In After School Nightmare, Setona Mizushiro (creator of X-Day) has created an irresistible mix of real life drama and fantasy laced with horror. Ichijo Mashiro has clung to the illusion that he is a normal freshman, going to a normal school, until the day he gets his first period. Now, he must come to terms with his dual nature–half man, half woman. Desperate to be a boy, Mashiro blames his feminine side for everything he can t do. Being found out seems like his worst nightmare, but that is about to change. In a secret classroom under the school, Mashiro learns he has been chosen to take a class unlike any other. This course takes place in dreams, where students’ true forms are revealed. Mizushiro’s nightmare world is visually and emotionally compelling, full of arresting images: a girl with gaping wounds where her face and heart should be; a classmate who is nothing but a tangle of grasping arms. Even more terrifying are the classmates Mashiro recognizes from the real world, and who recognize him. Handsome but cold-hearted Sou is dangerously obsessed with Mashiro’s femininity. Kureha, who seems bubbly and sweet, is twisted by her inner demons. For these three students, their shared nightmare creates a bond that will either strengthen them or destroy them. After School Nightmare takes manga cliches like the emotionally-distant hot guy and the wide-eyed, innocent golden boy and uses them in a fresh way. Volume 1 hints at a romance between the two, but like everything else in the manga, it is twisted. Everyone has flaws, and, refreshingly, complex female characters abound. Mizushiro’s art is elegant and delicate, and she s a master at using manga’s cinematic style to create atmosphere: the halls of the high school are just as eerie as the nightmare world in their own way. After School Nightmare promises to be a standout series.

After School Nightmare, vol. 1
By Setona Mizushiro
ISBN 1933617160
Go Comi, 2006

  • Jennifer Webb

    Past Reviewer

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