5.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy and Reality
“Castle of Dreams” is a really beautiful shojo anthology series by Masami Tsuda, the creator of the popular Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances. This one volume collects together two comics previously released on in Japan by Masami, “Castle of Dreams” and “The Room Where an Angel Lives.”
The first half, “Castle of Dreams,” is a series of three stories with a fairytale theme, “In the Forest,” “I am the Mermaid” and the eponymous “Castle of Dreams.” While different stories, they are all linked by the introduction of a sorcerer who will grant a single wish, a wish that can be “a blessing or a curse, to help someone or hurt someone.” Of course, wishes are never freely given, and magic always has its consequences.
The next book, “The Room where Angels Live,” has five stories along more typical themes of love and romance, of loss and redemption. The first story, “The Room Where an Angel Lives,” has a poor street boy who suffers and works hard in order to provide a happy life for a young abandoned girl he found on the street one day. When the girl turns out to be the missing daughter of a wealthy family, the consequences are not what you would expect. The next story, Awkward Relationship,” is of a plain girl whose childhood companion grew up to become the school heart throb. Now she doesn’t know how to speak to him, and misses the boy she once played with. “I Won’t Go” tells the story of a young jr. high school girl who has been carrying on a long-distance relationship with the boy she loves. A new boy complicates her feelings, and she struggles with what is more important, being loyal to her long-term boyfriend or being true to her feelings. “Because I Have You” is of a girl who obsessively studies and strives to succeed, sacrificing everything for her goals. But perhaps she doesn’t need to? The last story, “Where are they now,” is just a short little snippet of two male friends and the girl who thinks they would be a hot couple.
Masami Tsuda really shows her strengths here. Aside from her art, which is beautiful, the pacing of her stories is perfect and she really knows how to use the beats of a story, when to add and when to subtract, when to dialog and when silence speaks louder than words. I really enjoyed “Castle of Dreams,” both the fantasy elements of the first book and the more “true life” of the second.
Also, you really can’t beat the price for this. “Castle of Dreams” is literally two books for the price of one, double the size of the usual Tokyo Pop releases. Even though it doesn’t continue a series, these are the types of stories you can read and re-read and re-read again. Really good stuff.