"Someday's Dreamers Volume 1": Commonplace, Yet Incredible
The world of Someday’s Dreamers has been compared to such other works as NieA_7, Haibane Renmei, Kiki’s Delivery Service and even Harry Potter, and those are all probably right. The pacing and blend of light humor with mild melancholy is somewhat reminiscent of NieA and Haibane, as is the concept of taking the extraordinary and treating it as ordinary. The idea of magic for hire definitely calls forth Kiki, and the very detailed rules system, magic-related government organizations and the concept of magical education and apprenticeship is similar to Harry Potter. However, the end combination of these elements with the infusion of new elements and different settings in Someday’s Dreamers is very refreshing and unique.
Yume Kikuchi, the daughter of a fairly talented and retired mage, has finally reached the age where she can leave her home in the rural prefecture of Iwate to train for a month in Tokyo under a master mage so that she can become an official, government-employed mage. Even though she’s by no means the most coordinated person in the world, she’s not a comedy character, and she’s already proving to be a surprisingly powerful mage (much to the chagrin of The Bureau of Mage Labor) and she herself is very worried and self-conscious that she might foul things up or a break a rule on accident rather get her training assignments done correctly and legally. In general, Yume tries perhaps too hard to do right by other people, and she has a habit of being over-apologetic. She’s also very meditative at points, and she’s conscious of the consequences of her actions as such.
However, Masami Oyamada, the veteran mage Yume is studying under, is a different story. He’s laidback, smooth, handsome, and when he’s not training apprentices or fulfilling somebody’s request for the use of special powers, he runs a salsa night club with help of his friend, Kera (known in the dub as Smiley.) Masami’s a nice guy, but he will also break the rules on an occasion and use his Special Powers without an official request, but usually only when he has a good reason to do so. He’s also a bit mysterious. For example, he’ll always take a certain day off during the summer and no one knows the reason why. He’s also a little bit of a gambler, as he regularly plays the lottery, though he never wins. Or does he?
The rest of the cast is filled with interesting characters. Angela Brooks, an apprentice student visiting from the British Ministry of Magic (small Harry Potter reference, or eerie coincidence? You be the judge) is definitely a bit of a loose cannon with her use of Special Powers, but she’s a smart girl (she already speaks great Japanese, and she’s a talented mage) and she has a certain affinity for cross and angel wings imagery. The previously mentioned Kera (real name: Go Kato — Kera is his nickname since he laughs a lot,) likes to tease other people, but he’s still a nice guy all around. He also has a habit of sleeping during the day since he works as a bartender at the salsa club until the wee hours of the morning. Runa Morikawa is a precocious kid who is a native Tokyo resident, and she’s friends with Masami. There are also various characters working at the Bureau of Mage Labor, most notable of which is the head of the organization, the gruff and grouchy Councilor Furusaki, who isn’t a mage himself, but spends a lot of worrying about the shortcomings and accidents of apprentice mages.
Someday’s Dreamers was animated by JC Staff, known primarily for their work on Excel Saga and Azumanga Daioh, and Viewworks, who did work on series such as Vandread: The Second Stage and who are currently working on Submarine 707R. The animation, which is to be expected, is very nice. The CGI elements blend in very nicely (so well at points that you’d have to be looking for them to find them,) the pans are very clean, but not blatantly digital either, and the movement of the characters is very nice as well. The color choice is very bright, yet somehow not cartoony, but very natural in a way. The end blend between JC Staff’s skill with a believable-yet-at-times-pleasantly-surreal animation style and Viewworks skill with CGI and cel CGI elements provides for animation that’s very clean, but in a very subtle way (as opposed to the more in-your-face “look what we can do” style of some animation studios.)
The character design is also understated yet solid. Yume looks cute, yet ordinary and plain with the little bits of hair sticking up out of her otherwise day-to-day hair style. However, it’s still unique and recognizable, even when she’s wearing different outfits (she doesn’t have a wardrobe per se, but she has about the right amount of clothes you’d expect one bring for a month.) Masami strays perhaps too close to the bishonen (a.k.a. “beautiful boy”) stereotype that is sometimes seen in anime, but it fits the character well, and again, it’s still some how easily recognizable. The rest of characters are also designed with an nice uniqueness, which really helps build the tone of the story in a subtle way.
Outside of the salsa club, the music is mostly piano- and string-driven with occasional bits of guitar, but it fits the story very well. The pieces are fairly simple, but yet pretty and fit well with the style of the story. The OP, “Flower of the Wind,” performed by Hana * Hana is very beautiful, and the ED, “Under the Blue Sky,” performed the Indigo, has a bit of acoustic alternative vibe, and it feels very at home in Someday’s Dreamers. The voice acting in the original Japanese and in the dub matches fairly nicely. Neither is particularly amazing, but again, it’s that subtlety that seems to bring everything together in Someday’s Dreamers. Both are very listenable and the actual mix of the audio in both versions is well done, and plays as well on a good sound system as it does on a pair of headphones. I will note that the dub may try a little too hard to translate the accenting/dialect elements into English. To translate the rural Iwate dialect into English, for instance, the film ends up giving Yume a southern twang at points that sounds a little forced. Angela has a pretty good British accent to match her roots, and Runa has a New York City accent as way of translating her urban Tokyo dialect into English.
The DVD has the kind of extras one would usually expect from Pioneer/Geneon. The OP and ED come both without credits and with the original Japanese credits over them, and the music videos for the ED theme done by the performer are included. Notably missing is a line work gallery, but as Pioneer is splitting this 12 episode show over just 3 volumes, my guess is that the line work will show up on one of the later discs.
If you’re looking for a good story with a fantasy element treated as everyday inside an everyday setting, Someday’s Dreamers fits the bill nicely. If you want some thing very heavy comedy, action, metaphor and/or fan service, it will bore you to death. Luckily for me, Someday’s Dreamers hits the spot with its ordinary extraordinariness.
Type: Four 25-minute episodes, twelve in all
Created by: Norie Yamada
Originally aired: January 2003
Genres: Fantasy, Education, Everyday Life
OAVs, movies, spin-offs, etc.: Original (IE: The TV series was based on it) Manga.
Produced by: Pioneer/Geneon