This is not the trope Dreamland, although it sure qualifies for it.
Created by Reno Lemaire, this French comic written, drawn and edited as a Manga turns around the life of the lazy Ordinary High-School Student Terrence Meyer, who is afraid of fire since his mother died in one. One night, during a nightmare, he overcomes his fear and "awakens" inside his own dream. Soon after, an old man with a massive cross-shaped pendant and a pipe shows up before Terrence and explains him he is currently in Dreamland. For people who become conscious of this world by overcoming their phobia, Dreamland literally becomes a second life: they are called Travelers and are granted a special power. When they wake up, they disappear from Dreamland and return to their powerless self in Real Life; and if they die in Dreamland they merely become unconscious dreamers once more.
Terrence receives the power of Playing with Fire although he's not exactly good at using it. First Terrence wanders in Dreamland with the vague idea of "protecting the dreams of people". Then he runs into a romani Boisterous Bruiser named Savane who has the unique ability to summon fish, and a weed-addicted, cowardly art student named Sabba who wields a magical brush but for some reason has no power of his own. The group is soon joined by Ève, an insufferable fashion victim who happens to be the best friend of Lydia, Terrence's real life Love Interest. The group (well, mostly Terrence) ends up starting to search for Edenia, a mythical kingdom in Dreamland that is said to host the souls of the dead. Problem: nobody has ever found it, nor even proven its existence.
That's the "Dreamland" part, but the series also makes us follow Terrence's Real Life in the French city of Montpellier and its more ordinary — but no less difficult — challenges. As the series progresses, other groups and plots are developed as we discover the vast and dangerous universe of Dreamland, and Terrence's two lives overlap more and more.
The series has been running since 2006 and is still going with 20 volumes out. Along with Sentai School, it is usually considered one of the precursors of the "French manga" trend that would become more noticeable in the following decade with titles like VanRah's Stray Dog or Tony Valente's Radiant. The series has a limited, faithful fandom in France but is completely unknown outside of it. It doesn't help that the humor and the real life depicted are all very typically French, and thus far from the usual tone of Japanese comedies. No Moe or harem antics here: Terrence's teenage life involves failed exams, partying, alcohol, and yes, losing his virginity.
An animated adaptation by French studios Ellipse Animation and Chouette Compagnie has been announced in 2022.
The series gives us examples of:
- Aerith and Bob: Ève and Lydia are common French names. Terrence not so common but it does exist. Savane, Sabba or Sealvia however
- Aliens Speaking French/Common Tongue: Justified by Réno in a FAQ, who explained that in Dreamland everyone speaks "the language of spirit": they don't actually speak the same language but understand each other regardless. Which also means the characters of different countries who interact in Dreamland (like Terrence and Shun) wouldn't understand each other if they met in Real Life.
- An Ice Person: The Ice travelers but especially Shun and Zero since they are the only two who can create ice from nothing. And of course there is the Ice Nightmare Lord Prévice who takes a very good care of those two.
- Art Evolution: The drawings are clumsy and rather empty in the first volumes, but the author's style gets more and more refined. Some assistants joined too, which explains some of it. The first two volumes were later re-released with improved graphics.
- Art Shift: The fight between Arka and Dolce, and the fight Between Attila and Saturn are drawn in a different style.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: A Canadian named Shun, a Venezuelian named Geriko, a Mongolian named Arka, a Spaniard named Dolche, an Indian girl named Flam the names of the non-French characters are a bit random to say the least.
- Author Avatar: The author makes no secret that Terrence is heavily inspired from his own teenage years (same city, same high school and section, for example)
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Surprisingly averted!
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Apparently, Sigmund Freud and Carl-Gustav Jung were travellers and the former was tattooed by Lord Crazy, no less.
- Boobs of Steel: Céleste and her Titan's arms.
- Brainy Brunette: Lydia. Heroes don't want redheads this time.
- Calling Your Attacks: Mostly averted, except with Zero and Shun for some reason. Terrence once calls one of his attacks the Asshole Ass-kicking Attack.
- Cat Folk: In the Night of The Black Cat arc.
- Chekhov's Gun: The old man's huge cross is a Key of Dreams that allows him to continue to exist in Dreamland even though he is dead in the real world.
- Cool Mask: Zero is always seen wearing a mask. he even have a collection of different mask, like a clown mask or a Venom one.
- Crapsaccharine World: Dreamland itself. It's a nice-looking and dreamy world full of aggressive creatures, travelers who fight to the death and war-waging Nightmare Lords. Welcome and enjoy your stay!
- Dead All Along: Carl-Gustav Jung, aka "the old man with a pipe", has been dead for 50 years in the real world and is the only soul in Dreamland who refused to go to Edenia.
- Dreamland: Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Doorstopper: Volume 15 took a year and a half to be completed for a reason. It's almost twice as thick as normal volumes.
- Enfant Terrible: Prévice, Actarus and Asmodeus were nicknamed this in their childhood.
- Evil Overlord: The Nightmare Lords, although the only one who is really depicted as Ax-Crazy is the Fire Lord. The others are pretty sympathetic.
- First Kiss: With an aftertaste of vodka!
- Floating Continent: The Celestial Kingdom.
- Formula-Breaking Episode: The entire volume 10 is deliberately made with an odd structure and none of the main characters are seen in it. Basically, it presents several groups that participate in a survival ordeal and alternates between said survival and the Origin Story of each group.
- Ice Queen: Prévice is a litteral one, but she is kind and caring in appearance at least. However, seeing how she considers the people of Waste, she may also be an Ice Queen in the trope sense after all.
- Just a Flesh Wound: Justified since the wounds received in Dreamland disappear when the Travellers wake up. Except if they sold parts of their own soul to buy weed.
- Idealized Sex: Thoroughly averted: teenage sexuality between Terrence and Lydia is depicted in all its awkwardness.
- Mega Neko: The Black Cat in volume 9, as well as all the Cat Lords. Hilariously inverted with the Cat King who looks more like a kitten.
- Mood Whiplash: Jerzey and Shun just had some good time and everyone else in their team is bored to guard an area where nobody ever comes or goes. Then a scarred guy shows up out of nowhere and meticulously proceeds to slaughter the team members one by one, taking an eye and an arm to Shun. Turns out he's a Duke of the Dark Kingdom, an Elite Mook of the most powerful Nighmare Lord in Dreamland. Oh, Crap! indeed.
- Shirtless Scene: Actually, it's hard to find a male character in this series who doesn't have one. Even Ève has several (unwanted) ones.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: The word "politeness" doesn't seem to be in Lord Crazy's dictionary.
- Slasher Smile: Attila, all the freaking time. Arka also have one.
- Superpower Lottery: The power you get in Dreamland is directly linked to the phobia you overcame. If you were affraid of fire, lightning or darkness, good for you. If you were affraid of swings, well...
- Superpowered Evil Side: Terrence seems to have one. We don't know what it is exactly though.
- The Stoner: Sabba
- They Do: Terrence and Lidya. Thankfully they don't beat around the bush too long.
- This Loser Is You: When looking at Terrence, many readers must have wondered "is it me or I look like this guy?"
- Took a Level in Badass: Jimmy, every time he is killed. And Savane when he acquires the poisonous fish's power.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Nearly every time a character is a bit too drunk, especially if it is Terrence.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Jimmy, so much Savane is also almost always shirtless when he is Dreamland, sometimes only wearing a scarf, but is also a repeated offender in Real Life.
- Wretched Hive: You have Snow, the beautiful and pristine capital of the Ice Kingdom. And just below you have Waste, an ugly suburb where the melted snow from above turns into rain and mud and whose inhabitants hate the Ice Lord to no end.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: Frequent, along with a lot of Gratuitous English.