After School Nightmare (放課後保健室 Hōkago Hokenshitsu?, literally "After School Infirmary") is a shōjo fantasy manga by Setona Mizushiro. It was serialized from 2004 to 2007 in the manga magazine Princess and collected in ten tankōbon volumes. It is licensed in North America by Go! Comi, with all volumes published. It is about Mashiro Ichijo, an intersexed high-school student who is made by a teacher to work out his gender identity in a collective dream, and Mashiro's romantic relationships with two classmates, one female and one male.
Mashiro Ichijo is a girls' idol, handsome and kind, but he has been hiding a secret all his life: he's not truly male, nor entirely female. He has the upper body of a male but the lower body of a female. When a mysterious school nurse introduces him to a new class, he finds that in order to graduate he has to go to a world of dreams to find a mysterious key, competing with other classmates to find it. As he struggles with his gender identity, he tries to decide whether he wants to live as a male and go out with one of the prettiest girls in school or as a female and be with the cute male slacker, both of which are madly in love with Ichijo.
The final chapter reveals that the whole story is an allegory for an outer story that was hinted at on the first page and then hinted at repeatedly during the course of the story: The school is connected to a ward of pregnant women and when a student graduates, they are given birth to in the real world. In the epilogue, the real-world analogs for Fujishima, Mizuhashi, and Ebizawa are shown, with the reincarnated Mashiro and Mizuhashi meeting by coincidence when catching the same train to school.
All of the main and secondary characters take part in the dream class at some point during the story.
- Mashiro Ichijo (一条 真白 Ichijō Mashiro?)
- A high school student who is popular among his female classmate, even though he stays aloof to protect a tremendous secret: he is neither fully a man nor a woman, as the upper half of his body is physically and genetically male while his lower half is female. Mashiro claims to identify himself as a man, however he is constantly doubting himself. He try to act as he believes "men" would commonly do. He is sometimes a member of the kendo club, quitting and rejoining a couple times over the series, in part in frustration of his inability to defeat Sou in a bout. When Kureha professes her love for him after learning of his secret, Mashiro begins to date her, even while remaining obsessed with Sou.
- Dream Self: In the dream world Mashiro appears as himself in either a male or female school uniform, depending on his self-image at the moment. Occasionally, Mashiro creates two feather-shaped swords, a longer one representing his male side and a shorter one his female side. The two swords are connected, preventing him from discarding the short sword symbolizing that he cannot get rid of the female aspects of himself, much like he can't get rid of the short sword. The strength of the blades is determined by Mashiro's ability to essentially will them into sharpness. Later, when his two selves meet and fight, each holds one sword. Twice when Mashiro's belly is cut open while dreaming, a flock of black birds flies out, overwhelming his attacker.
- Kureha Fujishima (藤島 紅葉 Fujishima Kureha?)
- She is cheery and bright, but has a strong dislike of men. Since Mashiro is very protective of her (and is not entirely male), Kureha soon falls for him. Kureha is very distrustful of Sou, and will take any opportunity to separate Mashiro and Sou. It is revealed in Chapter 2 (Mashiro's second dream in the class) that her distrust of men stems from a brutal rape done to her during a walk home from kindergarten, plus the harsh words she overheard her father say to her mother afterwards. However, as the story progresses, she and Sou team up and become friends, which is part of her plan to get revenge on Mashiro for their break-up.
- Dream Self: In the dream world, Kureha appears dressed as she was after she was attacked, wearing a ragged cloak and dripping with rain, her face and eyes concealed by the cloak's hood because of shame and rage. She is very vengeful and quick to attack. Later in the seventh or eighth book she becomes a withered version of the tree and Mashiro sat under together,and later a knight after overcoming her difficulties.
- Sou Mizuhashi (水橋 蒼 Mizuhashi Sō?)
- He is mysterious and very protective. Ever since he found out that Mashiro Ichijo was a woman, he has been trying anything to get Ichijo to love him, even going so far as to admit his love to him in the second volume. It is revealed he lost his virginity to his sister, Ai.
- Dream Self: Although Sou's sister, Ai, tells Mashiro that Sou is the Black Knight that torments Mashiro, and later, Sou tells Mashiro that he was hiding behind the knight armour, it is revealed in volume nine that Sou's dream self is Ai's teddy bear. After Mashiro realizes this, Sou's dream form becomes a dog friendly to Mashiro.
- Ai Mizuhashi (水橋 蓝 Mizuhashi Ai?)
- Sou's older sister, she is dark and a tad sadistic. She has a strong brother complex, claiming she can only graduate once Sou has found the right girl to take care of him while trying to keep him dependent on her. It is later discovered that Ai and Sou have sexual relations with each other and that Ai doesn't go to school with Sou and only sneaked into the dream class to keep him from graduating. She also claims in volume two to know what happens after a student graduates.
- Dream Self: Ai takes the form of a young girl in Gothic Lolita style clothing and is almost always carrying a teddy bear. Wandering the dream world in lace and sometimes blood, she has considered her as the most important to the dream class. She has proclaimed herself as the strongest dreamer in the class and displays a great deal of power in the dream world. Ai takes this form because during her childhood is when she lost Sou and the teddy bear represents Sou. In the volume nine, she is revealed to be a ghost of sorts, a creation of Sou's mind upon his betrayal by his (real) sister when he was young. Although he wishes to get rid of her, it seems Sou lacks the willpower to do so.
- A mysterious nurse, whose name is never stated, who takes the students to the basement infirmary so they can take part in a special class on Thursdays. She knows all the new and old students' names and their "issues", like Ichijo's gender. The nurse also takes part in the memory loss when a student "graduates". In volume one, when Mashiro checks the regular high school infirmary, he finds she is not one of the regular infirmary staff. The entrance to the basement infirmary is not findable except to class members, on Thursdays.
- Midori Okui
- Midori takes part in the dream class. She was on the Beautification Committee and a straight-A student. Midori graduates in the second volume.
- Dream Self : Midori takes the form of herself but has an empty hole where her face is and a similar hole in her chest, showing how empty she feels on the inside.
- Itsuki Shinonome
- Itsuki is a child prodigy, at age thirteen, who joins the dream class in the second volume. Itsuki takes Midori's place in the dream realm and graduates in the third volume.
- Dream Self: In the dream world Itsuki takes the form of a paper giraffe, showing that he looks down on every one, even though he is weaker than them. He is able to know the real life identities of those he meets in the dream world.
- Shinbashi has a crush on Kureha and has watched her from afar, but accepts that he could never be with her. After a mistake in the library has been cleared up, he and Mashiro become good friends. Mashiro tries to help Shinbashi and Kureha become friends, but it backfires and Kureha only gets angry. However, Kureha later asks Shinbashi for his phone number and calls him to talk about Mashiro. Shinbashi sets aside his own feelings to give both Kureha and Mashiro (separately) advice on their relationship.
- Dream Self: He takes Itsuki's place in the dream realm in the fourth volume and graduates. He takes on the place of Mashiro's mobile phone. He also has the ability to feel the status of Kureha's dream self.
- Asuka Suo
- Asuka was a model earlier in life, but an accident scarred her face and injured her legs. She's now bound to a wheelchair and is both introduced and graduates in the 6th volume.
- Dream Self: She takes on the form of a mermaid with a mask covering her eyes and the top half of her face. She appears weak when she first enters the dream without water around her, and is sitting in her wheelchair. She has a tiara and can apparently cut someone with her breath.
- Momoka Ohara
- Ohara is a dreamer at the start of the series. She was the lurking hand with the continuous arm that stalk the shadows and fought with Kureha. Ohara never did graduate the class, she simply disappeared when she didn't attend class three times in a row.
- Dream Self: She takes form of a hand and a continuously long arm. She has the ability to multiply into many little hands and arms or a giant one to crush her enemies away.
- Koichiro Kurosaki
- Mashiro and Sou's senpai in the Kendo club, he is portrayed as a very kind and understanding person. He serves as an 'agony aunt' to Mashiro. However, he is revealed to be the son of the president of an important company, and his outside personality is nothing more than what his father and mother wanted him to be.
- Dream Self: It is later revealed that he, and not Sou, is the Black Knight. The Black Knight seems to symbolise his real, darker personality along with his feelings towards his parents. He graduates in the 9th volume.
- A girl in Mashiro and Kureha's class. She's the source of many of the rumours circulating in the school.
- Dream Self: She takes the form of a parasitic face that attaches itself to the body of other dreamers. When the parasite is cut off from the host's body, Ebizawa returns to her real appearance, but stays in the dream world.
- Unnamed Boy
- A boy in Kendo club who admires several people over the course of the series. He is Sou's friend.
- Dream Self: He form changes every dream to impersonate the forms of other dreamers. He is very weak in his dream form.
According to Mizushiro, the story was originally conceived as science fiction, set on board a space-ship. When she began to develop it as a shōjo manga, she moved the setting to a high school, changing the sleeping pods the characters used for shared dreaming into canopied beds. The characters Itsuki Shinonome and Asuka Suo were supposed to be part of the initial class of dreamers with Mashiro, but after serialization was announced in Princess as a horror story, Mizushiro put off introducing them because she thought their dream forms of a giraffe and mermaid were too gentle for an atmosphere of horror.
After School Nightmare was written and illustrated by Setona Mizushiro. It was serialized from 2004 to 2007 in the monthly shōjo manga magazine Princess. The 39 untitled chapters were collected in ten tankōbon volumes by Akita Shoten under the Princess Comics imprint. It is licensed in English in North America by Go! Comi, with all volumes published. It is also licensed in France by Asuka, in Italy by Star Comics, and in Germany by Carlsen Verlag.