicate linework and deceptively simple, slice-of-life storytelling, Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms is a story about the after effects of the Hiroshima atom bomb told on a human scale. Kouno resists the urge to pile on scenes of wartime horror and melodrama, and instead gives us an anti-war story that touches the heart while reminding us how precious life and love really is.

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Pros

  • Simple, eloquent storytelling that never gets too preachy or heavy-handed
  • Conveys a moving, memorable story of two young girls who must deal with the atom bomb's aftermath
  • Delicately and tastefully tells the story of the horrors of World War II on a human scale
  • Includes many slice-of-life moments that capture the simple pleasures of life and love

Cons

  • It's initially tricky to follow the flashbacks and the connection between Minami and Nanami

Description

  • Original Title: Yunagi no Machi Sakura no Kuni (Japan)
  • Author & Artist: Fumiyo Kouno
  • Publishers: Last Gasp (US)
    Futabasha Publishers Co. Ltd. (Japan)
  • ISBN: 978-0-86719-665-8
  • Cover Price: $9.99 US
  • Age Rating: Not rated, however it does depict wartime horrors
    More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
  • US Publication Date: February 2007
    Japan Publication Date: 2003
  • Book Description: 103 pages, black and white illustrations, 3 color plates

Guide Review - Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms

I can count on one hand the manga that I've read that has made me cry. Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms is one of them, and I mean this in a good way. This seemingly simple tale is actually two separate but related stories about two young women whose lives are forever changed as a result of the Hiroshima atom bomb.

Minami is a young seamstress who lives in Hiroshima's post-war slums. It's ten years after the bomb, but she's haunted by what she's lost and what she thinks she can never have: true love and happiness. While she manages to put on a happy face to her family and friends, Minami is sad, bitter and angry at the atom bomb and the forces that inflicted massive devastation upon her city. It all seems so unfair to have lost her father and sister, to have to live in poverty, and feel compelled to push away a prospective suitor, all because of the bomb.

The second set of stories focuses on Nanami, Minami's tomboy niece. Nanami's modern, middle-class reality is far removed from Minami's post-war poverty. But memories of the war affect Nanami's happy-go-lucky life, as she deals with lingering prejudices against bomb survivors, even generations after the war.

Compared to its thematic predecessor Barefoot Gen, Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms is an atom bomb story that's told in whispers rather than screams. Kouno's delicate artwork and subtle, sincere storytelling depicts the true human cost of war quietly but effectively. She resists the urge to pile on the melodrama and still conveys a deeply moving story.

But lest you think otherwise, Town of Evening Calm is not a complete downer. Kouno includes slice of life moments that offer touching reminders of how precious life and love can be. It's a manga that does more than entertain – it's heartbreaking and heartwarming in a way you won't soon forget.

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