“What Dreams May Come” – A Drunken Dream And Other Stories (manga) – 9/10 Streamers

Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.  ~Dr. Alexis Carrel

Mangaka: Moto Hagio

Genre: Fantasy/Slice of Life/Psychological/Shoujo

Review Status: Complete (1 Volume/1 Volume)

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

Art: This has an elegant, old-fashioned feel to most of the art It looks like classical sketches, with luxurious strokes of the pen and elegant character and clothing designs.

Summary: Moto Hagio has been reinventing shōjo manga (Japanese comics marketed at 10-18 year-old girls) since 1969. Unconstrained by boundaries of genre, she has sculpted a career characterized by intellectual curiosity, psychological authenticity, and an aesthetic sense that has often been at odds with a shōjo manga mainstream littered with Sailor Moon knockoffs and sub-Harlequin-romance clichés. Now, for the first time in English, we offer a Hagio primer, a selection of short stories spanning four decades of groundbreaking work — 1971-2007 — by an artist who is working at the peak of her creative powers. In “Autumn Journey” (1971), a boy’s pilgrimage to the home of his favorite author has more meaning than either the author or his daughter can imagine. In “Marié, Ten Years Later” (1977), two estranged friends learn too late how their actions had destroyed the balance of a perfect triad of intimacy. In “A Drunken Dream” (1980), two scientists—one a hermaphrodite, the other a tribal priest—meet on a space station orbiting Io; but they have met before and are destined to meet again. In “Iguana Girl” (1991), a girl who appears to her mother and herself to be a hideous anthropoid iguana struggles to overcome her mother’s rejection and find happiness … but her mother has a secret. (Amazon)

Review: This collection of sroties are a range of genres, from sci-fi, to psychological, to simple family drama. Hagio’s skill in storytelling is evident in all of them, which is no surprise since she’s been making manga for so long. These stories are from various periods in her work, accounting to variances in the art styles within the stories themselves. However, all the stories show off her skill in creating stories that speak on the human condition. Regret, insecurity, remorse all play into each story. Sometimes, the characters within are successful at overcoming it- other times, they are not.

My personal favorite story was “Iguana Girl”, a story about how we perceive ourselves can often be affected by how those we love view and treat us. It’s something that many who have dealt with self-image issues will be able to connect with, doubly so if their issues come from dealing with family members. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as fond of “A Drunken Dream”, a rather psychadelic story about two people who’s pasts were always going to catch up to them, where fate could not be changed. It dealt with a theme that’s been done time and again, in a way that perhaps isn’t as fresh or  different as it was when it was made. All the others were in-between, but generally quite touching. Because even the least impressive of them is still done with good skill, and the only reason the ‘worst’ of them seems that was is because of how it compares to the others, this ends up a collection of manga of real quality.

Overall, this has a little something for everybody who wants a story about people and the things they go through.

Recommended: 13+. There is some nongraphic death in “A Drunken Dream”, some slight blood but that’s it.

Other titles you might enjoy:

Heart of Thomas (manga)

They Were 11 (manga)

A Savage God (manga)

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Galen Prestia
    Jan 19, 2012 @ 04:04:11

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    Reply

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