Phantom Dream Manga Volume 3 Review

Phantom Dream Manga Volume 3 Review
Genei Musou/幻影夢想

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Phantom Dream Manga Volume 3I read this volume of Takaya-sensei’s first manga and when I was done, I sat flabbergasted. I struggled on how I would blog this volume of the manga because frankly, it is a big “what the…?!” manga series I’ve ever read, second only to CLAMP’s current mess known as Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-.

First, let me say that I do believe that Takaya-sensei had her story planned out pretty well. I don’t believe that she decided to have plot twists just to have plot twists. There’s a feeling that she knew how her story was to go and she carried that out. I also understand that as her first manga title, things are going to be somewhat rougher than they were by the time she got to Fruits Basket. Plus, there’s the fact that Takaya-sensei seems to LOVE tragedy, angst, depression, anger, and the like. *lol*

That said, when Asahi changed sides from being Tamaki’s lover and best friend to the side to join the Gekka family because she is actually the reincarnation of Suigekka, King Hira’s lover and the one who awakens him with her power, I was down for that. After all, the notion was there that there was something special about Asahi when she was with Tamaki. It is a messed up situation to be sure and it sucks to be Tamaki, but then the story had been established that he could never marry her anyway because an Otoya heir would need to have power and to insure that, Tamaki would have to be in an arranged marriage.

Sadly, that was only the start of the strange changes. For two plus volumes, Eiji has been the male Gekka family member who’s trying to create jaki as opposed to Tamaki’s attempting to exorcise them. Eiji is dying as part of his “holy mission,” but then all of the sudden, Eiji turns into a woman.

What the…?!

Further, apparently Eiji and Tamaki had an encounter years earlier and Tamaki gave him one of his juzu beads, which Eiji kept and wore. Apparently Eiji falls in love with Tamaki, turns into a woman as part of his role for the Gekka, and then when King Hira kills some people Eiji cared for, Eiji runs to the Otoya family and changes sides. Along the way, we learn that Tamaki’s mother Kaname had been a male jahoutsukai like Eiji and Kaname had also fled the Gekka after becoming a woman, eventually joining the Otoya and giving birth to Tamaki.

What the…?!

From there on, Eiji the love-sick girl is just almost impossible for me to get used to (look at her on the cover). At the end of the volume, I can’t tell is she’s been killed or is alive. The preview text from TokyoPop for volume 4 indicates she’s a live but barely. I had her pegged for dead.

Anyway, while there is certainly an interesting concept behind Phantom Dream, Takaya-sensei continues to make things happen in such a way so as to throw confusion at the reader. I think that’s why she has to constantly give a recap as to how we got here so that readers of the manga when it was published in magazine form could at least attempt to get their heads back around everything that is going on. Even then, I often feel compelled to reread sections in an attempt to figure out how we went from A to B. She’s better about that today (though still needs some work at times, especially with her current, generic character designs) but back when Phantom Dream was created, she wasn’t too good with the presentation.

I realize this is a negative review. As such, one might expect that I would not continue. One would be wrong in that assumption, mainly because (1) as a writer I’m curious to see how Takaya-sensei concludes her story and (2) there are only three more volumes, which isn’t that great of an investment to make on my part. I’m guessing the remaining volumes will be a struggle but we’ll see. My interest level is just high enough to carry me through.

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