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Title: After School Nightmare #2
Author: Setona Mizushiro
Publisher: Go! Comi
May Contain Spoilers
Mashiro continues to attend the after school class, where students share nightmares while seeking the key that will free them from their dreams. As Mashiro struggles to understand his feelings for Kureha and Sou, he begins to believe that discovering the identity of the violent knight holds the clue to unravel his confusion. When a new classmate reveals that he knows the names of all of participants of the after school class, will Mashiro agree to his terms in exchange for the answers to his questions?
This is one weird book. You’ve got Mashiro, who really can’t decide whether he’s a girl or a boy. Then there are the two people that profess to love him; the brooding, aggressive Sou, who insists that Mashiro is a girl, and the cute, man-hating Kureha, who insists he’s a boy. After Kureha learns that Sou and Mashiro kissed, she’s furious! When she confronts Mashiro about it, she accuses him of acting like a girl every time Sou’s around. Mashiro’s internal struggle is what I find most interesting about this series. Despite his claims to the contrary, he is clearly drawn to Sou, and he feels much more passionately about him than he does for Kureha.
When one of their classmates actually finds a key and "graduates," even more questions are raised. When Mashiro wakes from the dream, he knows that someone has graduated, but he can’t remember who it was. As he wanders the hallway, he is confronted by rows of empty lockers, and he forgets who they once belonged to. Now frantic, he demands answers from Sou. Instead he receives little reassurance. One day, he’ll graduate, Sou tells him, and he, too will become a forgotten, empty seat. While this brought Utena immediately to mind, I am curious to see what twist Setona Mizushiro puts on this thread of the story.
While After School Nightmare focuses on the characters’ internal struggles, there are some pretty good action scenes tossed in for good measure. Mashiro finally discovers a weapon in the dream world, and like himself, it’s ambiguous. A man’s sword and a woman’s sword, interconnected, form Mashiro’s new weapon, and with it, he finally confronts the knight. Though lacking the knight’s brute strength, Mashiro proves to be a formidable opponent none the less. Is the black knight really Sou? And, ick, what is up with his sister??
Rated for Old Teen 16+