Someday's Dreamers Lesson 3: Precious Feelings
It's time for Yume's final exam
Cynthia Ward · May 1, 2004 | Someday's Dreamers: Lesson 3: Precious Feelings surprised me by concluding the story of Yume Kikuchi's mage apprenticeship. I'd assumed this TV series was open-ended, because the previous DVDs (Lesson 1: Magical Dreamer and Lesson 2: Power of Love) didn't signal any immediate end. I figured the series would wind quietly on for disk after disk. I was wrong.

On the first DVD, seventeen-year-old Yume constantly broke the laws of her alternate-earth Japan by casting unauthorized, untrained, and extremely powerful spells. Hers was clearly a coming-of-age story; it also looked to be another power fantasy about a teenager destined to change or overthrow her world. However, the second DVD shifted the focus from Yume to her friends. It also introduced the idea that Yume wouldn't automatically become a mage. Such diffusion created confusion. Was Someday's Dreamers really about nothing more than the random adventures of a junior mage and her pals?

Lesson 3: Precious Feelings collects episodes 9 to 12. In episode 9, a stand-alone, Yume performs magic with confidence and power, having apparently overcome her self-doubt. She seems ready to take her final exam and be certified as a mage.

Episodes 10 to 12 tell a single story, about Yume's long dark night of the soul. After fulfilling a client's request to temporarily restore an old house to its condition of fifty years ago, Yume overhears the client expressing regret for the transformation. Soon thereafter, the house is burned down by a resident, and Yume's client is critically injured. Yume feels responsible. Then she discovers her past uses of Special Power have had no apparent effect, unless it was bad. For all her magical strength, she can't even help a kitten. Her confidence shattered, Yume sees no reason to continue her mage training. Then Master Chief Ginpun orders her to take her final certification exam. The test he sets is as puzzling as it is unwanted: Yume must use her Special Power on her instructor, the mysteriously melancholy Masami Oyamada.

Someday's Dreamers Lesson 3: Precious Feelings
Geneon Entertainment, 2004
Originally released in 2003
Directed by Masami Shimoda
100 minutes

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As the mini-series concluded, I realized its story arc isn't strung along a plotline; instead, it follows an emotional line. Someday's Dreamers is about Yume's relationships, and how they make her a mage; it's about the necessity of emotion (especially love) for proper use of magic—and for all worthwhile endeavors. Perhaps I should have realized this from the quote that appears on the back of all three DVD cases, and contributes the title of Precious Feelings: "With all my precious feelings...." Call me slow.

Someday's Dreamers has a subtext more subtle than I've stated above. Though emotion is necessary to perform magic, an overpowering emotion (even love) leads to unwise or dangerous spells and actions—and to pain. When Yume realizes magic can't cure all problems, she becomes so distressed, she withdraws from her instructor and friends; this isolation only increases her despair and doubt. As it happens, her grief-haunted instructor withdrew from his friends years ago, an action that still hurts all of them. His grief leads him to instruct Yume not to let emotion into her magic, not to care about the people she helps or the consequences of her mage actions. His point is valid; she cannot be responsible for other people's decisions, or expect magic to make everyone happy. Yet his advice is too extreme. This is made clear when it is only Yume's strong and individual feelings for Oyamada that make it possible for her—and only her—to use magic to heal him.

If you want a lot of action, or need every loose end tied up in a neat bow, this is not the anime for you. If you want complex, believable characters and a gentle, thoughtful coming-of-age story, watch Someday's Dreamers.

What's Good:  Excellent art; good characterization; fine soundtrack; gorgeous binanshi; improved focus.

What's Bad:  Gratuitous confusion about Masami Oyamada's sexual orientation.

DVD Features:  Bilingual audio (English and Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital); English subtitles; Masataka Nakano's photo session; Kumichi Yoshizuki's conceptual art; Geneon previews; reversible cover; limited quantity bonus collectible postcard.
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