Cafe of Dreams

Unemployed college graduate Sunbae is job hunting when she meets, Na Bong Nam, a2016-09-20-1 young man working at the Cafe of Dreams. Sipping her first cup of hope she begins to rethink career plans with the help of the cafe employees. Sunbae’s heart is slowly makings its plans until a beautiful young woman returns to the cafe from abroad. Has Sunbae’s cup of luck gone empty or is this just the beginning to a far bigger journey?

 

My Review (Part 1)

Korean Tea HouseThe teahouses of the East remain a fascinating part of their culture. Reading a manhwa which surrounds one struck the interest of this reviewer. The translators have chosen to refer to the teahouse of this manhwa as a café. Teahouses are usually for the older men in Korea but this one is for meant to be a place for the young people aka the terminology café. Also, this café of dreams serves coffee which is kinda weird for a teahouse but it works best for the story!

Characters

2016-09-20-14Soo Ah Sunbae-College graduate who is downhearted over a lack of job prospects. Her future is changed when a young man invites her to the café of dreams. She is bolstered by the suggestions there but still struggles with self-esteem.

2016-09-20-9

Na Bong Nam– Worker at the café of dreams who makes each unique cup of tea. He is handsome with a charm not lost on Sunbae. Na Bong Nam appears to have a relationship with a former international volunteer.

 

2016-09-20-16Soon Bong– Has a stalkerish passion for Sunbae. He is in the same job scenario as his crush. The café of dreams becomes a place for him as well. Soon Bong sometimes speaks faster than he thinks but at the core is a well-meaning young man.

 

Recently returned from volunteering abroad she has an affection for Na Bong Nam.2016-09-20-19 Sunbae sees her as the perfect girl. She is very pretty and has a lot of passion for the work being done as an overseas volunteer.

 

 

 

2016-10-07-4Computer techie who connects tea-drinking customers to potential job opportunities. He is the counterpart to Na Bong Nam. He lacks the graceful confidence of his coworker even tripping over himself.

 

My Review (Part Two)

Sunbae is a college graduate searching for her first job. She spots Na Boom, who invites her to visit the Café of Dreams. His first recommendation is a cup of hope and a2016-09-20-4 meeting with his coworker opens Sunbae to the idea of a job outside of Korea. Internships abroad offer opportunities which add global to returning candidate resumes. Returning to the café of dreams Sunbae is followed by admirer Soon Bong. He’s got a passion for Sunbae. Sunbae is finding more than hope at the café. She’s starting to have feelings for Na Bong Nam. The return of a beautiful young woman to the café opens Sunbae to the choice to volunteer her time overseas. Meanwhile, she struggles to see this lady standing by her crush. Sunbae will need all her courage to find her path to a future career and her heart.

The Café of Dreams tackles a topic college graduates face every year: what happens 2016-09-20-22now? Sunbae has done the academic work, gained a degree, but now remains at a loss about where the future leads. Na Boom Nam’s invitation to a cup of hope in the Café of Dreams has huge potential to opening a manhwa of infinite possibilities. The humor in the computer techie who stumbles over to help Sunbae is there. The definite potential of a romantic relationship impeded by another beautiful woman is there. Every element is there! The difficulty is the author’s ability to weave them into a powerful narrative. Café of Dreams lacks the intricacy of endearing a character to the reader. This is not about length. There are oneshots which master the art of such a thing.

The Café of Dreams ending could be the opening to a beautiful future. Details skimmed 2016-09-20-24over by the author could have created a journey for the reader. One which would have filled the wonderings of many in the position of Sunbae. Even the possibility of a fantasy series where a cup of tea holds magic for the drinker to manipulate their future. Sunbae’s own dreams deserved to be explored. This manhwa should have been explored. Instead it leaves a reader pondering how such a sweet ending could have been so much more. The possibility remains open if the author were to release a sequel or further chapters exploring questions left unanswered.

 

 

To the Reader

Those seeking a webtoon tugging at the romantic heart strings would be better off with2016-09-20-12 Orange Marmalade. Slice of life fans would be interested in Sunbae’s realistic struggle on deciding just what to do when life transitions from academics to the real world struggles. Comedy fans might be amused by the antics of hopeful suitor, Soon Bong , in his quest for Sunbae’s affections. Those looking for a quick read will find it as Café of Dreams is a brief eight chapters.

 

Final Score: 5.2

 

Details

2016-09-20-1Name(s): Café of Dreams

Author(s): Seok-Woo

Artist(s): Seok-Woo

Chapter(s): 8

Year: 2008

Genre: Romance, Comedy, Slice of Life, Webtoon

Status: Complete

Anime:

As the God of Death Dictates

Sixteen year old Ayumi has one month left to live.

Knowing it she finally has the courage to confess her love to long-time crush, Musashi. Now she´s in love but the grim reaper sent to take her away has other plans. He´s obsessed with this unusual girl and no human boy is going to stand in the way. Can Ayumi´s love last or will her heart be stolen away by Shiro? Will thirty days be her last chance at happiness?

My Review (Part 1)

Grim-reaper tells Ayumi the bad news

Six months ago a good family friend was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Medically most pancreatic patients pass away in less than six months; rarely do they live a year. The horrifying idea of counting down your final thirty days is terrifying. Ayumi´s own accidental discovery of knowing you are living on limited time struck home.

I thought this manga would merely be a girl living life

to the fullest in thirty short days. As the God of Death Dictates completely surprised me. Her story was proof no life is ever so simple. You need to have more than courage to keep an open heart and still be yourself. Ayumi is proof a person´s self can be powerful enough to change fate.

The Characters

Ayumi Maki is a love-struck sixteen year old. She is naturally open-hearted, compassionate, and feels for others. When a grim reaper tells her about the thirty days she has left, Ayumi makes a change becoming more outspoken in her affections.

Musashi Hiroe is a classic teenage boy. He doesn´t give off the clearest of signals and struggles to understand Ayumi. Musashi is often jealous to the point of being hurtful. Genuinely caring for Ayumi he tries to ´solve´ the grim reaper problem. When his first method fails he continues to promise he will protect her from harm.

 

Grim Reaper (Shiro) claims to be emotionless over his job. Yet he cries over taking the soul of a cat. He becomes dangerously obsessed over Ayumi who brings out the curiousity in him for human feelings. Shiro can be extremely childish. He wants his way. When Ayumi stands up to him, Shiro is forced to consider what it means to feel for another.

The Art
Ayumi´s looks in the first chapters reminded me of a

Ayumi is awkward here

drag queen just beginning. The overly large lashes made the eyes comical and odd. Her face was awkward and her body boxy. The ´pretty´ men around her made her looks stand out for all the wrong reasons. Then something changes a bit. Ayumi gets a bit toned down. She becomes far more beautiful with far less.

I love the light beams. The soft shading makes me happy.

The manga´s overall feel is one of a romance. I love the shading of the background. There is a softness to it. Light is such a central part of this story it seems only natural it be that way. I do wish the artist had taken a bit more time on Shiro´s clothes. He is such a pretty face but I get distracted by Near type pajamas.

My Review Part 2
I enjoyed this manga so much because it had a

Jealous Shiro threatens to kill Musashi if Ayumi doesn´t comply

storyline more than a girl living life to the fullest in thirty days. You had three very different character types locked together over one girl who first seemed so average. I liked the romance. I loved that Ayumi didn´t get locked into a freaky love triangle. She got distracted but stood strong even when her man acted like a d-bag.

My wish for this manga would be it had expanded a

Who are you grim reaper pajama boy? We want more!

bit. The was the author´s first two part manga which made me very proud to see. You really got a storyline in those two volumes which some mangas fail to do in thirty volumes. I just wished it could have given us a bit more on Shiro. He is so central and gets rushed towards the end. You find yourself wondering more about how his journey happened.

To the Reader

Romance!

Romance lovers open your heart to As the God of Death Dictates. This is a manga which has love at its heart. There is a definite romance and even a love triangle at times. The manga is relatively short but what you get is a full love story. I do not know if Ayumi´s love will last a lifetime. She is only sixteen but what is happening at that moment is worth risking a read.

 

Where do we go when we die?
Ayumi may find out

Supernatural lovers might be surprised to find I recommend this to them as well. I have a fascination in the way mangas view death. This author´s idea is one which takes a turn from the usual view of death I see in manga.

Final Score: 7.9



Details

Name(s): Kamisama no Iu Toori; As the God of Death Dictates; Как велит Бог Смерти; 神様の言うとおり; 神的预言好准
Author(s): Mimori Ao
Artist(s): Mimori Ao
Year: 2002
Genre: Romance, Drama, Supernatural, School Life
Chapters: 8
Status: Complete
Anime: No

Bungaku Shoujo to Shi Ni Tagari no Douke

Inoue Konoha became a ´mysterious bishoujo author´
at the age of fourteen who vows to never write again. Amano Tooko is the ´literature girl´ who runs the school´s literature club. After Inoue spots her eating a book she drafts him into the literature club. Every day he writes stories for her to eat until the club´s drop box brings a mystery to their doorway….

My Thoughts

Away from the anime…off to read the manga!!

When you love an anime it makes you wary of reading the manga. I had an extremely bad experience when I did this with Le Chevalier Déon and vowed to be more careful in the future. I was until taking in the lakeview from the house balcony. I felt so lucky to be alive on such a beautiful day I decided, today is the day I want to read Bungaku Shoujo. Read the manga. Not watch the anime. For better or worse I had made the decision. Bungaku Shoujo To Shi Ni Tagari No Douke (wtf? why is the manga name so long) would be read by this reviewer!

*Now readers: Before I begin the nitty gritty of the review I do want to mention the Bungaku Shoujo (anime movie/manga/episodes) are all based on the light novel by Nomura Mizuki. Good translations of light novels are difficult to come by or not accessible so I have yet to read Bungaku Shoujo in its original form. I´m on the hunt just not quite there yet.

Bungaku Shoujo to Shi Ni Tagari no Douke is as unusual a manga as its name´s English translation: A

Konoha reaches the roof to late to stop Miu´s suicide

Literary Girl and a Clown Who Dreamed to Die  In the anime there is a great deal of emphasis on Inoue Konoha´s best-selling novel or greatest embarassment whereas the manga has a much darker undercurrent. Early on you learn Konoha witnessed his closest childhood friend jump from the school roof. In the year before the manga ´begins´ he struggled with himself. He withdrew from his family. Became depressed and refused to write again.

To keep her yokai secret she makes Konoha
the other member of the school literary club

Until one ordinary day he comes across Tooko-senpai under the school´s magnolia tree eating a book. One reason to really love this manga is for Tooko-senpai. I am used to yokai in manga but not one like Tooko. She defines herself as the ´literature girl´ who exists by eating literature. What flavors normal people find in food she tastes in the different authors. To keep her secret she declares Konoha must join the literature club so ´she can monitor him.´

Tooko-senpai´s character is a little bit double-sided.

Konoha first close view of Amano Tooko

In many ways she is a slightly immature high school student with a very large appetite. Then there are times where she appears almost otherworldly in her understanding. She is like a magnet. Pulling Konoha slowly away from his depression to something a lot like life.

If the manga soley focused on Konoha and Tooko-

Let´s talk about S

senpai it would lack the ´spice´ of the movie/anime OVAs. Instead the author adds the element of the unnamed figure known only as S. I love how the character of S is portrayed as we see a figure outline which could be male or female. You don´t know who S is but the assumption is one of these characters has S hidden behind their smile.

From a medical perspective S would be described as

Hiding away who they are so no will find out the monstrous truth

having something akin to schizoid personality disorder. Emotionally detached S feels nothing even his own grandma dies. S doesn´t understand sadness or happiness. You get glimpses of the struggle this character constantly has to hide who they are. They are paranoid of others discovering the real them. After all, isn´t emotion part of what makes us human?

While I really enjoy the element added by S it does

No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai

add an issue. In the manga they refer often to Ningen Shikkaku which was written by Osamu Dazai in the early 1900s. The English translation is literally´Disqualified from Being Human´but usually the book´s title goes by ´No Longer Human.´Before you think this is some obscure book just know it is actually the second best-selling book in Japan. 

I could not find an ecopy but the jist is this: The book is a three part memorandum about a man unable to

allow others to see his true self. In first person he writes of his struggle to keep up a cheerful persona while hiding his own lack of feeling. The recurring theme in the author´s life was suicide so it is in the book. People have wondered if it was Osamu´s will or a type of autobiography of his life. Shortly after he wrote it Osamu Dazai committed suicide.

To appreciate the deeper element of Bungaku Shoujo I had to know the ´jist´ of Ningen Shikkaku. Of course I didn´t get that fact until after reading the manga. Only then could I appreciate just who S was. And the character hiding S inside? The ending brings all the clues together. This manga needs to be read in a whole setting. Not half before dinner + cardiac workout and the second half much later. The manga is a journey into the human psyche which should not be interrupted.

The Art

My thoughts took so long I made a seperate section for those who got tired of me going on about the story. I am a sucker for watercolor which makes Bungaku Shoujo To Shi Ni Tagari No Douke´s color pages a favorite of mine. The soft tones are such a deep contrast to the dark pages of S. I really appreciate manga artists who are not afraid to literally reflect a character´s darkness by flipflopping the regular white background to black. Not every artist does it right but for the character of S who is the darker half of a human did a fabulous job.

The characters themselves are beautifully drawn when being serious or just looking at us with those wide eyes. I love the way th

e hair flows around them especially Amane Tooko whose thin braids are an unusual artistic choice. The reason behind her braids is actually a part of the storyline. The artist chose to give the character Tooko long thin limbs which give a very graceful appearance to her overall figure. She flows from her hair to her delicate fingers.

Now comes the part of Bungaku Shoujo to Shi Ni

I like this look. Bychanging the eyes and
body proportions it totally works

Tagari No Douke´s art I really very strongly disliked. I will not apologize for not being a fan of the ´cutesy chibi´ anger look. There are many mangas where it does work very well and though I will never be a fan, I have to admire the skill display. In Bungaku Shoujo To Shi Ni Tagari No Douke

The HAMSTER face. Brings to
mind my dwarf hamster which
was always biting me. 

I wish they would have stuck with using the change in eye shapes and overall body look to show a humorous change in emotion. Instead they far to often employed the pouty lip-biting puffy cheek face-shot only illustration. It ended up screaming HAMSTER to me.

To the Reader

Bungaku Shoujo To Shi Ni Tagari No Douke has an innocent appearance of a school slice-of-life manga. To the outsider I would say it looks rated E for everyone. Then you begin to read and right away it becomes clear this isn´t a happy mystery. Readers must be aware this manga deals heavily with the element of suicide. I do not know how many of us have been touched by suicide but last year it affected a great deal of people I know. Konoha´s need to understand is a reflection I see in their eyes. Parts of the manga might be triggering to those who struggle with suicide so read with care.

The next point I must make to you readers might be taken as a tad snobbish. This manga is not going to be for those who hate reading. The title has the dead

I never liked The Great Gasby. It would give me heartburn
if I ate it. Especially any pages with Daisy on them.

giveaway ´literature girl´ which means it speaks often about literature. Not the bland grammar stuff you learn in English class. I am talking about Tooko-senpai´s comparisons between literature and flavor. Heck. The Japanese novel Ningen Shikkaku is a huge part of understanding this manga. I will tell you straight up: be prepared to do a bit of reading (even sparknotes if you don´t have time for the complete novel) or lose out on some of what flavors Bungaku Shoujo To Shi Ni Tagari No Douke.

Finally! If you enjoy mystery, psychological, slice of

The movie is my favorite but the OVAS are good too!

life, and survived the above warnings then do check out Bungaku Shoujo To Shi Ni Tagari No Douke. You won´t find action scenes like in Bleach or Gintama nor romance like in 24 Colors but you will find a bit of humor and lots of friendship. And if reading the manga sounds like a bit much check out the movie/Anime OVA. It´s no fairy tale but less dark than Bungaku Shoujo to Shi Ni Tagari No Douke. Happy reading!

Details

ungaku
Shoujo to Shinitagari no Pierrot; “文学少女”と死にたがりの道化; 文学少女 (文学少女和想死的小丑);
“A literary girl” and a Clown who dreamed to die; “Едно буквално момиче”
и Клоун, който мечтаел да умре (Bulgarian) – See more at:
http://www.mangahere.co/manga/bungaku_shoujo_to_shi_ni_tagari_no_douke/#sthash.5pClBFjd.dpufName(s):
ungaku
Shoujo to Shinitagari no Pierrot; “文学少女”と死にたがりの道化; 文学少女 (文学少女和想死的小丑);
“A literary girl” and a Clown who dreamed to die; “Едно буквално момиче”
и Клоун, който мечтаел да умре (Bulgarian) – See more at:
http://www.mangahere.co/manga/bungaku_shoujo_to_shi_ni_tagari_no_douke/#sthash.5pClBFjd.dpuf
ungaku
Shoujo to Shinitagari no Pierrot; “文学少女”と死にたがりの道化; 文学少女 (文学少女和想死的小丑);
“A literary girl” and a Clown who dreamed to die; “Едно буквално момиче”
и Клоун, който мечтаел да умре (Bulgarian) – See more at:
http://www.mangahere.co/manga/bungaku_shoujo_to_shi_ni_tagari_no_douke/#sthash.5pClBFjd.dpuf
Bungaku
Shoujo to Shi ni Tagari no Douke; Bungaku Shoujo to Shinitagari no
Pierrot; “文学少女”と死にたがりの道化; 文学少女 (文学少女和想死的小丑); “A literary girl” and a
Clown who dreamed to die; “Едно буквално момиче” и Клоун, който мечтаел
да умре (Bulgarian) – See more at:
http://www.mangahere.co/manga/bungaku_shoujo_to_shi_ni_tagari_no_douke/#sthash.5pClBFjd.dpuf
Bungaku
Shoujo to Shi ni Tagari no Douke; Bungaku Shoujo to Shinitagari no
Pierrot; “文学少女”と死にたがりの道化; 文学少女 (文学少女和想死的小丑); “A literary girl” and a
Clown who dreamed to die; “Едно буквално момиче” и Клоун, който мечтаел
да умре (Bulgarian) – See more at:
http://www.mangahere.co/manga/bungaku_shoujo_to_shi_ni_tagari_no_douke/#sthash.5pClBFjd.dpuf
Bungaku
Shoujo to Shi ni Tagari no Douke; Bungaku Shoujo to Shinitagari no
Pierrot; “文学少女”と死にたがりの道化; 文学少女 (文学少女和想死的小丑); “A literary girl” and a
Clown who dreamed to die; “Едно буквално момиче” и Клоун, който мечтаел
да умре (Bulgarian) – See more at:
http://www.mangahere.co/manga/bungaku_shoujo_to_shi_ni_tagari_no_douke/#sthash.5pClBFjd.dpuf
Bungaku
Shoujo to Shi ni Tagari no Douke; Bungaku Shoujo to Shinitagari no
Pierrot; “文学少女”と死にたがりの道化; 文学少女 (文学少女和想死的小丑); “A literary girl” and a
Clown who dreamed to die; “Едно буквално момиче” и Клоун, който мечтаел
да умре (Bulgarian) – See more at:
http://www.mangahere.co/manga/bungaku_shoujo_to_shi_ni_tagari_no_douke/#sthash.5pClBFjd.dpuf

Name(s): 文学少女与想死的小丑; “A literary girl” and a Clown who dreamed to die; “Bungaku
Shoujo” to Shinitagari no Pierrot; Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime;
Bungaku Shoujo to Shi ni Tagari no Douke; Bungaku Shoujo to Shi ni
Tagari no Pierrot; “文学少女”と死にたがりの道化
 Author(s):Nomura Mizuki
Artist(s): Kousaka Rito; Takeoka Miho
Chapter(s): 23
Year: 2008
Genre: Psychological, Drama, Friendship, Comedy
Status: Complete
Anime: Yes (Movie and 3 episodes)
Light Novel: Yes
.

Namida no Tantanmen (Teary Tantan Noodles)

Worn out by the world a young woman finds comfort

food and solace in a tiny Chinese Restaurant.

My Thoughts
Hands down Namida no Tantanmen is the best oneshot I have read in years. Oneshots have always intrigued me. Most of them are more like tantalizing tastes of a manga’s potential. You read the oneshot then wish for more. Namida no Tantanmen doesn’t leave you with an unfinished sense. For once this oneshot of 41 pages did what mangas with hundreds of pages often are incapable of: it told a complete story.

I cannot remember the last time I read a food manga. Food doesn’t interest me much in reality. In Namida no Tantanmen the element of food is important but adds to the storyline not detracts. Part of the irony of the story is this Chinese restaurant doesn’t actually have any noodles. This is one mystery which goes along with the character’s owners. The wife

who always seems ¨weighed down¨ and a husband hidden behind kitchen walls. They once had a beautiful restaurant but circumstances tore it away leaving it a cruel memory.

The main character in this reminded me so much of many people I know. She doesn’t like her job but like most of us, does it because it is a job. You need funds to survive aka a job even if this job is not your first pick. Strangely it is the troubles of the restaurant which is soon to close which give her a reason to go one with life. To search for something to give purpose to this life. Something unusual to most of us.

Though I believe this oneshot to be one of the best in

my book of reads it’s art was a mix. I love the backgrounds of the city. They remind me of a watercolor. Details indicated by foggy lines give a look befitting the storyline. Mostly the characters are well done except for one detail which drove me insane. Side shots of the main characters face have the angle of the chin off for the rest of the facial details. If this was an artistic choice then I didn’t like it. If it came from being a beginner artist then it needs a bit of modifying.

To the Reader
I loved this oneshot. I truly did and I believe you may feel the same. Now younger readers may not fully get just why this manga rings so true. You haven’t hit the job ages which ends up making so many people completely jaded. Lucky you are living in the bubble which won’t be cracked until the job struggles set in. No offense meant to you but it may strike your fancy more to check out reviews here like Orange Marmalade or Angel Beats or Alive-The Final Evolution. 

Details

Name(s): 涙のタンタン麺 ; Teary Tantan Noodles

Artist(s): Takahashi Tsutomu

Author(s): Takashi Tsutomu

Release: 2014

Chapter(s): Oneshot

Genre(s): Drama, Slice of Life, Seinen

Status: Complete

Anime: No