Once upon a time, a thousand years ago, there was a beautiful woman named Suigekka who used her magical abilities to help the people of Japan. The people feared and misunderstood her, however, and killed her after blaming her for the drought that had descended upon the land. A magician who loved her, Hira, went insane after Suigekka’s death and vowed revenge on humanity. He began to turn them into jaki, beings controlled by their negative feelings, while his younger brother, Saga, sought to protect people and undo their transformations. Fastforward into the present, where that inherited conflict is still going on. Tamaki Otoya, a descendant from Saga’s line, is the current shugoshi, or one tasked with exorcising jaki. Hira has reawakened, thanks to the reincarnation of Suigekka, and his quest for revenge continues. Tamaki must stop him, but personal feelings are making him hesitate.
While I originally found Phantom Dream to be confusing, it has really shaped up in the last couple of volumes, and now seems to’ve achieved a good balance between plot progression and character development. Events still tend to happen quickly, but motivations are clearer and moments of sacrifice carry more weight. Protagonist Tamaki has become a more sympathetic character, and I also quite like the story of Eiji, once his opposite number among Hira’s ranks, who defects to Tamaki’s side after learning Hira’s real reasons for creating jaki.
Also assisting to clear up the confusion is the desperately-needed glossary that makes its first appearance in this volume. Unfortunately, the “Story So Far” section includes a big spoiler that, while strongly inferred in volume two, is not confirmed until the early chapters of this volume. One might wish to steer clear.
All in all, Phantom Dream is not bad and is, in my estimation, superior to Takaya’s later work, Tsubasa: Those With Wings.
Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Manga Recon.