Manga Reviews

Thoughts on Sanbe Kei's New Series

Who here likes Erased (Boku dake ga Inai Machi)?  *raises hand*  Well, this particular article is not about that series.  Instead, it is about the author's new manga that has very recently begun serialization in the Young Ace magazine.  It is called Yume de Mita Ano Ko no Tame ni or otherwise known as For the Girl I Saw in My Dream.  (Is it just me, or does Sanbe Kei seem to enjoy long titles?)

I had the privilege to read the first chapter a little while ago, and let me just say that I am excited.  When a new series is published by a renowned author, sometimes the stories fall flat and fail to measure up to its predecessors.  However, I feel like this particular series has a solid start with this first chapter and I hope that it maintains this level of interest throughout.  If it manages to accomplish that, I think it has a good chance to be on the level of Erased.  Of course, it's impossible to say at this point where the story will go, so it may or may not live up to that statement.

With that said, I'll give a quick synopsis then delve into the good and the weird points of the series so far.  This is based on my own opinion of course, so please take the designations of these elements with a grain of salt.

When he was just five years old, Senri's parents were murdered and his twin brother went missing.  Now, thirteen years later, Senri is a rather jaded high school student who swindles others out of their money and harbors a strong grudge against his parent's murderer.  With seemingly little memory of the event to work with, he has to figure out who killed his parents.

The Good
-Revenge plot and murder mystery: This series, much like Erased, is a murder mystery with its roots based in the main character's childhood.  However, Senri isn't out for justice.  He's out for revenge.  On the subject of Senri...

-Cynical main character: Senri, as mentioned in the synopsis, is a swindler.  He cheats other students out of their money and seems to have no real interest in holding down a legitimate means of work.  It seems to hold some personal benefit for him to continue this practice beyond just money, but it's unclear exactly what that motivation is.  I just happen to like main characters who are willing to break the rules to accomplish their goals instead of being 100% righteous all the time.  Characters should be as varied as the people in the world, after all.

-Implied plot elements: This series doesn't spell everything out in the first chapter.  There are a lot of actions and moments where you are meant to draw your own conclusions on what exactly they mean.  They'll probably be explained later, sure, but it's not hand-fed to you right away.

-Missing brother: Now this may be more of a neutral thing, but I'm excited to see how the missing twin brother plays into the story.  Especially in what effect his discovery will have on Senri and whether or not his presence will hinder or progress the search for the killer.  And why was he taken while Senri was left behind and his parents killed?  Lots of questions surround the brother at this point and there's nothing more interesting (if not frustrating) than questions.

The Weird
-Psychological Aspects: Now, I'm no psychologist, but I do enjoy reading stories that demonstrate varied responses to psychologically damaging situations.  In my personal opinion, this is one of Sanbe Kei's strengths and that holds true here.  But the reason why it's here in the 'weird' is that I'm not really sure that Senri's reaction to his parents' death was entirely realistic for a five-year-old (or however old he was at the time).  It still made for a chilling scene, though, so I'll forgive it.  Besides, like I said, I'm no expert.  And kids can be terrifying sometimes, so...

-Art Style: Sanbe Kei has a rather distinctive art style.  Still, that doesn't mean that his main characters from different series have to look alike.  But look the same they do.  Senri and Enan (Senri's childhood friend) are dead ringers for Satoru and his mother, respectively.  This in and of itself doesn't particularly bother me.  I've read a lot of series where mangakas have recycled their main characters.  As a matter of fact, for some, it seems to be a rather common practice.  However, it's the nature of the relationships of the characters that bothers me.  Satoru and his mom were (of course) mother and child.  Senri and Enan, on the other had, are childhood friends and around the same age.  Now, Enan is the type of childhood friend that kind of plays the mothering role.  She tries to look out for Senri and doesn't approve of his dangerous lifestyle.  So far, there's nothing about that that is troubling.  However, I just hope that Sanbe doesn't try to introduce a romantic element to the story.  At least between those two, for obvious reasons.  But so far, there's nothing to really indicate that development, so it's fine.

There's really nothing that stood out to me as being particularly bad, so there's no section for that as of yet.  Of course, as I mentioned, any one of my points could be a negative depending upon your personal tastes.  However, I am personally very excited to see how this story develops just based upon the first chapter and I definitely recommend giving it a try.