cornerofmadness (cornerofmadness) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

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Book 24

Phantom Dream Volume 1Phantom Dream Volume 1 by Natsuki Takaya

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I saw this at Halfprice Bookstore and thought hmmm demon hunter, hmmm I liked Fruits Basket barring Tohru Honda so I decided to give this a try since it’s by the same mangaka. One look said this had to be early (and in fact it’s 20 years old this year) since it had that late 80s – early 90s art. It’s very obviously a novice try because half the battle scenes are so choppy and confusing I can’t even tell what’s going on.

This had potential. Tamaki Otoya is the last in a line of summoners who fight evil, taking over for his lost grandfather and he’s too young and unready for this. It could have made for angst and tension but really, Tamaki is just angry. I think the mangaka was going for the hyperspace mallet trope but there is no humor in Tamaki’s actions. I’m not even that big a fan of it when it’s used right, Winry’s wrench, Sanzo’s fan, Kaori’s mallet they’re very obviously a metaphor. Not so here.

Tamaki is supposedly in love with Asahi, a girl he grew up with and she’s supposed to be his strength. The first time we see her, she runs in just calling her name and he hits her so hard she needs bandages the next day. Again, I think this supposed to be hyperspace mallet fun but it comes across as abusive boyfriend. His mother hits him the same way so it’s all very uncomfortable. He does apologize but he does it again and again (and occasionally kicks her in the gut).

Maybe if it had been played as a joke it would have been less horrible but it wasn’t. If I thought Honda was a horrible female character, Asahi is worse. I had a conversation recently about not really caring about the gender of a main character. I can root for either and don’t really see why it should matter. However, if the romantic lead is a girl like Asahi, I would rather have no female character at all and I don’t say that lightly. This is Shojo, and Asahi is supposed to be in love with Tamaki. She makes excuses for him. Actual conversation from the manga: “Oh Asahi. Otoya-kun hit you again, didn’t he?” So this is actual damage being done to his supposed girlfriend and she repeatedly excuses it. To me this isn’t funny. Worse, I think it’s a horrible example to hand to young girls and call it romantic.

Asahi is also pretty damn dumb (another repeated trait in this mangaka’s works, stupid women). A cousin of Tamaki’s says ‘she looks vapid, like she doesn’t have a single thought in her head.’ Yeah, great. I agree. Again not what I want to hand tweens and say look this is your heroine.

Let’s see we can ignore that, the story could be interesting. Tamaki has to fight Jaki, evil spirits that possess people but his strength and expertise aren’t progressing fast enough. People around him could (and some do) die. Even this gets marred because all Asahi does is become collateral damage or get kidnapped each and every time. While there’s an interesting twist in the final pages, I can’t imagine trying to hunt down more of this (if more ever made it here. It obviously hit America after the success of Fruits Basket. The only reason it got the second star is that Tamaki’s storyline had a glimmer of promise but not enough to save it.

View all my reviews

Tags: manga, paranormal

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