Manga-ka: Setona Mizushiro
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: April 2008
Synopsis: “This dream draws blood… Alliances form as friendships fade, and soon the nightmarish dream-world becomes preferable to the turmoil in Mashiro’s everyday life. With Kureha spurning him and Sou ignoring him, Mashiro has no coice but to seek the answers he needs from a most unlikely source…”
Mashiro’s struggle between acceptance over his male and female selves continues to take centre stage here in volume seven of After School Nightmare. Fed up with the roundabout emotional mess that they feel Mashiro has led them on, Sou and Kureha seek to have Mashiro out of their lives. However the time they’ve spent together has rumours swirling around the school about them dating and Mashiro’s emotions resume spiralling out of his (or her) control.
As much as I love this series, Mashiro is driving me nuts. His flip-flop, wish-wash attitude finally starting getting to me in volume six and for the most part it hasn’t gotten any better here. When will they realize that their gender doesn’t define them as a person half as much as they think it does? And that not knowing which you are doesn’t give you the right to play emotional volleyball with your friends? Then again, my frustration could very well be the intent of character drama-wiz, Setona Mizushiro. Because of the way Mashiro has left me feeling, I’m able to suddenly sympathize a lot more with Sou and Kureha, who for a while were mostly enigmas to me.
But things aren’t just recycling of old volumes here because some long-awaited confrontations are finally coming about. Mashiro finally goes to Sou’s sister directly with his questions, finding answers that will forever change his thoughts towards Sou and Kureha realizes she needs to go about fighting her inner demons in a different way, taking a break from school to head home with her parents for a while. In a single line, Kureha sums up thoughts that readers may have had for a long while regarding her position and it felt like such a refreshing revelation, even if does leave a rocky road ahead for her. Also, Mashiro’s kind sempai, Kurosaki, becomes more involved in the story as he finds himself bogged down under the pressures of his life, plus that which he discovers about Mashiro and what it means to him.
The artwork and publishing work is still top-notch here. I still love how subtle differences in Setona Mizushiro’s drawings of Mashiro make such a huge difference when portraying them as a male or female and GoComi continues to impress with a simple but nicely put together package.
In the end, volume seven of After School Nightmare is another entertaining, and suitably unnerving, venture into the minds and souls of these students. And yet while there was enough here to make this a strong volume, nothing was more thrilling than the synopsis for the next volume which promises lots of pinnacle moments to come. In a series that knows how to keep me on the edge of my seat for moments like these, volume eight cannot come fast enough!