As inspiring as it is heartbreaking.
Ever since I read the first volume of Our Dreams at Dusk, I wait impatiently for every one that follows. This series covers topics that are very dark and emotional, yet does it in such an interesting and accessible way, I think it should be a must read for everyone. The way it handles topics relating to the LGBT community is passionate and understanding.
Tasuku Kaname is a high school student who stumbles upon a drop in facility while he’s contemplating committing suicide. In this volume, he has been away from the drop in house all summer and is finally coming back to help Utsumi, the owner of Cat Clutter, to help renovate an old house with the group. Also showing up to help out is Tsubaki, Kaname’s crush from school. A lot of this volume explores the relationship between the two and be aware, Tsubaki isn’t as open minded we want him to be. I found the author’s approach to Tsubaki to be interesting, as generally he’s not a bad person. He pays attention to the people around him and helps out. He tells Mai she can love whatever she wants and shrinks back when someone calls him out on his bullshit. He obviously has a crisis when presented with the idea of being gay and freaks out, likely because of his background since we know his father uses slurs often. That of course, is no excuse for his behavior in relation to Tsubaki, but he is portrayed as a “real” individual, not good or bad but shades of depressing grey. It’s hard to read for sure, but very true to life to read a character like Tsubaki and think to yourself you knew 10 different Tsubaki’s in your life. When we finally see Kaname stand up to Tsubaki, you feel a sign of relief, as though he is the stand in for you, finally saying what you always wanted to to those you’ve experienced like him. Maybe that’s just me projecting but I felt it deep.
Another story running through this volume is the reading learning more about Utsumi, the leader of Cat Clutter. While working on the housing project, an old friend of Utsumi’s retuns, Oyama, and brings her daughter Mai with her. Through her, the reader learns that Utsumi is a transgender male, and her outgoing and intense personality clashes with Utsumi’s more confident but introverted one. As a character says in the story, it’s hard to be angry with someone who is being nice, but this is what happens with Oyama. She means well and wants Utsumi to talk to people about being trans so others don’t misunderstand him, not realizing that it’s not the job of trans people to accept all the emotional labor of having to explain their story again and again. It’s up to others to educate themselves on these topics and if Utsumi is happy with who he is and doesn’t want to do it, he doesn’t have to. He, much like Kaname, snaps and tells Oyama to stop pitying him and deciding what he has to do for other people just because he’s trans. It’s not on him to always be ready to teach people about acceptance, people have to do that on their own. Utsumi has quickly become one of my favorite character in the whole series and I look forward to getting more of him in future volumes.
This series is just beautiful. Every time I read a volume, I well up with tears. It’s so real and moving, I can’t recommend it enough.
Trigger Warnings for the f-slur being used repeatedly and some other homophobic/transphobic language
Title: Our Dreams at Dusk (Volume 3)
Author: Yuhki Kamatani
Three Descriptors: Honest, Heartbreaking, Inspiring