In Yume no Moribito, we turn away from Balsa for a moment, to take a good look at Tanda. He and Balsa have known each other since childhood, and since then, they’ve been close. But in all that time, neither of them have made the inevitable leap into a “relationship.” Although it’s apparent to pretty much everyone that they belong together, Balsa will not make any commitments, and so, neither will Tanda.
But, while Balsa is staying with him after returning from Kanbal, Tanda learns that Crown Prince Chagum has fallen into a deep sleep and will not wake up. This might not have meant anything to anyone else, but in Tanda’s home village, his own niece has fallen into a deep sleep from which she will not awake. Tanda becomes convinced that it’s not a disease that’s causing the comas, but something that is keeping the children’s spirits from returning to them. Her father calls it a “curse” but Tanda rebukes him and decides that he will enter her dream and find her.
The rest of the book is taken up with Tanda’s adventure. Balsa is once again in the position of watching over his body, while Tanda’s spirit wanders in another world.
Once in the dream world, Tanda discovers that a spirit from this world is appearing to children as someone they know and asking them to join it. In his neice’s case, it appeared in the form of a minstrel she had fallen for. Tanda rescues her, but returns to the dream world to find and rescue Chagum.
Chagum, it turns out, had been called by his beloved, recently deceased older brother, Sagum. Tanda does manage to find the Prince, and with his help, he saves the other souls that have been captured in the dream. But as they approach the threshold of return, Balsa must join them to save them from the creature that has called them. Chagum and Balsa have not seen each other for about 18 months. Not surprisingly, Chagum is taller and starting to look more like a man than the boy she knew. They have a brief, poignant reunion and part again, Chagum to return to his body in the Imperial Palace and Balsa and Tanda to the village.
This series, like so many Japanese novels I’ve read was a lot of setup for a brief, but brilliant climax. But the adventure definitely takes second place to the relationship dynamic between Balsa and Tanda and the reunion scene between Chagum and Balsa.
Overall – 7
Some of the later novels in the series follow Chagum, so I’m waffling about reading them, but we’ll see. I liked him, but for me, it’s all about Balsa. ^_^
Now, back to Kami no Moribito for me!