Kameko Shimana hates her life, she hates her name (it sounds weird in Japanese), and she hates her new stepmother and baby brother, even though she knows they didn’t really do anything wrong. Depressed ever since her mother’s death, she thinks dark thoughts and skips school, until one day in the park she literally trips over a handsome, kimono-wearing man who smells of booze. The man is Fujiwara Taiga, and when a drunk stranger offers to rent you a room for just 10,000 yen a month (about $100) to get away from your family, of course you say yes, right?
Soon, Kameko is living in Taiga’s house, not a typical Japanese apartment building but a suburban one-story home like something out of an American sitcom. She meets the other teenage tenants: Nakajou Zen, a spiky-haired dork obsessed with kung fu and panda bears, and beautiful Tatsuage Asahi, who sweeps in just at the right time trailing clouds of sparkly screentone. (“The name ‘morning sun’ (Asahi) seems to fit him somehow…” Kameko thinks.)
Kameko is instantly smitten with Asahi, which is good because Taiga—who’s actually quite the warm, nurturing type—encourages her to step out of her shell, make a move, and fall in love. (“Have a dream! Fall in love! Do these two things, and your life will definitely change!”) But romantic obstacles stand in the way of Kameko’s crush, not to mention the everyday hijinks of sharing a house with three guys. For one thing, how will she ever tell her dad? Also, how will she afford her own furniture?
A goofy mix of comedy and romance, Dreamin’ Sun constantly switches between “spazzy and over-the-top” and “warm and heartfelt,” the latter usually heaped on us through the main character’s endless internal monologue overexplaining everything. The art is a generic shojo style, and the “teenage girl who ends up living with a bunch of hot boys” has been done before, too.
Luckily, after the overstuffed first chapter in which the heroine spontaneously opens up about all her problems to some dorks she just met, the story manages to at least stay interesting, thanks to a stream of new characters (such as Saotome Miku, the stylish older woman whom Kameko asks for advice) and implausible but entertaining twists. (Plus, it’s fun to read a shojo manga where the main character knows who she loves and pursues him wholeheartedly.) Alas, it’s just too clumsy and all over the place to really work.
publisher: Seven Seas
story and art: Ichigo Takano