Dreamin’ Sun Volumes 2-4
I’ve been catching up on Dreamin’ Sun by Ichigo Takano, and reading a whole bunch of it may not have been the best choice. I like Shimana, the confused young lady at the center of the story, but too much at once just reinforces how indecisive she is, particularly when it comes to who she’s crushing on now.
In a way, though, that’s part of the fun. None of the characters know what love is or whether they’re in love, which means other people usually have to tell them. They’re clueless, but it’s cute and silly in a “was I ever that young?” way.
In Dreamin’ Sun volume 2, the object of adoration is Asahi. (This is not the guy on the cover, oddly; that’s the landlord.) Shimana fails at asking him out, so she decides a makeover will help build her confidence.
She’s aided by an older girl who has a crush on their landlord, who doesn’t seem comfortable with women. This is the theme that seems to motivate just about everyone in the book — loving someone who doesn’t love them back. It should be rather sad, but there are enough mistaken assumptions and casual acceptance that life goes on to keep the mood non-depressing. And sometimes they lead into side stories, as here, Asahi has his own unfulfilled romance, with a girl with an odd court case.
The landlord also sparks another crush, telling Zen (the goofy panda fan) that he likes Shimana. Zen doesn’t believe him until a brief monologue that goes “My heart won’t stop pounding…. I’m itchy and hot all over!” Physical reactions come before mental in this series, with characters acting out emotion they don’t yet realize they feel. And the landlord later gives Shimana another key piece of advice, expressing the book’s approach: “It’s fine to be rejected. As long as you give it your all.”
By Volume 3, Shimana has given up on Asahi and is hanging out in the rain waiting for someone to rescue her. She’s too proud to go home after having picked a fight with the landlord out of jealousy; he’s her new crush object. This is incredibly drippy (pardon the pun) behavior, but typical of a shojo heroine.
Zen comes to rescue her, which leads to him catching a cold and her nursing him, which is how she finds out he wants to create manga. “Follow your dream!” is another big theme of this series, which once Zen’s older brother Ken is introduced, turns into his story of whether he should go back to boxing. He gave up competition in order to work to take care of their family when their father fell ill. (Sadly, Shimana’s dreams only revolve around finding a guy, while the male characters also have professional desires.)
This is how “who will Shimana end up with?” keeps getting drawn out, through introducing new characters whose stories we worry about for a while. These situations provide new reasons for the landlord to act as father to Shimana, giving her advice, while throwing her together with Zen.
Now that I’m at Dreamin’ Sun volume 4, looking at what I’ve said about the series, I feel as though I shouldn’t like it as much as I do. But it’s so good-hearted about its silliness, and it makes for enjoyable soap opera, with themes of memory and hope.
This installment brings us Ken’s return to the boxing ring as well as Shimana trying to make plans for Christmas and the romance that surrounds it. Plus, who’s giving whom which presents, and what do they mean? She likes Zen’s gift to her, but her appreciation of cute panda earmuffs reinforces the landlord seeing her as a child, not a potential love interest.
Her curiosity about him leads to the reader learning more about his history, as she and Zen figure out what his dream was, and why he had to put it aside. This is reinforced by a backup story with Ken and the landlord during their high school days. I have to agree with him, she does still act like a child, but I’m looking forward to more volumes where she grows up.