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REVIEW: I HAD THAT SAME DREAM AGAIN reflects upon the meaning of happiness

I Had That Same Dream Again is emotional, though ultimately it is a happy, uplifting story.

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I Had That Same Dream Again

Story: Yoru Sumino
Art: Idumi Kirihara
Translation: Beni Axia Conrad
Lettering & Retouch: Rina Mapa
Cover Design: Kris Aubin & KC Fabellon
Editor: Jenn Grunigen
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment

Ask anyone who was called “mature” for their age as a child: Being precocious does not necessarily win you many friends. This is something little Nanako Koyanagi knows well, being largely friendless among her peers. Instead of classmates, she prefers to spend her time with the self-harming high school author Minami-san, the sweet and sassy Skank-san, and the gentle and kindly Obaachan. When Nanako gets an assignment to define happiness, she turns to these unlikely friends for their interpretations.

I Had That Same Dream Again

Nanako is bookish and self-important, her odd frankness and choice to separate herself intellectually from her peers leaving her mostly alone at school. She interacts with two boys: Ogiwara-kun who enjoys reading the same books as her but abandons conversations with her once his friends come around, and Kiryu-kun, who loves to draw but doesn’t like to admit it because he gets teased. Though she feels like she has more in common with Ogiwara, throughout the story she grows closer with Kiryu, encouraging him to embrace what truly makes him happy — though only after the two have a falling out and Nanako realizes that not everyone has the same way of dealing with bullies.

The I Had That Same Dream Again manga, a thick, all-in-one collection, has a twist that starts to become obvious about a third of the way through the story. At the risk of spoiling it, Nanako receives advice from her older friends on circumstances that feel very specific not only to her situation, but to each of theirs, ranging from making peace with her parents, to learning to open up to her peers, and finally to discovering the truth of that long sought-after definition of happiness. Her friends seem to disappear after she acts on their advice, puzzling Nanako. She remains oblivious to the nature of her relationship with these women, but each of them seem to reach an understanding of their role in her life, and her role in theirs.

I Had That Same Dream Again

The manga is an adaptation of the light novel by Yoru Sumino, the author of I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, the emotional story about a boy who finds the diary of a classmate and learns that she is dying. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas received many accolades for its film adaptation, the title belying how moving the content of the tale. I Had That Same Dream Again contains similarly thoughtful, moving content, though ultimately it is a happy, uplifting story.

Idumi Kirihara’s artwork brings Sumino’s words to life, depicting a vibrant, energetic Nanako as she tries to navigate the surprisingly fraught social world of elementary school. The clean lines and intuitive panel layout make this long manga a quick read, reflecting the voraciousness with which our young protagonist devours books like The Little Prince

For those who are interested in this reflective tale of growing up and finding happiness, both the I Had That Same Dream Again novel and manga adaptation are now available through Seven Seas Entertainment. Seven Seas also publishes the Sumino’s I Want to Eat Your Pancreas and At Night, I Become a Monster light novels.

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