manga, Manga reviews

Review: Our Dreams At Dusk

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Story and art: Yuhki Kamatani
Genre: Drama, Psychological, Slice of Life
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Synopsis: 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.

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This review is of the full four volumes, despite image above being for the first volume.

The opening pages of Our Dreams at Dusk are pretty hard to read. Tasuku Kaname’s classmates discover he is gay, and as a result he considers suicide, believing that his life is over now his secret is out. Whilst Tasuku contemplates his fate, he sees a woman who appears to jump over a railing to her own death. Tasuku runs to the location to assist the woman, and finds Someone-san alive and well. Someone-san tells Tasuku to talk about his problems, but she won’t listen if he does.

Following Someone-san to a drop-in centre, Tasuku meets other members of the LGBT+ community and becomes involved in a restoration project rennovating an old house. As Tasuku develops relationships with the other characters, he is brought back from the brink and often remarks that he’s glad he didn’t end his life.

At it’s heart Our Dreams at Dusk has a really endearing story which made me feel a lot of things. For the past couple of years I’ve struggled with my own identity and labels, as have many of the characters in Our Dreams at Dusk. There’s a lot of focus in Our Dreams at Dusk on accepting yourself as who you are, and not getting caught up with labels or opinions of others, and it’s really refreshing to see in a manga, and resonated a lot with me and gave me a lot of food for thought. As Tasuku himself says “I think not knowing is okay. There’s nothing weird about that.”

Tasuku develops really well throughout the manga, and it’s really fulfilling to see how he grows and changes, becoming more confident in himself and about his own feelings. With the help of the supporting cast, Tasuku explores what it is to be a member of the LGBT+ community, and gradually accepts himself.

Sometimes it does feel like Our Dreams At Dusk has a character for every LGBT+ label, almost as if the mangaka used a checklist to make sure everyone was represented, and as a result it does sometimes feel a bit performative, but nonetheless it’s still really encouraging to see minorities represented in a respectful way.

Something to be aware of when reading this manga is that there are a lot of anti-LGBT slurs used. If you’re sensitive to that kind of language, then please go in knowing that. The language isn’t used gratuitously, and ultimately does serve a purpose within the context of the story.

8 stars

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