Afterschool Nightmare Vol. #03 (

By:Gary Thompson
Review Date: Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Release Date: Saturday, March 31, 2007

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Setona Mizushiro
Translated by:Christine Schilling
Adapted by:Mallory Reaves

What They Say
A haughty classmate from the Dream World tries to make Mashiro his slave! Meanwhile, tension and heat between Sou and our gender-confused hero escalate as Mashiro becomes obsessed with trying to discern the true identities of the other classmates. But why is Sou the only thing on his mind?! Both within the Dream World and out, our heroes face their most feared "realities."

The Review
Shinonome offers to tell Ichijo the identity of the knight who torments him in the dream class, but this information comes with a price. Before Shinonome will tell Ichijo anything, Ichijo has to agree to follow Shinonome's orders, no matter what they are. Though this is a disagreeable thing to acquiesce to, Ichijo is willing to endure it if it means that he will finally be able to know if the Sou is the knight who has been tormenting him and Kureha. Meanwhile, the personal politics of being intersexual bears down on Ichijo as he struggles with his own identity, as well as his conflicting feelings for both Kureha and Sou.

This book does a lot to increase and maintain the psychological tension of Ichijo's identity crisis and how it affects his personal affairs, but it does very little to advance the story. While this constant conflict between Ichijo's male and female elements is certainly the crux of this title, as a whole, this volume is more like a slowly boiling kettle. Sure, the psychological tension builds, but it never mounts. Similarly, characters are influenced and affected, but only in incremental degrees. There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages to this. For one thing, this manga uses a refreshing amount to subtlety to tell its story, but conversely, doesn't know when to let the hammer drop. By the end of this volume, Shinonome's arc is more-or-less concluded, but all the other characters are pretty much left off where they started. Ichijo is still conflicted about his identity, though he admittedly has more confidence about it. But Ichijo and Kureha's budding relationship and feelings that are loomed over by a strange feeling of dissonance is still there, only more so. And Ichijo and Sou's slightly antagonistic relationship that is surrounded by a strange feeling of attraction is still there, only more so. That's not to say that this volume is wholly filler, or that nothing happens, it's just that it isn't as substantial in a measurable way as the previous.

Even though this volume isn't on par with the previous ones, it is still a good read. Many things in this volume are set up as harbingers of conflict further down the road, and while none of them pay off here, it is still interesting to see the intricacies of these subtle workings being laid.

Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Go! Comi
MSRP: 10.99
Pages: 191
ISBN: 978-1-933617-24-4
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Afterschool Nightmare