Title: Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare Volume 1
Author/Artists: Yuhki Kamatani
Genre: LGBT+, Contemporary
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Not only is high schooler Tasuku Kaname the new kid in town, he is also terrified that he has been outed as gay. Just as he’s contemplating doing the unthinkable, Tasuku meets a mysterious woman who leads him to a group of people dealing with problems not so different from his own. In this realistic, heartfelt depiction of LGBT+ characters from different backgrounds finding their place in the world, a search for inner peace proves to be the most universal experience of all.
Okay, so an interesting side to this review. Seven Seas Entertainment is a very proactive company when it comes to licensing manga and light novels for release. So much so in fact, that they regularly ask fans what titles they’d like to see added to the roster of titles. Ever since I spotted that, I’ve been requesting two titles: Octave and Shimanami Tasogare. As it happens, I wasn’t the only one making such a request, and it turned out that Shimanami Tasogare was their most requested title. So, here we are.
If that doesn’t give it away, I’m going to be very open about this from the get-go: I love this series. Honestly, I feel like it’s one of the most important contemporary based manga to be released. Why? Because it goes out of its way to offer a realistic portrayal of life for members of the LGBT+ community in Japan. Where that becomes significant is that it not only shows the discrimination that still exists there but also shows that it really isn’t that different from what we see in the West.
Tasuku Kaname is, for all intents and purposes, an average high school boy. He’s the sort of character that you’d see in a harem anime insofar as there isn’t anything really unremarkable about him. He sees himself as different though. In a world where terms like ‘homo’ are just thrown around – and always as a negative descriptive – his own struggles with his sexuality are becoming too much for him. Sadly, just as many have done before him, that leads him to contemplate suicide. Luckily for him, a chance meeting draws him away from the literal edge he was on, and he is thrown into a world where he’s able to meet others like himself.
The real joy here is seeing Tasuku learning that those at the drop-in center he starts to frequent are not only LGBT+, but that their struggles are similar to his. In this particular release, he gets to see a real contrast in this when it comes to the women Haruko Daichi and Saki. He gets to see the two women together as a happy couple but also sees Saki’s own struggles with coming out to her parents. It’s such an important thing to show because it shows both the relatable struggle and the potential happy future for him. Through is interactions with the two women, Tasuku grows, and by the end of the book, he is finally able to say that he likes boys, though doing so is an emotional step for him.
The writing is tight, and conversations come of feeling natural. In particular, I was happy to see that the younger and older characters feel different in how they talk and approach the world. The story plays to accompanied by some beautiful art too. Not only are the characters wonderfully emotive, the background work goes a long way to creating a relaxing atmosphere at appropriate times. Then, when things get tough, the art shifts to reflect this, with darker tones and, in some cases, more artsy panel layouts.
In all, this is easily one of the best releases of the year, LGBT+ or otherwise. For those of us who are part of the community, it will be heartbreakingly real. For those that aren’t, its still a fantastic coming of age story. So, thank you Seven Seas Entertainment for this excellent 5 out of 5 release.