After School Nightmare 10

Setona Mizushiro – Go!Comi – 2009 – 10 volumes

What.

Just… what.

That was not what I expected at all.  I don’t think I liked that very much.

I really, really don’t want to spoil the ending.  This is a wonderful series, and that ending was just… wow.  I didn’t like it, but that doesn’t make it any less mind-blowing.  It was totally out of left field, and I doubt anyone reading it saw that coming.

It leaves some insane unasked questions.  Lots of things aren’t making sense to me right now, and I’m going to have to re-read it to see if these things make sense if I read the story all the way through.  I suspect they don’t.

Just… wow.  Don’t ever let anyone spoil the ending of this series for you.  It’s fine shoujo, and the ending is… yeah.  I imagine having any inkling of that whatsoever would make the series much less fun to read, so don’t spoil youself silly.  I may not like the ending, but the rest of the series is probably among the best shoujo manga available in English.


After School Nightmare 9

Setona Mizushiro – Go!Comi – 2008 – 10 volumes

I wanted to wait until just before the last volume came out to re-read this and write about it.  This is a very special series, and I wanted to make sure I was all caught up before the finale so that I wasn’t tripping over half-remembered plot development.

You gotta love those red herrings.  I was right about the knight all along.  There was evidence that made me halfheartedly reject my theories, but I was right about it, and I held out for a long time before I accepted anything else.  Nothing short of Sou’s confession a few volumes ago swayed my opinion, but something about that felt false.  I mean, I didn’t guess outright… because that would be weird and uncanny.  There is a curveball I didn’t see coming at all.  But I liked it.

I didn’t see the thing about Ai and Sou coming, though.  I always had a sneaking suspicion about Ai not being what she seemed, but again, what is actually the case is not something that could easily be imagined.  This volume alone has pulled off some of the most unbelievable plot twists I’ve ever seen.  Of course, without re-reading the entire series, I want to say there were parts that sort of… go against the explanation offered here.  Mashiro and Ai taking at school, for instance, but I don’t know how many scenes like that there are.  But I’m willing to go along with this explanation, especially since it offered such an amazing climax where Sou had to choose.

Unfortunately, the climax seems like it will lead to a misunderstanding between Sou and Mashiro.  Plus the last few pages in the volume don’t make much sense to me.  I suspect that the explanation will somehow involve… ghosts, or death, or something.  Many of the characters seem to have situations where they would have committed suicide or died, save for Mashiro.  I wonder about this.

So volume 10 came in the mail today, and I had to keep myself from reading it long enough to read this one first.  Excuse me while I finish one of my favorite series.


After School Nightmare 8

Setona Mizushiro – Go!Comi – 2008 – 10 volumes

Okay.  For some reason, I have put off reviewing this volume for, like, a month and a half or something like that.  I can’t tell you why.  It’s just been on my dresser, and then I put it off every time I go to write about it.  I don’t like reading the next volume in a series before I write about the last one though, and with the next one on its way as we speak and my lack of self-control meaning that I’m going to read it as soon as it lands on my doorstep on Tuesday, I should probably get this out of the way.

If you hadn’t already guessed, this is up with Skip Beat and… I don’t know, maybe one or two other series as the most addictive shoujo I’m reading right now.  There are countless other people who will tell you the same thing.  The characters are just really good, and I can’t get enough of the character development Mashiro always seems to get or the mountains of crap everyone seems willing to shove onto everyone else.  It’s fascinating stuff, and watching all these characters scar each other is like watching a train wreck.  You just can’t look away.

Things go well for Sou and Mashiro at first.  After the somewhat shocking (aren’t they all) confrontation at the end of last volume, things go well after that, and everything that needed to be said gets said, things get done… we get a relatively happy chapter.  They are few and far between, but they do come occasionally.  Actually, this volume is pretty positive throughout, even though I wound up being a little disappointed with a decision Kureha made.  I mean, when are we going to find out, exactly, what is going on with the dream world?  I was hoping something would be revealed before now, and I was hoping she’d be the key.

Things go south quickly by the end of the volume, as they always do.  Things sour between Mashiro and Sou, as they are wont to do, but I was kind of disappointed this time since Mashiro was now starting to act a bit more feminine, and it felt like he was being more himself.  And just when Sou beats him down, the captain of the Kendo club delivers the finishing blow.  There’s quite a bit of focus on him during the second half of the volume, but I don’t know if that means he’s going to withdraw next volume, or what.

All I know is that I just re-read the entire thing and now I’m ready for volume 9 to show up this week.  I can’t wait.


After School Nightmare 7

Setona Mizushiro – Go!Comi – 2008 – 10 volumes

For some reason, I always drag my feet posting about my favorite series.  It always takes forever for me to post Eroica reviews, and this was sitting here over a month.  I meant to put it up with X-Day, but for some reason I didn’t.  Oh well.  I’m posting it tonight because I don’t want to just leave that Andromeda Stories review at the top.  I’ll sandwich it between two of my favorite series instead.

So yes.  I’m flipping through it now to remember what happened, and just about everything is making me smile.  Mashiro has to be consoled by Sou’s sister, and both Sou and Kureha insist on hurting him.  To be fair, he’s also kind of insensitive, so it’s a good lesson for him.

He decides to embrace his female half a little more instead of hiding it.  Gender discussion comes up once again, and the dual nature of the main character is one of the aspects of the series I enjoy most.  I’m always happy to hear anything about it, and this time it gets quite a bit of spotlight.

I feel like Kureha’s story is nearly done.  I kind of hated her for awhile because her character never really changed, but she goes through quite a bit of change in this volume, both in “real life” and in the dream world.  I like her a lot better now that she’s had more development and her actions have more reason behind them, even though now the things she does are a lot more horrible, or at least more horrible towards Mashiro.

Sou’s sister is explained.  Somewhat.  I’m satisfied she actually exists, and she plays a major, major role in this volume.  Except after all this, now I’m not sure why she exists in the dream world, or why she should be allowed to, anyway.  It just doesn’t seem fair.  She tells the story of her and Sou, and why they’re always together, and what it is she’s doing there, and the explanation is surprisingly good, but still.  It just doesn’t seem fair.

The volume ends on a seriously girly moment.  I don’t know how many ways I can say I love this series, but I do.  I love it to pieces, and the wait between volumes is always an agonizing one.


After School Nightmare 6

Setona Mizushiro – Go!Comi – 2008 – 10 volumes

Well. Lots of things happen, all of them are things that I was very pleased with. Remember that I didn’t like Kureha? Someone in the dream at least shares my opinion. Maybe more than one person. There are two or three dream sequences in this volume, but they’re not nearly as involved as some of the better ones from past volumes. I don’t mind too much though, because they are starting to more concretely reflect changes in the characters, which is nice.

I’m not entirely convinced about Sou at this point. I think he’s definitely the best match for Mashiro still, and it’s killing me that the development of their relationship is going so slowly… but I’m really not buying this whole business with his sister and his dream self. Has it shown that the sister definitely exists outside the dream world yet? I can’t remember. If it has, she almost never appears at school.

We meet two new characters, one of which gets a neat dream form. She and Kureha open up criticism of Mashiro that gives him some serious self-doubt, and I’m not entirely sure their criticism makes sense. They claim that he only feels good when he’s saving a damsel in distress… which is not what I get from him at all. He definitely uses others for support, but I don’t know that he feels better protecting someone. He seems to act like anybody would in his situation in most cases (holding doors open for people, helping out those in need, etc), and I wouldn’t exactly criticize that as selfish behavior. But whatever. I guess the fish girl has a point about what he did in the dream, though.

The other new character I liked a lot simply because she was extremely kind to Mashiro.

Slowly, it seems like Mashiro might have to confront his female self. I’m kind of looking forward to this… if it winds up happening. The tease from last volume was A KILLER, and I’m kind of hoping that puts the fear of God into him and makes the confrontation happen sooner.

So yes. This series is still the best. Some of the best vague supernatural shoujo out there, I love it.


After School Nightmare 5

Setona Mizushiro – Go!Comi – 2007 – 10 volumes

Ooh.  I was a little bummed by this volume because it had much less Sou/Ichijo action than I would like.  There was one or two dream sequences (including one that Ichijo totally dominates), but a lot of what happens in this volume revolves around what would appear to be a big background reveal for Sou coming up next volume.  Or, at least, I hope so.  There was a ton of tension between Sou and Ichijo since they both outright rejected one another.

Kureha seems to be doing much better lately, though.  It seems like she’s overcome her biggest fears, and she seems relatively happy and healthy.  I kind of wonder if maybe she’ll graduate soon, or graduate without Ichijo.  That would be very interesting.

The black knight was revealed this volume.  Maybe.  The way all the characters talk about it, I wonder if what they say is true.  I can think of one other character in the dream world which hasn’t been identified yet.

Now that I got two volumes of this back to back, I’m going to be so bummed by the wait for volume 6.  This is one of the best ongoing series I’m reading right now.


After School Nightmare 4

Setona Mizushiro – Go!Comi – 2007 – 10 volumes

Somehow, I totally forgot about this series and didn’t realize I needed the fourth volume until the fifth came out recently.  That’s a shame, because this is by far the best Go!Comi series coming out right now, and probably one of the best series I’m reading period.

The love triangle just continues to grow in this volume, and while we didn’t get too much in the way of dream sequences (though we did get one good one, where we were introduced to a new character who also graduated), the relationship part of the story kind of blew up.  The main character continues to seesaw between genders, and most of the focus this volume goes to Ichijo’s relationship with Sou.  It gets pretty hot and heavy, and I must admit I’m rooting more for Sou than Kureha.  Ichijo seems to prefer Kureha though.  Let’s hope Sou is persistent.

Sou’s sister is figuring more and more into things, though we still don’t have an explanation for her (outside of dreams) or the black knight (inside dreams).  One wonders.  Good thing I’ve got volume 5 to read right away.  I’m very pleased.


After School Nightmare 3

Setona Mizushiro – Go!Comi – 2007 – 10 volumes

Whoo-hoo!  I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to pick this up until it was distributed alternately several months down the road.  The Borders seems to have stopped carrying almost all Go!Comi series, and it takes months for me to find them online when I need them.  And I DEFINITELY need this one.

Unfortunately, I think I’m going to need more action if I’m going to be as committed to this series as I am now.  It’s currently probably in my top ten current favorites, and I really, really like it, but this volume is almost a stall.  We’re not any closer to finding out who the Black Knight in the dreams is, there are no new characters outside the paper giraffe, and the relationship between the main male and female characters continues to be a bit troubled and slightly offputting, like it’s just not a good fit.  It actually does run into quite a bit of trouble here, but it always seemed a little forced.  That could just be me not liking the main female character, though.  The only thing that does move forward is the relationship between the two male characters.  We don’t really come any closer to a “why,” but it’s interesting all the same.

The things that I think would make it more interesting would be to introduce more new characters into the dream, put more faces to them, and perhaps shake up the relationships a bit.  I think we’ll get a bit of shaking next volume, as I see the main male relationship disrupting (rather violently) the main male/female relationship.  There’s already a better match for the main female, so we’ll see.  I would also like some more hints as to the exact structure of the school and the nature of the dreams, but I could wait a bit longer for that because they’re just so damn cool right now.

The Black Knight mystery is a persistent one.  I doubt seriously that it was the main male love interest at this point, but I would place my bets on his sister right now, I suppose.  She’s becoming more and more prominent, and I wonder about her role.

So yes, this is still one of the best manga series I’m reading right now.  It is VERY GOOD.  We hit a bit of a slow spot here, but there’s promise of some speed next volume, so hooray for that.


After School Nightmare 2

Setona Mizushiro – Go!Comi – 2006 – 10 volumes

This series remains one of the coolest things ever at this point.  It wins quite a few points with me for not making the obvious choice (at least right away) of making the male love interest the black knight in the dreams.  I think he’s still a distinct possibility, but leaving that go til next volume was quite an evil decision on their part.

Anyway, I also appreciate both the romantic situations in this book.  The fact that the main character’s gender role is still not clearly defined makes loving both the male and female love interests that much easier.  I’m swinging towards the male at this point because the female turned into kind of a frosty bitch in this volume despite the good intentions of the main character.  The male is also very direct and doesn’t seem to be affected by obstacles in his way.

Despite my love for this story and the fact I read it mere hourse ago, I still can’t remember any of the characters names.  Oh well.

The dreams were also very awesome this time around.  We get a new character, and an extra creepy element that freaked me out a little concerning graduation.  It was also very neat though, especially since the character relationships will need to be resolved around this element.  I also think there were interesting observations surrounding the main character, like he’s the only one that maintains his actual body in the dreams, and he also can’t even dream of harming a soul.  Very interesting.

The wait for this one is killer too, but at least it comes out every three months.  Could be worse.


After School Nightmare 1

Setona Mizushiro – Go!Comi – 2006 – 10 volumes

Oh my God, this series is SO COOL.  I’m quite enamored and wishing for volume two already.   I’m not even entirely sure what’s going on.

Of course the genderbending is what drew me even though the genderbenders have not been good to me lately.  This one was good, though.  The entire plot is incredible, if very Japanese.  Having to go through training in your dreams to become a better person and graduate… I could do without the better person stuff, but battling it out in dreams to see who gets to graduate is AWESOME.  I just wish we got to see more of these sequences.

The characters are also a little weak at this point, but I’ll give them that since it is the first volume.  The main character is a tad whiny, and the secondary male character is too… I dunno, gruff, and the main female character is a little whiny.  But I still pretty much like them all at this point, I just think they need to kind of grow into themselves.  The romances are definitely something, and I’m glad there’s two for the main character.  I think that was all this series needed, really.

We get a lot of color pages too, which is awesome.  I know there was something else I wanted to say about it… I’ll add it later if I think about it.  But yes, this series is surprisingly good.  I shouldn’t have expected less from Go!Comi though, because I think I’d like all their series if I read them regularly.


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