Title: Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare Volume 2
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.
This volume picks up right where the last one left off, with Tasuku coming to terms with his feelings and coming out to Haruko. While Tasuku’s feelings towards Tsubaki do get some advancement, the brunt of this saw a shift in focus to another character: Misora.
And boy is that arc a heart-wrenching one. Misora is a 6th grader and is biologically male, but enjoys dressing as a girl. The interesting thing is, Misora is not yet sure why they feel the need to do so. Throughout the volume, the concept of being trans is broached in a very general way, albeit gently so. Tasuku makes it clear that there’s no rush for Misora to decide for certain. Being on the outside looking in can skew your viewpoint though; Misora is worried because they know that their voice is soon going to get deeper, and they’ll start growing body hair. That was really tough to read because I’ve had similar thoughts before, and still do now, albeit from a slightly different angle. In the end, Tasuku tries to assume the role of a big brother for Misora. You see, Misora’s father left, and now all they have is their Mum and two sisters. Sadly, after Misora is groped by a passerby at a fireworks display, everything falls apart for both of them.
This volume dealt with some very real prejudice too. Tsubaki’s Dad works Regional Revitalization Division, and so drops by Cat Clutter to talk about their projects. Here, he essentially makes a few generalizations. They amount to the idea that all LGBTQ people are horny degenerates, and of course, nobody like that could ever go to his son’s school. Him recognizing Tasuku’s uniform and name tag does lead to Tsubaki may be getting a hint that Tasuku isn’t straight though so that at least may help push their arc forward.
From an artistic standpoint, this was another strong entry. The watercolor style pieces at the front of the book are beautiful and really brought the Tasuku coming out to Haruko scene alive. Meanwhile, the general art is just as good. Everybody look suitably different, but all remain realistic in appearance. Facial expressions are emotive without being over the top, and body shapes are realistic. It’s just a really good overall piece of work.
In all, I thought this may have been stronger than the first volume. Honestly, seeing Misora struggle made me cry. I’ve had a few similar experiences on my own journey, and it really stung seeing how it all played out. The way the book dealt with prejudice was also really great, with prevailing views being shown despite there being no basis to apply them to the characters. On top of that, it was nice seeing some orientations outside LGB being mentioned in the book too, with the terms romantic asexual and pansexual getting a nod. The book sets out to be real, it does so to a very high, at times painful, level. This gets a 5 out of 5 from me.