Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Manga Movable Feast: After School Nightmare

It's Manga Movable Feast time again, and I'm happy to be back in the mix again after missing a few months.

For those unfamiliar, the Manga Movable Feast (or MMF) is where those of us who hang out together in the blogosphere pick a title to talk about all at the same time. Perspectives and approaches will differ, which is part of the fun. You can reach the MMF homepage for After School Nightmare here.

In a lot of cases, the title is new to me, so I do a volume by volume review. I already started reading After School Nightmare, so here in my intro post of sorts, I'll show you the links to my previous two posts and talk a bit about why I like this series, even if it's something you may or may not be able to find and read.

You see, After School Nightmare is/was published by Go Comi!, and they appear to be defunct by all accounts. That means this title is very out of print, and thus difficult to find, unless your local library happens to have it in stock. I own most of the series, and am lucky enough to be able to read the rest from my library. Since I like this series a lot, I hope that's the same for you, too.

Here's the link to my review of Volume 1.
Here's the link to my review of Volume 2.

So for those looking for the short version, here are some thoughts on why I like After School Nightmare:

First of all, I'm a sucker for horror stories. This one's a bit more muted than others because it has a strong shojo vibe running through it. However, the more you read, the more you see that the horror is building up to something big, and you want to find out what that horrible thing is that lurks in the shadows of the pages. I need to see what kinds of terrible things are going to happen in this series, after the hints we've seen.

That brings me to the second thing I like about After School Nightmare, the building sense of mystery. We learn a little more about this strange school every time, but never enough to know everything. Every character in the book harbors a secret of some kind, and unlocking those secrets as we progress through time really appeals to me. Every time I read a volume, I start thinking about what's going to happen next. Sometimes I'm right...but more often I'm wrong. For me, that's the sign of a good story, and one I'd recommend to others.

Speaking of those characters, I enjoy the fact that our protagonist is not meant to be taken at face value. He has issues to work out, and his reactions are definitely undermined by the plot and pacing of the book. What looks at first to be outdated values mouthed by the characters quickly become statements we are meant to doubt. At least that's my interpretation. We'll see what finishing the series finally brings.

Finally, the artwork is quite pretty and scenes of horror are matched up well with typical school settings, making everything look perfectly normal while being about as unrealistic as possible. Mizushiro's line work compliments her story extremely well, which is not always true of manga books that I read (or Western comics, for that matter).

Put these four conditions together, and you get a solid manga offering that has a definite beginning and ending, 10 volumes in all. This is a manageable level of content for someone who wants to read a manga but not get bogged down in 40 or more trades to read just to get caught up to the present day.

I'm a fan of After School Nightmare, even if not everyone is. Why not pick up a volume (if you can) and try it for yourself? Shojo fans wanting a twist and those who like psychological horror should definitely give this series a look. I think you'll be glad you did.

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