Someday's Dreamers Vol. 3: Precious Feelings
Someday's Dreamers originally aired on late night Japanese television, and at first, I had to wonder why it didn't get a more prime time showing. After going through the entire series (this volume is the last of the show), I realized that perhaps there's some merit in placing the series at such a time slot.
The show is undeniably soothing. The soft pastel imagery, the water-smooth animation, gentle voice acting, and the delicate story all combine to create the animated equivalent of a good massage. As such, this is a great series to watch after a hard day. It helps put things into perspective, and the wee hours of the night are a great time to enjoy the series.
This story is essentially set in present day Japan, but it's a slightly alternate version of our world. In Someday's Dreamers, a small percentage of the population are able to alter reality via magic. The word for magic you'll hear most often in Japanese is "maho", though the domestication guys at Geneon decided to call it "Special Power" in the subtitles and the dub.
The odd thing about this substitution, however, is that the phrase "Special Power" is used grammatically the same as the word "Magic". That is, instead of saying something such as "I wish I could use Magic", we get "I wish I could use Special Power". It's rarely used in a plural form, even when grammar calls for it, and it seems a little out of place at times. Luckily, when I hear the words "maho" (magic) or "maho tsukai" (magic user, or mage) in Japanese, I know what they're saying, and the potential awkwardness is averted.
Back to the story! Yume is a young mage apprentice from the countryside studying in Tokyo to become a licensed magic user. This energetic girl is the daughter of a very well respected mage. Not one to live in her mother's shadow, Yume is quite powerful on her own.
In this world, magic can only be performed when a citizen requests an official mage action. The applicant goes to the nearest mage office, explains his or her desire, and then is assigned to a particular mage. The magic user then performs one action for the client. Only one action per client is allowed, even if something goes wrong or if the magic doesn't have the desired effect.
Magic cannot be used to interfere with basic life functions, and thus cannot officially be used for healing or other medical needs.
As a person with a kind heart, Yume tries to gain understanding of her clients before performing her mage action. However, her instructor, Masami Oyamada, tries to warn Yume that it's not good to get too attached to her clients. He tells her it's best to perform the mage action as best as she can and then move on. On this disc, the last one of the series, Yume begins to question the usefulness of her powers when she realizes that magic alone cannot solve every problem. Watching her deal with this problem and develop as a result of the struggle was a treat to behold.
The animation for this series, produced by View Works and J.C. Staff, is breathtaking. I'm not sure I've ever seen CG integrated so perfectly with traditional animation. The character designs are delicate, and much like Haibane Renmei, the overall look of the show is very soft and relaxing. Most of the show is set in Tokyo, and the city scenes are illustrated with impressive attention to detail. One of the extras on this disc is actually a collection of photographs taken by Masataka Nakano that were used as references for the various beautiful background scenery.
Music in the show is almost as lovely as the visuals, and it is quite an asset to the series as a whole. And remember, kids, Geneon has made the soundtrack to this excellent show domestically available, so support them by picking it up!
This is a short series, spanning only twelve episodes, and it was kind of Geneon to get it to fit on only three DVDs. The extras are minimal, including the aforementioned photo session and conceptual art. The box, like the others in the set, is clear with a reversible cover. This is a nice bonus, for Kumichi Yoshizuki's illustrations are wonderful, and more examples of them can't be a bad thing.
In the end, I recommend this series "With all my precious feelings", as Yume would say. It's a great stress-relieving break from the real world, and it's artistically impressive. This is the perfect series to use when you introduce an anime-wary girlfriend to your hobby. Depth, warmth, and soul - this story has all three, with a cute heroine to boot.