Land of the Blindfolded, vol. 1-9

Kanade can sometimes see a person’s future when she touches them. It’s not always a fun power, but she’s learned to live with it. Her world is tossed upside down, though, when two new students appear at her school. Namiki is a handsome, but bitter, young man who can also see the future. It is, however, the cheerful but mysterious Arou who captures Kanade’s attention with his ability to see into the past. These three gifted teens must work together to learn to use their powers and to deal with school, friends, family, and love.

Tsukuba’s nine volume series is delicately romantic and will capture the hearts of readers looking for gentle love stories with a sweet and caring heart. She achieves this by not rushing anything and by building a believable and realistic story, despite the fantasy elements. None of the teens’ powers are explored in the sense of where they come from or if anyone else has these powers. Instead the focus is on the best way to use the powers. Kanade tends to dive in and try to fix things before they become a problem, whereas Arou prefers, from long experience, to allow things to be the way they will be. Namiki, the most mistreated member of the trio, has learned to consider other people as lesser beings, not important to him except as a source of money, food, or amusement. What is fascinating is seeing how Tsukuba crafts all three to be distinctly different people, yet also shows how those strengths play off of one another.

Her story builds slowly, gradually adding more details and more characters as the volumes go on. This allows readers to fully immerse themselves in the tale, to feel connected and engaged. This also allows the relationships between the characters, whether romantic, friendly, or familial, to develop naturally. By the end, we can see how the characters have changed over the course of the story. Kanade changes the least, but since she is the strongest to begin with, that isn’t necessarily a fault. The ending is slightly less resolved than I would have liked (an epilogue would have been nice), but upon later reflection, it did seem to fit.

The art is strong and rather timeless feeling, despite the age of the title, which first began running in Japan in 1998. Tsukuba uses a lot of humorous elements, which play nicely off of the more serious stories, but she doesn’t go for full chibis, preferring to alter facial expressions or body movements to express the comedic moments. Her faces and bodies aren’t much more than shojo standard—wide eyed pretty people, both boys and girls—but she’s obviously confident in her drawings, so her characters are different and distinct.

My favorite thing about this series is Tsukuba’s treatment of sexual tension. She doesn’t ignore it, far from it. She actually shows the reader the amazing wonderfulness of touching the hand of the person you like for the very first time. You can see how that feels; you can almost taste the magic of a first, chaste kiss. She has moments where characters joke about sex or get flustered when talking to the one they like. It’s all very believable and I’m thrilled that she doesn’t skip over that very important part of romance. At the same time, she doesn’t get overly explicit, which is why CMX gave the book its E (for everyone) age-rating. While I think that this series isn’t quite for everyone (younger than middle school won’t understand or care about the romance), I do think this is a nice middle school level romance, which the sexual tension helps make realistic to early teens.

Readers looking for something to pair with Fruits Basket, From Far Away, Apothecarius Argentum, or Yurara, should definitely look for this series. It has the romance, it has the fantasy, and it has the strong writing and good art to make it a keeper. The first three volumes also have terrific bonus stories, which are a mix of realistic and fantasy and which leave the reader longing for more of this fine creator.

Land of the Blindfolded, vol. 1-9
Sakura Tsukuba
Vol. 1, ISBN: 1401205240
Vol. 2, ISBN: 1401205259
Vol. 3, ISBN: 1401205267
Vol. 4, ISBN: 1401205275
Vol. 5, ISBN: 1401205283
Vol. 6, ISBN: 1401210163
Vol. 7, ISBN: 1401210171
Vol. 8, ISBN: 140121018X
Vol. 9, ISBN: 140121052X
CMX/DC Comics, 2004-2006

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