Saturday, July 15, 2017

Dreamin' Sun Volume Two Review

Shimana tried gamely to work up the courage to confess her feelings to Asahi while Zen thinks he's coming down with some kind of disease because every time he sees Shimana his heart feels "funny". While Miku still pines for Taiga and tried to help Shimana look her best for Asahi. While Shimana finds out about Asahi's own unrequited love and the complex relationship he has with his childhood friend Manami. While Shimana also has her arguments with Zen who is still prone to tease her and Taiga remain the adult in the household. Except when it comes to rebuffing Miku's feelings for him because he can't stand women or basks in being praised by High School girls which cause Shimana to stick up for Miku who has become Shimana's Big Sister for all intents and purposes. While volume one felt like the set up of the narrative volume two gets to what Ichigo Takano does best in writing characters taking seemingly simplistic characters on the outside and giving them complex interior lives be it Shimana putting herself down and getting mad at Taiga for Miku and while Zen may be my best boy. Takano takes Asahi and makes him more than the shallow wish fulfillment boyfriend of the first volume making for a sweet and self sacrificial guy who really is a prince not merely because he is pretty but because he is willing to help his friend Manami and let her do what she needs to do given the complex personal issues she has to deal with and while this part of the story feels this way for the sake of drama and probably hold up, in reality, it works in the story's fictional universe and is not so fantastical as to take me out of the fictional universe of the story and nitpick that plot point to death. While Shimana is still insecure and feels self-conscious she's able to be assertive or be shown negative feelings like when she criticizes Taiga which while this is an element that is still not explored as to why Taiga despises women so much. It's nice to see Shimana stand up for someone else and Taiga have another side to him other than cynical adult although I was a little worried he may have ended up written like Shigure Sohma from Fruits Basket. This thankfully was not the case and while I like Shigure his interest in High School girls was always a little distressing. Thankfully for Taiga, it's more that he likes being praised as "cool." Showing an element or vanity to the often gruff lawyer. It's a small bit of character development but it helps make him have some interiority and dimension. Then there's Zen who is the reason I put off writing this review for a day because if I had written this review immediately after finishing this volume it would have just been "Zen is cute" for a paragraph. Zen continues to very much be a Tsundere towards Shimana and while him thinking his burgeoning feelings of love might be some kind of sickness is cliché. He's such a bumbling kid that it's all kind of adorable from him enthusing over pandas or awkwardly trying to comfort Shimana only to be misunderstood and lash out blowing his chance. In short, I want the guy to win something because he's so realistically awkward that at times it hurts to see him flail about and try to be honest with himself or express himself to Shimana. Art wise Takano's character design remains consistent being able to range from realistic to comedic chibi designs and panel layout has a good grasp of the cinematic elements of Manga storytelling from close-ups that get the reactions of characters or black backgrounds used to give a sense of past events. It makes for a visually communicated story that does not use dialogue as a narrative crutch i.e. you can tell Zen is feeling awkward when trying to apologize not because of an interior monolog or expositing how he feels but because you can see it on his face, body language, and framing of the panel. Also, a nice small touch is the little "Easter eggs" like Zen's stuffed panda taking on his emotions or mental state or the Corgi that is hidden throughout the Manga as a sort of game beyond the story itself. In conclusion this volume develops the characters beyond the first volumes in ways that are both endearing and at times wistful while never become either too heavy or too light striking a good balance and laying groundwork for future volumes while some characterization and plot points may seem overly cliché to those familiar with Shōjo Romance tropes Dreamin' Sun never feels stale for it or that it's being written from a template.

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