by Aqua Mizuto; adapted by Mai Ihara
published by Viz; $8.99 US
I’m not a fan of the mystical shop granting wishes (be careful what you ask for, bwa ha ha) type of manga, whether it’s xxxHOLiC or Nightmares for Sale or Yumekui Kenbun: Nightmare Inspector. This one I liked, so of course, it’s one volume only instead of a long-running series.
The shoppe sells products that can make dreams come true, like Moon Maiden’s Tears that allow you change appearance. The first story features a tree that has fallen in love with a composer through listening to his music. The tree wishes to be human in order to talk with him. Because of his music, it’s been able to bloom for the first time.
The story is more than just a romance. When the tree-girl first finally meets her love, he says get lost, he doesn’t talk to strangers. That’s a common, sensible rule that one usually doesn’t see in short love stories. She then mistakes the art for the artist, insisting that “there’s no way such a scary man could produce such beautiful music!” Welcome to the real world, kid. Artists are human, and as such they don’t always live up to the wonder of their creations.
Anyway, the story does end on a lovely note of hope and caring. And that’s probably why this book works for me when the others I mentioned didn’t — it’s not about scary magic being used to teach a lesson or punish the wicked, but marvelous abilities that permit romance. It’s very optimistic.
The shopkeeper has no personality, but then, he doesn’t need one. The assistant is a wise-cracking stuffed rabbit, which I found funny. None of the art particularly stood out to me, but that’s ok, since it didn’t get in the way of the story, either, instead conveying just what it needed to: beautiful flowers, meaningful glances, happy conversations among kids with first loves.
There are three more chapters in the book, each a stand-alone story. The second is a flashback to how the rabbit came to work in the shop one Christmas. He previously belonged to a lonely little girl who had no other friends. He cared for her so much that he wished to help her gain the courage she needed to talk to the boy she liked.
The third features a girl with amnesia who wants to know the story behind the ring she’s clutching in her hand. She’s given a chance to change her destiny. The fourth is the most bizarre, with a pirate ship delivery service and a girl with a crush on a fellow student who’s also a teen model. The gimmick there is nightmare candy, which contrary to its name, allows you to be what you wish in someone else’s dream.
Because of its short length, this isn’t a very memorable series, but it’s an entertaining light read with some creative premises.