Title: Mermaid Scales And The Town Of Sand
Author: Yoko Komori
Release Date: February 21, 2023
Publisher: VIZ Media
A semi-melancholy slice of life story by the talented Yoko Komori, Mermaid Scales and the Town of Sand is a story that takes place on the edge of summer involving a girl named Tokiko who moves to the small seaside town of Sunanomori at the request of her father to spend time with him and away from her mother. Tokiko previously went to this town when she was younger, where a merman supposedly saved her from drowning in the sea.
Now moving back to Sunanomori, Tokiko tries to adjust to the changes in her life while meeting new friends during a semester at her new Elementary School and preparing for a summer festival in the town. Among the people she befriends is a quiet boy named Yosuke, who might be connected to the mysterious creature that saved Tokiko all those years ago.
The first few pages of this story show the reader Komori’s beautiful art style she gives to her work, with most of the characters given a relaxed and even childlike appearance, as well as some of the scenery that Sunanomori reveals. From the scene where Tokiko first arrives in the town with her father, we can see how beautiful the city is from her perspective.
Mermaid Scales shows the relatable anxieties one can have when moving into a new town and meeting new people through Tokiko’s point of view. As she remains quiet and shy when she meets her new friends around town as well as at her new elementary school; some of her introductions to the people she meets are a little disastrous, which eventually clears up as a few days pass, and Tokiko’s new friends get to know her better.
However, the central person in her circle of friends is Yosuke, and it takes quite a bit for Tokiko to get to know him compared to her quickly befriending the other students at her school. Tokiko and Yosuke’s growing friendship is one of the central plots of this story, and it moves at a realistic and slow pace as Tokiko and Yosuke get to know each other some more throughout the story, as well as learning about each other’s pasts.
One of this story’s other central plot points is a mystery surrounding the Merman that saved Tokiko’s life. Through her adventures with her friends and her quiet moments with Yosuke, she begins learning more about Sunanomori’s history with mermaids and why the summer festival they celebrate is important to the town. Finally, she aims to find answers about the person who had saved her life years ago, especially when she finds scales in a closed-off location in the town that could answer her questions.
Meanwhile, Yosuke’s story is about moving on, following a family tragedy that happened when he was younger. Although, like Tokiko, he is finding answers, in this case, it is about his family tragedy. Through his new friendship with Tokiko, Yosuke slowly moves on and becomes more involved in Tokiko’s friend group after starting as a loner. Tokiko, too, is having a crisis, as it becomes evident that her time with her father is becoming more and more permanent instead of temporary.
Tokiko thinks about her mother throughout the story after leaving her behind in Tokyo and wishes to be reunited with her one day. Still, it’s becoming clear that her parents are slowly separating and going on different life paths. So a reality where they can reunite in Sunanomori becomes less and less likely.
This a sad and relatable reality that many children around Tokiko’s age likely had to go through when their parents separated, but it’s through her friends that Tokiko too can learn to move on from this and enjoy her new home.
Despite some of its themes that may turn off some readers that may have gone through something similar before, Mermaid Scales is, at heart, a slice-of-life story about two children opening up and befriending new people. Don’t expect the mystery behind the Merman or the Mermaid sightings to be the main point of the story. I admit that the ending may disappoint a few of the readers who are invested in finding the identity of Tokiko’s savior. Still, it’s a good story read during a warm sunny day in the upcoming summer. It is also an excellent story to pick up if you’re looking for a new short slice-of-life tale to read and relax after a hard day.
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