The Dream Hunters is a graphic novel by Neil Gaiman inspired by Japan’s rich mythology and folklore. Though it features Gaiman’s most popular character, Morpheus, (Dream of the Endless) it is, strictly speaking, not part of his 10-volume Sandman Series.
The Dream Hunters is, literally, a novel with beautiful artwork, created by Japanese artist, Yoshitaka Amano. Yoshitaka Amano is most famous for his works on Final Fantasy and Vampire Hunter D, and his unique, bizarre, yet beautiful style works beautifully with Gaiman’s story of love and loss.
In The Dream Hunters, Gaiman draws heavily from Japanese folklore of demons (oni), youkai (spirits), onmyoji (spiritual diviner / specialists in magic), and Buddhism.
It is a story of a solitary monk living on a lonely mountainside, who, becomes the unfortunate object of a wager between a badger and a fox spirit. The story, which at first focuses on the harmless wager between the badger and the fox, evolves into a much darker, complex tale of murder, love, sacrifice, and revenge.
Being somewhat part of the Sandman Series, Morpheus makes a brief appearance toward the end of the story to grant the wishes of the main characters.
With his own unique style, Yoshitaka Amano did a wonderful job in creating his own Morpheus that was much more than the dark, mysterious, goth character. Amano’s Morpheus in The Dream Hunters looks more like a Japanese visual kei rock star.
Though the plot of The Dream Hunters is interesting enough, it is really Yoshitaka Amano’s art that makes this graphic novel truly wonderful. His haunting but beautiful depictions of characters and landscapes adds depth and complexity to Gaiman’s simple story. After The Dream Hunters, I wished that the whole Sandman Series was illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano.
The Sandman: The Dream Hunters (1999) – Neil Gaiman / Yoshitaka Amano
Graphic Novel – Vertigo
Personal Rating: 5/5