Let’s get this out of the way – this anime is not Yuri. It may look Yuri and feel Yuri, but it ain’t. In order to convince you I’ll have to offer a gigantic spoiler, though. So, let’s cut to the chase – Kei isn’t a girl. There, now that that’s out of the way…let’s talk about Yume Tsukai.
The manga came out ages ago – we discussed it on the first and now long-gone version of the Yuricon Mailing List, so we’re talking back in 2001. (A quick glance at the listing on Amazon Japan for the Yume Tsukai manga gives me a date of, yes, June 2001.) The manga is deeply weird, with incredibly detailed and disturbed art, a violent and unpleasant dreamscape, with lots of yucky Freudian sexual metaphors and a wopping load of lolicon. Not only are the characters put into many quasi-sexual situations, but the one adult male character is openly obsessed with little girls. Like most obsessives, he doesn’t know when to just not talk about it – and like most men he doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “shut the fuck up already, I said no.”
So you can understand why I did not review the manga here.
However, there were many interesting things about the manga, and I’m glad to say that they kept all of those, while minimizing much of the yuckiness for the anime.
The art was really just too detailed to translate well to animation, unless they had an enormous budget and long schedule – clearly they did not, because they’ve just simplified the art a bunch. And while Hajime remains a “funny” pedophile, he’s not being too openly disgusting – just sort of saying that he likes little girls once in a while, just so the rest of the characters remember to bash him around for fun.
And bizarrely, I think, for such an openly pervtastic manga, the anime transformation scenes are the least suggestive/sexual I’ve ever seen. They are quite innocent of any flesh at all. It’s kind of a relief, really. I was all clenched up waiting to see what they would do for that.
Okay, so why *am* I reviewing this story? Because while not really a Yuri story, the plot has some serious Yuri elements. In the first episode we follow a series of girls as they disappear into a classroom and are never seen again. Satoko finds herself drawn there, but is saved by grade schooler Rinko. Rinko’s advice leads Satoko to a strange shop that seems to specialize in figurines, where Satoko meets Touko, Rinko’s sister. Touko, Rinko and the aforementioned Hajime are all “Yume Tsukai” – Dream Users. They use a kind of pre-Shinto shamanic magic to travel into people’s dreams and free them from the evil bad things in there. In this case, Satoko is drawn back to the classroom, where we learn that it is her unaccountable desire for classmate Kei, which draws her on. When Rinko and Touko get into her dream world, they fights Kei’s avatar, a giant evil version of the little ghosty charm thing you hang out to make it be sunny (it’s called a teruterubozu, just in case you wanted to know.) Kei looks like a girl, dresses like a girl, so as far as Satoko is concerned Kei is a girl. And Kei appears to be female well into the manga, but…Kei is not a girl. So don’t get your hopes up.
No Evil Psycho Lesbian (TM) for you.
However, the girls Kei enthralls don’t know that til waaaay down the line, so assuming the anime follows the manga, you can get vicarious Yuri thrills, if you like that kind of thing.
Actually, what appeals to me most about this series is the shamanic magic the Dream Users use. Seriously. I find it fascinating – and it’s why I’m watching this anime, despite the fact that the manga squicked me.
Art – 6
Story – 6
Characters – 6
Music – 6
Yuri – 2
Service – 2
Overall – 6
Thinking about it, I almost feel bad for the lolicons who do tune in looking for all the same stuff as in the manga, only to find that it’s all been removed.