By Ichigo Takano. Released in Japan originally by Shueisha, serialized in the magazine Bessatsu Margaret. New edition released by Futabasha. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Amber Tamosaitis, Adapted by Shannon Fay.
The manga orange was one of the big hits of the last couple years, and even spawned an anime. Therefore it’s no surprise that the company that put it out is dipping their toes into the author’s other works. Dreamin’ Sun is her other significant series, and so far, while it doesn’t have the immediate emotional heft that orange had, it makes up for it with quirky characters who are fun to read about. The basic premise may strain my suspension of disbelief a bit, but I’ll put that down to it being more acceptable in Japan and just roll with it. And of course there are love triangles galore, which are the main reason to read these sorts of shoujo titles. It’s a cute series.
When we first meet Shimana, she’s not entirely sympathetic, being wrapped up in the frustrations of youth. She hates her weird name. She hates that her father has remarried and had another child, seemingly moving on from her mother faster than she’d like. And the family doesn’t seem to pay attention to her anymore. But everything changes when she skips school and runs into a drunk guy passed out in the street, which (this being shoujo manga) immediately leads to him offering to put her up at his boarding house – provided that a) she tell him why she’s ACTUALLY upset, b) find his key, and c) get permission from her father. Through the course of the manga, she actually manages to do all three things, and we also meet the other students in the boarding house – hot guy Asahi, who Shimana falls for immediately, and goofball Zen, who presumably will get more depth later but for now is here entirely for comic relief.
If you’re thinking there’s something a bit Fruits Basket-ey about the setup, you’re not alone – in particular, Taiga’s vacillating between responsible adult (she’s a prosecutor, something Shimana is as yet unaware of) and goofy silliness is very Shigure, though he seems to lack Shigure’s more evil qualities. Asahi is less Yuki and more the stock Shueisha shoujo guy, clearly nice and thoughtful but a bit distant, and himself in love with someone who isn’t returning his feelings. As for Shimana, she can be frustratingly self-absorbed at times, but of course that’s the point, and it feels very realistic and teenage. It’s unclear who will be the winning guy in this reverse harem – she has the most chemistry with Taiga, as well as the “we’re not dating!” running gag, but I think he’s too old for her. On the other hand, Asahi is clearly trouble.
As with orange, this actually got licensed via Futabasha rather than Shueisha – when the author jumped publishers, she took this series with her as well, and the version we’re reading is a new release with an added afterword that mentions orange, as well as introducing the new characters who will pop up in future volumes. It’s very silly (silly afterwords in a shoujo manga? Inconceivable!), but also tells us that this title is going to play out across ten volumes. In other words, we’ve barely started, and I think that Dreamin’ Sun is one of those books I will feel more confident in liking once I’ve read more of it. For now, though, this is a cute start and shoujo fans should definitely check it out.