Review contains spoilers, proceed with caution:
Shoujo manga love exploring relationships between characters by introducing different obstacles which both parties have to overcome. From rivals, to misunderstandings, to complete trivial difference in opinion. The execution of this core subject matter differ from shoujo to shoujo, but the premise remains the same. Sunadokei has elements that are commonplace in shoujo, with one outstanding difference: It explores relationships from the perspective of time. The manga takes place over a period of about roughly 20 years. You see characters grow from a naïve pre-teen, to a confused teenager, to a lonely adult. Time seemed to be a central focus in this story, using the four different seasons to progress the story and represent the character’s feelings.
There’s quote in the manga that says: “We need the severity of winter because without it we can’t appreciate the gentle touch of spring. Spring will always return to the world and melt the snow.” I especially love this quote and recognize that this manga tried to revolve itself around this idea. No matter what problems we face, time will always move forward and heal our wounds. The more we grow up, suffer and learn, the greater the chances we will become the person we want to be. As the characters grew up they began to accept themselves and work on their problems, becoming self-sufficient and able to have successful relationships. I love the general idea of this story, as it tried to encompass issues such as: death, mourning, first love, abandonment, and becoming a stronger person.
The drama in this story stemmed from problems that could happen to anybody, the root of it all coming from the death of Ann’s mother. This was the catalyst that forced these characters to grow up faster than usual. I liked that the manga had a firm grasp in trying to make the characters adjust themselves to harsh situations. Their respective actions were acceptable and understandable. Especially Ann going to live with her father. I applaud her for valuing her family life over her love life, knowing what was important. I wouldn’t say the execution of this story was horrible, but I feel like the issues became more dramatic and strung out than they should’ve been. The story had a lot of drama, I’m going to give it that. Reality and common sense flew out the window but that problem only applied to some specific instances. This is a shame because it was originally trying to go for realism—and it did it so well in the beginning.
There are some problems I have with the story, but I’ll just talk about two big ones. When Ann grew up and decided to get married. Her fiancé was this shallow mess of a man with no real explanation to why he was the way he was. The relationship seemed doomed from the beginning, as if Ann was never going to try to start a real relationship with anybody else. She never gave him a real chance, or gave anybody a real chance after Diago. She did try to give Fuji a chance, but her heart wasn’t really into it. Which is understandable. Obviously it’s clear that this was just to demonstrate how much she has changed and grown up, but it felt really half-assed. We could’ve been shown her growth perhaps differently, being spared this shallowness. My second big problem was the part where Daigo found Ann lying by the sand, bleeding out. Too dramatic for my taste. That part just seemed unnecessary present just for shock factor. It didn’t really make the story better, and I didn’t like that she needed to be saved by Daigo. She was doing so well being independent!
Overall, I feel like I was more enamored with the idea of the story than the actual story. I found the story fun to read, and entertaining, but it didn’t hit home until the 10th volume, where everybody learned to embrace the good and the bad memories, as those memories make the person they are today. I think relationships make us grow as a person and teach us how to improve ourselves and become better people. Not everyone tries to learn something from their relationship. Every relationship provides some insight about you and your partner. It is just a matter of willingness of wanting to look at it or deciding to ignore it. This life lesson is so inspirational. Although mistakes were made in Sunadokei, everybody tried to live their life without regrets. Although the story didn’t strike me as exceptional, I did complete this manga with a smile.
“Just make sure you grow up to be someone that you like. Don’t ever lie to yourself or hide from the truth. Have faith in yourself. Be your true self.” (Volume 10)