Stories about war especially regarding those on the defeated side might be tough to tell, but artist Fumiyo Kouno used her talent in her 2003 book “Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossom” to give readers a look of how life was in post WWII Hiroshima.

Consisting of two stories, the audience follows a family as its members does their best to maintain normalcy through their struggles. The first part “Town of Evening Calm” features young Minami Hirano who is a seamstress at a local shop in 1955 Hiroshima. Though she shows a cheerful face to her co-workers and the townspeople, she struggles to hide the internal trauma in her mind and body made from the day the atomic bomb fell.

Kouno shifts the focus to Nanami Ishikawa in “Country of Cherry Blossom.” The spunky girl lives a partially independent life with her day working and her grandmother and older brother regularly going to the hospital. Changes in her life gradually started moving is as she and her next door neighbor Toko started talking about middle school. It would be several years when Nanami will discover a lost part of her family that some would want hidden.

The manga definitely will be an eyeopener for those that studied history through the Western World’s side. Kouno approached the heavy subject of the tragedy of her hometown with a gentle hand, shown in her simplistic interior art and lighthearted moments. Both her stories and her thoughts showed different views from those afflicted by the devastating fallout which she developed through research and interviews. The English publication by Last Gasp listed references sources, a map of Hiroshima, notes and an afterword from Kouno. In her afterword, she spoke how she had complicated feeling about making this book especially since she wasn’t a hibakusha (“explosion-affected people”) nor relatively close to any. Many may share the same sentiment she had of having a bit of ignorance to the dark past in order to enjoy some sort of present calmness, but she mentioned making the manga an obligation. Though her small book had an open ending, she said in the afterword that the readers might finish it by living their lives to the fullest. While it may be nice to have as many good memories as you can, it might not be a complete without acknowledging the bad.

“Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms” became a critically acclaimed manga and earned the grand prize from the 2004 Japan Media Arts Festival and then the 2005 Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prizes’ New Life Award. Kouno later followed it with “In this Corner of the World,” which recently Anime Expo showed the movie adaptation before its limited theater run on August 11th. For more information, visit Funimation Films’ site.

Seven Seas Entertainment will be releasing the english translation of “Corner” later in November. It is unknown if Last Gasp still has a listing of “Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms” on its site, but some online retailers may have copies available to purchase. It is a touching tale of family and the human spirit.