Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare, Vol. 4

By Yuhki Kamatani. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialized in the magazine Hibana. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Jocelyne Allen. Adapted by Ysabet MacFarlane.

After three volumes that are brilliantly written but also somewhat fraught and filled with frustration, it was wonderful to see how this final volume of Our Dreams at Dusk has so much acceptance in it. It’s in Tchaiko’s present, when he finds that the distance he’s been deliberately keeping between himself and his dying partner’s family doesn’t have to be that way. It’s in the past, where we get Someone-san’s feelings of wanting to be alone and “unlabeled”. And of course it’s in Daichi and Saki’s wedding, as Saki is accidentally outed to her parents and they both have to deal with the fallout… which is not as bad as initially feared. In the end even Misora is able to make peace with Tasuku after getting an apology, and then an apology for apologizing (which I really liked), and shows up at the wedding dressed to the nines. And, of course, there’s still the amazing artwork as well. It’s a conclusion that should satisfy almost everyone.

Tchaiko gets the majority of the focus in this volume. We learn about his partner, who’s dying an in a hospital, and see some of their life together, which looks wonderfully happy. Despite that, Tchaiko goes to visit him only when his family isn’t there, as he doesn’t want to insert himself into their lives – Seichiro has a son from a previous marriage (he had broken up with Tchaiko at that time) and they’re finally talking to each other again, so Tchaiko doesn’t want to get in the middle of that. But that’s not what Seichiro wants, and (as it turns out) not what his son wants either. Through Tchaiko, we also get a better handle on Someone-san, who (appropriately, as it turns out) has been around the periphery of this manga but never seemed to be a main cast member. In a flashback, she admits to Tchaiko and Seichiro that she’s asexual, but doesn’t want to be explaining that every minute of every day, which leads Seichiro to suggest she “wants to be no one, someone from who-knows-where”. It’s a great moment.

Speaking of Someone-san, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about how far Tsubaki has come over the course of this manga. From being the remote object of Tasuku’s attraction to a somewhat uncomfortable participant in Cat Clutter’s world, he’s also the one able to point out crucial insights, such as when Someone-san makes cafe au lait for the group, and they’re all startled to see her getting involved. Tsubaki points out that she’s still a human being, a label that is both correct and as broad as possible. This leads to Tasuku inviting her to Daichi and Saki’s wedding despite knowing she won’t be there, and saying that her being someone is enough for him – and so is the distance, which doesn’t have to be less OR more. As for Tsubaki, at the end of the book he feels far more comfortable being Tasuku’s friend, and Tasuku’s acceptance by others and acceptance of himself has led him to grow enormously as well.

The book ends with a death and a wedding (and I didn’t even get into the reaction of Saki’s dad, which once again plays into “I know intellectually what my reaction should be, but it’s much harder when it’s my daughter we’re talking about”, but is really heartwarming), and it feels an appropriate place for the story to stop. It was an incredible journey, and this may be my choice for the manga title of 2019. Everyone who loves manga should be reading it.

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