“Dream A Little Dream Of Me” – After School Nightmare (manga) – 9/10 Black Cats

People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates. ~Thomas Szasz

Mangaka: Setona Mizushiro

Genre: Romance/Mystery/Drama/School/Supernatural/Psychological/Gender Bender/Fantasy

Review Status: Complete (10 Volumes/10 Volumes)

Licensed: Yes, this manga is licensed in the US.

Art: Lovely. The art is reminiscent of CLAMP’s style, with elongated limbs and some gorgeous bishies. The panels are clean and easy to read (the flow is great, too). Some of the choices in

Summary: You have just awakened to find your darkest secret revealed to a group of people who would do anything to destroy you: your classmates! That’s what happens to Ichijo Mashiro, whose elite school education turns into the most horrifying experience of his life when he’s enlisted to participate in an after-hours class. The only way for Mashiro to graduate is to enter into a nightmare world where his body and soul will be at the mercy of his worst enemies. Can Mashiro keep the life-long secret that he is not truly a “he” nor entirely a “she” – or will he finally be “outted” in the most humiliating way possible?

Review: First impressions are everything in the world, and Ichijo does the best to keep his the way he wants it- as a guy. This is harder than it seems when his top half is definitely masculine, but his bottom half is most definitely not! However, when he’s entered into a class where nightmares become reality and he must face the inner selves of himself and his classmates. The thing is, his inner fear/self happens to be himself… but with a girl’s uniform on, making him instantly recognizable to those who cross his path.

His classmates take an immediate interest- a girl that’s been broken by her abusive father and a rapist, a playboy that thinks Ichijo is the prettiest thing that he’s laid his eyes on but has inextricable ties to his sister, others that would use him as they saw fit. They all have their own demons to fight. Others come and go as they ‘graduate’, disappearing from the hearts and minds of their classmates. Some are unable to overcome their issues and merely disappear.

Watching Ichijo desperately try to figure out the feelings he has about his own identity and the romantic struggles and drama that occur while it happens is interesting, if slightly obvious by the third or fourth volume. I think most people will be able to guess what’s going to happen, and while that disappointed me because of how one of the wheels gets shunted aside, the fact that they’re able to overcome that and still be good friends who care for each other is something unique and wonderful in this genre. It also plays into them finding themselves and their inner strength.

The meaning behind needing to discover themselves and their strengths, as well as what’s happening in the school, managed to be a wonderful surprise twist. The inner struggle Ichijo goes through takes on a far greater significance, with the two sides to him perhaps not being as philosophical as suspected, and the need to graduate being more than just graduation. It all snowballs into one of the best romance/mysteries that I’ve come across in quite a while.

Overall, this was a very interesting look at the psyche and had a great twist I hadn’t expected!

Recommended: 18+. There is incest (blatantly stated but the act is merely implied). Sex is mentioned (and occurs. Genitalia is not shown and the few sections it was in were *brief* and I didn’t think it was happening until I read comments that happened later. Kissing and the leadup to sex does occur. There is violence- people get slashed with swords, torn apart, dug into- but there is no gore and it’s not graphic, though blood is shown. There are also a handful of minor swears.

Other titles you might enjoy:

I.S. Intersexuality (manga)
Wandering Son (anime and manga)
Revolutionary Girl Utena (anime)
Hour of the Mice (manga)
Arisa (manga)


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