365 Days of Manga, Day 365: Castle of Dreams


CASTLE OF DREAMS • Masami Tsuda • Tokyopop • 13+
Early works from the creator of Kare Kano, Castle of Dreams collects two Japanese anthologies—Castle of Dreams and The Room Where an Angel Lives—into a single big 400-page book. The first half is fantasy stories united by the plot device of a mysterious sorcerer who grants wishes. In “In the Forest,” Sana, a girl, is summoned to the capital to become the new wife of the sultan. Initially resigned to the arranged marriage, Sana soon realizes that the sultan is a sympathetic man who still loves his dead wife, and gradually she longs to take her place in his heart. In “I am the Mermaid,” the priestess of a tropical island, who has mermaid blood in her veins, falls in love with a foreign sailor who washes up on shore. In the title story, “Castle of Dreams,” Chita, the illegitimate son of a feudal lord, comes to the castle as a servant hoping for revenge against his father, only to end up deeply attached to his half-brother, Prince Rafense. The second half of the book, except for “The Room Where an Angel Lives,” (the story of a young coal miner in 19th century England), consists of non-fantastic school stories. But whether her stories are set in fantasy worlds or the modern day, Tsuda goes places where most manga artists would never go; her stories are tales of star-crossed love and loss with excellent writing and unpredictable plots. In “Because I Have You” a girl with low self-esteem turns down a guy who loves her because she feels unworthy of him. In “I Won’t Go,” an extremely powerful tale, a girl in a long-distance relationship finds herself falling out of love with her boyfriend and into love with another man who understands her loneliness. With simple but clear artwork, Tsuda packs an incredible amount of emotion into a short space. Sometimes sad, sometimes hopeful, these stories are even stronger than her classic Kare Kano. (This review of Castle of Dreams was originally printed in Otaku USA magazine.)
*** 1/2 (three and a half stars)
Today’s winner is Andres L. of California. Congratulations, Andres!
This photo was sent by Trey M., one of the final winners of “365 Days of Manga.” As per the rules, you’re gonna get five more manga for showing yourself with your goods! Thanks for sending it in!

And now, after 12 months of manga reviews and manga giveaways, endeth the greatest manga giveaway I’m aware of having existed: 365 Days of Manga. I’ve posted some thoughts about the contest on my livejournal, A Year of Manga. It was an exciting year. In the end, I gave away approximately 2,850 manga, give or take a couple dozen (yeah, it’s not scientific), and not counting the extra manga I gave away for the King of RPGs character contest back in January.

If you received manga from me, but haven’t sent in your photo, you have till the end of September to send in your photo for five more free manga. Thanks for all your participation and enthusiasm that made me feel privileged to give my manga away to fans across the country. Finally, thanks to all the people who helped me. I couldn’t have done it without Dallas Middaugh of Random House, Camille Collette of Unbound Worlds (extra thanks, Camille!), Eric Denny, April Flores, Kyle Munley and all the other people on the Del Rey end. And of course Carl Gnam and Patrick Macias of Otaku USA, where I am the regular Manga Editor, writing new manga reviews in every issue of the magazine.

So what next? Well, I’m working on some new projects, and reading lots of manga, of course! Keep your dice hand free for me and Victor Hao’s King of RPGs Volume 2 in Summer 2011, please check out my regular column House of 1000 Manga at Anime News Network, and visit my personal webpage mockman.com for some of my own art and news about my personal projects! You can also follow me on twitter where I am khyungbird. See you around, and thanks for sticking around with me till the end!

— Jason Thompson