Author and Artist: Tsukuba Sakura
Land of the Blindfolded is an intriguing tale of Outsuka Kanade, who, when touching or touched by another person, sporadically catches glimpses of that person’s future. New classmate Naitou Arou can see a person’s past, but much more regularly than Kanade’s power kicks in. Kanade and Arou struggle to decide whether or not to be laissez-faire with their visions, knowing other people will just think they’re crazy, or whether to risk humiliation and frustration and try to act upon what they see. The ethical struggles make up a good part of the manga, especially when another new character, Namiki, arrives on the scene. Like Kanade, Namiki can see the future, but has a much less good-hearted approach; he prefers to just watch and laugh when accidents unfold before him, and he even likes to take an active hand in causing the disasters he sees happening. Complicating matters is Eri, Kanade’s friend, who is hurt by Kanade’s gift and her insistence upon action.
The characters and their ethical dilemma are an interesting part of this manga. Arou is initially quite jaded and sure that his “hands-off” policy is the right one. The fact that the disasters he sees have already happened demonstrate to him that there is nothing he can do. Kanade, on the other hand, is more innocent and dedicated to preventing the problems she sees coming; the fact they haven’t happened yet tells her that she can prevent or ameliorate them if she tries hard enough. As Arou states at one point, “It’s not being able to ‘see’ that hurtsâ€¦ it’s being able to see and not being able to do anything about it.” What would only being able to see past disasters–too late to help–do to a young boy? The idea of interference and the price and pain of doing so is very nicely explored in this title. This theme of passivity versus action has been handled before of course, but it is done well here and with humanity.
The manga comes with a couple of shorts, as well: “After the Festival,” which is a tale of new beginnings–very shojo and sweetly romantic, as well as abstracted and subtle. “The Mistaken Man” is also a charming tale of romance and friendship, with a ghostly twist. In manga, things are rarely what they seem. An interesting point is that both of these shorts also deal with various ethical issues and social considerations in their own way. Tsukuba looks to be quite a thoughtful manga-ka.
Land of the Blindfolded is a nicely literary and entertaining manga that can be recommended to anyone who enjoys manga or graphic novels. Luckily for readers, however, the ideological conflicts add another, more serious and interesting dimension to the usual shojo fluffy formula. If the idea of free will versus ESP fascinates you, or just general ethical conundrums, then I can recommend this title to you. It is up to you to decide if Arou and Kanade have gifts or curses and how they should use or not use them.