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When I had just finished reading After School Nightmare, I sat down to write a review for it and I couldnít think of anything to say. Iím returning a few months later to try and describe it.
I liked this manga. But itís not for everyone. After School Nightmare is a psychological horror type manga that *almost* reminded me of Silent Hill. While it doesnít have the monsters and the gore, we still go deep into the protagonistís psyche and see things we probably wish we hadnít seen. Sometimes, the people in the dream do take on scary and horrific forms. One girl appears as a corpse with no face and a large hole in her chest. Another takes the form of a long disembodied arm. One person appears as a tumor growing on other dreamersí bodies. If you find any of these images unsettling, itíd be best to turn back.
The storytelling suffers in places. The author makes the school setting so convincing that itís a little hard to believe the twist at the end. The school and the people in the school donít seem strange at all. Itís also a little hard to believe that the protagonists have had their issues since before they were born. Some of them suffer from problems they could only have acquired through years of living. Take the aforementioned girl with no face and no heart. Given the twist at the end, her psychological problem seems a bit difficult to swallow. Hers is the direct result of her experiences in her ďlifeĒ so far. Small kinks like these cheapen the big twist at the end. However, I still consider the story worth reading for the twist. The symbolism throughout the manga provides beautiful foreshadowing. I had to go back and reread to make sure I picked up on all the little nuances.
If you intend to read After School Nightmare, be sure to read it slowly. The strangeness of Mashiroís condition, which someone I think mentioned in the ďJust Bugs MeĒ section, is intentional because it makes the end more apparent. If you enjoy a good dip into some psychological horror, I definitely recommend this manga. Read it slowly, enjoy the art and the symbolism. Itís an interesting meditation on gender, on sexuality, and on what happens to people before theyíre born.
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