Manga-ka: Kaoru Ohashi
Publisher: Aurora Publishing
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: December 2007
Synopsis: “The mysterious Shadow and his assistant Maria run a small pawnshop. Every customer of their shop experiences unforeseen consequences because of his or her dark side. What they pawn there may be something that they are not supposed to let go. Volume one contains five nightmarish tales of horror, plus the bonus nightmare ‘Jealousy in a Bottle.’ Afraid of nightmares? Be afraid, be very afraid!”
Nightmares for Sale is a collection of five short stories, all connected through their characters’ involvement with Shadow’s Pawnshop. Each character goes to the pawnshop for their own reasons, be it money or to rid themselves of a troublesome item. Soon after a series of events unfold in their lives that teaches them the true value of that which they wished to get rid of or receive.
While all the stories have violence and elements of mystery to them, it’s the physiological drama that really brings out this book’s place in the horror genre. Characters and readers alike will find themselves thinking, second-guessing and not always liking where the journey takes them. The characters’ range from young children to a middle-aged woman and deal with a variety of issues from these different walks of life.
For those who have read Matsuri Akino’s popular, Petshop of Horrors, this collection will seem familiar as it follows a similar vein of storytelling. However what this book lacks, that others like it achieve, is a feeling of continuity in the story put in place through more involvement of the shop’s owners. If these elements are put into place in future volumes, Nightmares For Sale could really set itself apart as a strong read and a unique manga within the flood of today’s market.
The artwork is what followers of Kaoru Ohashi’s work have come to expect. It’s a crisp, solid style that falls on the side of shoujo without being too wispy or whimsical. As with a few of her other releases, the cute art style at times seems a sharp contrast to the more mature subject matter but they fit together well and through her style, the manga artist is able to well portray the necessary elements of her characters and their surroundings.
Aurora Publishing, sister imprint to Deux and Luv Luv, has done a solid job with the release of this book. Some binding issues seen with books in their other line are not present in this one, offering good quality paper and strong binding without the thumb-aching stiffness. It’s a comfortable size and weight, a bit heavier than other companies’ books, with good quality images both on the cover and the interior. The translation is smooth, the font easy to read and original Japanese sound effects are kept in with neatly placed translations next to them.
Overall, Kaoru Ohashi has put together a chilling collection of tales that are meant to startle and surprise and accomplish these feats with ease. A combination of violence, psychological weavings and mysticism make Nightmares For Sale a captivating first volume though one with a formula that readers may tire of if it doesn’t offer something more in the coming releases.