Phantom Dream 4 by Natsuki Takaya: B-

From the back cover:
Eiji’s life hangs in the balance as factions once again shift and realign. Asahi struggles with her new powers and guilt over what happened in the past, while Tamaki strives to control the continuing outbreak of chaos in the present. And a mysterious new figure emerges to join the battle, but is he an ally or an enemy?!

Fruits Basket creator Natsuki Takaya delivers a story of love, loss and the redemptive power of forgiveness in this heartbreaking story of star-crossed lovers bound by a responsibility that may destroy them.

Say what you will about shounen manga, the fact remains that they know how to stage a battle. Even conflicts with minor foes tend to last a couple of chapters, allowing one to fully appreciate the scope of the event. Contrast this with Natsuki Takaya’s treatment of the showdown between our hero, Tamaki Otoya, and King Hira, the villain with a grudge against humanity for murdering his true love a thousand years ago. Here’s how the fight goes down:

1. Someone holds a glowing finger aloft.
2. King Hira falls down.
3. The end.

Despite the fact that this is entirely underwhelming, the series still could and should have ended here, as we get some nice scenes of Hira-induced chaos and decent resolution regarding Asahi’s motives for defecting to the other side. While not technically dead, Hira is left with only two attendants, one of whom is more devoted to her fellow servant than to the king himself.

Unfortunately, the story will continue for one more volume. It’ll probably be padded out with more of Takaya’s attempts to get us to care about the one-sided loves of the supporting characters, but events just move too swiftly in this series for any of these people to make much of an impression.

In the end, Phantom Dream is a decent story with occasionally compelling moments, but is overall more notable for what it could have been than for what it really is.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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  1. Ah, there’s really only, I think, 2 one-sided loves in the whole thing. That’s not so bad.
    Anyway, resolution! Takaya is fond of showing how every one’s lives play out in the end. That doesn’t bother me at all, since it’s something that always annoys me when it’s missing. She’s also fond of redemption, so you know that’s coming. Takaya’s fairly predictable as far as that sort of thing goes.

    Your description of the epic battle is rather amusing. 🙂

    • Michelle says

      I count 3, but with varying degrees of returned regard. 🙂

      I don’t mind showing the aftermath, either. It’s just a little odd that the story’s pace would slow down *now* to include that sort of thing, but… maybe she grew as a storyteller while creating this. She *does* mention there being long breaks while she worked on another series, after all.

      And thank you. 🙂

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