As of late, I’ve been grossly swept away into the world of After School Nightmare. lets just get this in to the clearing: it’s probably one of the best shoujo I’ve ever read. So what’s the story about? Ichijou Mashiro has a problem. His upper half is male, but his lower half is female. He has been recruited into an after school class where he is put into a dream to fight other dreamers in search for a key. Every individual that is put in the after school class seems to be dealing with a problem. For example, Kureha was raped as a child, and had an abusive father, therefore, in her dream, she hates men to death. Mashiro, on the other hand is torn between what gender he or she is.
His upper half is loves Kureha, who is a girl. On the other hand, because of his bottom half, he finds himself slowing getting attracted to Sou, who he thinks could be one of the students in the after school class. I can sympathize with Mashiro because he is torn between two different people within himself. Is he a boy? or is he a girl? He has always insisted that he’s a boy. But when he gets his period and other girly stuff, his manlihood is waivering. Sou isn’t helping either. His disgust for Sou’s action caused him to think about Sou even more. Especially when Sou tells him he loves him.
Volume One: The first volume to After School Nightmare volume 1, was simply fantastic. In one short volume, Mizushiro-Sensei pulls her readers into the world of the dream. All characters are introduced and each and every one of them has a problem of his or her own. Mashiro has even a problem in the dream world. His real self is shown in the dream world, whereas, everyone else has their own persona in the dream. Mashiro quickly recognized Kureha, after seeing her past within the dream. After realizing the reason behind her hatred of men, Mashiro vows to protect and help Kureha get over her hatred for men.
We are also introduced to the Knight, who’s identity is unknown. In his second after school class, Mashiro was humiliated by the Knight, who question his gender. The Knight and the rest of the students in the dream finds out about Mashiro’s gender. Mashiro who is now full of anger because he was humilated in the dream, sets out to try to find the identity of the Knight. Mashiro suspects Sou of being the Knight because he always calling Mashiro a women in real life.
Volume Two: In the second volume, we get to learn more about the other students within the dream. It becomes more clear the reason why the dream world exist. In order for a student to graduate from school, and the dream, he must find the key, which happens to always lay within another person’s body. Some students are more focused on just graduating. So they attack other students in order to find the key. Some have other purposes in staying in the dream. As of now, their purposes aren’t clear.
Kureha and Mashiro relationship progressed some more this volume. Mashiro continues to protect Kureha within the dream, which causes Kureha’s feelings to deepen for Mashiro. On the other end of the spectrum, Mashiro still continues to be capitivated by Sou, even though he is still disgusted by Sou’s actions towards him. Kureha confronts Sou, but he refuses to tell her what she wants to know about his relationship with Mashiro. This causes Kureha to feel unstable with her relationship.
There’s also something fishy about Sou’s relationship with his sister, it almost seems incestrous. She may also be one of the students in the dream world.
During a chat with Midori, Mashiro learned that he must be agressive and use imagination in order to survive in the dream world. While fighting with the Knight, he ended up imagining a pair of twin blades, which he used to defeat the knight. Because of the fight, Midori ends up finding the key and graduating.
There is something strange about this whole “graduating” business. After Midori graduated, her existence seem to disappear as well. Mashiro finds it odd that someone is missing, but he can’t seem to remember who it is. He starts to get suspicious. During a spat with Sou in the locker room, he asked Sou, “Do you remember any of these people who used these locker rooms?”
Volume Three: We are introduced to a new character this volume. In the dream world, he’s a paper giraffe, but in the real world, he’s a genius who can’t relate with the people around him. He has a special power within the dream world. He can tell each student’s real life identity. He uses this to blackmail Mashiro into protecting him in the dream world. He promises to tell Mashiro, the Knight’s identity. He later on graduated from the dream world. We get a glimpse to where he goes after they graduate. It doesn’t seem like a good place, in my opinion.
Kureha continues to question her relationship with Mashiro. Mashiro tries to help her meet new guy friends such as Shinbashi (who is quite suspicous, in my opinion), but Kureha misunderstands, and continue to be upset at Mashiro. Meanwhile, Mashiro is more focused on Sou, then he is on fixing his issues with Kureha. Shinbashi questions his motives, and Mashiro realizes that he hasn’t been trying to fix things with Kureha, even though he really care for her . He also realize that he has some feelings for Sou.
There has been a recurring scene where a black moon appears in the sky, but only some students can see it. This may play a big part in the story, but as of now, we know nothing about it. It’s also supicious that the moon appears when a student is about to graduate. This has obviously peak my curiousity, so I’m dying to know what this “black moon” signifies.
Art: I got to say that the artwork in After School Nightmare is quite an improvement from her past series. A while back I read Mizushiro-Sensei’s Maison de Beauties and the artwork in those volumes weren’t that great. Characters who are suppose to be beautiful, I find ugly. But in After School Nightmare, her art is greatly improving. Especially, the covers are drawn quite nicely. I also like the use of blank spaces to protray certain emotions.
Final Thoughts: What I like most about this series, is that it’s different. I’ve never read a story about a hermapodite before. So this series is really refreshing in a sense. The character development is always quite something. Each volume we get to see characters come closer to their goals of fixing their souls. I am definitely hooked on reading this series, in order to find out more about each character’s motives.
Overall Grade: A+