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 one covers two separate story arcs. The principal one is about Tasuku and his growing relationship with Tsubaki. The thing is, Tasuku is happier in himself here and is well aware of how he feels about Tsubaki. Tsubaki though comes across like a terrible person at times. He throws out gay slurs every chance he gets, and he almost seems to be toying with Tasuku at times.
What makes it so well done is that much of what he says is exactly the sort of thing you hear from some ends of society. It’s painful to read, largely because it’s so authentic feeling. When he talks to Someone-san though, we get the first hint that he may or may not be struggling with his own feelings. When you look at his father’s attitudes towards Cat Clutter, it would be easy to understand why. The ending to the volume adds confirms that, whatever he may be struggling with, Tsubaki certainly does have some issues to deal with.
The other arc here is that we get to learn a little more about Utsumi, the kind-hearted young man that we’ve seen at the various renovations before. As it happens, Utsumi used to be female, and through an encounter with an old schoolfriend named Oyama, we get to see another side of LGBTQ acceptance in Japan: Well-intended but destructive care.
You see, Oyama is accepting of Utsumi, though she constantly deadnames him. She wants others to understand him and wants to help instigate opportunities for that to happen. Such as meet-ups with their old volleyball team, or trying tog et him to talk at school. The problem here is two-fold. The first is that Utsumi doesn’t want to place the focus on his past, he just wants to be himself and live his life. That’s fair, as not everyone wants the spotlight. The second issue is that Oyama is doing this out of a sense of pity; she, on some level, views LGBTQ people as below her and wants to stand up for them.
This balance between good intentions but less than pure reasons is well-handled, and you get the impression that Oyama didn’t know what she was doing. It’s a wonderful arc to read, as it’s one that I think could make people question their own beliefs a little, in a positive way.
In all, this was another excellent release. The two stories slotted together in a very natural way, and we got to see some real progression for the relationships between the characters. I’m actually pretty sad that there’s only one more volume to go now. Still, this is another 5 out of 5 for me.