Nightmare Inspector: Yumekui Kenbun (夢喰見聞?) is a Japanese shōnen manga series created by Shin Mashiba. It first premiered in Monthly Stencile, a shōjo magazine, in December 2001 and was then serialized in Monthly GFantasy from 2003 to 2007. Nine volumes have been released in Japan by Square-Enix since 2007, ending the series. The manga has been licensed in North America by Viz Media, with all nine volumes released; the first being released on April 8, 2008. The series is set during the end of the Taisho Era in Japan.
For those who suffer nightmares, help awaits at the Silver Star Tea House, where patrons can order much more than just Darjeeling, tea, and coffee. The owner, Hiruko is a special kind of private investigator. He's a dream eater, a baku. And he'll rid you of your darkest visions... that is, of course... for a price.
- The current baku who resides in the Silver Star Tea House that appeared after Azusa had left. He walks with his customers in their dreams in hopes of getting the luxury of eating a delicious nightmare afterwards. Seeming rather selfish and apathetic, he is actually very caring of his customers and often goes out of him way to help them, although he would never admit to it. Being a baku, he cannot eat anything but a nightmare, or he will ultimately end up coughing up blood. The bloodier, gruesome, and pain-filled a nightmare is, the tastier he finds it.
- Before Azusa had passed on the baku to him, Hiruko was known as Chitose Kurosu (黒須 千寿 Kurosu Chitose?). He served no real purpose in the world other than to be a simple toy to his masters, which resulted in being tied up and being tortured in various ways, including his limbs being broken, leaving him unable to do anything but think and scream. He often fantasized of the life he wanted, but his fantasies went too far and were deluded, which eventually changed into a nightmare. It is described in the manga that his nightmare had "consumed" Azusa when he took him to the Delirium to have his fantasy become a reality, and in the process Hiruko became the successive baku of Azusa. Azusa found him in the rubble of a cellar after the Great Kato earthquake.
Mizuki Asahina (朝比奈 霧霞 Asahina Mitsuki?)
- A rather humble and pretty girl; the sister of Azusa. She owns the Silver Star Tea House and cleans it daily, even though not many customers drop by. A slight depression set into her after Azusa had left, leaving her feeling empty inside and even had a reoccurring nightmare of the day Hiruko came into the tea house to replace Azusa. However, she covers it up as if nothing had happened and shows a great deal of friendliness toward her few customers as well as Hiruko, and even pleasantly puts up with Hifumi. Her deepest wish is for her brother, Azusa to return to the Silver Star Tea House and continues to believe that as long as Hiruko remains there, someday her brother will return as well.
Azusa Asahina (朝比奈 梓 Asahina Azusa?)
- Mizuki's older brother, who is explained to be "missing". He hated being the inconvientent son of their father's mistress and was rather depressive, however kind, leaving Mizuki feeling empathetic. For a few nights he had a reoccurring nightmare, in which his body faded more each night. During one night he was visited by the original baku, Hiruko in spirit form (seen as an anthropomorphic tapir), who wanted to end his own existence. Because a baku cannot die, the only way for this to occur is to pass on the baku to someone else, which Azusa willingly becomes to forfeit his human life. Mizuki had explained that he was the same Azusa as he was before, just colder to the touch, but it is obvious that his mental health had changed. From then forward, the Silver Star Tea House was visited by conflicted people who wanted their nightmares resolved by Azusa. However, Azusa was soon crazed by the lust for the greatest nightmare, and one day disappeared, soon to be replaced by the current baku.
- It is later explained that the current baku's own nightmare had eaten Azusa instead of Azusa eating it, and that same nightmare is now kept inside the briefcase that Hiruko carries around. An eerie and cold feeling is said to overcome anyone to pick up the briefcase besides Hiruko, Naamu (Hifumi's black cat) does not seem to be affected by the cold feeling as he is often seen sitting on it.
Hifumi Misumi (三角 一二三 Misumi Hifumi?)
- A wealthy, laid back boy of bizarre tastes; he adores Mizuki and irritates Hiruko. He currently is a boarder at the Silver Star Tea House -- along with his pet cat, Naamu (ナアム Nightmare?), who has taken a liking to Hiruko and his briefcase -- however his initial plan wasn't to stay there: he had only visited the tea house to see where a baku would live, but had fallen in love with Mizuki at first sight and then grew suspicions about her and Hiruko's relationship, therefore he decided to stay. He turned quite more loyal to Mizuki and the tea house, saying he will "keep paying rent until he dies" (which Hiruko mocks him about, saying that he's only needed at the Silver Star for his rent money). Despite all turmoil that surrounds the tea house, he has gotten used to living there and with Hiruko.
- Hifumi has weekly visits to a "rumor group", where he and his friends waste their time collecting rumors about Hiruko and the Delirium. They seem to be quite the nuisance, which is expected from his friends. However, they add some nice comic relief to the manga.
- Hifumi was very briefly (and unwillingly) engaged to Rokkaku Shigoroku, a woman who looks and acts exactly like him in volume eight. Hifumi's father was lonely and wanted to have the business of a family in his house, but the marriage was called off when it became apparent the two were too strange to be allowed to be together.
- The owner of the Delirium, who is oftentimes lost in a trance, or more specifically, a fantasy. His fantasies are always nonsensical (and usually quite alarming to anyone beholding Kairi while fanasizing), and frequently include Hiruko. He says that he is "the key" as he is the only one who can unlock the rooms in the Delirium, where fantasies become reality.
- An odd, cheerful child who assists Kairi at the Delirium, who is often seen cleaning. Not much else is known about him other than he seems to have a good relationship with Hifumi.
- A rival baku that appears in volume six. He was said to have met Hiruko two years previously, when Hiruko first became a baku. He is a rather gruesome baku that longs for the perfect nightmare, much like Azusa. Instead of helping his customers like Hiruko does, he enters their nightmares and alters them to make them worse. When Hiruko and Tsukishiro both realized that the other was a baku (neither of them having realized this fact upon their first encounter), Tsukishiro recommended that the two team up to make nightmares far more horrible than one baku could do alone, thus more delicious. However, Hiruko declined him, saying that he would not go beyond the request of what his customer wanted to be done for their nightmare.
The Silver Star Tea House (銀星館 Ginseikan?)
- The main setting of the manga where the majority of the chapters start off. It is owned by Mizuki and was given to her and Azusa as a gift from their father after their mother had died. Not many come to have tea, which was its original purpose; people are much more interested in seeing the baku that's inside.
- There are two floors to the tea house that appear in the manga: the first floor is where Hiruko meets his clientele, and where Mizuki serves tea or coffee to them regardless of whether they ask for it or not; the second floor contains four rooms, three of which are occupied by Hiruko, Mizuki, and Hifumi a piece, and the fourth being Azusa's old room, uninhabited and reserved for his return. Mizuki makes a point to clean the entire tea house daily.
- Eaten by Hiruko; the reason why the Silver Star Tea House is visited by customers. With each customer comes a new nightmare, each very different than the last, but all distressing to the customer and usually rather disturbing. Hiruko takes customers and himself into their nightmares with the help of his cane, Formalin, always using the phrase "Sleep now... Leave this world behind". When Hiruko has finished resolving the customer's problem within the nightmare, he rewakens them with the phrase, "Time to wake up". The nightmare's contents are sucked into Formalin's orb where they are stored until Hiruko is ready to eat them. The taste of the nightmare depends on what the nightmare was about, blood stained nightmares being the most delicious.
The Delirium (妄鏡堂 Moukyoudou?)
- A bizarre place. Its rooms, when entered, cause a delusional person's fantasies to become reality. The person within the room cannot leave unless they realize they are delusional, which rarely happens. Hiruko sometimes visits the Delirium, generally when he needs something fixed (like his briefcase or cane, both of which have at some point in the manga been accidentally destroyed by Hifumi). Kairi owns the mysterious building, being the "key" that opens the door to a room to allow a customer to enter. Apart from Kairi and Hiruko (and occasionally Hifumi) the only other person to come and go as they please is Shima. Oftentimes fantasies played out here do not end particularly well, such as the time when Kairi accidentally entered one of the rooms. Hiruko and Hifumi went in after him, but his enormous, insane fantasies eventually caused the room to explode (no one was hurt).