The first time I knew the word “lucid dream” was from a magazine that I always got in High School. There wasn’t actually much that I could take from it, other than that during a lucid dream, one could control their own dream as desired, and there was also a rumour that the possibility of having lucid dream can increase by eating a lot of bananas. In short, I don’t really believe that thing, and I thought the writer was kind of a conspiracy theorist.
So to say, my initial reaction to the idea of a novel about lucid dream wasn’t that favourable, assuming that it might be another sci-fi novel that’s full of pretentious scientific terms. Plus the experience of reading Indonesian light novels before hadn’t really been satisfactory. But after I had actually read this novel Lucid Temptation by writer Loka S. Ratimaya and illustrator Swordwaltz– I found something different from the usual.
In Oukanajima, there was a weird phenomenon where most of the people were having lucid dream, a dream where one could control it as they desire. All of the people on the island were having a good dream, except Akabane Maaya. This high school girl, on the contrary, dreamt of a massive destruction in Oukanajima. This dream had made her frustrated.
One day, a professor from Indonesia, Madre Ananta, moved to Akabane’s school as her homeroom teacher. Surprisingly, this new teacher knew about the lucid dream phenomenon that Akabane experienced. The meeting between Akabane and Madre was the beginning of many unexpected events that will bring them to the many mysteries of the lucid dream, including the danger that might threaten all of Oukanajima’s inhabitants.
The main character of this novel, Akabane Maaya, has an interesting way to talk. Rather than conforming to more popular girl character types such as tsundere, or ojou-sama, etc, her monologues are characterized by viewing everything negatively, and cynicism that recalls characters, such as Kyon from The Melachonly of Haruhi Suzumiya, Houtaro Oreki from Hyouka, or Frans Laarsman from Kaas, a classic novel from the Netherlands
Her interactions with Madre Ananta are also vigorous. Madre likes to tease Akabane, while on the opposite, Akabane frequently gets mad with Madre’s attitude. The way they confront each other is what makes the pair to have some chemistry, even though any hints of romance in this volume are still hazy.
Furthermore, the thematic concept of the novel isn’t presented overwhelmingly, unlike The Irregular at Magic High School that is full of difficult explanations about its magical terms. The concept of lucid dream is explained in simple terms and doesn’t obstruct the story itself. What the novel could have explained more, though, are the use of AGMV and the existence of Vragel as monsters in this story. Actually, the explanation is quite enough, but it still lacks something that could lift up reader’s passion regarding the sci-fi atmosphere.
The combination between the science fiction and the main character’s cynicism also makes for a quite unique style of story. Cynicism as it is understood now is taken to mean viewing everything from a negative perspective, distrusting the idea that happiness could be obtained through power, wealth, health, and other positive things. On the contrary, science fiction is a style that emphasises curiosity: how the unknown become known, and how to make the impossible become possible. This novel put these two opposing views in tandem as a way to develop Akabane’s character: her doubts gradually becomes more open to many new things, driven by her curiousity on the lucid dream phenomenon. It’s interesting to see how Akabane responds to these new experiences.
Another part to appreciate is how the writer is capable to describe Japan’s atmosphere in this novel. The conversations are made to feel natural and don’t feel “forced”. The footnotes on Japanese terms are also instructive for newbies to Japanese pop culture. Sometimes, it’s easy me to forget the fact that this novel is written by Indonesian, and not a translation of a Japanese novel.
The illustrations drawn by Swordwaltz are also supportive in representing Akabane and friends and their stories captivatingly. Personally I’d like to see some scenes to be illustrated too, like the look of Madre’s house or the battle with Vragel at the first part of the novel. Regardless, what’s available are satisfactory.
Overall, Lucid Temptation is an interesting work to be read, at least for those who like to read light novels. There are several things that are able to incite curiousity to its mysteries, be they revealed in the novel or not. We’ll see if the writer can deliver the second volume soon and continue the good start here.
The Indonesian Anime Times | by M Razif Dwi Kurniawan