This month ya’ll getting two posts, because of Norn9 shifting my plans!
After School Nightmare is very special. In more ways than one. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to do it justice, and that scares the fuck out of me, but I’ll try. That’s all I can promise myself and you. I’ll try my best to explain why it’s special and why I love it.
To start with Setona Mizushiro is one of my very favorites, all her works are fucking good. Almost all of them are very twisted, and that really speaks to me. She also has a trilogy of BL series called The Mouse Dreams of Cheese, and one very old series called 1999 Shangai, that I loved to pieces.
But that’s not the series I’m talking about here, or that I chose as the one I has the most to say. After School Nightmare or ASN for short is brimming with symbology and psychological themes since the very beginning.
For example, Mashiro, the MC, is both female and male and struggles with gender identity throughout the series and it’s never forgotten nor pushed aside when the plot deems it needed. This series addresses seriously gender identity, rape, and all kinds of psychological fuckery head on, with a sensitivity more authors should copy.
Mashiro thinks of themselves as male at the start of the series and even uses male clothing, because his top is that of a male. However his lower is of a female, which shames them a lot. From the start, their struggle is understandable, and is also part of a mystery that is woven masterfully by the author.
This series has actually three MC, as shown in the cover I picked. Those are the three major stars, and also who the series focus the most. Mashiro is in the middle, while Kureha is the girl on the right, and on the left is Sou.
This series is a love triangle, but at the same time it is above the typical love triangle. Mashiro likes both of them. Kureha speaks to his male side, but Sou speaks to her feminine side, both sides which they feel are fighting inside of them.
The plot is pretty out there, and is also why I love it. The characters go to the infirmary to enter a dream world once they’re ready for graduation, where they can compete for finding a key that is inside one of them, they have to kill the dream selves until the key appears. Once the key appears, they can open the door, graduate from the school and everyone in the school will forget them. Inside the dream they are exposed as their true self, in a very allegorical way. In fact, there’s a massive amounts of allegory in this series, that makes it so good. This series made me think, made me doubt and inquire, and when I discovered the truth? I was blown away!
Mashiro in RL presents as male to the whole of the school, and keeps hidden his female part, while in the dream self he has no choice but to show themselves as both. I’m not going to say who and what Kureha and Sou are in the dream world because those would have to be riddled with spoilers that are best experienced first hand. I’ll just say, I was not only very surprised, but really like how tactically the author dwelt with their themes and subjects.
In the dream world not only do they show themselves as their true self, but the characters have to deal with psychological problems that have haunted them. Once they face those problems and gain strength, they can fight and try to win the key.
I’m just going to say that I cried a lot when the manga finished, I was deeply invested in the series and the outcome for these three characters that I kept loving more and more. They’re flawed, you might hate them, or despise them at times, because they’re raw and too real, but that’s also what makes them so captivating.
Safe to say this manga is very loaded, is a heavy read and there’s triggers to be had here, but if those sound like things you’re on-board with? Then I say, you really, really must read this series!
I swear, it’s worth it. I know the art needs getting used to, it’s not the typical shoujo fanfare. I know at first nothing makes sense, and you’ll get more confused. But it is so, so worth it to experience this at least once in your life! ಥ⌣ಥ
Have you heard about this manga before? Have you read it? If so, I’d love to know what you think of it!