After School Nightmare (Houkago Hokenshitsu, literally translated as After School Infirmary) is a Shoujo Psychological Horror manga written and drawn by Setona Mizushiro. It is about a biologically intersex teenager, Mashiro Ichijo, whose body is male from the waist up but female from the waist down. Mashiro was raised as a boy but is terribly afraid that his various weaknesses and failings mean that he is actually a girl.
The manga begins with young Mashiro getting his first menstrual period. He comes across a strange woman, the clinician at a school clinic that he never noticed before, who tells him he must attend a special class once a week if he wishes to 'graduate'. In this class he and other troubled teens enter a Dream World, where they take on the form of their "true selves" and must fight for the right to "graduate". Mashiro also finds himself in a Love Triangle with Kureha, a pretty girl who fears men and likes him because he is not quite male, and Sou, a handsome boy who believes that Mashiro is a girl.
Angst, drama and Freudian imagery ensue...
After School Nightmare provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Kureha's father.
- Bastard Boyfriend: Sou.
- Bisexual Love Triangle: The protagonist Mashiro was born intersex but identifies as male and is torn between the girly and androphobic Kureha and the cold and dominant Sou. This love triangle represents Mashiro's conflicting feelings about his gender - he is happy to date Kureha as it puts him in a masculine position, but is uncomfortable with his attraction to Sou because he worries that it's proof that he's 'really' a girl. (Somehow, the idea that he might just not be straight doesn't come up.)
- Bittersweet Ending: In "the real world," a fire breaks out in the hospital where the lead characters' mothers are staying. Mashiro escapes to be born, while all her classmates are erased from existence as their mothers die or their fetuses are miscarried. Also, Mashiro's memories are torn to shreds by the birth. However, Real-World!Mashiro meets a Real-World!Sou in the final few pages, which makes it a little bit sweeter in the end.
- Black Knight: Kurosaki's form in the dream world, who acts relentlessly against Mashiro.
- Broken Bird: Kureha, who was raped as a child, now has a deep fear of men and has a mild Freak Out whenever a guy gets physically too close to her.
- BrotherSister Incest: Between Sou and Ai. Except that the version of Ai that Sou had his "first time" with was the Imaginary Friend version of her, and he actually hasn't had any relations of any kind with his real sister in a while.
- Damsel in Distress: Kureha, which especially shows in the dreamworld due to the form she takes. She heavily relies on Mashiro to protect her there. Until she gets her Character Development.
- Does Not Like Men: Kureha, but it's understandable since she was raped as a child and her father was an abusive bastard.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Kurosaki reaches into Mashiro's wound (the final time) and roots around in there to find the key. Mashiro's moaning pretty much sealed the deal.
- Dream World: This is one of the main settings of the story. It can be entered by falling asleep in the infirmary.
- Dream Within a Dream: Chapter 36.
- Elegant Gothic Lolita: Ai as a child, and in the dream world.
- The Ending Changes Everything: As it turns out, the entire story symbolises the birth of a pair of twins. The female twin is the now female-identifying Mashiro, while her twin brother died during childbirth.
- First Law of Gender-Bending
- Girlish Pigtails: Kureha, complete with hair ribbons, and Midori with her twin braids.
- Hermaphrodite: Mashiro.
- Imaginary Friend: The more commonly seen version of Ai.
- Jeanne d'Archétype: Kureha's form in the dreamworld after her character development.
- Kendo Team Captain: Kurosaki
- Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Sou, who is generally stoic and aloof most of the time; however, he tends to be more affectionate with Mashiro after falling in love with him.
- Magical Realism
- The Matchmaker: Mashiro tries to help Shinbashi so he can befriend his crush Kureha, but it doesn't work. Later, Shinbashi helps both Mashiro and Kureha with their relationship
- Meaningful Name: Setona Mizushiro often uses kanji for colours in many of the characters' family names as subtle hints to their personalities and identities.
- Mind Screw: The ending. The main setting of the story is a sort of symbolism towards what is happening in the real world - namely, everyone dies in a hospital fire, except for Mashiro, who is born as a female.
- Nightmare Dreams: And how!
- No Periods, Period: Averted on the very first page of the manga, to Mashiro's horror. Mashiro plays it off as "an illness which makes me bleed once a month."
- Outfit-Rip Sex Check: In the Dream World, a character tries to figure out Mashiro's gender by ripping open his uniform with a sword.
- Prince Charming: A Deconstruction of this character trope. Mashiro idealizes what it means to be a man and uses that prince archetype to model himself after. Most of the girls he interacts with later on in the manga begin calling him out for assuming that every girl needs to or even wants to be helped or saved. In fact, many of Mashiro's princely acts frequently get him killed in the dream world because he assumes that the girls around him are fragile and need a man to rely on. It is that very thinking that keeps Mashiro from even considering becoming a girl because in his mind men are strong and women are weak.
- Rape as Drama: Kureha was raped as a small child. This, along with her abusive father, is what shapes her fear and dislike towards men.
- Running Gag: Try to count how many times Sou gets slapped by various people. Occasionally justified.
- Stalker with a Crush: Sou.
- Stepford Smiler: Kurosaki.
- Their First Time:
- Ai confesses Sou's was with her. Of course this can't be true because this version of Ai is actually Sou's Imaginary Friend.
- After Mashiro chooses to be a female, he has troubles to act and identify himself as a girl. After realizing he's in love with Sou, he asks him to "make him feel like a woman". Cue their first time in the gym's storehouse.