Akumu-chan (My Little Nightmare) was a 2012 Japanese drama series that ran 11 episodes from mid-October to the end of the year. It starred Kitagawa Keiko as Mutoi Ayami, a young school teacher struggling with her inner doubt over what she should do with her life and Kimura Manatsu as Koto Yuiko, a mysterious young girl whose nightmares often foretell the dark and disturbing future of those around her.
I will often come up with some pretty strange J-dramas to watch, we tend toward mysteries with odd elements and the way Akumu-chan was described seemed right up our alley. However, it was actually stranger than I had anticipated, which really isn’t a bad thing.
Ayami is an elementary school teacher who comes highly recommended to her new school, but she has a secret, she’s really a psychopath, or so she thinks. She tells herself that she is teaching as a means to hide among the normals, she doesn’t believe in love or trust and really doesn’t care what others think, so long as her plans come together in the end. A mysterious new student,Yukio, enrolls in her homeroom class and soon, she learns that Yukio, with the help of her scientist grandfather, can record her prophetic dreams and predict the future, given proper interpretation of the dream imagery. With Ayami’s help, unwilling at first, they set about to change the fates of their families and classmates, but maybe Ayami is more involved than anyone suspects…
It’s clear very early on that Ayami also has some pretty odd dreams and it’s this fact that really gets her involved. She’s dreamed about a mysterious man, played by Gackt, who turns out to be the assistant of Yukio grandfather and they develop an antagonistic, semi-romantic relationship, at least as far as she can be romantic with anyone.
To be honest, I have some issues with how Akumu-chan plays out. We spend the first half of the series with Ayami playing an interpreter role, she views the dreams and makes some recommendations on how to proceed. However, by the end and especially in the last 3 episodes, it’s revealed that not only is she also a lucid prophetic dreamer, but she’s the estranged best friend of Yukio’s mother who died just after giving birth. Isn’t it a coincidence that everything worked out just as it had to in order to make the series work? A story that started out seeming very science fiction-y ended up being really spiritual and magic-y.
That’s not to say it isn’t a good series, I very much enjoyed it, it just wasn’t as good as others that I’ve seen and that’s a shame, the potential was certainly there. As much as the dreams were important, as much as we actually saw the dreams, especially Ayami’s dreams, those didn’t really have much direct impact on the storyline. Essentially, they jump-started the story and then went into the background. Sure, there were times when Yukio’s eyes were going crazy, which was a funky effect, but otherwise it was a typical mystery show with a dream hook.
It’s been announced that Akumu-chan will be getting a theatrical movie in 2014, which should be interesting to see. That seems to be the trend these days, run a season, make a movie, then see how popular it is and maybe make another season. They’ve left the series open for a follow-up, we’ll have to see where it goes.