japanese title: 夢の子供
english title: children's dreams
6 volumes (complete), scanlated up to v5 ch5 by essence of purity. not licensed in english, originally published by biblos.
v1: ISBN4-88271-306-3, v2: ISBN4-88271-307-1, v3: ISBN4-88271-561-9, v4: ISBN4-88271-760-3, v5: ISBN4-8352-1109-X, v6: ISBN4-8352-1275-4
|takashima youji is a high school student who lives with his older sister senko. he's got a bit of a "sister complex" towards her (the japanese as per manga wisdom, frequently have such "complexes", a love that goes above and beyond the call of kinship, albeit not quite to the extent of oedipus. well, mostly not to that extent. not here, in any case.). one day senko introduces youji to one of her old university friends, akishima ren. she hopes they will get along, but things don't go as expected; youji notices the warm familiarity between ren and senko, and takes an instant dislike to ren, suspecting that they are lovers and that he wants to marry her. and then senko reveals that she's leaving for NYC to advance her career, and that she intends to leave youji in ren's care. ren is not thrilled, but agrees to the arrangement because it's senko asking him, and senko is important to him -- but youji just about goes through the roof.|
however, he has no choice, and starts living with ren. it doesn't go well; when ren isn't cold and distant, he treats youji like the brat that he is, but worse, even when youji isn't a brat, ren makes light of the things he cares about -- such as his favourite author whose books mean a lot to youji. only when youji tears up and runs off does ren realize that maybe he's gone too far; and when he follows him and they talk, youji breaks down and talks about his sister and what she means to him. since she means a lot to ren as well, they make peace with that in mind, however uneasy.
since youji has decided to make the best of things, he starts watching ren -- who doesn't take very good care of himself, and forgets to eat and sleep properly when he works, and youji decides that he should make himself useful by taking care of the household. then one day he sees ren arguing with a man whose name he later finds out is hirose, a name towards which ren acts with extraordinary coldness when other people mention it. and when cleaning up, youji finds several floppy disks that seem to have something to do with his favourite author. the plot thickens. :)
this is both a coming of age story (for youji) and a coming to terms with loss story (for ren), and it ranks among the yaoi that i like rather a lot, and would recommend to anyone interested. i had a bit of trouble taking to youji to start with; he was just so bratty and immature. but he slowly grew on me until i was really pulling for him. i was not entirely convinced of the progression of the love story, maybe because youji was so immature, and i don't have this japanese fervour for valuing "purity" (which does not refer to virginity, it's more about a purity of character traits, and a certain singlemindedness in pursuing one's dreams). but there were enough chapters to develop depth in the characters, and i really did like how youji started to work through his feelings. he's such a teenager then, but the kind i like.
i'd like to especially commend hamada-sensei for having three strong female characters in a yaoi manga who don't annoy, threaten, or get in the way of the destined couple, but who enhance the story. senko, youji's sister isn't choosing the standard path of looking for a husband, but is pursuing a career, and yet she isn't depicted as cold and unfeeling; she has her shit together. hiromi, youji's sorta-girlfriend, is cute and girly, but is also thoughtful and works hard (on becoming a yaoi mangaka, *heh*), and she stands up for herself. when youji has his crisis of conscience, she doesn't behave like a crybaby or a jealous harpy; she behaves like a decent person who has been hurt and who struggles with the appropriate response. aya, her best friend, is observant, smart, and snarky. it's a delight to not hate the female characters, and it's way too unusual -- so much yaoi manga uses women as mere plot devices to create angst.
the art is fairly bad at the start, but grows more competent over time (except that ren seems to get younger and younger, though towards the end he reverts again) -- i'm gonna show samples from v1 and v6 so you can compare; it's like night and day. and there are a few really outstanding panels in latter volumes that i wouldn't mind looking at over and over.
the scanlation is spotty; good enough to understand, but with lots of small english errors; this dates from eop's first year as a scanlation group, i think. it gets better towards the middle.
if you'd like to test drive it, here's the f-locked download post. the last volume has not been scanlated yet, but actually one can pretend the story is complete as of volume 5; the main issues are all basically resolved. volume 6 throws one extra piece of non-con drama at the characters that i feel we could have done without, but keep in mind that i haven't actually understood this volume (since it's in japanese), and maybe it was needed for ren. sorta hard to imagine, but eh; i'll see when it's translated. the art is now very good, the sex is great (there's an extra-special bit that made me squee), and there is some more growing up for youji (since this is the end of his high school years) -- i did enjoy most of what i could grok of it.
this is from volume 1. not very pretty. the girl is senko, the light-haired guy is ren, the dark-haired one youji.
volume 6. quite some difference eh. senko and ren.
ren and youji.