After School Nightmare

This manga started out mundane, a normal high school life except the main character has xx and xy chromosomes. Her/His top half is male and the bottom half is female. Then he is enrolled in an after school dream class where each member must fight to find the key. Once they find the key they can graduate. Though that’s all there was to the story at first, I kept reading because the characters were forced to look into themselves. First they started out rather empty, almost as if they were 2D but then they begin realizing things about themselves, growing up, maturing.
There were things within the manga that pointed towards the metaphor and the twist at the end that explained everything, but for those that don’t know much about Japanese culture, you wouldn’t understand, just as I didn’t understand.

SPOILER begins now…sort of…

Though it did not seem important at the time, eventually it becomes evident that birds are a constant theme in the story. In the dream world, when the main character is attacked birds come flying out to attack the attacker. The school’s emblem is a bird in a cage. Much later on in the manga, probably a little more than halfway, the main character is split into boy and girl form and each one fights to take over. At the end of the manga when you and the main character realize that the girl is going to win, more parts of the world outside the dream world are explained. For instance, in Japanese culture when one is pregnant one has “a bird in a cage” rather than “a bun in the oven”. Which explains why there are birds. And then it’s obvious that the woman, who is the nurse in the dream, is also the main character’s mother and she’s pregnant. with the main character.
Only in the end is it made clear that the metaphor of the school and the dream and finding the key is a metaphor for being born. They’re essentially told they’ll know when they’re ready to graduate, or in other words they’ll know when they’re ready to be born. I thought the metaphor was rather amazing. I had absolutely no idea until the very last two volumes or chapters or so.

SPOILER end…

This was one of the better mangas that I have read. It leads you around in circles, wondering what will happen and then gives you the biggest surprise at the end. You begin to really fall for the characters and really want them to win. I suppose it was carried out a bit long but it was probably necessary for the characters to be developed in that way.

Overall a very good read. I’m very glad I didn’t stop reading it.

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