Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
For the Kid I Saw in My Dreams
Thirteen years ago, Senri's entire family was murdered while he hid in the under-stairs closet his twin brother had put him in. Now Senri is obsessed with finding the man who kidnapped an killed his brother, the one person who protected him from the abusive father and with whom he was so close they could share vision when the other was in pain. The only clue Senri has is the final vision he and Kazuto shared: a man with a scar on his arm that looks like the kanji for “fire.” He's spent years hunting for him, and now it looks like that may be about to pay off.
For the Kid I Saw in My Dreams has some surface similarities with Erased, Kei Sanbe's previous murder mystery with a supernatural twist. In both stories a young man is barely living his life as he focuses on things that happened in the past, but where Satoru was thrown back into past events (in a very real way), Senri has never allowed himself to forget what made his life fall apart. As a five-year-old, Senri and his older twin Kazuto were always in survival mode as the children of an abusive alcoholic father and a mother who couldn't stand up to him. Kazuto took the role of protector to Senri, and that goes south when, one rainy night, he's present when someone enters the home and slaughters their parents. The killer drags Kazuto out with him, and Senri, when he escapes the closet where Kazuto hid him from their dad, is discovered with the bodies of their parents and sent to an orphanage for troubled children.
The catch here is that as twins, and twins closer than most, as Senri remarks, he and Kazuto shared the ability to feel each other's pain and to share their vision at traumatic moments. That means that for months after he was kidnapped Senri was aware that Kazuto was still alive and therefore had a little bit of hope that things would get better. When he has a final vision accompanied by debilitating pain in his head, he realizes that Kazuto must have finally been killed by his captor, and he devotes his life to finding the man whose only recognizable feature in the vision was the fact that he has a scar that looks like the kanji for “fire” on his arm. Calling him “the fire man,” Senri has been relentless in his search ever since.
But…what if Kazuto isn't dead? That's not something Senri's ever thought about, or even a possibility truly raised by the volume, but the implication feels as if it's there nonetheless. Head injuries are tricky things, and it seems possible that Kazuto didn't die, but that the blow was enough to sever the twins' special connection. The fact that the fire man has been moving around a lot in the intervening years may also factor in to this possibility, as does the fact that when Senri finally gets a lead and heads to a factory where the man has been working, the foreman and a co-worker have no doubts whatsoever about Senri's story that he's the fire man's son. That could imply that he's mentioned having a child before, which again could lead to the possibility of Kazuto's survival.
How Senri would react to such a revelation would be interesting, because he is utterly devoted to his task of finding and killing the fire man to the point where he's basically a full-blown delinquent. When we meet him at school, at first he seems fairly well-adjusted, accepting a fellow student's request to help get back some money that was stolen. It later turns out, however, that it's part of an elaborate scam, one set up to help Senri get the money he needs for his vengeance. His friend Enan, who was also at the orphanage, seems to know most of what's going on, and she forms the moral backbone of the story. She's similar to Satoru's mother in Erased – a strong, caring woman who will do what she has to and takes no bullshit from anyone. Senri may be the protagonist, but without Enan, it seems as if he'd run right off the rails very quickly. Whether or not she can keep him at least somewhat grounded will be worth keeping an eye on as the story proceeds, because she may turn out to be the last check on Senri's behavior, especially if he discovers anything unexpected that causes him more mental anguish.
It makes sense that For the Kid I Saw in My Dreams is a dark story. It's fueled by traumatic memories and nightmares, and when Senri discovers that the fire man may have had some ties to his family, that only makes it worse. It also provides another link between he and Enan, because Enan's family tragedy is that her father was a murderer (of another married woman) and her mother killed herself from the shame. Are Enan's father and the fire man somehow related, not in a blood-ties sense but more out of some motivation? If Enan came out of the other side of the tragedy, does that mean that there's hope for Senri? The possibility that his quest for revenge will end badly for him grows ever more present with each passing chapter.
Enjoying Erased isn't a guarantee that this series will work for you, but if you like dark revenge-motivated suspense, you're in for a good time. Relying on past tragedy and a main character who is almost certainly unreliable, For the Kid I Saw in My Dreams' first volume is hard to put down.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B
+ Fast-moving and full of small details to fuel the mystery, Enan's a great character
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