By Nanpei Yamada. Released in Japan as "Sorairo Kaigan" by Hakusensha, serialized in the magazine Bessatsu Hana to Yume ("Betsuhana"). Released in North America by Tokyopop.
Nanpei Yamada is a name well known to fans of Hakusensha's shoujo. She had her first big break in 1990 with the Kumiko and Shingo series, a group of interconnected manga similar to Banri Hidaka's Akiyoshi series. Then in 1997 she created Tea Prince, a light school fantasy that ended up running for 25 volumes. As often happens with artists who've been in Hana to Yume for some time, she then moved on to Betsuhana, where she's currently creating works. I had expected the first North American License of her titles to be her current bodyswapping manga Orange Chocolate, but instead we get her 2007 6-volume series Skyblue Shore, a slice of life romance surrounding beachcombers.
Those looking for the standard shoujo cliches will find they're all happily in place here. Spunky young heroine who makes friends easily. Hot older guy she falls instantly in love with. Sullen and withdrawn guy her own age who she's clearly going to end up with in the end. And of course a tragic past full of secrets. But again, shoujo is not where you go for originality. The whole thing is written in a likeable way that draws the reader in and makes them want to know more.
The art style is sweet and flows without getting too complicated or busy, as many Hakusensha series to (I Hate You More Than Anyone, Gakuen Alice...). Yamada does tend to draw very wide mouths, which took me some getting used to, but that's more of a stylistic thing than a complaint. Her depiction of a small town and its beachfront seems dead on.
As for the tragic past, we only get tastes of it here. There's a nice fakeout with the introduction of a character who we think we saw in the flashback at the start. Indeed, for a moment I worried this story was going to get into much darker themes than I'd anticipated, but that is later revealed not to be the case. Not that there isn't a fair share of drama here, as we not only get a big revelation at the end that changes the way we regard the rest of the volume, but we also see Tomo, our heroine, nearly drown.
Skyblue Shore is another one of the many shoujo manga I'd classify as 'comfort manga'. Nothing in here is going to blow you away and change the way you think about manga. But on the other hand, there's a likeable cast, intriguing plot, and at 6 volumes it's not going to be the huge investment Tea Prince would have been. If you're a fan of the sort of shoujo Hakusensha puts out, you'll like this a lot.