Nightmares for Sale contains a series of horror shorts linked by a strange Pawn shop run by Shadow and his assistant Maria. The pawn shop values objects not by their material value but by Shadow and Maria’s own scale of value. More often than not, those who visit the shop trade that which they should not have parted with.
The first story in the volume follows a school girl called Keiko, who is being bullied by a number of girls from her school. Keiko doesn’t look at it that way, and instead meets all their demands for treats as part of a normal friendship. It’s obvious to any onlooker she is being used but instead Keiko lets the girls drive her deeper and deeper into trouble, encouraging her to steal and take unsavoury part time jobs to pay for their lavish lifestyle. In return for all this the bullies wear a set of friendship rings, Shadow offers to buy Keiko’s, with the offer that he’ll make her nightmare disappear. Keiko refuses to sell, and is instead driven further over the edge.
Another sees a Yukari a model with a failing career go to Shadow for help. He offers what he calls ‘hypnotherapy’ and soon Yukari’s career as going amazingly well, and magazines are fighting for her picture, The trouble is that people are disappointed when they meet her in real life, so Yukari is forced to become ever more reclusive especially when she discovers each picture taken has a price.
The artwork is reasonable though by the end of the book the characters begin to look very similar to those who have gone before. The panel layouts are clear though pretty standard, the backgrounds tend to be sparse when drawn otherwise the artist tends to revert to tones.
Nightmare for sale is enjoyable, though it’s reliance on twists means that it’s re-readability is very low. That said the endings to each tale are usually easy to guess, which each relying on a strong if not fairly simplistic moral. Fans of horror anthologies such as Tales from the Crypt will enjoy this manga, as will anyone who appreciates shorts over popular sprawling epics.