An ethnically Chinese entomologist enters a forest deep in the mountains of Taiwan, searching for the unique Dream Butterfly. After joining up with a Japanese photographer and a mute girl, a series of bizarre events begins to unfold, hinting at a mysterious secret hidden within the forest.
The goal of entomologist Gong Wei-Hua, a second-generation Chinese living in Taiwan, is to bring a specimen of Taiwan’s rare Dream Butterfly back to his “motherland” China. After entering the Taiping Mountains he meets an amateur photographer from Japan, Aramura Kiichi, who loves to photograph butterflies. On the basis of their common interests, the two continue their quests together.
Soon, they encounter a mysterious mute girl who maintains a living menagerie of rare butterflies deep in the forest. Overcome with excitement, Gong Wei-Hua suggests that she join their search as well, unaware of the significance of this simple act. For as soon as the girl joins them, the atmosphere in the forest changes, and a series of bizarre events begins to unfold: through his camera, Aramura Kiichi can see armed Japanese soldiers in the forest; and explosions, like the sound of crashing planes, can be heard in the distance. What is the connection between the mute girl and these strange events? Why was she living alone in the forest? And what other secrets does this forest hide?
This highly-crafted graphic novel uses the forest setting, and the varied backgrounds and motivations of its three protagonists, to construct a magic-realist fable of Taiwan, conjuring the history of the island’s frequently contested status, the lingering shadow of the White Terror, and the ethnic identities of its inhabitants, ultimately leading readers into a dream-like space that will spark the imagination and invite a wealth of interpretations.