Nami Matsuo is a magic user, but it’s never been something that she’s been any good at. Her failed attempts at spells have caused her a few problems with both classmates and family over the years, and the last thing she wants is to have to train as a licensed magic user. Even as Nami tries to figure out just what she wants to do with her life after high school, she encounters Ryutaro Tominaga, the new boy in class. Ryutaro’s rough personality and violent temper soon ensure that his classmates want nothing to do with him, but Nami can’t help wondering if there is more to him than meets the eye…
Following in the wake of the original Someday’s Dreamers, this little publicised spin-off takes place in the same world of magic and modern life, but this time with the focus on different characters. The gentle atmosphere, coming of age themes and mix of romance, drama and slice-of-life are all intact but never fear, this isn’t a cheap retread of the original, but rather the “more of the same” that the previous two volumes left me hoping for.
In fact, in some ways, Spellbound actually proves to be an improvement on the original. Although the original was very good, there was still room for improvement; in particular, there were occasional moments when a scene would seem a touch too abrupt or contrived. Fortunately, there are no such feelings here- all the little kinks have been ironed out to offer a more flowing and addictive narrative. Instead of starting with standalone stories, Spellbound gets straight down to the more character focused elements. This is Nami’s story, and it is her we learn the most about; on the surface, she may look like yet another good-natured lead character, but as we come to learn, her inability to master magic has caused her no small amount of pain in both past and present. The supporting characters, whilst well defined, are understandably less well developed, but nonetheless leave us with questions to be answered in the second volume- from the details of a past incident that cause classmate Kayoko to hate Nami and her magic to the truth behind Ryutaro’s moody exterior.
As with the original, the series’ beautiful artwork is also a major draw- the watercolour covers remain the most eye-catching aspect of the visuals, but Kumichi Yoshizuki is equally adept with black and white, combining deft pen strokes with skilful use of shading and tone.
Even if you just skimmed or outright skipped the bulk of what I’ve written, there is one thing you should take away from this review, and that is just how addictive Someday’s Dreamers: Spellbound 1 has proven to be. A compelling dose of slice-of-life that exceeds the original, this is one title that everyone must invest in, even if it is only to keep me company in the wait for the next volume.