View Full Version : Seinen Yunagi no Machi, Sakura no Kuni by Fumiyo Kouno

August 30, 2011, 12:06 PM
(Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossom) (http://www.mangaupdates.com/series.html?id=1575)

Title: Yunagi no Machi, Sakura no Kuni (http://www.mangaupdates.com/series.html?id=1575)
Author/Artist: Fumiyo Kouno
Status: Completed
Year: 2004
Genre: Drama, Historical, Seinen, Slice of Life
Publisher: Futabasha
Serialized in: Manga Action (JP), Last Gasp (EN), JManga (EN)

Summary from MangaUpdates:
Part 1: Hiroshima, 1955. Ten years after the city was consumed by a scorching flash of light, a woman's soul is still deeply shaken by the earth-shattering explosion that devastated her home and changed her life forever...
A family from Hiroshima struggles to come to terms with their survival of the atomic bombing of their city. The protagonist is Minami Hirano, about 20 years of age.

Part 2: Set some decades later, the niece of Minami Hirano is bewildered by her father's mysterious disappearances. She and a friend follow him to discover what he is doing.

The main theme of this is historic manga concerns the question what impact the war and the atomic bombing had on the most vulnerable. Fumiyo Kôno examines this question in her outstanding book—an award-winning, widely-discussed masterpiece!

This manga has won two awards, the 2004 Japan Media Arts Festival's Grand Prize for manga and the 2005 Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize's Creative Award.

Personal Thoughts:
The art was simple; maybe too simple that I couldn't even differentiate which one is a young girl and which one is an adult woman. Still, the simplicity is what this series need. The plot might not be very complicated, but it's special and touching. It shows how far the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 1945 affected the life of the people there, years after the bombing. People are suffering both physically and mentally.

The author wanted to encourage strength to its reader, that's what I feel after reading the manga. The impression was even stronger after I read the author's note at the end of the book. It pictured the restlessness and the fear people have, but also encourage that you have to move on and live your life as best as possible no matter who you are.

August 30, 2011, 12:40 PM
Chapter one, Town of Evening Calm, is the saddest chapter of manga I have ever read. Very little makes me cry, the end of this story did. Minami's breakdown is absolutely heart breaking.

The American edition of this manga is absolutely lovely, a hard cover with restored color pages and high quality pages. The only chain that carried it in store was Borders (always a better manga selection), it is probably easier to buy from Amazon.

August 31, 2011, 01:35 AM
When she said 'Yes, got another one!' at the ending, it was just... scary. Scary to me because I could feel Minami's resentment towards the event that destroyed her life and her family. Even her niece several years later. It is ironic because it reminded me the fact that Indonesia could state our independence partly because of that bombing too. So while we enjoyed happiness of freedom, there were lots of people who suffered because of that even to years later. I was like slapped when reading this manga, especially since we had just celebrated our independence day not too long ago. ^^;

September 01, 2011, 02:21 PM
I have similar feelings. My grandfather served during World War II but did not see any combat, he was stationed in Alaska. Had the bomb not been dropped, he would have been part of the force sent to invade Japan. Chances are he would have been killed in action. An invasion of the Japanese home islands would have been incomprehensibly bloody, likely more violent than anything in history, including the European theater. The fact is that I am alive because others suffered. Not a comfortable thing to think about but the probability of my grandfather, an enlisted grunt, surviving an invasion of Japan would have been so low the odds that without the bomb I probably would not have been born.

September 01, 2011, 06:59 PM
The first part of this manga was absolutely heartbreaking. The second part was good, but didn't have as big of an emotional impact. While the second part didn't hit me as hard emotionally, I found the discrimination against bomb survivors to be striking. This is something I did not know of.

I'm really glad I read it and I am considering adding it to my collection. I love how so much thought provoking material was fit into such a short story.

September 05, 2011, 12:52 PM
The second part was very good, the lingering emotional effect on the current generation is as important to communicate as the immediate impact of the bombing. But it does not have the stomach punch immediacy of part one. But I guess the lack of immediacy is symbolic in and of itself. The aftermath was filled with raw emotions, as the survivors tried to carry on with lives interrupted while surrounded by death and destruction. As time past wounds never really healed, the void was never completely filled, resolution never came, and nobody quite moved on. The raw emotions were replaced by a subtler sense of dread, detachment, and resentment. The story followed the same emotional arc; from death and anger to resignation, loss, and resentment.

September 06, 2011, 07:21 AM
Personally I think this manga wants to show two things. First, the devastation caused by the bombing, both physically and mentally, within a very long period of time after the incident happened. On the other side, Yunagi no Machi and the second part of Sakura no Kuni was also trying to show something else: the will and power to break through. Near the end of Yunagi no Machi we saw Minami trying to 'grab' her happiness by accepting the love for her and enjoying those happy moments until she had to die. Minami's niece also encouraged her friend not to care about what happened in the past and to continue her relationship. I concluded that the author wanted to show that people should face the truth of what happened during the bombing, accept it, and move forward.

September 07, 2011, 11:23 AM
I agree, moving on from trauma and accepting the past is an important theme. Not an easy thing to do, fortunately Fumiyo-sensei does not give easy answers or allow her characters to completely escape. There is a sense that life moves on, even if the scars are still there, by the end of part two. That is nice, I think this is a better story for not being completely negative.