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- mangaka : Komori, Yuko
- Publisher : means media
- Style : Drama, Slice of Life, Mystery, Josie
- published : February 2023
Compared to other popular genres/demographics, such as shonen or seinen, josei is easily the most underrated genre. After all, only a handful of josei manga are published each year by major publishers. That being said, it is unsurprising that it is somewhat rare. And that fact means we only get carefully curated gems like My Broken Mariko, Josie: The Tiger and the Fish, and Kabi Nagata’s autobiographical series, to name a few. And now, in early 2023, there is finally a new title that promises to deliver the same thought-provoking and heart-warming story as its predecessors. It’s called Mermaid Scales and City of Sand, and here’s our brief review of this new josei manga.
It seems that the world is moving very fast towards Tokiko. Not a week ago, she lived happily with her parents in Tokyo. But then, her mother suddenly leaves them, and now Tokiko has to move with her father to her mother’s hometown of Tsunanomori, a seaside town. Tokiko actually has scary but deep memories of this town. Eventually, unbeknownst to everyone, Tokiko had lost her life at the age of about four in the sea off Tsunaomori. She played around the beach, but the waves suddenly caught hold of her legs and pulled her into the sea. Just when Tokiko was about to lose consciousness, a flamboyant mermaid appeared, grabbed his hand, and carried him to the shore. Tokiko doesn’t know if it was all just a dream, or if a mermaid really saved her life. As it happens, there is an actual myth about mermaids in Tsunanomori. This means he now has plenty of time to find out the truth behind what happened and at the same time distract himself from the huge changes happening in his life.
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1. A heartwarming coming-of-age drama
The story of Mermaid Scales and The Town of Sand may only span two volumes (published as a 2-in-1 omnibus by Viz), but there’s a solid and heartwarming drama alongside great character development , which is happening in such a small amount of material. In the story, Tokiko is only 6 or 7 years old when her world is turned upside down. So many drastic changes happen at the same time. Watching her mother leave the family, moving to a deserted city and trying to adjust to a new way of life, enrolling in a new school, and trying to make new friends can all be difficult for Tokiko. It’s really heartwarming to see Tokiko doing her best to navigate through the storm that has just ravaged her young life.
2. A disguised style
It’s clear from the outset that Mermaid Scales and the Town of Sand is a lively manga. After all, as mentioned earlier, the core of the story is its heartwarming coming-of-age story. But as you turn the pages and immerse yourself in the story, another genre creeps in. a supernatural fantasy. Tokiko has a vivid memory of being saved by a mermaid as a child, and the people of Tsunanomori also say that there is a myth about mermaids that has been passed down for generations in this small town. So Tokiko tries to investigate the truth behind the myth, and stumbles upon all kinds of clues about the mermaid. At the same time, we as readers also begin to wonder whether this primarily slice-of-life story will ever venture into fantasy territory. Will we ever finally see the mythical mermaid? Is there a real mermaid in the story? Till the time you read this book, this question will keep flashing in your mind. Komori-sensei is so good at hiding his style of storytelling.
1. A Devastating Slow Motion Story
Mermaid Scales and the City of Sand is an incredibly slow-paced story, even for a slice-of-life Josie standard. Not only that, although the entire story is only two volumes long, it could arguably be condensed into one volume. Because there are quite a few scenes, moments, and storylines in the manga that don’t really advance the story. An example of such a story is when a friend lies to Tokiko in order to later apologize to her. The plot doesn’t advance the narrative, nor does it reveal any personality or perspective of Tokiko that we haven’t seen before. Had it been cut, the whole story would have come out fine. As a matter of fact, it would arguably tighten up the narrative and give it better pacing.
Mermaid Scales and the Town of Sand is a heartwarming coming-of-age story that manages to weave fantasy/supernatural elements into an engaging coming-of-age story. It’s a slow paced story even by Josie standards, but it’s honestly not a deal breaker. It has enough content to satisfy your curiosity, entertain your mind and warm your heart. So must watch it. Have you read Mermaid Scales and the Town of Sand? If you have, what do you think about it? Let us know in the comment section below.
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