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长门大明神会梦到外星羊么?
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That Town - Even though the manga has ended, the town still keeps spinning - Recommendation Chapter - v1.0

CleanShot 2023-08-23 at 22.37.15@2x

Haha, this is a work where spoilers are not a problem.
In this article: "Small Town Rotation" = "Even though the town is like this, it still rotates" = "Sore Machi" = "Maid Cafe"

Basic Information#

PlatformManga Cabinet (Tachiyomi)
Rating9/10
Time SpentFeels like I can watch it a few more times
Completion Date2023-05-27

Background#

I came across this work after hearing about "Heaven's Great Territory" and ended up reading all of Masakazu Ishiguro's manga. When I started reading "Small Town Rotation," I thought it was just a normal slice-of-life work, but I thought the author was talented for being able to draw various genres of works.

And here is my thought process after starting to read it:

"Seems like a typical slice-of-life" => "Is the timeline out of order?" => "I have to re-read it again."

(Just like "Heaven's Great Territory," once you reach a certain point, you have to start from the beginning again~)

Story Features#

Non-linear Timeline#

The non-linear timeline in the small town is the most intriguing aspect of this manga. I haven't read many slice-of-life works, but the ones that I find representative are "Souna" and "Nanaka Sisters." They each have different types of timelines:

"Souna" - Sequential Timeline: As the name suggests, the timeline follows a sequence from 1 to 2 to 3, just like how Souna progresses from first year to second year to third year. The problem with this timeline is that if you don't weaken the sense of time in the work, the story time will progress rapidly. In the beginning of "Souna," there is a chapter that spans a semester, and now Souna is about to graduate from third year. If you don't want the story to end, you can only draw 3 months in one day. (And the filming before graduation took many years in real life~)

"Nanaka Sisters" - Supernatural Timeline: It's called supernatural, but I feel like the author gave up on the concept of time. The ages of the Nanaka sisters have remained the same over the years, and they are still in the same grade. Although the characters have memories of previous stories, they have already celebrated numerous Christmases in the stories, which is hard to comprehend. (Could it be that they are stuck in an endless middle school?) This type of timeline allows for continuous slice-of-life stories, similar to Keroro.

"Small Town Rotation" - Non-linear Timeline: The non-linear timeline allows the author to write the story at any given time. This writing style gives the author great control over the themes of the story. "Is it August this month? Let's find an August in the three years of the story" or "This volume is about romance, so let's write romance-related stories within these three years." The challenge with this writing style is consistency and the occurrence of bugs like "Why can this character remember things from that time even though the story hasn't reached that point yet?" I believe Ishiguro had a timeline of major events when writing, and an official guidebook was released after the completion of the series.

These are all slice-of-life works that have been drawn for over ten years. For example, condensing three years of timeline into 1-30 gives the following feeling:

  • 01-10-15-17-20-22-25-28-29-30
  • 10-15-20-10-15-20-10-15-20-10
  • 01-10-17-02-15-20-12-25-30-27

(This is the timeline of the second year compiled by the town scholars, and an official guidebook was released later)

Of course, the first time I was shocked by a non-linear timeline was in the anime "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya." I heard about it in a podcast about mathematics by a mathematician. I was shocked to learn that there were works that could be viewed out of order. However, even in "Haruhi Suzumiya," the anime was presented in a non-linear order, but the author wrote it in a sequential order.

S2E21. "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" - Multiple Perspectives? - Super Permutation Problem - Podcast by a Mathematician

(This is the main storyline from A-chan joining to leaving)
IMG_0889

Abundance of Details#

There are so many details in this manga, unlike authors who write as they go. It's probably only possible in monthly manga. Many details from previous chapters are mentioned later on. Every time a foreshadowing is fulfilled, I am amazed by Ishiguro's ability to "fulfill so many foreshadowings."

Calling them foreshadowings might not be accurate because most of the plot is written as the author goes along, but Ishiguro has a characteristic of "ensuring that the content does not conflict with previous content." In a work with a large number of details and a non-linear timeline, he manages to achieve this, which must have been exhausting for the author.

The storytelling in this work does not explicitly indicate the timeline. Readers have to find key milestone events with time indications from various details to understand the timeline. Here are some examples (don't worry about spoilers, I'm mentioning so many that you probably won't remember, even after reading it multiple times without following the guide):

  1. Before and after Bun-chan's haircut: The length of his hair and whether he has a braid. Bun-chan tries to cut his hair in the middle of the series and fails (he ends up becoming a hotel tycoon). Before the haircut, he has a small braid, and after the haircut, his hair becomes longer, but he no longer has the small braid. I consider this the strongest timeline clue in the story, as the main character should not have any off-screen appearances. However, this cannot be used to determine time points with similar hairstyles.

(Volume 6 - "Haircut Memory")
IMG_0998

  1. Whether the senpai is attending school: The presence of the senpai is another key indicator. Bun-chan meets the senpai when they are about to graduate from first year. So, storylines with the senpai are mostly set in second year, which is also the main period of the story. The relationship between the senpai and Bun-chan is the favorite couple of many readers (including myself).

(Volume 1 - "Historical Meeting," "Cat Boy")
IMG_0990

  1. AJ Spizike knockoff + Bun-chan's birthday: Bun-chan buys a pair of knockoff shoes on her birthday and mentions that she frequently wears them afterwards. So when Bun-chan is wearing these shoes, it indicates that the story is set before that time.
  2. Clothesline pole, doghouse, and dentist clinic sign: The clothesline pole has cracks from being blown down by a typhoon, the doghouse has been replaced after being burned, and the dentist clinic sign has saw marks from Bun-chan. These are all markers that can be used to determine various time points.
  3. The rest is the details in the conversations of the characters, which is more complex, so I won't list them.

You can find out more about the details from a Bilibili user called "Town Scholar" here. I was most amazed by his analysis of the student numbers and shoe rack positions of Bun-chan's classmates.

(You can see the dedication of this town scholar)
CleanShot 2023-08-23 at 22.10.55@2x

Episode-based Storytelling#

Each episode is essentially a standalone story without much connection to the others, but they are still well-crafted. Each volume feels like a collection of stories of a certain type. I've heard that when it was serialized, the background of the story was aligned with the current season as much as possible.

Character Development#

"Even though the manga has ended, the small town still rotates." If I were to evaluate this manga, this phrase would probably be the most fitting.

The continuous development of the characters over the course of more than ten years brings them to life. Each character's storyline is quite complete. Every character in the small town feels real, to the point that even after the series has ended, their stories live on in my heart.

However, when it comes to complete character development, I think it falls short compared to "Souna." In "Souna," the characters are the most important aspect, while in this work, the events take precedence. Each character in this work has their own storyline, although these storylines are not particularly tightly woven.

It's like a detective novel, where almost all the main characters are introduced in the first 20% of the work.

bbf89d1a3c62e9f5ed60b2f24b96cbd93e1d9bee.jpg@1256w_960h_!web-article-pic

Interdimensional Doppelgängers#

One characteristic of Masakazu Ishiguro's works is that the same characters appear repeatedly, like interdimensional doppelgängers. For example, there's Ryuga Whales in "Sleeping Fool," Haruna Iwasaki in "Kyouko and Dad," Sanae Whales in "My Street Cat," and Shinryu and Tokio in "Heaven's Great Territory."

(He even drew his own version of "Kurenai-senpai's Closed Room")
image

(And Kurenai-senpai in heaven)
telegram-cloud-photo-size-5-6089351589878936585-y

(Actually, my favorite is Ryo Muro, who appears later in the manga. She's an interdimensional doppelgänger of Zanako)
image

Afterword#

PS. Maybe I have a talent for being spoiled, but when I was browsing the manga sources on Tachiyomi, I accidentally read the last chapter of the volume. It was a trivial spoiler, but it still caused a bit of disappointment. (Don't click on it: "Bun-chan's dream is to be a detective in an armchair, and in the end, she becomes a novelist who writes detective novels.")

This review feels like I talked about something and then didn't say anything at all. I need to learn how to write reviews with more focus.

In the future, for non-technical articles, I shouldn't include version numbers. I should write them well before publishing. Even for technical articles, the core content should be written well before publishing. Releasing unfinished works is an insult to readers.

References#

Updates#

  • 2023-08-24 17:05 v0.2 Updated the title to make it more interesting. Also updated the afterword, no more version number strategy for future articles.
  • 2023-08-24 19:53 v0.3 Updated the analysis of the non-linear timeline and compared it to "Souna" and "Nanaka Sisters."
  • 2023-08-24 20:14 v0.5 Updated the "Abundance of Details" section.
  • 2023-08-24 22:35 v1.0 Revised and finalized the review.
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