Someday's Dreamers Lesson One: Magical Dreamer Review
Someday's Dreamers is a short 12 episode anime series that deals with a present day earth much like our own, only magic is a very real concept that is available to those born with special powers. One such person is Yume Kikuchi, a 17 year old high school student from the countryside who is spending her summer in the bustling cityscape of Tokyo as an apprentice Mage. Her very first task is to locate and meet her teacher without using her powers, a task which turns out to be quite impossible giving the viewer their very taste of what to expect as we see Yume, in an effort to protect herself on the dangerous streets of Tokyo, launch the speeding cars into the air and to then safely lower them back down.
Arriving at the home of her teacher the young Mage is initially in shock at the handsome young man sitting across from her. Masami Oyamada Sensei will not only be guiding her through the Mage training but will also be providing her with a place to stay as she learns many lessons in life. When Yume begins her training we soon learn that although magic is accepted in the world, it is also strictly monitored and as a Mage Yume is only allowed to use her power by request and with authorisation, something she tends to ignore. We also discover that her mother is a well known and very powerful Mage who, for reasons not disclosed, no longer chooses to utilise her power. Because of this heritage Yume is already well known by those who monitor the use of magic, and is someone they appear quite concerned about.
Essentially Someday's Dreamers is a coming of age drama that follows the trials of Yume, a typical teenage girl only she inhabits a world in which she and many others are capable of affecting people in far greater ways than you or I ever could. This exaggerated state of affairs makes the varied lessons learnt all the more significant as we see Yume practice magic without considering how it will affect those around her, but as she comes to understand and appreciate her gift so do we. Despite the possibilities offered by a show focused on magic Someday's Dreamers is a gently paced drama, and while some might sniff at this I found the charming characters and their stories within this world almost relaxing to watch.
Further to this the lack of goofy comedy, action and romance was somewhat refreshing and is complimented by the shows lush visual appeal, for it never once eschews the initial animation style and maintains a clean and detailed approach throughout. The real treat here though is the soundtrack, from the piano based melodies of the shows establishing shots through to the orchestral overtures that accompany the use of magic this really is a sonic delight and one that will have you reaching for the full soundtrack in no time at all.
With a delicate pace, sumptuous visuals and charming soundtrack Someday's Dreamers has the makings of a satisfying drama series that also manages to offer the occasional thrill as the magical element of the show comes into play. Certain aspects of the characters suggest more intrigue is on the cards for future volumes though only time will tell...the following episode guide points out these aspects in a spoiler-free fashion.
Episode 01: Sunset and Steel Frames Part 1
As Yume makes her way through the bustling metropolis that is Tokyo city she has a spot of bother with the busy traffic. Fortunately a young man comes to her aid and guides Yume to her requested location, where upon she grants him a magical favour in spite of the fact he expressed there was no need for any compensation. Further characters are introduced in the form of Kera, a friend and co-worker of the soon to be introduced Oyamada Sensei, who will not only be training Yume in her Mage apprenticeship, but will also offer her a place to stay above the bar that he manages.
With the introductions out of the way the only thing left to do is for Yume to register at the local branch office for the Bureau of Mage Action...
Episode 02: Sunset and Steel Frames Part 2
After an unfortunate and embarrassing incident involving the young man who helped Yume in Tokyo our young apprentice Mage completes her registration and begins to deliberate the meaning of her powers and just when and where they should be used. A helpful instructional video goes some way to outlining the rules governing her powers to both Yume and the viewers, and eventually sees her off on a journey to locate the young man whom she offended in Tokyo and apologise in what turns out to be one of our first true tastes of her extraordinary power.
Episode 03: The Best News
On her first opportunity to carry out a 'request' Yume is joined by a fellow apprentice Mage, Angela, a young girl of the same age whose powers are significant enough that she be training under Councilor Furusaki - a man who is also keeping a strict watch over Yume due to her parents background. Oyamada Sensei allows the girls to work together in the hope they can fulfil a Miss Ayano's approved request, but they soon learn bringing together a woman and the man she is waiting for is not as simple as they envisaged.
Episode 04: A Summer Night and a Mage
While Oyamada Sensei is off on a mysterious trip to celebrate the anniversary of an unknown someone, Yume meets a young friend of her teachers by the name of Runa Morikawa. This outspoken young junior school student has come to request a power action but with Oyamada Sensei away she runs off before Yume can ask what she requires, but they soon run into each other again where upon Yume learns that Runa and her friends want to send off their favourite teacher in style. This results in a spectacular ending to this particular volume while we all learn that you should never be embarrassed by your abilities, and instead we should embrace them wherever possible. We also receive a glimpse of the Mage Bureau's Master Chief, a figure so far shrouded in secrecy who looks to be stepping out into the open to investigate the new recruits.
The first volume (of four), Someday's Dreamers Lesson One: Magical Dreamer is available in two versions. For $29.98 you get what is reviewed here, just the DVD but for an extra $5 you can get the Collector's Box that comes with a Box Set designed to hold all four volumes along with a selection of post cards. Though I have not seen the box it is without a doubt the recommended version as the price difference is negligible, and these collector’s box sets are by far the best way to collect any anime series.
As a recent television production first broadcast in 2002 Someday's Dreamers was created using now standard digital production techniques which results in a very clean visual style. Presented here in the original 1.33:1 Full Screen aspect ratio the transfer certainly compliments this fact and is a delight to watch with fine colour reproduction, crisp detail levels and not a compression artefact in sight with the possible exception of some incredibly minor edge enhancement.
Both the original Japanese language and English dub tracks are presented here in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. Again, due to this being such a recent production both sound very good and offer decent separation while the music and dialogue are at all times well defined.
In terms of which track you should opt for, it is of course down to personal preference. For me I always opt for the Japanese language option, but I can say after sampling the English dub track across all four episodes found on this disc that Pioneer/Geneon and their dub artists have done a good job. The main characters are fairly well acted with the only real negative for me being the handling of the regional dialects. Yume for example will occasionally step into a southern accent to reflect the times when, in the Japanese track, she is cited for reverting to her Tohoku dialect. I appreciate this is a difficult aspect to translate but I found this choice somewhat distracting and worse still, comical.
To accompany the dialogue tracks you will find two sets of optional English subtitles. The first being a literal translation of the Japanese dialogue and the second being a 'Signs Only' track that compliments the English Dub by translating only the Japanese text seen throughout the show.
The most unique bonus feature presented here is a music video by The Indigo, a Japanese group who contributed to the show with their song Under the Blue Sky which plays over the end credits. This is the full length (4:35mins) version of what is a very catchy track that is presented in non-anamorphic widescreen (though the quality is still very good).
Also present are the original Japanese and credit-less versions of the Opening and Ending sequences, with the credit-less sequences being of the most interest as you can fully appreciate the artwork.
Rounding off the bonus features is a relatively short (3:27mins) Pioneer Previews reel that features trailers for Sakura Wars: The Motion Picture, Mao-Chan and Cardcaptor Sakura the Movie 2: The Sealed Card.
Sadly that is all we have in terms of disc based bonus features, but even more disappointing is that none of the above (with the exception of the first trailer in the Pioneer Previews reel) feature English subtitles.
There is one last extra that takes the form of reversible sleeve artwork. Both sides have some gorgeous designs so the choice really is yours, while the reverse front cover artwork is also reproduced in larger form on the A5 insert.
Someday's Dreamers may not be a breath of fresh air, but it does have a breeze of tranquillity surrounding it which makes for a relaxing experience coupled with the occasional laugh and touching moment. The DVD presentation from the folks at Geneon (formerly Pioneer) is of their usual high standards making this one to keep an eye on for those looking to expand their anime collection...though only future volumes will tell if the series will build up to something more than a gentle drama.
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