Have you ever felt lucky? Maybe you found a good deal or managed to sneak something in just under the deadline. Both of these apply to this wonderful doujinshi anthology that I came into possession of about three years ago. Often if you want to buy a nice quality anthology on ebay or the like it can cost you up towards a hundred dollars which, to be completely honest, isn’t usually worth it. I had been sitting on buying this for a while (see: months) when suddenly, low and behold, it went on sale. I’ll stop bragging for now, but let me go over one of my favorite pieces in Fairy Tales: Snow Version.
In this case, “Snow” refers to Keterburg, the area in Tales of the Abyss where Dist, Emperor Peony, and Jade grew up, and, what do you know, the anthology is focused entirely on them and Jade’s sister, Nephry. I love this group of characters because it’s so complex and has so many layers to it that there’s always something new to learn about them, whether it’s through playing the game again or seeing the characters from another person’s point of view.
On the first read through, I completely skipped over the context (and possibly this untitled story) by artist Kazune. It’s easy to do: the art style looks like an unfinished page from a sketchbook and there’s no dialogue what-so-ever. Since the story is also only about four pages long, it’s completely skippable entirely by accident, but there’s so many feels to be had whether you interpret it in a more positive light or the way I’ve come to.
We enter the story from Luke and Ashe’s point of view (I don’t really know why they’re in the story. I guess because they’re the main characters of the game) as they come across a row of snowmen. Upon a flashback, we
find that Dist has actually been buried in one of the snowmen by Jade and Peony and is understandably upset at being abandoned once more. After being excavated by the two boys, Dist directs the boys towards Nephry’s house as it is implied that they have received directions to go there, however when Dist enters he finds that a surprise party has been planned for his birthday. With that, the story ends on a “still frame” of everyone celebrating around a cake, smiling and basking in their friendship.
Like I said, the story’s really short and not all that complicated, but I find it a little bittersweet that this story was chosen to appear in this specific anthology. Of course, there’s the obvious reasoning of it starring the so-called Keterburg three and actually taking place in said city, but my thoughts go a little further than that. Think about the title of the anthology again: Fairy Tales. The rest of the stories that precede and follow this one all have a hint of the fanciful in them, as if it were an actual fairy tale. So, why would this one be included in terms of theme? Because it didn’t actually happen.
Of course, we could say that about everything that happens in a doujin, but I think placing this in a collection based off the idea of fairy tales tells the audience that it’s more what Dist wishes would happen rather than what would happen in reality. It’s true that once upon a time Peony, Dist, and Jade were friends and may have actually participated in this kind of thing, but that was when they were children. As adults Jade has distinctly tried to separate himself from Dist (who has taken up the evil genius trope) and where Jade certainly would have no qualms about burying him in a snowman, there would be no party afterwards.
As much as I love fluff, I have to admit that following this line of thought, this otherwise misplaced story fits in without a hitch. In addition, the sketchy style that Kazune uses adds to my hypothesis. Unfinished and blotchy, the art has a dream-like quality to it that really does make it seem as though it the true ending would be “and then I woke up.” It’s a little cynical and entirely bittersweet, but that would fit the characterization perfectly. This tiny vignette was a joy to rediscover despite the fact that I’ll be harboring some feelings for the rest of the day.