After School Nightmare, Volume 10

After School Nightmare, Volume 10Creator: Setona Mizushiro
U.S. publisher: Go! Comi
ISBN: 9781933617718
Released: February 2009
Original release: 2008

Many years after reading the first volume of Setona Mizushiro’s manga series After School Nightmare, I have now read the tenth and final volume. After School Nightmare is a dark and intense psychological fantasy with strong horror elements. Despite finding the first few volumes compelling, I also found them to be challenging since many of the themes explored hit fairly close to home for me. However, while After School Nightmare continued to be unsettling, I am glad that I finally made a point to read the entire series. After School Nightmare, Volume 10 was first published in Japan in 2008. A little over a year later the tenth volume was released in English by Go! Comi in 2009. Go! Comi no longer exists as a company and so After School Nightmarish has gone and currently remains out-of-print. Sadly, that also means that the series is becoming more difficult to find with each passing year.

Mashiro has slowly come to terms with his gender identity, but it has been a struggle. His body can’t be easily defined as either male or female and although he initially made the decision to live as a man, he has since realized that may not have been the correct choice to make. Although he was always uncomfortable with who he was, in large part Mashiro started to reevaluate his self-identity when he was placed in a special after school class required to graduate. Along with several other students, Mashiro was forced to confront and share his most personal fears, anxieties, and insecurities within a literal nightmare. Mashiro’s fellow classmates, each dealing with their own traumas, are also in the position to graduate, but to accomplish that will require active change and desire on their part. Every one of the students in the class must participate in the brutal, violent nightmares if they hope to leave the agony and anguish of their old lives behind.

After School Nightmare, Volume 10, page 44The final volume of After School Nightmare is almost impossible to discuss without spoiling the entire series—it contains a fair number of plot twists and major revelations which greatly impact the understanding and interpretation of the manga as a whole. The boundaries of birth, life, rebirth, and death are much thinner than one might expect and very closely intertwined. However, while Mizushiro leads readers down multiple dark and twisting paths over the course of the series, the true nature of the nightmares and of the school itself have been hinted at from the very beginning of the series. After School Nightmare, Volume 10 addresses many of the mysteries and answers many of the questions raised by the story and setting of the manga. In the end, there is a reason for the ominous and disquieting atmosphere and a purpose behind everything that the students have been through.

Honestly, After School Nightmare, Volume 10 leaves me feeling conflicted. In concept, I like what Mizushiro was attempting to do with the series, however I ultimately found the execution and much of the resolution to be unsatisfying. Although almost everything is explained by the end of the series, that explanation seems to effectively render meaningless all of the character development, their struggles and triumphs as they grow and overcome personal strife. I think in part After School Nightmare was intended to be uplifting or even empowering as the characters find the strength to survive. That’s certainly a legitimate interpretation, but to me it came across as exceptionally depressing as though the manga is needlessly or at least unnecessarily cruel. (And for the most part, I actually really liked the darkness of the series.) Still, I’m glad that I finally finished reading After School Nightmare. Even though I’m still working out my feelings regarding the conclusion of the series, over all I found it to be worthwhile.


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Comments

  1. I feel similarly dissatisfied by the end of this series. I still think it warrants a reread, since I’m left in that confused state of feeling jilted but with some disproportionate gift (that seemingly positive message) left behind. But I’m worried I’ll just be disappointed again. I think for those who are very sensitive about gender, abuse, and nontraditional relationship types, I would find it difficult to recommend the series, as I feel like the ending erases the validity of such experiences. It’s a beautiful story but I really wish it had gone another way. To accept it, I’ve told myself that it was written by someone in a society different from mine, in a time different from this present one, perhaps with influences that didn’t allow for a more open and encouraging message. I do believe that through darkness and drama can come acceptance and knowledge, but the series also missed the mark for me. Still beautiful, but the end hurt. Thank you for your thoughtful review. It really helped me collect my own thoughts :)

    • Ash Brown says:

      Despite my frustrations with the ending, I’ll probably end up reading the series multiple times as well. And I agree that it’s difficult to recommend to just anyone without some caveats. But there’s a lot that I liked and found interesting about the series, such as its exploration of self and identity and the disquieting beauty of the symbolism within the nightmares. And the elation felt when the characters were able to reclaim control and power over their own lives and who they were! It was crushing that the manga ultimately seemed to negate all of that even if that was the opposite of the series’ intention. I wish that it had ended differently, too, although I’m not exactly sure what a satisfying ending would have looked like. ^_^; Anyway, thank you so much for taking the time to share your own thoughts and for the kind words! I’m glad the review helped in some small way; I’m still trying to process my own feelings about the series, and your comments were helpful, too. :)

      • Yes, I realized after the fact that my comment might’ve put some words in your mouth outside of your own intentions in the review. I’m sorry about that! The symbolism was beautiful. I’m sure I’ll reread this, and probably wind up having difficulty with parts of it again – but hopefully with time, I’ll be able to approach it differently and see something new. :)

        • Ash Brown says:

          Oh, no need for apologies! I didn’t take your comments that way at all. It’s not often that I have the opportunity to directly discuss manga in-depth with someone and compare experiences and interpretations, so I’m really grateful that you took the time to write! I think we actually had very similar impressions regarding the series. :)

  2. “You’ve been punked.”

    I was not amused with the resolution of this series, which felt like an editor’s attempt to placate a readership they believe isn’t ready for Non-binary. It felt particularly upsetting as I connected emotionally with this manga moreso than any other i can think of, and quite literally sobbed my way through volumes 8 and 9. After School Nightmare was a powerful heart-rending read and I was left feeling like Mizushiro’s true ending, one which would have done justice to Mashiro’s struggle, was tossed out in favor of… what we got. All through your review project I kept feeling like I wanted to stop you from being as invested in the characters as I was and spare you the pain. :-/

    • Ash Brown says:

      The ending of After School Nightmare was devastating in a way that I don’t think was intended. The eighth and ninth volumes were some of the best in the series, which I think in some ways made the tenth even more disappointing and difficult to accept. I definitely agree though, After School Nightmare was powerful and heart-rending; I just wish that large parts of the conclusion had been handled better.

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  1. […] in my (at one point monthly) horror manga review project delves into Setona Mizushiro’s After School Nightmare, Volume 10. I have mixed feelings about the series’ conclusion, but overall there was a lot that I […]

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