Title: Phantom Dream Vol 4
Author: Natsuki Takaya
May Contain Spoilers
Eiji’s life hangs in the balance as factions once again shift and realign. Asahi struggles with her new powers and guilt over what happened in the past, while Tamaki strives to control the continuing outbreak of chaos in the present. And a mysterious new figure emerges to join the battle, but is he an ally or an enemy?!
Phantom Dream is an emotionally complex series that isn’t getting half of the attention it deserves. It features one of my favorite plot devices – reincarnation – and love that survives over countless years, only to explode in a complicated collision of past and present personalities. Time has marched steadily forward, changing and altering all of the individuals who have served Suigekka, both before and after her brutal murder at the hands of frightened humans. Her lover, Hira, vows to have vengeance against the entire human race, while his younger brother, Saga, vows to save them from Hira’s wrath. Both sides battle for over a century, until Suigekka is reincarnated as Asahi. When she regains knowledge of her past life, she abandons her lover, Tamaki, the current head of the Otoya family, the line that descended from Saga. She goes back to the Gekka family, who are descended from Hira, to fight against Tamaki and his companions.
The participants in the battle of good against evil are all rendered sympathetic. Even those who fight for Hira, whose only wish is to destroy mankind, are given depth and motivations that are easy to relate to. Alliances shift and change, as the characters are forced to interact with each other and as they begin to question their own actions. Everyone must take a good, hard look inside themselves, and most of them don’t like what they see. Loyalties are questioned, altering the conflict between Hira and Saga.
I think I like this series so much because everyone is so willing to sacrifice themselves for the people they love. Tamaki is doomed if he continues to use his powers to exorcise the Jaki that Hira’s followers continue to create, but he stubbornly refuses to give up his never-ending battle. He’s changed from the beginning of the series, when he used his spells only out of a sense of duty. The stakes have increased to the point that he can’t give up, because doing so will doom humanity. Asahi’s defection has been a terrible blow, but it has made him even more determined to defeat Hira.
This is not an uplifting story, and that’s another reason why I like it so much. The characters are driven to fulfill their duty, even knowing that it will result in their destruction. Everyone is pushed along on a tide of emotion and obligation, and they are helpless in its relentless current. There is no turning back for any of them. They can’t escape their fate, and that makes for some very compelling reading.
Review copy provided by Tokyopop