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.
As I was reading this volume of Skyblue Shore, it began to dawn on my that its heroine was a rare breed, especially in Hakusensha shoujo: she's a nice person who can make friends with anyone but doesn't seen either flighty or dense. Tomo seems to live very much in the real world, and as such doesn't require more down to earth friends (her best friend Anri seems to fulfill the flakey stereotype here). She's still a teenager, of course, so we aren't talking mature beyond her years, but it is nice to see.
The fact that she is so outgoing also balances nicely against Tento, who can be very frustrating. It is nice to see a sullen male shoujo lead who isn't mooning over the heroine right from the start - in fact, romance is sort of only one mild subplot in this, with Tomo still being very hung up on the older brother Riku, and indeed getting into a love triangle. The relationship she was with Tento is that of a good friend and mentor, and it's a delight to see, especially when it focuses on the beachcombing and making of accessories. Tento worries about Tomo, who is the outgoing heart-on-her-sleeve sort that makes people worry. Unfortunately, Tento is still quite repressed and brooding, and still has issues with his past (the flashback we see here goes a long way to explaining why).
So we have Tomo, who's extremely nice. We have Tento, who's sort of moody but not precisely rude to anyone. We have Riku, Tento's brother, who's a barrel of laughs even though it's implied part of that might be a facade. Isn't there anyone who can break up the monotony of a group of good people growing up and learning about life on the seashore? Oh, hi Michiru! She is a total breath of fresh air in this series, as she's so angry, rude, and generally appalling. Of course, this means little to Tomo, who has made it her goal to get Michiru to open up and become friends with her. But it's clearly a long-term goal. In a series filled with peaceful coming-of-age characters, Michiru is a sour apple that makes the whole thing more flavorful. I want more of her, and hope that she opens up while still being blunt and rude.
As this volume wraps up, we get the sense that it may focus more of the making of beach artifacts and sales thereof - the flamboyant guy who managed to piss off everyone in his one appearance seems to speak of that, as he has the right air of 'rival artist' to him. And I hope to see more of Tomo and Tento getting closer, though the series has not yet quite placed its foot in the romance pool yet. This is still a coming of age drama (with funny bits), and quite an interesting read. If you can get used to the mouths.