Title: Nightmare Inspector: Yumekui Kenbun/Nightmare Inspector/Yumekui Kenbun
Author: Shin Mashiba
Artist: Shin Mashiba
Genre: Mystery, Supernatural, Historical, Shounen/shoujo?, Horror
Summary: For those who suffer nightmares, help awaits at the Silver Star Tea House, where patrons can order much more than just Darjeeling. Hiruko is a special kind of private investigator. He’s a dream eater. And he’ll rid you of your darkest visions…for a price.
Dreams on the menu this volume: a restless soul, a murderous beauty, a woman afraid of falling apart, a grieving lover, an unforgiving son, a suicidal actress and a mysterious voice on the other end of a lonely young man’s phone.
I’ll begin by calling it ‘weird’ more than ‘morbid.’
Having read Yumekui Kenbun a few years ago, I recall happy and unique memories when I first read it. Now that I revisit Yumekui Kenbun a few years later, it seems that my response has sort of dumbed down.
Yumekui Kenbun is for the reader who loves stories like Natsume: Book of Friends and xxxHolic. There’s a very surreal and magical quality to it; the atmosphere it creates is like the weak smell of tea, whereas xxxHolic is hazy incense. Yumekui Kenbun has a very disjointed structure – each arc is seperated by the nightmare inspector’s client. I believe it’s one the weaker aspects because it doesn’t seem to have a very good flow – one can just re-arrange the each chapter and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. This may very well be intentional for a more defragmented and eerie effect but it isn’t coming through clearly. It becomes more like a mini obstacle in following the story.
The little mysteries themselves are reasonably simple and quite unique and they are really thought ‘out of the box.’ The stories are often eerie and depressing (it is a nightmare after all) and they are all secluded into their own little world with a little twist that is quite enticing. You can really tell that the mangaka injected a lot of effort into crafting these stories; it’s very surreal and dream-like. But it again, doesn’t seem to attain the full potential it deserves.
Yumekui Kenbun is the avant garde of manga. Its artwork is divine and otherworldly, and the background and surroundings have a very haunting effect which I say is the focal point of Yumekui Kenbun. I find it very inspiring – it encourages you to think beyond and it feels like you’ve been released into the unexplored. Though it is surreal and haunting, the drawing is actually quite defined and clean. It’s like a paradox, but I think that achieves this ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ quality. It’s as if it’s fading but it’s not, like Salvador Dali’s painting – ‘The Persistence of Memory.’
Yumekui Kenbun is a manga you dream of reading but is too hard to find. It’s quite reserved and I think it’s audience is very much restrained to the niche community. If you’re looking for a traditional & cultural themed manga like xxxHolic, you won’t find it very strong in Yumekui Kenbun – it invites you to a little dreams with odd pockets of mystery. It’s a little thrill, not a roller-coaster. Highly recommended.
Overall rating & any additional comments: 3.6/5, it’s execution brought it down heavily.