I'd seen ads for this series in the back of various Shojo Beat brand books for years but something about the tag-line always made it come as a rather presumptuous series. Just something about people calling it a really mature story made it sound, well, pretentious, or maybe I was reading abotu Ashihara's other series, Socrates in Love. In any case, no it's not pretentious at all actually and rather good.
Sand Chronicles by Hinako Ashihara
Summary: Ann Uekusa's life goes from normal and happy to shattered when her parents divorce and she finds her and her mother living with her grandmother in the countryside. But while Ann is able to make new friends and start adjusting to life outside of Tokyo, her mother seems to be having a hard time readjusting to her older life and seems to be giving up on life all together.
The Good: Wow, and not to knock shojo in general, but that was way deeper than I was expecting (but I made that clear in the opener). Ann is still a little too young to have real relationship drama yet but the drama involving her mom was done well and not drawn out. The story hasn't used any really bad romantic cliches yet (actually, the only one that made me roll my eyes was the unlucky-in-love classmate one) so hopefully this will be a love story that I actually like.
The Bad: Having a little bit of a hard time remembering the details of the story now actually which isn't a good sign and I'm worried that the story is going to lose the family/personal/growing up drama that I liked and replace with generic romance drama in future volumes. I know the story is going to have a lot of romance regardless (heck, the story starts off with Ann moving out to get married and reminiscing about what happened after the divorce) but I really don't want it to lose that focus on the other problems life has as well.
The Art: Nothing spectacular or really distinguishable about the art. It does it's job, looks nice, and isn't too hard to follow, but it's not art that I would want a separate art book for.
I looked up a bit of info about this series and it's only ten volumes long (which for me is a fairly short series) and Viz has released all of them thank goodness. Actually, I noticed that the local library had a collection of old Shojo Beat issues and I was hoping I could read the rest of the story there (since I don't know yet if I like it enough to buy and re-read it) but alas they are missing all of 2007 and Sand Chronicles (like Honey and Clover which I was also hoping to read more of in the magazines) started then so it doesn't look like that'll work out after all. Oh well, maybe if I poke around I'll be able to find it somewhere else, and no I actually don't mean scanlations.