After School Nightmare by Setona Mizushiro – 191 pages
Mashiro Ichijo has a secret, one important enough that he quits the school’s kendo club in order to try to keep it safe. After school, a teacher he’s never seen before takes him to a basement infirmary, telling him he must pass a special class in order to graduate. Mashiro is lead into a world of dreams where he and his fellow students appear with the forms of their hearts bared, their inner secrets known to each other, and must fight with each other to obtain the hidden key that will free them. Mashiro wants to become strong enough to help his classmate Kureha Fujishima and to graduate from the nightmare class, and still keep his secret safe during the day.
At turns haunting, horrifying, and hilarious, this manga is crisply and beautifully drawn, with one drawback being some extreme close-ups on action sequences that take a few views to decipher. The characters have issues with their bodies and psyches, and their stories, along with their tangle of attractions and repulsions, make for gripping reading. I’m ready to check out the next volume.