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. This award-winning manga appears in an English translation for the first time. Fumiyo 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. A widely embraced best seller in Japan, where the work was also controversial, Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms is the winner of several prestigious awards including Grand Prize at the 8th Japan Media Arts Festival (2004), New Life Award at the 9th Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prizes (2005). Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms is made up of interconnected short stories; the first is a love story entitled Town of Evening Calm; followed by the two-part story Country of Cherry Blossoms.
A cute, simple cover which is very misleading for the plot. I like how the girl is so carefree even though she is having so many heavy thoughts and feelings during the manga.
Review: It had been months- no that’s too generous- years since I read manga and even on the Wednesday afternoon I did borrow this book from the library I didn’t have manga on my mind when I wanted to pick up some graphic novels. But this book stood out to my on the bookshelves, I didn’t know if it was the long title (I am a P!ATD fan after all, I’m drawn to long titles) or the simply yet pretty artwork on the cover.
Whatever it was, I am very happy I picked up this Manga.
Plot: The whole theme of the manga was centered around people trying to live after the atomic bomb on Hiroshima during the tail end of the second world war. The manga is split up into two stories, Town of evening calm and Country of cherry blossoms and only has 104 pages! So you can tell it was a rather quick read. The first story (TOEC) was very very good. It follows Minami Hirano, a young woman who lives with her mother, a clerk in an office who has depressing flashbacks to when the atomic bomb hit Hiroshima. There is also a sweet side plot as well with her love interest, Yutaka- a collegue. Altogether the plot for Minami’s story is really tragic and eye-opening as well. It was beautifully written- or well drawn.
The second story (COCB), centers around Nanami Ishikawa, who is Minami’s brother’s daughter, and who the ripples of the atomic bomb still affect generations of the same family. Now this plot did seem a bit unclear. This is probably because they flashed forward a bit, and then flashed back and flashed back and there were other sub plots that confused me further after that. I did like the second story, lets be clear, but it wasn’t as clear as the other one.
Characters: Minami is just a normal woman in the story and I think that works in its favour. This book is suppose to show what it is like for normal woman after the atomic bomb. I felt so sorry for her because of the suvivors guilt she was carrying. She was written really nicely and real, so she was enjoyable to read, despite the whole saddening undertones.
Nanami on the other hand felt like a naive teenage, which helped demonstrate how even after a small space of time the next generation start to forget about the horrors of the generation before them. She seemed like just the microphone for the story and not really anyone important, to be honest.
What I liked:
-The drawings were marvelous
-How such a heavy topic was weaved into an enjoyable story
-The great storytelling in the first story
What I disliked:
-How unclear the second story was
-That it was so short! I wanted more!
Verdict: I seriously enjoyed learning about these two women’s stories as it is a really important thing to still talk about. I do recommend this manga to anyone who is interested in this subject matter or curious about how people were affected after the bomb because even though this is fictional it oozes reality.