HOW I WAS INTRODUCED TO AFTER SCHOOL NIGHTMARE:
Just a few days ago a friend posted some avatars/icons at Livejournal. The series was After School Nightmare and it was *gorgeous*. I figured that and her word that it was a good series was enough to justify tracking it down and reading it. (Note at the bottom over accessibility.)
The originality of this story is really one of it's strongest points. Just reading a plot summary may make it sound like any of the gender-bending shoujo titles available right now, but it's more creative than any other I've read. The idea of
this after school nightmare course where a person has to bear their scars for others to see becomes more and more intriguing as the series continues.
ASN's art is magnificent. While it resembles Setona Mizushiro's other works such as X-Day in some ways, Mizushiro's style has really matured. The compositions of the pages and character designs are beautiful. The protagonist, Mashiro is portrayed painfully well in her style--caught between his feminine and masculine self.
The three main characters of ASN are incredibly well developed and fleshed out. Mashiro, Kureha, and Sou each have their own scars, traumas, faults, and relationships with others. Their motivations make sense and are executed well. Especially when it comes to the love triangle between the three, the story gains much pain and anxiety. However, despite how well these three characters are done, when reading ASN, one gets the feeling the rest of the students are fairly ignored. Some, like Midori, get their side story, but after that drop off the face of the world. While some of this is contributed to the plot and mysterious "graduation", the minor cast could really use more fleshing out.
This series is very enjoyable. I really never expected to like it as much as I do--and I've heard many people say things similar to this. Setona Mizushiro uses a lovely mix of romance, drama, suspense, and anxiety to keep the reader interested!
NOTE ON FINDING THIS SERIES: This series is somewhat hard to find. At the time this review was written, volumes 1-5 have been scanlated, but due to the fact it's being serialized in American and France, the scanlations have disappeared. So, if you are interested in the series, the best route will probably be to purchase it (it is available on both amazon.com and amazon.fr under the title "L'infirmerie après les cours". Also, of course, it is available in Japanese raw.
NOTE ABOUT THIS REVIEW: Also, if you find this review unhelpful in anyway, send me a private message saying why (please) so that I can improve it for future readers! :D
I don’t often read shoujo manga, mostly because I tend to find that shoujo manga would fall under one of the two categories: ones filled with blushing heroines, princely (lady) boys and convenient fairytale stories or the other side of shoujo; the one that attempts to be dark and mysterious but most of the time only ends up being filled with pretty gothic clothes and whiny characters. Although there are some excellent works that fit under these stereotypes and pull it off, I do get rather bored of its predictability.
After School Nightmare is such a shoujo manga that keeps me on my toes
by meshing together the two types of shoujo, plus adding its own flavour of the psychological streak, to create an unorthodox balance between fairytale romances and dark, depressing stories. There’s a reason why it is rated 16+; it leans more towards the genre josei and rightfully so: it is packed with heavy content, sexual situations and even has VERY strong themes of incest. At times, the psychological impact it made on me was so great I felt like crawling into a cave.
After School Nightmare has a questionable premise. Think you had or have it bad as a teenager? Not only does our protagonist, Mashiro have to deal with school life, insecurities and sexual frustrations like most teenagers...but he also has to deal with a gender-identity crisis. Neither male nor completely female, Mashiro is born with the body of being half male from waist up, and half female waist down, living life as an intersex being. Because of his condition Mashiro can never truly feel comfortable in his own skin, and never truly knows his place as a male or a female. Then there’s our other two main characters; Sou, the enigmatic male classmate with trust issues and Kureha, a tragic girl who is afraid of men to the very core of her being.
The After School Nightmare starts. Students with inner conflicts (such as Mashiro, Sou and Kureha) must take a class once a week after school in order for them to be able to ‘graduate’. The subject? Dreams. All students are thrown into one collective dream; and in it they must try to find a key that will open the door to ‘Graduation’.
Now, what most may ask when venturing into this work would be “What is this ‘Graduation’? What happens when you graduate?” This is never explained or elaborated upon until the very last pages of the final chapter, but constantly is it brought up and speculated about.
The dreams are one of the most interesting aspects of the manga. Like most dreams it is abstract, and so it is up to us, the readers and the characters in the story to figure out the meaning -- but tells us about the situation and characters more clearly than dialogue or narration ever could. All the participants are not in their usual bodies, but instead take on forms that reflect themselves. They act out gruesome slaughter; they learn things of each other i.e. their stories; their struggles; their sanity and most of all, they learn about themselves.
The story and writing is clever. It is riddled with metaphors, allusions, thought provoking ideas and woven with many layers. Characters are given a streak of realism with their dialogues and actions – they anticipate the other person’s move and respond realistically accordingly to it, as opposed to the majority of stories which are mediocre, where everything happens in a convenient manner i.e. Person A is heartbroken and ‘just happens’ to be alone in a room with another person. Person B takes advantage and advances on Person A. Setona Mizushiro, author of After School Nightmare, give her readers more credit than that. Nothing is given to us in a frank or blunt manner. Recurring themes run throughout the whole or part of the series, hinting to us till the very end and we are pushed to use our minds to work things out ourselves, including the ending.
ASN is rich in characters, both main and supporting. Mizushiro manipulated all of her characters well. Frequent and minor characters are treated with importance and every character (even the ones in the backgrounds whom you would not pay attention to) is interconnected to the dream. Mashiro is perhaps one of the most interesting characters I have ever come across in a manga or anime because he struggles to settle with what sex he is, so sees life from a “gender” perspective. For example, he would kiss a girl because “that’s what a guy would do” and the prospect of him actually having feelings for the girl does not even come to mind. Throughout the manga the Boys VS Girls debate is brought up (which is the better sex, the stronger one?) and points about one gender or the other is constantly brought forth.
Kureha and Sou, our other two main characters were so brilliantly fleshed out and done that they could easily rival Mashiro in taking the spotlight. Kureha, the girl who makes Mashiro feel like a man and Sou, the boy who makes Mashiro feel like a woman were wonderfully interesting and disturbing, and kept the story going.
Setona Mizushiro has a unique style of artwork, combined with the classic shoujo style. By classic, I mean the typical random flowers decorating the panels, and large panels with nothing but writing. Mizushiro has some traits that are unique only to her that makes her art instantly recognizable, like oddly drawn eyes and long lips (which look good may I add) instead of the usual ‘desirable’ small lips in most anime and manga character designs. There is a moderate amount of backgrounds but most of the time it is unnoticeable because of the lack of tones used to bring it out. Mizushiro likes to keep her style clean and simple, leaving the backgrounds to be mostly white and flat.
Mashiro’s character design is amusingly feminine and masculine at the same time in both mannerisms and physique. On that note, people who are VERY uncomfortable with anything related to yaoi or yuri may not enjoy this because of how boyish or girlish Mashiro may look as he is caught between Sou and Kureha’s love for him (but it was fun working out whether he is a gay or a lesbian, I must admit).
The pacing of the story is slow yet it does not have the feeling of being tedious. Rather, it sets a solemn and calm tone to the story as things unravel and to let things sink in. The story itself almost has a quiet and dark feel because of the pacing.
Reading After School Nightmare is like being in a nightmare yourself. It’s not the most pleasant experience, but you just can’t wake up to get away from it (or in this case put it down). It is reads like these that give me hope that not all shoujo are formula made, and that there are some authors who give their readers a bit more credit than they are usually given.
School's a nightmare. But the extra-curricular lessons are where the true horrors lie.
Okay, After School Nightmare is about a teenager entering school, but he has a big secret. HE is half boy and half female. You may be thinking "ew, this is another one of those shojo gender-bender manga". Do not be fooled! The story is quite good!
The story line seems simple at first, but becomes continually confusing as the manga wares on. The author drops subtle hints to the ending frequently throughout the manga. You may find yourself back-pedaling a few pages just to understand a specific part. The flow of the story keeps you entertained along with many plot twists.
The art is beautiful
in this manga, and matches the feel the mangaka is trying to achieve. Some images may seem disturbing, but careful detail is put into the art and is apparent throughout the story. The art also remains consistent, so you don't have to worry about putting faces with names.
Each character is very unique in their own specail way. Each main characters personality is very well-thought. Sometimes though, the characters personality will gradually change, which may confuse you. The side characters, whose personalities aren't as in-depth, still move the story forward. Some of the side characters become important at some point in the story, and a little background info is given.
Together with all the aspects above, the manga is great! The chapters could have been shortened maybe alittle, since each was around 60 pages long, but other than that, it really is a good manga.
I recommend this to you if you like sci-fi, romance, but a little horror. You really need a fine-toothed comb to pick up on all the little details strewn throughout the story. If you don't have a lot of time on your hands, I wouldn't suggest this to you since the story is rather long and you may have to reread some chapters.
This manga is a very good manga. The plot is scary and makes you want to read more. The conflicts the characters face are very dramatic and satisfying. The story drags you into awesome twists and turns. I loved this manga because it kept me wondering untill the end. If I had time I will re-read it.
I had started a review on this manga when I was half way through it. Then as my mouth was hanging open at the end, I realized- my review was crap. After finishing the manga, it was nothing like I thought it was. So I began writing again knowing I would still come up short.
But I'll start at the beginning before I tell you the end…
Being human is hard enough; getting to know yourself and finding out who you are and where you’re going. For Mashiro that’s even harder. See, Mashiro is half woman and half
man, that’s how he was born. He is a woman from the waist down but a man from the waist up.
One random day at school he get’s a call from a teacher to follow go to the infirmary. The teacher explains to him about the extra class he needs to graduate that take place every week. In this class, which you do through your dreams, you have to find and triumph over your personal obstacles in order to find the key that opens the door that enables you to leave the dream world behind through graduation. Only after you completely find what you need to find and free your soul of the thing bothering you will you succeed. The trick lies in the details since in the dreams you can’t lie and are always yourself, meaning the person you are deep in your heart, your true form will be incorporated in the dream. That part is easy for the readers and for Mashiro, well know what his dilemma is about, his gender.
If you lose in the dream is because your soul is weak and you will have to redo for as long as it takes until you conquer it. But don’t worry you are never alone there, there are other students with their own quest similar and yet different to yours there.
Wanting something to be true against all odds, even to the point of trying to change your own mind - is the beginning.
Accepting yourself, all of yourself, and coming to terms with reality - is the ending... or is it?
All of the characters in this manga are broken in one way or another. There is no one that travels the road called life unscathed here. Bearing that in mind it’s the courage and not to mention a great ending that makes this manga just, “wow.”
It didn’t start off like other manga do. That should have been my first clue that Houkago Hokenshitsu was going to be a peculiar and yet shocking ride. I didn’t know why at fist there weren’t any characters I liked, they were all selfish, shallow, and hurtful, not deep enough to warrant not even my sympathy. I just felt detached, even from our very own protagonist. Right off the bat Mashiro befriends Kureha and attracts Sou. The manga is dark and yet light, touching on serious topics with a suaveness that's almost insulting to the darkness of the subjects. The manga balances the time spent on the dream world and on the real world immensely well, you never get bored waiting for one or the other. There are secrets and people you try and guess about only to be wrong.
Mashiro perceived being a girl as the weaker of the sex. He wants to be a boy for all the wrong reasons. Because they’re strong and have more freedom. This is where me and this story clashed at first. I thought he was just being sexist. He was confused to the extreme but can you blame him? He was walking around with girl and guy parts…high school is hard enough as it is. I couldn’t do with his character at first, he wasn’t honest to anyone, not even himself. Which just ends up in a lot of people getting hurt. He wants to be a boy, he dooms himself with the thought that it either has to be one or the other. I think it’s because it never occurred to him that he didn’t have to choose, he was half and half. He grows though and that’s all I can say on his behalf.
Kureha role frustrated me. I think she was weak all around until she wasn’t. But even then I just couldn’t help not liking her, the damage was done. I can whine about her until the cows come home (which is a long time since I don’t live in a ranch…or own a cow) but she redeems herself. Not enough for me to like her but enough to get my sympathy. She wanted to be loved and protected. Which isn’t so bad.
Sou what can I say about him? The dude has serious issues. He is a complex character . He was looking for what we’re all looking for a t some point, someone to save us. That shinning light at the end of dark tunnel that leads us home, to safety.
It’s through the dreams that Mashiro meets many new classmates that are also wanting to graduate and in the dream realm. Of course not all of them look like themselves since how their hearts are is how they resemble. Suffice it to say not everyone is nice or pretty. But all of them are interesting in some way, though not all are necessary.
The one decent character that I thought was human enough was towards the end and he was there for a short time only but he did end up having his own chapters, so not all is lost. His feelings were hidden because his future was already set and the real him, didn’t want any of it. But he didn’t want to disappoint so he bit his tongue and moved forward. What made him more balanced to me as a character though was that we got to see him interact wit his family which made him just a little more real to me than the rest like the the frustrating Kureha.
The art is unusual on Mashiro’s face sometimes, like lumpy. It also messed up sometimes on the characters clothes not being consistent throughout the same scenes. Also the faces where not proportioned right or sometimes the mouth wasn’t centered right…it just didn’t look right. If you consider that some of the images were kindda creepy than the art fits just fine in the whole scheme of things. One thing can be said for sure, a bubbly art wouldn’t have done this one justice, so I would keep it as is.
The ending: I didn’t expect it. Which is weird because there are few manga that surprise me. It answered enough questions to make it ok but not nearly enough to not think about and try and guess at, which results in writing this review at 2 a.m because you’re wondering of the “if.”
It’s about not being yourself and being what everyone expects you to be. To the point where you don’t even recognize yourself and feel lost. Trying to find it, that is the journey. A twisted and bumpy one, but very well worth it. A cruel dream some might say but I think the nightmare was necessary at least when you wake up from it you know you lived through watching it and experiencing it. Like a character said, that it wasn’t the size of the problem that makes a difference but the strength to overcome it. It was all a journey to accepting yourself.
I have to say that I feel better about this review, because although I have told you a lot of the manga at the same time I haven’t told you anything. You think you know but you don't. Where do the mind games start?
The moral of this story-- We’re all fucked up somehow. Nah, though it is true I think it was more of a, “In three words I can sum up everything I have learned about life. It goes on.”
This was such a good manga that it left me at a loss for what to say with tears in my eyes because I managed to get so attached to it in such a short amount of time.
The story is of Mashiro Ichijo and the conflicts that he faces because he has a male upper half but his genitalia are that of a female. Two people enter his life: Kureha Fujishima and Sou Mizuhashi, he likes them both but can't decide which one to go for because he can't decide if he's a boy or a girl.
The struggle to find his gender is carried on
throughout the manga.
The 'class' that he along with other students join after school makes him decide his fate (to be a boy or a girl) so that he can graduate and be free of the worries that he previously had.
The main reason I liked this and why it got to me was because it addresses things that happen in the real world: a struggle to find yourself and who you really are. People can identify with the lead character (aside from the ol' downstairs mix-up) and it makes us feel for him. Also, the fact that he's fallen for two people at the same time makes a lot of people relate to that; it's just the fact that those two people happen to be male and female that confuses Mashiro.
The fact that Sou and Kureha are male and female is nescessary for Mashiro to see which gender he feels better as: the one who protects the weaker ones: the male, or the damsel in distress who wants to be loved and accepted: the female.
Sou sees Mashiro as female, regardless of how he looks on the outside, and Kureha (someone who happens to hate men) sees Mashiro as a male but also as a female, that's the only reason that she can trust him because he isn't like other guys.
Aside from the main plot, the twists and the twists within twists are what made it really enjoyable for me as I love being taken by surprise! And the twists aren't confusing either like I know some twists can be...
The characters in this were very good and I liked how Mashiro handled his male and female sides; he pulled off being a male as well as a female very well. He has many comical moments and gets flustered easily so tripping over his words and blushing is inevitable when it comes to him.
Kureha is the one with a tragic past which triggers her hate for men. It's sweet that she feels comfortable with Mashiro because of his unique situation and because of that, they both help each other with their problems: Kuhera gradually becomes more comfortable with men and Mashiro finds out the gender he feels better as thanks in part to her.
Sou's childhood was also interesting but I can't say much without giving things away, all I'm gonna say is that he loved his big sister. Sou has a front: he's cool and nonchalant but deep down, there's something more to him...
I loved this manga a lot and would urge anyone thinking of giving it a go to do so because I'm so glad that I did!
I don't know what to say. This manga makes me speechless. I don't know where to start, so I guess I'll just ramble.
This story explores the human heart and mind. It's so masterfully put together to explore the concept behind life. The characters almost feel real when you're reading it. You feel pain when they do, and you feel happiness when they do. They are unlike any other characters. They are not shallow, made-up characters for the sake of telling a story. In fact, the story tells them. The story is great, but the characters are the ones who make it.
Actually, I've read this before.
And I'm currently reading it again. I'm almost finished with it. I started today, and I'm almost done today. Even though I've already read it, the emotions and concepts are so real, that I find myself getting drawn back into it again.
Compared to other shoujo mangas, rather than telling a "slice of life" story with a heroine and hero going to school and dealing with relationships, this story tells "all about life." It covers our insecurities, our darkest secrets, our loves, our hatreds, our fears, our desires... It covers with depth so many aspects of life.
Other than that, I just really like the metaphors and symbolism and all that. I'm not really a literature type of person, but as I said before, I think this story is just masterfully put together. If you want to read it, I highly recommend it. If you don't, that's okay too. But just know that this story is very deep and meaningful, that you may be missing out if you choose not to read it.
The story was a myriad of twists, it was a labyrinth.
The writer must have been CRAZY to have come up with a storyline like this, let me tell you.
First you'd just think it was one helloffa weird story.
Then you get some stomach-turning and churning twists when you realise that the main character is confused out of his mind of what 'its' sexuality is.
The story basically took some personalities you see in high-school and blew them out of proportion, taking them to extremies to get the readers attention and make it possible to link the ideas.
It was so unshallow and unpredictable that you
could only make ends meet in the final volume.
Other than the complex characters and story, the art was alright; it could have had a lot more detail and it got MOST of the characters features (except the lava-lamp-like eyes) in proportion. However, you could argue that the features were overall unrealistic which is a bummer on a lot of accounts.
I think most of the effort put into making the Manga was put on the story and the characters; you could tell the author was trying to keep the story going smoothly and the characters in check, so that no idea just randomly popped up or disappeared.
We've arrived to the section of the review where I decide whether I recommend this or not. DO I recommend this?
I guess I do.
Hopefully you'll be thanking me later when you realise how this story is more than the mainstream crap.
A (highly) unique manga but not deserving the amount of high reviews it has on MAL.
The thing that stands out to me is how far off the reviews are with the actual "overall" definition of the manga.
This can be understandable as it can be quite difficult reviewing a manga with several major character developments without spoiling the whole thing.
This however doesn't excuse how all the reviews read like they are reviewing the synopsis instead of the whole thing.
The two main issues I'd like to contrast with the other reviews are that:
1) This isn't a twist within a twist manga
There are really few to no
clues provided to the reader early on for any of the major shifts to be considered twists rather than sudden event shifts. Normally this is a pedantic issue but for this type of manga, it is important to emphasize how you won't get much of an idea how much you'll like the latter events from the earlier chapters.
2) This isn't a bi-gendered theme manga
Well...maybe it is. I haven't really read any background for this manga to know which things are symbolic and which are not but all I can say is that while the gender issues are brought up a lot in the series, overall it's a non factor and the whole thing is hand waved at the end. This shouldn't bother anyone who's already planning to check out this manga but for those wondering if you should skip this because the topic seems like it would be boring (and in my opinion the manga presents the issue as boring and cliche) it's important to emphasize that if you read this to the end, you'll understand what I mean by this and while I can't say it would definitely be worth reading up to the end, if you don't reach the ending, you won't get to enjoy this manga as anything other than a gender based manga.
Unto the other stuff:
A major part of this manga relates to character's inner personalities but I suggest not going into this expecting any valid psychological analysis thrust unto the characters. Rule of cool is used to justify many of the mental solutions in this manga and while it is a major part of what makes this very unique, it can also be very frustrating getting caught up in the character elements only to have to remind yourself that it's obvious after each mini-arc that the manga doesn't really plan on addressing the character's issues beyond the surface level or maybe even less than that.
It gets worse once you find out about the ending so try to keep this in check because the characters all have their potential to be great. Some if not many do rise to this level only to fall in quality and rise again but the important thing to keep in mind is that if a certain character gets annoying or boring enough to make you want to stop reading the manga, just read on. This is the type of manga where you lose more by not reaching the end because by that point it wouldn't matter at all. (Not because you have reached the end of a manga but because by the end, without spoiling any major detail, your hate for many of the characters won't matter at all where as stopping at mid point will keep you from discovering many of the out of nowhere character developments that are suddenly brought up.)
In the end, I personally didn't like this manga very much but it has that unique charm that kept me going and I do feel it wasn't a waste of a time finishing this despite there being no event that really made me like this.
This manga really made the hit with me.First of all I was totally impressed, because plot was extraordinary. In addition, characters were made very precisely. Everyone has its own history and deep personality. Second I have never met similar story. In the third place I think everything is extremely emotional. I have experienced their gladness, despair... To make long story short I would like to say: " Don't believe reviews, just read it by yourselves! You won't regret it." :)
Houkago Hokenshitsu (“After School Nightmare” in English), by Mizushiro Setona, is a coming of age story of learning to accept who you are – and discovering who you are in the first place. From the get go, we are introduced to our main character, Ichijou Mashiro, who has a very unique problem...he is neither entirely male nor is he entirely female. Mashiro lives his high school life quite contentedly as a boy until his first menstruation cycle, after which things start to go wrong (or right, depending on how you look at things).
Bildungsroman are common tales in and of itself, but I have never
quite encountered a coming of age story done the way Houkago Hokenshitsu is...so I would have to say its plot is quite original. Unfortunately, I cannot give much information other than what was revealed in the first few chapters without giving way to grievous spoilers, so I will summarize the gist of the manga as follows: following Mashiro's first period, he meets a mysterious nurse, who takes him to the basement of the school. Here, a secret class is conducted. Students must fight each other in their dreams in order to obtain a key. After getting this key, and only after getting this key, the student may graduate from the school.
In some ways, it seems like your typical battle royal to the death, except it isn't. For one thing, characters don't die for real in the dream – it's a dream, after all. Plus...the characters themselves aren't real, either. This is just a manga. You knew that, right? All right, just checking. The reason for the class existing in the first place is described as being that the participants have problems which they must learn to solve in the dream. The characters' issues or mental states are typically manifested in how they appear in the dream – rarely does anyone look like their real selves, partially because their dilemmas are symbolized by their appearance, and partially to preserve anonymity. The dream world must not leak out into real life, after all.
The main characters of After School Nightmare are Mizuhashi Sou, Fujishima Kureha, and Ichijou Mashiro. All three of them have their own demons they must face, and all three of them develop beautifully. Sou starts off as annoyingly assertive and forceful and becomes far more tolerable as the manga goes on. In fact, I found any points of contention I had of him at first to be nearly gone by the final chapter of the manga. Kureha is introduced as an androphobic girl and gradually morphs into a true white knight. By far, she was probably the most emotionally strong of the main characters and my favourite. As for Mashiro? Mashiro goes through the most profound changes of all, although it will be up to you, the reader of this review, to find out what that metamorphosis is yourself. None of the characters' development feels forced or mechanical; it is all gradual and all of their own volition.
Of course, since we have a trio of characters as our mains, we also have a love triangle. It's not a soppy and happy affair, however; it's quite skewed, as triangles go. Characters use each other, they have fall outs, they argue, they break bonds and reform them; nothing is static, and the romance itself was played out quite well (even if it was somewhat infuriating at first, or at least the actions of a certain someone were).
It would be a shame if, in comparison to the main cast, which is quite stellar, the supporting characters were to be flat and superficial. Luckily, this is not the case. Even characters who appear for a single chapter and are never seen again, thanks to plot armour, are relatable in some way. There are also some characters who seemed innocuous at first and then turn out to have some sort of issue; the majority if these are implied, subtly, in previous chapters, so further inspection of the credibility of these plot twists usually does not render them nonsensical. Every character has their own troubles and heartaches, and not one is free of flaws. This is a point that is especially important in a coming of age story as this, seeing as self-discovery and character development are the hallmarks of the genre.
There is no one particular antagonist in Houkago Hokenshitsu. Don't expect there to be a mastermind villain laughing in the corner, twirling a knife between his fingers as he decides who next to kill off. The majority of the conflicts in the manga are of the internal sort – someone is in a pickle, whether it be due to their own thoughts or someone else's, and it's their responsibility to get themselves out of the rut they've dug themselves into. Sometimes, it's a feat accomplished entirely on their own; other times, they have outside, positive help. And in other times, the character is so driven into stress and conflict that they have no choice but to violently reject whatever it is that is pressuring them. It's varied and certainly never boring.
Most shoujo manga are character driven. This manga is no exception, although that is a positive thing, since most of the characters' psychology is explored and explained adequately enough. There is also quite a lot of dialogue and talking; action takes a back seat here, although there are a few fight scenes. For the most part, these are drawn well. I did not find myself particularly confused when following the panels.
The art is very nice; very simple and clean. It's pretty, as shoujo manga art usually is, minus the overly large eyes and over saturation of screen tones. Often, the art style seems to be composed of merely pencil lines. It's oddly refreshing, just like the manga itself.
Overall, Houkago Hokenshitsu is an exemplary example of the shoujo manga demographic, not quite falling into most of the typical tropes but not afraid of twisting some of them to its uses. It is an interesting character study with a supreme twist ending that will leave you stunned and scrambling for a reread just to see if you can catch any hints of something being not quite as it seems in previous chapters. Recommended.
Overall I give this manga a 7... I would have been willing enough to give a 9 but sadly enough I think the ending, though original and unexpected, blew it all. I really liked where it was going until the last chapter or even the last volume. To me it seems like it was finished quickly so it would be over, so the end is not really satisfying if you ask me.
The art was relatively good (though I have seen better) and the characters were most of the time surprising. Though I was sad to see some characters go, I really liked the devellopement
from the main characters except for Kureha at some points. I liked how she was develloping in the beginning but I think that she was still a 'work in progress' character in the end.
Although I said all this I rather enjoyed reading this manga because of the unexpected twists. Whenever you were sure of something you had to change your mind about it and even then you weren't sure it was such a wise idea. Thus this is certainly a manga that can hold your attention and interest as soon as it has captured them.
A very interesting manga that's worth checking out. 10 volumes with about four chapters each.
The story centers around Ichijo Mashiro (or Mashiro Ichijou for the purists). Ichijo is intersexed and in the series he defines it as having a male "top" and female "bottom" as he has female genitals but a more masculine features in general which means, in most anime/manga, Ichijo is a very pretty man.
Ever since he can remember Ichijo has chosen to live as a male for the main reason that it's easier but one day the issue of gender identity rears its head again when he is in the shower and
starts his first period.
For those of you who are thinking "EWWWW. Why would I want to read that?" please let me continue before you completely judge it. This is pretty much the most graphic part of the series and you get it over with soon so you can suck it up (which I mean with all the love of the world). There are sexual scenes but nothing too detailed, just suggestive. This is also not the entire plot but the dilemma the main character is in but some of the other characters are just as engaging.
The plot comes from a club that is held after school in a disappearing basement (there after school, gone during). In this club the participants are laid to rest in a curtained bed and enter a dream world where they are presented as their "real" selves. In this world Ichijo is dressed in a girl's uniform and, choosing to live his life as a man, is understandably upset about being portrayed as such when other students can see him this way.
The whole purpose of the dream world is to "kill" the others to find the key. When one has the key they go to the door and "graduate".
When one graduates their existence is basically wiped out and people forget they were ever in that school.
When people are killed in the dream world it is when the large beads around their neck crack and fall apart. Each person starts with three a piece and when they defeat another they get some of their beads. These beads can be broken in several ways. There is, of course, destroying the body but there is also the option of breaking their spirit by saying or doing things that hurt them emotionally.
The ending is reeaalllyyy good. Like... Brought me to tears good. I wasn't blubbering but I did get misty eyed.
I think it's a good thing I don't know much about symbolism or Japanese culture 'cause if I did it probably would've ruined it for me.
Good read. Fantastic read. Amazing read.
You better read it.
Overall I think it was a good series. I was really shocked by the last volume... not what I expected at all, but I won't spoil anything. I suppose that's why I didn't rate as high as I would have? I mean I really like that the ending had a huge twist to it, but I also felt the ending left the readers without a lot of closure on some issues.
The premise of the series is REALLY interesting, its what got me started reading it in the first place. I had never seen or read anything like it before; very original. The plot makes
for some interesting and fun situations that the characters have to navigate through, which is very entertaining. However, I feel like the plot was also pretty weak in some areas. Towards the middle of the series you begin to wonder what exactly is the point of the series after all. At the end it begins to pick up a little which is helpful, but doesn't quite make up for what seems like a long drawn out series of events that could have been shortened up. However, I was pleased that I could not predict the ending, that's always a plus for me. The twists (yes there are more than one) at the end make up a little for the plot issues I had, and give some events in the series a totally new meaning. These make me want to go back and re-read some of those parts.
I think most of the characters were good, some of the minor characters were my favorite, and I think some of them had the greatest character depth. The main character, Mashiro, was a little annoying at times and felt shallow at other times. There was not much personal growth for him/her throughout, which I feel as the main character is a flaw in the series There definitely also seemed to be predictable characters throughout the series, but I suppose that's hard to avoid. I did, however, like the character growth in Kureha ( throughout the series. She was a lot of fun to read and to watch as she changed by the events in the series. I also like Sou a lot as well. I know he played the stereotypical dark character, but I also felt he had some quirks that weren't so stereotypical and were a lot of fun. Of course, his character grew a lot in the last few chapters as well and I very much enjoyed that.
I loved the art work in this series, but then, I think I just particularly love this style with the flowing hair, very expressive faces, close-ups on high emotional parts, and then of course the occasional small more cartoonish side comments to add humor.
I still did enjoy the series quite a bit, despite plot and character issues.
This is one of the most original and creative manga series I have ever read. When I I first started reading I just couldn't stop until I finished it. Through the entire story the reader is kept on their toes until the very end when it all clicks together. A beautiful romance and a gruesome horror tale that makes your heart beat faster through every twist and turn. I strongly recommend this series to anyone!
You can actually find this series in its entirety at mangafox.com
After School Nightmare is an outstanding piece of artwork literature?! the character development, storyline, and art everything about it, is perfectly matched together?! Some people might not handle the mental psychological background behind the story!?
After the read the story it took a full day to understand the concept of the story!? it completely took me off guard and made be dumbfounded?!
The main character is physically a male, however internally is a female (Inter-sexual)!? the whole story takes you deep inside his nightmares of struggle between choosing his sexuality!? Some other characters help me along the way to choose what sex/gender he wants/ought to
This story might hit you straight to the face where you question your own existence, sexuality, life itself, and how to survive in it!? The story development is a brilliance mixture of emotions and feelings!?
The art is crisp and clean!? The detailing of the art is quite amazing!? Some pictures might be gruesome for some individuals!? You need a certain level of hold to yourself!?
I personally might have found some personal connections to some of the characters' lives, feelings, emotions, and personal struggles!?
Try to read it!? Find out for yourself because it will make you quite shocked at the end!? :P
This was truly a remarkable manga. I was so enthralled from beginning to end. This is a very dark manga. And the ending is truly surprising and sad.
I just happened upon After School Nightmare when reading my other mangas. I was very skeptical that I would enjoy it, but I was so wrong. I could not stop reading. I was wanting to know more and more and more and see what would happen next!!
The art work is very beautiful. Even the gore scenes have a gruesome beauty. Eye expressions and body languages are amazing. You can truly see how the characters feel.
Each character if very
developed. Each has their own unique personality, just as they have their own separate issues to work though. Each character is intriguing.
This is a truly remarkable manga and I would recommend it to anyone.
Really weird but sort of in a good way. It’s an interesting concept to say the least.
I will post spoilers but it’ll be under my review and I’ll mark it off. You can read this part and not worry. The spoiler part is mainly my issues with the story/things I didn’t understand.
The story is about Mashiro, a student whose top half is male and bottom half is female. His character is going through high school but as you’ll quickly notice, it’s not a normal school. Students are disappearing one by one, and not only that, but once they disappear so do the memories of them.
Mashiro gets invited by the schools nurse, to attend a special class located in the schools basement. There, the students enter a dreamscape and battle with each other to obtain a key. Once they get the key they can then “graduate” from the school.
Mashiro’s main struggle is whether he wants to become a man or a woman. It’s a weird concept but I think if you take it for what it is you’ll get more out of the manga. I was at war with this concept pretty much the whole time reading this. Realistically speaking, physically you can’t be half of one thing and half of another. So I was like ok, he’s a flat chested girl, either way you’re still a woman. But in this manga take it to be literal; he’s half male and half female. It’s strange I know but Mashiro was the only character I fully understood in the end.
Kureha and Sou are the main supporting characters, both being essential to Mashiro’s development. One allows Mashiro to experience a relationship with a woman as a man and another with man as a woman. Kureha’s character suffered a huge trauma as a child, while Sou has a major sister complex with a twist. Essentially, these are the things their characters must overcome. Kureah is a very likeable character and progresses the most. Sou’s character irked me out a little and not because of the relationship he had with his sister. I felt like his character had yet to finish developing by the time I reached the end.
Essentially this is a story all about character development, becoming who you’re meant to be, and learning to accept yourself for what you are. In life you have to be strong and overcome many hardships. You fight, and struggle to get past each obstacle but remember your friends are fighting with you against their own obstacles. Whether it is because of destiny or fate, we all have our own things to overcome and our own life to live.
I can say honestly I have never read a story like this one. It’s not the best thing I’ve read but it’s by far the most original and definitely worth a shot.
[Please don’t read if you haven’t read the manga. Its good so go read it!]
1. In the end why is Mashiro’s character the only one without a past? Kureha and Sou’s problems were in there past, which hadn’t actually happened …are their problems symbolism for another problem within a person’s character or will they really experience these things in the future?
2. Sou and Kureha. I suppose there are different theories of who/what they actually are. If you can assume everyone in the school is an actual person then I suppose I don’t understand the challenges they face in the dream. If you assume this is only Mashiro’s version of things then this makes more sense. They are there to encourage and develop his character.
3. The girl who skipped class three times and disappeared. I’ll just say miscarriage?
4. The thing I am probably the most confused about…if the whole school/dreamscape collapsed in the end then wouldn’t that mean the end of us all? No more children could be born, so was this only Mashiro’s version of the school? Does the whole thing reset to allow future students?
I actually think a lot of it isn’t supposed to make sense. The realist in me wants to know all these answers but I don’t think that was the authors focus. Maybe she left lose ends for you to interpret however you like or maybe she just wanted an interesting story.
There are some manga that make me go "Huh? Da fuq did I just read?" This is one of them. Do I mean this in a good way? Kinda yes, kinda no. I decided to read this manga because, well, the synopsis seemed interesting. The reviews looked good, too, so why not? I thought. To be honest, I don't think the manga should be as praised as it is here on MAL.
"After School Nightmare" is a solid 7, but not anything higher than that. The manga definitely has its good moments -- there are deep, meaningful layers that make it 'good.' However I found
myself so confused and lost 85% of the time. The story is twisted and often doesn't make sense. There are scenes that the author just glides over without adding any more depth.
And let me add one more thing before I go on: to anyone who is considering reading this manga, although this manga is categorized as "Gender Bender" and "Shoujo," I wouldn't say that this was anything close to those genres. "Mystery", "Supernatural", and "Psychological" are more befitting.
OK, on we go.
The characters go from shallow to mature to screwed up to 'normal' in the blink of an eye. I guess that this is how 'real' humans are -- we're all weird and have our own problems and whatnot -- but really? I found myself becoming impatient with the characters. I think the Setona Mizushiro was so intent on making these characters more 'real' that it actually had the opposite effect and made them unrealistic.
I don't have anything against the art. It's not the kind that I consider eye-candy or gorgeous, but it's still good. The storyline distracted me from paying close attention to the art.
Once again, After School Nightmare is a solid 7. I don't think it deserves the 8s and 9s that the others seem to praise it with. HOWEVER, I would've considered giving ASN an 8 had it addressed issues about gay/lesbianism or gender fluidity. Even up until the 39th chapter of ASN, I believed that Ichijou's main struggle was finding his/her sexual orientation. All -- or at least most -- of the other students were struggling due to REAL reasons, whether it was standing up for one's self, or finding one's real voice, or learning how to overcome fears. But then BAM! This unbefitting supernatural sh** comes along and ruins everything.
**SPOILER, look away now if you don't want to be spoiled OR want to hear someone rant**
That ending though! I understood it, and it was sweet to some degree, but I was also incredibly frustrated. I don't care if anyone disagrees with me. I was enraged that I had just spent hours reading what I thought was a great, meaningful manga (and it is! to an extent) only to have this...meh ending.
when i first found this i was like emmm i dont no and almost passed it up but diecided to read a couple of chapters and if i didnt like it i just dropp it and im slow on getting thing so in the summary when it implied the she was half male half female i didnt get it then read the first chpter and i was like wtf?! but i continued and i must say it is very entaining and its gott its wtf moments and the moments ur smiling retardedly at ur comuter screen and then ur yelling at it though the
ending i personally didnt get, it ended and i was like WTH is this?? i didnt fkin get it!! but yea it is a great manga one of the best ive read in a while