Wednesday, February 22, 2012

After School Nightmare by Hokago Hokenshitsu

Mashiro seems to live a charmed life- he participates in kendo, is polite to everyone, and is popular with girls. Unfortunately Mashiro has a secret, while his upper half is male his lower half is female. This means he must keep everyone at arm's length, including his frustrating rival Sou and the cheerful androphobic Kureha. Mashiro isn't the only one with a secret, he discovers that the only way to graduate from his school is to participate in a game that is played through dreams. Players must find a key, but must fight and sometimes kill the other players. In this dreamscape, players are revealed as their 'true selves' and unfortunately for Mashiro his alternate dream form is a girl!

This was a trippy story. Some great horror elements, amazing sub-plots, back-stories, and characters. While this is considered a shojo (a piece of literature intended for high school girls with elements of romance and beautiful boys in it) Hokago Hokenshitsu twists all the themes and makes them more thought provoking, or at least makes you stop a moment and go "Huh." This is a dark story line, and nothing is as it seems. Which I guess is why I like it. I've read through volume two, and it's rather fascinating to see Mashiro's struggle between wanting to be seen as a boy, with all the societal empowerment that comes with being male, and taking care of Kureha; to his conflicting romantic feelings for Sou whom he has always considered a rival. Fascinating.

This manga series was published in America by Go! Media Entertainment and finished in volume ten back in 2008.

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