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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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03/27/2005 Archived Entry: "Manga review: In Dream World"

In Dream World, Vol. 1
by Jae-Ho Yoon
Published by TOKYOPOP

Review by Tom Good

In Dream World seems as if it based on a collectible card game, but as far as I can tell, there is no such game. So it is based on a hypothetical, or at least not-yet-released, collectible card game. The characters travel through a world of dreams, doing battle using magical cards that can unleash elemental energies or transform their owners into powerful creatures. I must admit that though I liked the second half of this manga, for the first half I was completely confused about what was going on. I kept turning back a few pages to see if I had misinterpreted something or accidentally skipped some vital explanation. And often I had indeed misinterpreted the page.

This manga demands some effort on the part of the reader, because many factors make it initially confusing. It launches right into the action from the first page without any background explanation. It is set in a dream world that is inherently somewhat odd, and the story is told in a nonlinear way with many sudden shifts of perspective. And most importantly, it uses an artistic technique that can easily lead the inattentive reader astray. The artist very often shows one character while showing the dialogue of a different character. In other words, many of the frames are "reaction shots." Since the characters do not have very distinctive speech patterns, it can be difficult to figure out who is speaking, especially because many of the word balloons do not have any directional indicator on them. Once I figured out that this was the source of my confusion, it became much easier to read the rest of the story, and I enjoyed it a lot more.

The main characters, Drake and Hanee, explore the In Dream World, having RPG-like battles and learning the secrets of the In Dream Cards. Hanee carries a stuffed shark with her everywhere and uses it as a body pillow, a funny image which appears full-page at the start of chapter two. As the book's sexiest character, she gets to wear a very revealing sailor style top and short shorts. This never claimed to be "In Modesty World," but with school uniforms like that, it is puzzling how anyone ever graduates. Her companion Drake is a bold hero who protects Hanee with his sword and his collection of In Dream Cards.

As Hanee searches for a way back home, she meets a girl wearing rabbit ears (a reference to Alice in Wonderland), who cannot remember her past. This Bunny Girl joins Hanee and Drake on their journey. Then the group meets Rosemary, a girl who carries a feisty animate doll named Elizabeth. Unlike Hanee, Rosemary does not want to return home. She prefers In Dream World, because she sees the world she came from as full of lying adults who want to exploit her. Though this book was not the easiest to read at first, by the end I had come to like the characters and artwork, and now I am looking forward to part two.

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