★★★★ 4 Stars
Genre: Thriller / Horror
Publication Date: April 24th, 2018
Publisher: Seven Seas
“Maybe he was a phantom. Maybe that’s what he was all along – a monster conjured by jealousy and obsession.”
Obsession is where the garden of desire overgrows. What begins a selfish, one-sided love becomes a monstrous weed that eventually, if left unchecked, will suffocate what flowers of sanity remain beneath it.
Awaken From a Dream, like Takeuchi’s book Complete Metamorphosis before it, suggests that the capacity for stalking and fanaticism is not so remote. In fact it may only take an overwhelming loneliness for a long period of time. Obsession is born from a distant closeness, and the media certainly doesn’t help.
Awaken From a Dream doesn’t have quite the disturbing relevancy Metamorphosis did, the short story format strips quite a bit of the character depth. Nevertheless, Takeuchi is something of a master at painting the minds of creeps and innocents. Takeuchi knows well how madness forms and the subtle, sometimes horrible relationships that can form between complete strangers. His style spares no mercy on his characters. In fact it kills a few of them.
There’s a surreal, pitying quality to these stories, as if they were some wretched dying thing remembered from a flitting dream. There’s nothing to be done but watch the whole weird tragedy unfold in your head.
“Wake Me From This Dream” is the best of the three, with heavy echoes of the murder-suicide theme that carried into the first book. Toshihiko is a perverse and disgusting man but he knows this, and in a strange, strange twist finds himself with a stalker much like what he hates in himself.
“Even When I Embrace You” in my opinion is the weaker story, drifting on too long and being unrealistic, but not quite surreal or disturbing enough to stand out either. “Cry Your Tears” on the other hand is incredibly, suddenly violent and stands out stronger than the other two. I think “Cry Your Tears” ended up being my favourite despite some rather… unusual decisions on the characters’ parts, such as not assigning security to a famous singer when she’s being harassed by a psychotic fan.
Even after reading both Awaken From a Dream and Complete Metamorphosis, or perhaps especially after, I’m still not entirely sure who the audience for Takeuchi’s books is supposed to be.
Maybe it is just for those who have wandered into alleys at night, empty save for fluorescent lights, and thought “this is where I’d like to stay forever”. Those who only start to wake at 4 AM and drown their eyes in that hour’s remnants of television. Those who have felt nothing but loneliness in the heart of a crowded city. It’s hard to say.