April 9, 2010

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Land of the Blindfolded

Written by Tsukuba Sakura
Illustrated by Tsukuba Sakura
CMX

Kanade is a high school student with a problem--sometimes, she can see the future. And when that future is bad, she can't help but want to try and save whoever needs it. The trouble is, since she can't explain her power, no one appreciates her help.

Arou has the opposite problem--he can see the past. So advanced even objects give up their secrets, Arou is doomed to forever see what's gone before, with no way to help anyone.

When they meet, it's an awkward combination. Blessed (or cursed) with these abilities, how can they make it through school, let alone have any kind of life?

Maybe it was just me, but I felt like there was something off about the three stories included here that feature the main characters. I liked the premise well enough, but Kanade and Arou don't feel developed beyond their abilities, and that's just not enough to really move the story. How have they managed to survive this far into their lives, since this is not a new power when we meet them? We get a few hints here and there, but it's mostly about Arou so far. I wanted to see more of this.

Because the pacing is slow, it gave my mind too long to linger on things. Does Kanade have to never touch her teacher, for fear of getting answers? Are there a lot of these people running around? Does the government know? (More of a shonen idea, I grant you, but worth thinking about.) My mind kept wandering off in other directions while we had the usual teenage angst of a shojo manga. I felt like we had too much of a concentration on typical shojo ideas such as who likes who and mistaken jealousy and too little time exploring the nifty idea presented at the top of the book.

This is mitigated a lot by the final main story, where we add another future-seer, Masahiro, who is only interested in his own gain. He presents a counter to Kanade's approach and that makes things a lot more interesting. Masahiro shakes up the comfortable status quo of the other characters and plays some mind games with them. That has the potential to make this manga better than it was at the beginning, and is why I'm opting to try a little more.

Given that this is the first volume, I was puzzled by the inclusion of two one-shot stories. At first I was very confused, because while the setting was the same, the characters had changed on me. There's not a lot of warning that things switch over (I missed the little narrative box), and since we're still in a high school, I thought the tales were related. My mistake, I should have been more careful. Still, it's an odd thing to do; you'd think these would come at the end of the run.

"After the Festival" is based on real events and covers a day in the life of two students who end up missing their stop and getting into all sorts of very harmless antics. It's nothing more than a filler, and is again paced entirely too slowly for my taste.

"The Mistaken Man" has the feel of a Twilight Zone episode, and I liked it much better as a result. A student finds a girl he really likes, except she's extremely elusive. The reason why may be a bit of a "gotcha" but I thought it worked fine for that type of story. Saruka kept me puzzling over what was going on until the very end. All it was missing was a creepy, smoking narrator.

Overall, this one was a bit of a disappointment for me, as I thought the hook would have more to do in the stories, and because it's only part of the actual manga, there's not a lot of room to see how things are going to develop. Based on the promise of the third story, I'm going to read further and see what I think. For now, though, I can't recommend this series just yet.