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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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11/25/2007 Archived Entry: "Manga review: Garden Dreams"

Garden Dreams
Story and Art by Fumi Yoshinaga
Published by the Juné Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.

Review by Ryes

The general location of Garden Dreams is in the west, however there are events that also occurred in the east. What connects the two location is a war that took place ten years ago. In the first story, "The Baron's Daughter," the baron, Victor, receives two visitors. They are bards from the east named Farhad and Saud. The baron's daughter Antiette takes notice of Saud. The second story, "Garden Dreams," is about the two women the baron fell in love with. The third and fourth stories follow up on the events after the first and second stories. It'll be really difficult to review this book without giving more details, but then details would ruin it for potential readers. Just trust that this manga is one of the best out there, which is the kind of quality you would expect from Fumi Yoshinaga.

Storytelling appears to be a theme in this book. A lot of the plot moves forward through stories about the past that the characters tell each other. Sometimes, it appears as if one character is telling the story, but by the end, it seems like it's another character's narration. The effect was surreal and very dreamlike, which is probably where the title is referring to.

Yoshinaga's style is crisp and clean, both art and dialogue. She's especially good at portraying facial expressions, which compliments the fact that her characters' dialogues are usually curt and never long-winded. Her strength is in her characterizations. The baron really shines as the main character. He was someone I was very invested in, and I was so miserable just reading his story. He did have his funny moments and I was glad things worked out for him in the end. I liked all the characters, but I might be on the fence about the baron's daughter. She seems a bit ungrateful, but like Yoshinaga's other characters, she's not flat and there is much more to her.

DMP's rendition of Garden Dreams was excellent. I liked that there was a clear distinction between the languages being spoken. It's not a major thing, but details like this lend to the quality. DMP did a great job with it. Garden Dreams is not light reading, but it's extremely enjoyable. There was good plot development and great characters. Garden Dreams is highly recommended.

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