One Punch Reviews #25: Dreamless
There are many ways a webcomic can catch my attention. In some cases, a webcomic will hook me in with its concept. A ninja who is also a doctor? Awesome! In other cases, a webcomic will grab me with the art. And in very few cases, a webcomic will attract me due to the creators behind it. This was the case with Dreamless, which features an unlikely team-up: writer Bobby Crosby of Marry Me (reviewed here) and artist Sarah Ellerton of The Phoenix Requiem (reviewed here at ComixTalk).
The story is set sometime before the break-out of WWII. Our heroine, Elanor, is sick in bed and being tended to by a priest. She has a secret. It’s the sort of awful secret that she will defend at gunpoint. The story swtiches to flashback mode, and we discover that she has a strange psychic connection with a man named Takashi from the other side of the Pacific Ocean. A man that she has known since childhood, even though she’s never met him.
Kinda reminds you of The Lake House, huh?
In many ways, the mental connection is ruining Elanor’s chance for a normal life. Her perils start at an early age, when she begins speaking in Japanese. This scares her parents out of their wits (though I find it strange and unlikely that her father can repeat her words verbatim to a colleague). Yet, in other ways, her life is more fulfilled. Because she and Takashi share each and every thought, the two experience a remarkably intimate closeness. The two become her soulmates. Elanor even shares her “first kiss” by smooching the mirror. Even this small concession, though, is a little depressing since it makes her too upset to look at the ocean, reminding her that she is not physically together with the man she loves.
Despite some criticisms I’ve leveled on Crosby in the past, I have to say that the guy is at least an energetic storyteller. Sadly, little of that energy is on display in Dreamless. Part of the fault can be attributed to Ellerton’s style. In The Phoenix Requiem, she strives for something that looks like cell animation. For Dreamless, Elletron discards the dark outlines and the illustrations, as a result, look more painterly. I suppose the result looks more dreamy, and it is very attractive, but it’s also mutes emotions to the point where it sometimes seems lifeless. However, even if Ellerton had gone with her earlier style, there is another problem: the characters just are really quite bland. We get pages and pages of longing and our protagonists wishing they could be with each other etc. etc. etc., but not much reason for us, the readers, to care. By the time I got to the last page, the two still felt to me like strangers (or at the very best, fraternal). They did not come across as inseparable lovers separated by space that not even war can divide.
But, you know, I’m a big cynic when it comes to these things. I didn’t like Serendipity either (a similar set-up where two would be lovers let fate determine if they’d be together in five years), but apparently that movie grossed $77 M worldwide. So I guess if you’re a fan of movies about metaphors for long distance romance like The Lake House, Serendipity, and, oh, The Time Traveler’s Wife, you might like Dreamless. Then again, those movies had some initial conflict that unleashed all sorts of passionate emotions, while in Dreamless you’re supposed to accept that the two are in love, and that’s it.
Final Grade: 3 stars (out of 5).