PHANTOM DREAM • Natsuki Takaya • Tokyopop • 16+
This early occult/ghostbusting manga by the creator of Fruits Basket some of Takaya’s favorite themes, such as an optimistic female protagonist surrounded by lots of angst. Tamaki is the heir to a Shinto temple, which gives him strange powers—the power of creating shichiboujin shields, of fighting jaki spirits animated by jashin, of summoning a defensive spirit called a gohou. (Had enough Japanese terms yet?) Asahi is his childhood friend, whose bright, sunny disposition keeps Tamaki sane among the depressing situations he encounters as an exorcist dealing with people’s long-repressed baggage (a girl bearing a grudge due to her twin sister’s death, a boy who came back from the dead by making a pact with an evil power, etc.) The story itself is formulaic, with too much tossed-in occult terminology, but Takaya shows her knack for gloomy and melodramatic situations, and her dark writing lifts the stories above the level of her bland art. (This review of Phantom Dream was originally printed in Otaku USA magazine.)
** 1/2 (two and a half stars)
We didn’t have a winner yesterday due to technical difficulties, so we have two winners today. And they are… Alexander C. of Florida and Alyssa F. of California! Congratulations, you guys!
This excellent photo is from Tara S., one of several winners in her family, a most manga-loving clan. Congratulations, Tara and David, and thanks for sending in your photos! This was my favorite one, so I thought I’d share it with the world — the rest are behind the link. I’ll be sending you some more books in the… just… one… more… day that remains of 365 Days of Manga!!