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Phantom Dream: Volume 1    by Natsuki Takaya order for
Phantom Dream
by Natsuki Takaya
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

One of the most popular manga that Tokyopop publishes is Natsuki Takaya's Fruits Basket. This tale of a girl who lives with people who turn into the zodiac animals captured shojo fans' hearts before it even hit the North American shore. Now, Tokyopop has released Takaya's first shojo manga series, Phantom Dream. Even though it is an earlier work, her style still shines through.

Tamaki Otoya is the only male heir to his family's temple. This means that he has come into the powers of the Shugoshi, an exorcizer of evil spirits called Jaki. While Tamaki has the power to summon big helper spirits, he has trouble with the smaller ones that would aid him in finding the evil Jaki before it is too late. Helping him with his task is his girlfriend Asahi. Asahi knows that she can never marry Tamaki because she has no power herself, but she is willing to do what she must to be with him while she can. Together, the two fight various Jaki, with usually bittersweet outcomes.

This is a dark tale, full of love and loss. The story can get confusing at times, but Takaya's art helps carry it through. By the time the third chapter ends, the reader has been sucked into the story, wanting to know what happens next after the powerful cliffhanger. Phantom Dream by Natsuki Takaya will appeal to fans of romantic fantasy shojo. While it starts off a little rough (after all, it is a first manga), it does pick up with some interesting intrigue.

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