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Manga: Sand Chronicles

Sand Chronicles, or Sunadokeinote , is about the story of Ann Uekusa from her adolescence to adulthood and of the friendships, relationships, and conflicts she encounters along the way.

When twelve year old Ann Uekusa moves from Tokyo to a rural country town named Shimane with her mother following her parents' divorce, Ann has trouble adjusting to her new home and life until she meets and befriends a boy named Daigo Kitamura, and two rich siblings named Fuji and Shiika Tsukishima. Ann's happiness is brief, however, when her mother commits suicide, leaving Ann with an eternal emotional scar. That is when Daigo promises to always be with her, and the two slowly begin a slowly but surely blossoming romance that has many obstacles along the way...

Created by Hinako Ashihara, Sand Chronicles is a well-regarded shojo manga series for its realistic yet emotional portrayal of growing up and the ups and downs that come with it. In 2005, it was awarded the 50th Shogakukan Manga Award for shojo manga, and in 2009 the Young Adult Library Services Association recommended it in their "Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens" list.

The manga comprises 10 volumes - the first 8 volumes cover the main story which comprises Ann's life from ages 12 to 26, and the final 2 cover chapters and omakes that occur both before and after the main story. Each volume consists of just 2 yet very long and intense chapters. It also has both a 2007 Japanese drama adaptation and a 2008 Japanese live-action movie adaptation.

The main story serialised in Japanese monthly shojo magazine Betsucomi from 2003 to 2005. It's licensed by Viz Media, which also serialised the manga in their English shojo magazine Shojo Beats (though not completely, due to said magazine's eventual cancellation). The manga's also been translated and released in Germany of all places as Sunadokei - Die Sanduhr.

Has a Character Sheet. Take heed, that page has more unmarked spoilers than this page.


The manga provides the following examples:

  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Nearly happens. The long distance strains Ann and Daigo's relationship as they find it harder to communicate and it allows others such as Fuji and Shiika to fall in love with them and attempt to take them for themselves which leads the couple to wonder if they're going to cheat on each other. However neither hugely impacts their relationship as Ann and Daigo still remain faithful. It's their insecurities and Ann's concern for Daigo's happiness that breaks them up.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling:
    • Occasionally with Chii, who is Ann's younger step-sister. There's tiny signs of brattiness that's typical of any young sibling and she constantly wants to hoard her sibling's things which can bother them, otherwise she's mostly a good-natured kid who's concerned for her sibling's wellbeing.
    • Played straight with Shiika to Fuji, who treats her as a spoiled nuisance more than anything else and isn't close to her. Also due to her being favoured by their parents (especially mother).
    • The first chapter in volume 10 shows a flashback of a young Daigo thinking his newborn sister Uri will be this and so would rather be an only child. He has a change of heart after finally meeting her though. In the main story, Uri seems to avert this as she doesn't really get in his way and even makes a good-luck charm for him during exams, which he does bring while he takes them.
  • Arranged Marriage: Fuji's mother tries to get him to do some omiai (arranged marriage interviews) to ensure he marries the most suitable girl for his job, to his chagrin.
  • Babies Ever After: In the last chapter (of the main story) in Volume 8, Daigo and Ann have a baby boy called Ryo.
  • Beach Episode: Ann, Fuji and their friends go on a trip there during their school break in Tokyo.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • Ann (Betty) and Shiika or Ayumu (Veronica) towards Daigo. Ann is the average Girl Next Door, Shiika is the spoiled and alluring girl, Ayumu is athletic and enjoys making fun of Ann.
    • Daigo (Betty) and Fuji (Veronica) towards Ann. Daigo's the reliable and Nice Guy, Fuji is the Chick Magnet but also quite aloof.
  • Broken Bird:
    • Ann's mother Miwako. She was praised for her beauty but also the centre of many rumours in her school years and so was desperate to move out of Shimane - and she does, only to be divorced and made to return to the hometown she hates with her daughter Ann years later. She becomes very emotionally unstable after the move, being once again in her "cage", and it is what leads to her suicide. Ann's certain that she planned to do so ever since they moved.
    • Ann, a cute girl whose mother's suicide causes her to become emotionally unstable at times. This haunts her right to the end, where she gets a You Are Not Alone speech from her grandma after suffering a near-fatal wound from glass.
    • Also Shiika, after she finds out she is the illegitimate child of the family, not Fuji. It depresses her and negatively influences some of her future actions like trying to break Daigo and Ann up.
  • Cat Fight: Short-lived and not for fanservice, Ann and Kaede's first encounter at the hospital is this. Kaede lies to Ann about her father Masahiro's injury (Ann's told he collapsed, in reality he simply bumped his head) to get her to visit him in Tokyo straight away. Ann calls her out on it and slaps her. Kaede responds by strangling her (Played for Laughs). Masahiro panics the whole time.
  • Chick Magnet:
    • Despite his questionable personality, many girls in both Shimane and Tokyo adore Fuji for his good looks and cool aura.
    • Dude Magnet in this case, Shiika's popular with guys due to her looks and sweet personality.
    • Ann wonders if her father was popular with girls back in his younger days after she finds out that, besides her mother, Kaede also fell for him back in their school days.
  • Childhood Friend: Ann has been friends with Daigo, Fuji and Shiika since coming to Shimane at age 12. The three have known each other longer (though Daigo and Fuji were never chummy).
  • A Day In The Lime Light: In Volume 9, one chapter follows Sakura's troubled life and his encounters with Chii after the end of the main story, giving limelight to both minor characters.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • Ann's father, who divorced Ann's mother because out his debts and she took Ann with her to Shimane. He returns early into the story to take Ann back with him to Tokyo.
    • Fuji's and Shiika's mother had an affair a number of years ago, and the rumors go that the man is Fuji's biological father, who is revealed to be a sleaze bag and wants nothing to do with Fuji, leaving him sickened that he is related to such a man. It is only later revealed that he's Shiika's biological father and not Fuji's.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: It doesn't go through in the end, but Sakura and Ann become engaged after only meeting each other a few times. On top of that, though the bride has developed feelings for him and it's implied they're reciprocated, they haven't even begun a relationship when the question is popped. The latter's friend bewilderment sums it up nicely:
    Friend: Now... hold on a sec! You weren't even dating...
    Bride in question: Nope.
    Friend: ... And you haven't kissed.
    Bride in question: Nope, not once.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The main cast which comprises two girls and two boys.
  • Held Back In School: When Fuji comes back to school after running away, he has to repeat the year.
  • Hopeless Suitor:
    • Fuji for Ann who is oblivious at first and has her eyes set on Daigo. Even when they become a couple, Fuji soon realizes that Ann will always love Daigo.
    • Ayumu and Shiika for their crush Daigo who is Ann's boyfriend. Ayumu gets to date him later on but Shiika is promptly rejected when she makes a move.
  • How We Got Here: The manga begins with a young girl bugging a 26-year-old Ann, who's about to move overseas with her fiance, and they find the latter's hourglass. Ann then thinks back to how she got that hourglass and its significance to her.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: A recurring theme throughout the series, due to characters dealing with their crushes dating other people or other issues.
    • Daigo to Ann twice. Daigo to let Ann move back to Tokyo but he doesn't complain because he knows how concerned she is for her father. He also reacts this way when he finds out years later (post-break-up) that Fuji is dating Ann - as much as he dislikes him, he tells him to look after Ann well.
    • Ann to Daigo a few times. She decides to break up with him because she fears she can't bring him happiness and will only drag him down. Many years later she's disheartened to hear Daigo apparently being engaged to a fellow teacher but otherwise genuinely happy for him. Highlighted when she writes a new wish on her wish card at the shrine that says, "Please, please, please, let Daigo be happy."
    • Fuji to Ann, several times. First when she's dating Daigo which he respects despite his hurt feelings, then when he dates her but realizes she's not over him and breaks up with her so she can seek her own happiness.
    • Familial version for Grandma to Ann several times, such as letting her move back to Tokyo and not making a fuss when she stops visiting Shimane, because she truly values her happiness even if it means being separated from her.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: The Tsukishima siblings have various attitudes of this due to coming from a prestigious family and hence not being allowed to mess around that much as children (in addition to Fuji being made to focus on studying and becoming the heir). Shiika wants to be more proactive in helping others and wants more friends, while Fuji just wants to be able to do more casual leisure activities such as amusement parks and fireworks.
  • I Will Wait for You: Daigo's attitude towards Ann after she moves back to Tokyo due to his determination to keep their relationship going.
  • Jerk Ass:
    • Sakura, the older man Ann befriends at age 26 and whom she's briefly engaged to. He has a hatred for feminine women who are weak and cry a lot, and is a little manipulative. Ann eventually calls him out for this attitude towards his ex, which leads him to angrily break off the engagement. He becomes a tiny bit better after encountering Chii in Volume 9, but he's otherwise aware and not really bothered that he isn't a pleasant person.
      Heartless? Selfish? What's wrong with that? It's my life.
    • Ayumu Narasaki is one at first, especially when she puts Ann through a lot of trouble at camp. The most questionable move she pulls is hiding her beloved hourglass and making her go through a dangerous treasure hunt game that nearly kills her - the last part isn't intentional of course but that aside the game is too extreme and nasty for a "playful prank". She's grown out of it by the time Daigo reunites with her.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Fuji and Shiika. They're rich which gives others the impression that they're snobby, but they (mostly Shiika) really like having friends and being treated like other kids.
  • Love Triangle: A lot.
    • Many concern the Official Couple Ann and Daigo and a third party who likes one of them; Fuji who likes Ann, Ayumu who likes Daigo, and Shiika who likes Daigo. Out of the three, Shiika is the only one who's friends with the other. Then Fuji and Ayumu get to have a shot after the couple breaks up, but it doesn't last.
    • Masahiro (Ann's father), Miwako (Ann's mother), and Kaede (Masahiro's old friend and eventual wife) who likes Masahiro. The parents obviously get together first but divorce later, leaving the latter to be able to eventually get with him.
  • Marry for Love: This is Fuji's argument when his mother tries to make him go through an omiai (Arranged Marriage meeting) with girls suitable for his prestige, and in particular the girl he's rather marry is his cousin Mariko whom his mother disapproves of. Volume 10 shows he finally got their approval and the final chapter shows a glimpse of his traditional wedding.
  • Na´ve Everygirl:
    • Ann, somewhat. She's a little na´ve (something she comments on sometimes), ignorant and especially insecure, and gets picked on by love rival Ayumu; but she's also very cautious of her surroundings and actions.
    • Shiika. Due to be doted on by her parents and servants, she has little knowledge of the outside world and how harsh reality can be.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted in Chapter 2 when Ann notes she stopped getting hers after her mother died and Shiika can't swim because she got hers. And then Ann suddenly gets hers again at a very intense moment at camp - in front of Daigo and Fuji who initially think she's injured herself. All three are embarrassed to no end.
  • Official Couple: Ann and Daigo share their first kiss at the end of Chapter 2 and date afterwards, though they fall out of this for a while.
  • Parental Marriage Veto:
    • Ann's grandma Misayo didn't approve of Miwako's marriage to Masahiro but couldn't stop them. She still doesn't like him when he visits them again post-Miwako-death.
    • Fuji's mother is against his intention to marry his cousin Mariko due their prestige as well as unfortunate implications she thinks it'll bring which is why she wants to get him into an Arranged Marriage with someone more appropriate. Volume 10 shows that his parents finally gave in and the final chapter shows a glimpse of their wedding.
  • Parental Substitute:
    • Ann's grandmother (and her grandfather but especially the former), especially after Ann's mother commits suicide and she has to take care of her herself.
    • Kaede who becomes a maternal role model for Ann after she returns to Tokyo. She eventually becomes her step-mother.
  • Primal Scene: A painful Played for Drama instance, when a very young Fuji walked in on his mother with another man. It's what kicked off their aloof relationship, and Fuji's certain that man is his father. However the man is Shiika's instead.
  • The Quiet One: Throughout the whole manga, Ann's grandpa only speaks a few times. He's otherwise usually seen simply and silently hanging in the background at home with Grandma who's much more prominent than he is. The mangaka admitted Misayo's strong personality overshadows her husband's.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Daigo (Red Oni) and Fuji (Blue Oni). Daigo is Hot-Blooded and wild, Fuji is more collected and intellectual.
  • The Runaway: Fuji, who wants to sort himself out away from everyone. He's eventually found by Ann, who keeps his secret until he returns to his family.
  • Second Love: Fuji tries hard to become one for Ann post-Daigo-break-up, even arguing that for Daigo to be her "first" love there surely has to be a second one too. He succeeds but it doesn't last long as Ann doesn't really get over Daigo.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Somewhat with Ann's dad Masahiro and Kaede. After finding out she's pregnant, the latter first wants to break off their relationship so the former doesn't have to worry about them, but Ann convinces her he loves her enough to not leave her side, and so they decide to marry before the child is born.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Fuji and Shiika. Fuji is the aloof and cold brother, Shiika is the sweet and helpful sister.
  • Slice of Life: A dramatic one too that follows Ann's adolescence and adulthood.
  • Spit Take: Daigo does a hilarious one while drinking his cup during an otherwise intense moment where the Tsukishima siblings' mother Shizuyo's infidelity comes to light.
  • Spoiler Opening: The first scene in the first chapter is with an older Ann who looks back at her childhood and thus kicks off the story, and so a few things can be picked up:
    • The manga opens with a little girl talking to Ann, and she's Chii, her younger step-sister. Chances are the reader has forgotten about her by the time she's introduced properly, but readers who don't will otherwise anticipate Ann getting a younger sister of some sort.
    • Like the girls' conversation mentions, readers know Ann will eventually go overseas with her husband, whoever he turns out to be. Actually subverted in the end; after the manga returns to that point, Ann encounters her fiance Sakura's ex and she goes on to call him out on his rather crappy attitude of his ex and other "weak" women - this makes him angrily break off the engagement and he goes to America without her.
  • Their First Time:
    • Ann and Daigo in an empty shack, shortly after Daigo punches the hell out of Fuji for kissing Ann. At first dealt with via a fade to black, and confirmed shortly after.
    • Also attempted by Ann and Fuji (obviously only Fuji's first time), except Ann becomes distressed from thinking about Daigo so the two just sleep in the same bed instead.
  • They Do: Ann and Daigo, at the end of the main story in Volume 8, finally marry and have a baby boy.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl:
    • Ann and Shiika. Ann is more hotheaded (at least when Daigo's concerned) and not particularly graceful, Shiika is The Ojou and mostly dresses like such.
    • Ayumu and Ann. Ayumu is athletic, sports a Boyish Short Hair and is more out-spoken and bossy, while Ann is more cautious, weak in anything remotely sporty but does well in cooking instead.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend:
    • Fuji for Ann who befriends him after moving to Shimane at age 12 and of course is in love with Daigo. Fuji gets out of it briefly when they date.
    • Ayumu for Daigo, a fellow judo club member who has his eyes on Ann. They get out of it briefly years later when he reunites with her and she's become a lot nicer.
    • Shiika for Daigo, who is her friend from childhood but rejects her when she makes a move on him.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend:
    • Ann and Daigo are zig-zagged with this. They become a couple, then have a falling out but then reconcile... only to break up afterward. After many years apart, they finally get back together and marry.
    • Also Kaede and her eventual marriage with Ann's father, whom she fell for in 10th grade, albeit after suffering as the Unlucky Childhood Friend.
  • Wedding Day: The final chapter in Volume 10 nearly ends with the wedding day of Fuji and Mariko. It's only shown briefly though, and more emphasis is put on Ann and Fuji's conversation and the gang happily walking together.
  • When She Smiles: Gender-inverted with Sakura, who's snobby and is mostly a Perpetual Frowner, yet after the first two times he genuinely smiles at her, Ann blushes and admits he has a killer smile and is probably popular with women.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Averted with Kaede, who eventually marries Ann's father and is one of Ann's role models. It's even Ann who has to convince her that her dad does love her and that they should stay together. After the marriage, the two treat each like family and Kaede shows great concern for her like any mother would.
  • Workaholic: Sakura is very dedicated to his work and being amongst the top, which probably explains his snobby and Jerk Ass tendencies. He's not pleased when he's put on leave for showing bad teamwork skills in Volume 9, as he states several times how much he hates taking days off. He says that he feels if he even misses one day of work, he "might never come back".

Alternative Title(s):

Sunadokei