Manga-ka: Kaoru Ohashi
Publisher: Aurora Publishing
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: March 2008
Synopsis: “Welcome once again to Shadow’s Pawnshop, where love and reams are sold in the form of mysterious magical items. Containing 7 all-new tales of horror that delve into the deepest, darkest realms of human nature, Nightmares for Sale volume 2 shows that you just may have to give up something unexpected when you bargain with the Devil. Visitors beware! Nothing comes without a price!”
Nightmares for Sale, volume two, continues the formula that volume one began: short stories involving different people’s ‘life lessons’ at the hands of the devil, Shadow and his witch acquaintance, Maria. Running out of a small pawnshop most of the time, Shadow offers what seem like normal items to visitors, often with a lesson to teach and the harshest of prices to pay. This book contains seven such stories.
The visual horror attributes of Nightmares for Sale seems a little more toned down in volume two while in reaction, the emotional tone feels much more sinister. A variety of needs and dreams drive the characters, from relatable worries over attractiveness to mistreatment of friends, all with dire consequences. A story about a nurse coming to realize what horrors exist within her hospital ward is the longest story in this collection and one of the eeriest, for numerous reasons.
The different scenarios in this book with Shadow really show off his dark nature, as what in volume one often seemed like hard lessons learned for his patrons (albeit at high prices), is portrayed much more like him going out of his way to inflict pain on others, knowing fully what he’s gotten them, and those around them, into. Maria remains more the spectator to Shadow’s doings. These two are still not given much depth or explanation but are intriguing enough to warrant interest if more is revealed about them in future volumes. A note by the author in the back reinstates what was said in volume one, that Shadow is in love with Maria. It feels a bit odd, knowing something so personal about characters which seem so otherwise undeveloped, especially when it plays Shadow as more dependant on Maria’s affections, when in the story their relationship isn’t really implied like that in their sparse interactions.
The artwork remains as it did in volume one: solid, dramatic and suiting to the material. The only continued quip is once you’ve seen one dramatic facial expression by Kaoru Ohashi, you’ve seen them all and often panels feel too similar to numerous others before it, from this series and others.
Aurora Publishing put Nightmares for Sale together nicely with an attractive cover and crisp interior printing. The book has solid binding and the pages are easy to turn. The translation inside is smooth and English-equivalent sound effects are laid next to the Japanaese ones instead of replacing them. It’s a nice effect that allows the original sound effect to remain in place so the artwork is unaffected while still offering translation to readers. At the back of the book are several pages of advertisements for other series Aurora publishes.
Nightmares for Sale manages to remain interesting and thought provoking throughout volume two, even with the possible threat of dullness due to repetition still looming over its future. While the stories continue to be much more creepy than they are horrific, it’s still a fairly entertaining read for horror fans and something that shouldn’t be missed by fans of Kaoru Ohashi’s work.