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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

License Line: A Sixth Sense

What is License Line? Put simply, it's a semi-regular feature on Nagareboshi Reviews in which yours truly posts about a certain anime/manga series that truly, desperately needs to be licensed and put on my shelves ASAP - from the obscure but well-deserving manga to the stream worthy but not yet DVD licensed anime.

I will always have a huge soft spot in my heart for the shoujo genre, despite the fact that 80% is pretty much the same story with different faces attached to it. So when a shoujo manga decides to step out of the usual tropes and is amazing, how can I not take notice? This is how I felt when I read Sakura Tsukaba's Land of the Blindfolded (Mekakushi no Kuni/目隠しの国), a supernatural shoujo manga of heartbreaking proportions concerning the lives of young people with the heavy responsibilities of supernatural gifts weighing on their shoulders during one of the most precarious and dangerous years of their lives: high school.

In the story of Land of the Blindfolded, when Outsuka Kanade touches someone - whether it is their hand or face, accidentally or on purpose, she can sometimes see into that person's future. Naturally, this gift isn't so wonderful when you see disaster looming on the horizon and, being someone like Kanade, tries to stop it despite all odds being against you. Transfer student Naitou Arou has a similar gift, except that when his touch activates, it gives him a glimpse into that person's past. Joining them is Naitou Arou, who has far more control over his own powers to the point that he can turn it off and on at will. 

Together, they try to navigate living with these abilities and the responsibilities they carry while also dealing with their own feelings for each other. Hey, I told you it was a shoujo manga.

I have to admit, I was inspired by Organization Anti-Social Geniuses' recent review of this series to highlight it on License Line. But it's also because, due to the shuttering of CMX, Land of the Blindfolded has become one of those licenses left flapping in the wind while its print copies slowly go out of print - and it deserves so much better. 

It's a wonderful fascinating manga about these vulnerable young people's struggles in life and how they deal with each other's idiosyncrasies, and Sakura Tsukaba's works are usually always pretty darn quality in terms of storytelling and artwork (we do not speak of how reading her one-shot Past Pay Present left me an emotional wreck afterward, we just don't).

Really, I'm sure Blindfolded could find an eager audience these days, especially for those wanting more out of their shoujo than the typical "will-they-or-won't-they" contrived drama and icky premises. And Blindfolded is certainly a unique work in its respective field, well worth reading the nine volumes of manga.

Honestly, I'd really love some brave manga publisher to give Land of the Blindfolded a license rescue. I missed the chance to get these for myself and put them on my bookshelf for the long haul, having relied on the library for them, and now they've all gone (or are nearly) OOP. Viz seems to be doing a lot of daring shoujo lately; perhaps Blindfolded would be a good fit? It could also do quite nicely with Digital Manga Publishers and their recent fit of shoujo manga, including the classic Itazura Na Kiss and Moon and Blood, another supernatural title.

Really, if Land of the Blindfolded gets licensed, can we please bring over the rest of Sakura Tsukaba's bibliography in English? Including yet another CMX-based license rescue, Penguin Revolution? Anything like this would just about make my year.