By: Yuhki Kamatani
Illustrator: Yuhki Kamatani (Illustrator); Kaitlyn Wiley (Lettering & Retouching)
Translator: Jocelyn Allen (Translator); Ysabet MacFarlane (Adaptation)
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Publisher: Seven Seas
Series: Our Dreams at Dusk #1
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)
This particular manga has been on my radar for quite some time, often lauded by fans and bloggers alike as something that truly stands out within the genre. After reading it, I wholeheartedly agree that they were right. Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare Vol. 1 by Yuhki Kamatani is a manga that is grabs your hearts, but not in the gentle heartfelt way you might think. No. Right from the first page it punches a hole in your chest and grabs at your heart with its bare hands.
Our Dreams at Dusk is very much a character driven slice-of-life that tells a poignant coming-of-age story. The first time we meet our main character, Tasuku Kaname, he’s seriously considering committing suicide, afraid that he’d been outed as gay at school. Yet, as he stands there, he thinks he sees someone jump from a window high up on the mountainside. Driven to action to ensure this strangers safety and get her help, Tasuku races to the place he saw her, leading him to the group of people he needs most in that moment.
Completely unintendedly, he wanders into a drop-in center. The people there are warm and accepting. They let him stay, sleep in a quiet place, and just exist. Yet, no matter how kind they may be or how good their intentions, opening up remains impossibly hard for Tasuku. Talking about his feelings, his sexuality, accepting himself the way he is, the fear of coming out, and the fear of his classmates and family knowing any of this terrifies him.
While Tasuku is afraid to open up, we see the exact opposite in Haruko Daichi, a woman who works at the drop-in center. She’s a lesbian, in a loving relationship, and out of the closet. Chapter by chapter, we see her life unfold. While eye-opening for Tasuku, this creates friction with her girlfriend, Saki, who isn’t out to her parents and in other spheres.
We see three people tackling the same sort of circumstances very differently. The good time and hard times of relationships, of coming out, and of being yourself are shown, as are the difficulties, fear, and inner struggle.
There is a message at the heart of this manga, one that Tasuku has to learn for himself. That even if things turn out horribly, even if everything is just as messy and convoluted and hurtful as we fear, that won’t be everything we experience. There goodness out there too. Good things will happen to you. There will be amazing experiences that will make you happy, ones you don’t want to miss out on.
Tasuku’s struggle is palpable and heart-wrenching. He’s afraid of accepting his sexuality, and afraid of others not accepting him because of sexuality. He’s afraid about talking about this fear with anyone, bottling it all in despite knowing he has a safe place to talk, people who support him, and people who’ve already lived through and dealt with the same experiences. Emotions are raw, and you’re pulled into Tasuku’s struggle.
The art in this manga is absolutely beautiful. Characters are soft, and their emotions very visible on their faces. Wonderful liberties are taken, too. Music playing is portrayed as cascade of snowflakes swirling around our main character in a magical, soothing way. These details are integrated seamlessly, not seeming to break from the rest of the art’s feel, and add a great deal to the storytelling.
Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare Vol. 1 by Yuhki Kamatani is a fantastic start to a series that will have you reaching for volume 2 immediately. I am absolutely hooked on this series. Tasuku’s struggles are so very real, his emotions so incredibly palpable. I cannot recommend reading this manga enough.