Dream Shoppe Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Sakura Eries
Review Date: Monday, August 27, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Aqua Mizuto
Translated by:Mai Ihara
Adapted by:

What They Say
There's a bright and shiny magical place up in the sky where people's dreams come true. For a fair exchange, the shop's proprietor Lin will gladly turn those dreams into reality. But be careful what you wish for, dear reader. Sometimes the most passionate desires can bring about the biggest heartbreak! Four short stories of fantasy and imagination for everyone who's ever wished for a dream to come true.

The Review
The predominantly peach, pink, and black cover design features our Dream Shoppe proprietors Rin and Alpha in a Halloween-ish scene. Rin is wearing a peach turtleneck tunic with a large black bow and matching jester's cap. A bat perches on Rin's gloved hand. Alpha poses beside Rin in a black pointed hat and cloak with orange trim. Perched on a pink broom, Alpha looks very much like a wizard's familiar. A full moon is behind the two, and decorative stars are scattered throughout. At the very top left is the publisher's logo, and just below that is the title in black script. Author's credits are placed to the lower left in yellow with a yellow border below.

The back cover is powder pink with yellow edging. The Shojo Beat logo is at the very top, followed by the title logo. Below that is the story summary in black text, and arranged around the text are chibified versions of the central female characters of the four short stories. Incidentally, Rin is referred to as a male in the story summary, but Rin's gender is actually ambiguous (as stated by the mangaka). At the very bottom are printing orientation, rating, and publisher's icons.

Print quality, binding and materials are satisfactory. Extras are comprised of embedded author's remarks, two pages of author's notes, closing remarks from the author, two pages of Alpha-centered mini comics, and ads for other Viz releases.

The manga's artwork is standard shojo with a fair amount of hand-drawn flowers and flowery or other cutesy patterned screentones decorating the pages. Character designs are average. Facial features tend to be angular, and eyes are on the large side. Aside from slight variations in hairstyles, there isn't very much differentiating the different characters in the stories, especially the teenage girls. It's fortunate for Mizuto that each story essentially only features one female teen at a time; otherwise, characters would have been very difficult to tell apart. While Rin and Alpha's matching outfits are cute, clothes are on the simple side, and backgrounds are average; however, the mangaka makes good use of screen tones throughout.

The stories are extremely well paced. Except for part of the accident scene in the third story (one of the panels on page 112 is drawn with an odd black shape hovering over the couple that really detracts from the moment), the mangaka really does lay out her artwork such as to completely draw you into the characters' worlds. Alpha's sacrifice on Christmas in particular was done so dramatically that I got all choked up. Logically, I found the concept of a toy losing its life cheesy, but Mizuto's artwork got me really emotional even as I was berating myself for getting worked up over a plushie.

Viz has consistently done an excellent job with the text in their Shojo Beat manga, and Dream Shoppe is no exception. All signs, books, cd covers etc. are replaced with overlays in lettering styles compatible with the original Japanese feel. All the original Japanese sound effects are replaced with English sound effects that capture the flavor of the original, and a nice variety of fonts are used throughout the text. My only complaint is that the text is really, really tiny in a couple of places.

Translation of the manga dialogue is satisfactory. There aren't any honorifics in the text; I'm not sure if that is due to an editing decision by Viz or if everyone really was on a first name basis in the original Japanese.

A tree in love with a human...
A toy that wants to truly befriend its owner...
An amnesiac whose only clue to the past is a beautifully shaped ring...
A shy schoolgirl that longs for the courage to approach her unattainable crush...

Four stories, four longings, and four encounters with a mystical store.

The Yume Kira Dream Shoppe flies through the dusk sky as its shopkeeper Rin listens for wishes that travel on the wind. Through the wares of the magical store, Rin can make desires a reality, but only at a price. Four different characters each give something dear in exchange for a wish, but will what they receive be all they'd hoped?

The Yume Kira Dream Shoppe is a collection of four short stories, whose only common thread is an exchange with Rin, the proprietor of the Yume Kira Dream Shoppe. Because the stories are so short, I can't delve too deeply into them without giving the whole plot away, but they read very much like modern-day fairy tales along the lines of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen (the original story, NOT the Disney version) where love, desire, and sacrifice lead to bargains with a magical character. The stories are sweet but sometimes border on saccharine. Each tale is a one-shot, and this title would probably appeal to those who prefer short-form stories, lovers of fairy tales, and manga newcomers who don't necessarily want to get overly involved with a multivolume series on their first try.

Rin and Alpha are the only characters who show up in each of the stories. The second story provides a nice background to Alpha, the walking, talking plushie store assistant, but you never really learn much about Rin. There's no explanation of the origin of Rin's Dream Shoppe, nor is any background given on its proprietor. Like many magical characters in fairy tales, Rin just is the way Rin is, and no one questions it. Interestingly, Rin doesn't fall into the fairy godmother category as the Shoppe always exacts a price for an exchange, but neither is the androgynous proprietor completely unmoved by the store's clients. Unlike The Little Mermaid's sea witch or Tsubasa's Time-Space Witch, Rin doesn't run very hard bargains and does lend a helping hand to turn endings that otherwise would have been tragic into happier ones.

According to the publisher, this title is rated "teen" for mild violence, which is actually limited to just one car accident scene that isn't particularly gory or graphic. I would personally rate this as appropriate for ages 10 and up.

Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 14 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 8.99
Pages: 192
ISBN: 1-4215-1173-8
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Dream Shoppe