Twenty months after the arrival of vol. 3, the fourth volume of “Ghost Talker’s Daydream” has finally arrived on American shores. For a while I’d figured that this series had gone the way of other Dark Horse Manga titles like “Satsuma Gishiden,” MPD-Psycho” and “Eden” and been quietly “cancelled.” I was disappointed that we weren’t going to be getting more of this series, as it had been steadily improving from a mediocre first volume, but there are more deserving series to be resurrected at Dark Horse than this one. Still, I was looking forward to seeing if this volume continued the series’ upward trend in quality.
My final verdict: slightly underwhelming; but, it’s not entirely the series’ fault.
The biggest problem with vol. 4 is that the majority of it comes across as setup for future stories in the series. There’s also the fact that the titular “Ghost Talker” Saiki Misaki is absent for the majority of this first volume. While writer Okuse Saki and artist Meguro Sankichi clearly have talent, the world and supporting cast they’ve created aren’t as interesting as Misaki herself. (The counterpoint here is Yukito Kishiro’s “Battle Angel Alita: Last Order” where he’s done such a good job at world-building and fleshing out the supporting cast that it allows him to have the main character absent from the series more often than she should be... but I digress.)
I will say that there are some potentially interesting plot developments and some sufficiently creepy thrills to be had from this volume. The first story, “Hallucination” focuses on Kunugi Ai, a recurring character from volumes 1 & 2, and Mitsuru, Misaki’s mostly harmless stalker. The two wind up being thrust together to solve the mystery of a double suicide on the grounds of Mitsuru’s family temple after a cop investigating the matter finds out that Ai has “ghost talker” abilities. This storyline peters out at the end without really going anywhere, or making its leads any more interesting. I did like some of the scenes where Ai uses her abilities, and Mitsuru’s dream near the end of the story was quite disturbing. Still, the only thing I took away from this story was how the “suicide BBS” that has played a part in previous stories was brought back again, and how its administrator Yuo has his eyes on these two characters. It’s not explained why he does, but that’s the problem when a story is written only to set up future ones.
The next story, “Ghost on a Bridge,” involves Misaki’s cowardly partner Soichiro as he works with another ghost talker to solve the mystery of a girl who committed suicide on a bridge over a year ago. It’s a standard setup that becomes more and more familiar as we learn the details behind her death which involve unrequited love between the girl and her former employer. While this new ghost talker is certainly a distinctive character with his wizened physique and eccentric dress style, he doesn’t really add anything to the story beyond that. I have a feeling that he’ll be brought back at some point, otherwise why spend a chapter introducing him, but I can only hope that the creators will see fit to give him a personality as distinctive as his appearance.
“Fog,” the last story, brings the protagonists from the previous stories together as they team up to track down Misaki. As it turns out, our title character has been relaxing at a hot springs resort in an attempt to get away from her life as a ghost talker. While she’s there, she winds up meeting a woman who previously worked for the city as a ghost talker but lost her abilities once she got married and had some kids. This comes across as your standard “hero loses confidence, but regains it after talking to someone in similar cirucmstances” story; and, like the first volume, seems to function mainly as setup for future stories. Which promise to be more interesting since Soichiro, Mitsuru and Ai will almost assuredly meet up with Misaki in the next volume (I hope).
So after twenty months, “Ghost Talker’s Daydream” returns with a volume that provides setup for what will hopefully be more interesting stories in the future. It’s certainly not the most triumphant of returns, but I can’t really fault the series for that. According to Anime News Netowork’s encyclopedia entry, there was only a six-month wait between volumes 3 & 4 in Japan.
I’ll readily admit that the problem here is mine and one of perception. Had this come out in a timely manner, I might’ve been more forgiving of its flaws while knowing that the next volume was only months away. After twenty months, I was expecting something better. Something to show me why they chose to bring this series back over “Eden.” I now realize it was foolish of me to expect something like that from this volume as nothing like this happened to the series in Japan.
Vol. 5 is scheduled to come out in January and I’ll definitely be picking it up to see if any of the setup in this volume pays off in that one. I do wonder what the fans of this series will make of this volume and if enough will pick it up to convince Dark Horse to release the rest of this eight-volume series. I’d like to think that they’ve made plans to publish the rest of it -- I mean, why bring it back if you’re only going to cancel it again -- but we’ll see what future solicitations from the company bring.