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Reviewby Bamboo Dong, Aug 20th 2003
If I see you in my Dreams
In Japan there are manga weeklies targeted towards young girls, older girls, housewives—any group that can be named has at least one manga anthology dedicated to it. It is, therefore, no surprise that there are also comics drawn specifically for the average blue-collared businessman. Published by Shueisha, Business Jump gathers material for the lonely, work-hardened and mostly thankless worker, giving them tales they can relate to. Whether it's a forlorn story about company lay-off threats, merciless cross-country transfers, frustrating co-workers, or unrequited love, the scenarios in these comics remind the everyday toiler they are not alone in their misery.
Penned by Noriyuki Yamahana, a manga series appeared in Business Jump that encompassed all of the above traits, letting despondent yes-men wallow in collective sorrow together. The title was so popular that it was eventually turned into a brief animated television series and also a three-episode OVA series. (Un?)fortunately for American viewers, both versions of If I See You in My Dreams can now be bought from Media Blasters. Despite being labeled as a television series, though, the former has a unique layout that may surprise some viewers.
Even though the series is sixteen episodes long, it manages to fit itself snugly within a 90 minute run time. Needless to say, each installment rests just under six minutes, including the short ending theme and brief last-episode recap. As short as the entire production is, however, viewers will have to satisfy themselves with just that, as there are no other extras on the disc, except a small collection of trailers. Of course, despite the length of the series, it's still not short enough. Given the repetitive nature of the content, the series would be much better had it been cut down to just the first and last episodes.
True to the nature of most businessman-oriented stories, the series features a man who is just running low on luck. Misou isn't reeling in enough clients at work, and because of his daftness around members of the opposite sex, he has yet to kiss or even hold hands with a woman. Naturally, every pining man has to be crying over someone, and in this series it's a reticent kindergarten teacher named Nagisa. If the story were just a cat-and-mouse chase of affections, it would be entertaining, but instead, the series wanders down the wrong road and ends up being the most annoying series ever produced. Instead of letting the series be simplistic, it is soon revealed to viewers that while Misou thinks he's a hopeless reject, he's actually a chick magnet. His coworker loves him so much that she does everything she can to be kind to him and even dreams of someday marrying him.
As frustrating as the sheer denseness of Misou is, the scenes are even more aggravating by the misunderstandings that always pop up between him and Nagisa. Every single episode has at least one instance of Nagisa being made privy to him holding another woman, or finding out that he spent the night in another woman's apartment. Every. Single. Episode. With sixteen episodes, each around five minutes long, this is annoying to the point of utter madness. The first few times it's only mildly exasperating to see the idiotic characters stumble into one humiliating situation after another, but as time wears on, it's actually possible to pick a number and count down the seconds to when something bad happens. Beyond the first two episodes, nothing is left but abject feelings of dread in viewer stomachs as they see the characters continually stumbling into remorseful circumstances time and time and time and forever time again.
What's more appalling than the patterned episodes is the lack of character development. Virtually no background information is given about the characters' personalities other than the few lines of dialogue that brand them as dense, asinine fools who serve only as lightning rods for viewer resentment. Quite frankly, the one-dimensionality of the characters in this title is just disappointing.
As hackneyed as the episodes are, there is one facet of predictability that makes the show somewhat amusing: the comical use of figurative animation. Every time Misou's life is shattered, he either melts into a pile of sand, shoots off like a rocket, or some other outlandish act. A visual onomatopoeia, his appearance looks exactly like the emotion he is feeling. When he is fatigued, he looks like a weary old man, and when he feels burdened, he is shown with a ball and chain. It draws the line between regular imagery and an exaggerated portrayal of reality.
Then again, not all of the visuals are as well crafted as the metaphors used. Much of the show is slathered with fanservice and random nudity. Characters will find whatever reason possible to strip off their clothes and throw themselves at the nearest human-shaped figure. Once again, this goes back to the target audience of female-deprived businessmen but adds almost nothing to the story. With five-minute episodes, it's rather annoying to see so much screen time devoted to the same shower scenes over and over again.
Altogether, Media Blasters put together a good release. The only thing that could be improved was translating of all the Japanese signs. These were left largely untranslated, which is a shame. Other than that, there's no reason to complain. It's just a shame they invested so much time into such an awful and extremely repetitive series.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : D+
Animation : B-
Art : C
Music : C
+ Creative use of imagery
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