There will be spoilers for the manhua series My Delicious Dream Boy.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to manipulation, violence, chronic health issues, blood, death, occult, religion, stalking, assault, drink spiking, mentions of homomisia, peer pressure, murder, prejudice, religious persecution, hospitalization, kidnapping, confinement, and racism, as it appears in the manhua.
Joel Lin has had a lonely life. His family did their best to keep him happy and occupied, but nothing could replace the fun of school and public places. Unfortunately, Joel has suffered from an undiagnosable chronic illness that weakened him to the point he had to be homeschooled and kept out of any excitable public places at the risk of his life. He was nearly at the end of his rope when he and his mother visited a purveyor of magic called the goddess, who gave Joel a talisman to keep in his home and a charm to carry on him that successfully staves off most of his dire symptoms. Still, the nightmares he has been subjected to every night persist.
Being healthier now than he has ever been leads to the first time in his life that he can physically attend school for his first year in college. There, he meets a popular pink-haired man named Mara, who latches on to Joel immediately and solidifies himself as Joel's first friend outside his family. Incidentally, his new best friend is very similar to the main villain in his nightmares, a pink-haired monster with wings, horns, and tentacles who captures and threatens him until he wakes up. This has to be just a coincidence, though, right?
Mara, though, has an ulterior motive for befriending Joel. As it turns out, Mara is a dream demon, a supernatural creature that feeds on human dreams. The most delicious of dreams are nightmares, and with his powers, he can determine how healthy his targets are and how likely they are to have nightmares. As it turns out, Joel has a 100% chance of having a nightmare every single night, and Mara is determined to have this delectable feast. But no matter how hard he tries, he can't seem to taste Joel's dreams, and he has no idea why. But the more he tries, the closer he gets to Joel, and soon, he wants to taste much more than Joel's dreams.
It's worth mentioning before we dive in that there are two versions of this manhua. There's a fully censored version (in terms of manhua, censored kissing), and there's an uncensored version (in terms of manhua, kisses are shown; in this case, we get some additional spice to a softcore level). I also know the names are different between versions, with the uncensored Tapas version changing to Westernized versions (Lin You = Joel Lin, Yi Kui = Mara Yi), while the censored version kept the original names. The version I read was the uncensored Tapas version, and that's what my review is based on. I can't speak to the other version's quality or content except for what I've found in listings and notes. I will always read the more explicit/mature version when available legally, though I hate that this particular version westernized the names. Oh well, I'll always take more spice.
With all of that out of the way, let me just come clean: This is one of my favorite manhua artists of all time. Saying that, know that I am extremely biased. It's just such a unique style, but still so clean, it's impossible not to love. I've read one other thing to completion with Xiyuer (Modern Wizard Hunting Project) as the artist, then I read this, and I am currently reading another work that is ongoing. If that doesn't sell you on how much I love this style, I don't know what will. The chibis are to die for, and you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you miss out on them. I also want to mention that while Xiyuer wasn't the writer of Modern Wizard Hunting Project, the characters from that series do appear in this. They are just background characters or references, so you don't have to read Modern Wizard Hunting Project to understand this one. Still, it's such a fun experience to read this and see references to their other work. It feels like it all takes place in the same universe. Mara and Joel also appear in the background of the third work that I'm currently reading that is ongoing, and I love the Xiyuer-verse that has been crafted across all of these.
With manhua, other than the obligatory kiss censoring and additional similar over-the-top censoring, everything I've read thus far really is good about the characters being able to be open and accepted as a gay couple, which is actually much rarer in other types of comics (manga and manhwa specifically). This comic is no exception. I love seeing Mara so willing to hug and kiss Joel publicly, especially with their friends and family readily accepting it. This is already very fluffy, thanks to our precious bean Joel, who is exploring the world with his expressionless excitement. Add on top of that they can be a public couple, and we get all the fluff. I highly recommend reading the Tapas version since the kisses aren't censored, and there are many softcore sexy scenes, which just makes this all *chef's kiss*.
My favorite part of this entire story must be the special at the end. It seems like a historical alternate universe at first, with Mara being a cursing demon and Joel being a human, not so unlike their modern-day universe counterparts. However, as revealed later, rather than being an entirely alternate universe, it's actually the past. Joel is cursed to die repeatedly in every reincarnated life, with Mara forced to watch or stay away from Joel entirely. Unwilling to watch his love die repeatedly, Mara gives up his immortal life to save Joel, with hopes to be reincarnated sometime in the future and finally have a fulfilling life with his human lover. It has a painfully sad ending, very refreshing, in my opinion, and makes the main story worth re-reading now that we know the historical backstory of this fated relationship. It's so sad, but it really builds out the world and its supernatural mythos. I think this series is worth reading just for that.
This is, thus far, my favorite BL manhua. Its art style is precious and clean, it has so much more spice than most other BLs I've read, which is very much appreciated, and the narrative is well-crafted. It's very fluffy despite the content warnings. It really doesn't get super dark until the side story at the very end, but it just isn't complete without it. I highly recommend this one for anyone who wants to try out BL manhua, as it's a great representation of the genre and medium.
Have you read My Delicious Dream Boy? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!