Part 1: Hiroshima, 1955. Ten years after the city was consumed by a scorching flash of light, a woman's soul is still deeply shaken by the earth-shattering explosion that devastated her home and changed her life forever...
A family from Hiroshima struggles to come to terms with their survival of the atomic bombing of their city. The protagonist is Minami Hirano, about 20 years of age.
Part 2: Set some decades later, the niece of Minami Hirano is bewildered by her father's mysterious disappearances. She and a friend follow him to discover what he is doing.
The main theme of this is historic manga concerns the question what impact the war and the atomic bombing had on the most vulnerable. Fumiyo Kôno examines this question in her outstanding book—an award-winning, widely-discussed masterpiece!
Yunagi no Machi Sakura no Kuni won the 8th Japan Media Arts Festival's Grand Prize in the manga category in 2004. In 2005, it received the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize Creative Award.
It was published in English as Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms by Last Gasp on February 2, 2007, with a reprint on February 25, 2015. It has also been published in French by Kana, Spanish by Glenat, Italian by Ronin Manga and Portuguese by JBC Mangás.
The manga has inspired a radio drama, a novel, and an award-winning live action movie.
Town of Evening Calm is a glimpse of how the survivors of the atomic bomb cope up with its aftermath, a period when Japan is still slowly recovering from the damage it received during wartime. The manga is beautifully drawn, forming a lighthearted atmosphere that fits well with the melancholic narrative. It reminds me a lot of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou.
The manga is split into two stories that are connected. The cast of the first story is the Hirano family, and how they dealt with the loss of family members and rebuilding their lives again. One observation by the main character Hirano Minami is that
people carry on their lives normally like everyone forgot about the tragedy of the bombing already. Can one pursue a happy life despite having the guilt of not saving someone close to you? The rest of the story details Minami’s struggle of trying to accept the past and move forward
The second story focuses on Asahi’s side of the story, who is Minami’s brother. The story takes place years later after the first one yet it frequently transitions back and forth from past to present. The rest of the story details the revisiting of the past, similar to the first story but in a more positive manner.
What makes this manga great is that it doesn’t focus on the ugly and tragic side of post-war events too much. We always see post-war stories that are depressing in nature but this particular manga emulates an atmosphere of melancholy and hope in it. It portrays a person’s nature to still have a glimmer of positivity despite being haunted by the past. Overall, it’s a fleeting yet insightful reading experience.
This manga is an historical piece about the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing. Obviously, it's not completely uplifting, but it has its moments. Overall, however, I found a lot of it fairly predictable and not all that eye-opening, in terms of giving me some additional historical competence. I was hoping to feel like I'd been to post-war Hiroshima after reading this, but I just felt like I'd read a comic book. Bummer.
Nevertheless, it's not a complete waste of time. It's cute in parts, touching in parts, and if you're into historical drama, it's worth picking up.
Town of Evening Calm is a story about a family of survivors of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, Japan. It passes through generations, starting with the year 1955, ten years after the bomb.
Firstly, the author did an excellent job in developing the characters set in the story. As a reader, you can clearly see the differences in society’s culture as times flies by. Minami’s shyness and attitude; which would look weird in even teenagers in today’s society, let alone in an adult; was what could be realistically observed from a women in the 50s. The friendliness and welcoming non-judgemental attitude towards colleagues and friends
in the initial chapter was charming to say the least.
The art was definitely not mainstream. (SCORE!!!) The author had embedded their unique style into the illustrations (we’re all thankful for that) and as the story stretches to include a long period of time, the author discreetly lightens the colours and shading when the panels focus on memories. It was done so well, that I have yet to see something similar when reading manga with flashbacks. The art wasn’t very detailed, to be honest, but it wasn’t terribly plain; it wasn’t the type of art that would make me drop it after the first page (duh! Cause I finished the entire volume).
The overall feeling I got from Town of Evening Calm was of a quiet sadness, and I think the afterword that the author included was an essential cherry on top after reading the story. (Big thanks to the scanlators, Illuminati Manga, for doing the afterword; it’s so rare to see one!)
I’d recommend this story to the more serious readers out there who’re looking for something with depth and are willing to forgo reading an all-LOLz-and-boobs shounen manga for something more thought-provoking. This was most decidedly not a light-read: it was intellectually stirring.