Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dragon Girl Omnibus 2

By Toru Fujieda. Released in Japan by Akita Shoten, serialized in the magazine Princess. Released in North America by Yen Press.

After spending the first half of the series trying to balance out its cheering plot and its romance plot, the second half of Dragon Girl definitely leans towards the latter. Rinna still has several choices of hot guys to choose from, and because it's only a 5-volume series (released as 2 omnibuses here), it's not too long before she's able to fall for her true love and live happily ever after.

Of course, there are still tons of plotlines to tie up as well, mostly regarding either the cheering club or Rinna's feelings for Subaru. The latter is definitely handled better than the former. Having established the student council president as a reprehensible jerk, the author tries to show his good side here in his interaction with Yaotome, but it comes off as fairly forced, as if you can't end a shoujo romance with a bad guy so he has to see the error of his ways. His reasoning for harassing Rinna is also not nearly as obvious to the eye as his reasoning for harassing Hasekura.

On the other hand, the Subaru plot is handled very well, clearly having had the most thought go into it. The actual secret revelation is not all that surprising, especially if you've read any shoujo manga at all, but Rinna's reaction to it is excellent - the moment she finds out the news, she feels vaguely sick, which is a refreshing change after all the overly dramatic shoujo heroine angst over the same revelation in other works. In addition, we finally meet her father, who, given that she's a total Daddy's Girl, would have to be massively over the top just to live up to the buildup he's gotten. And indeed he is, showing exactly why Rinna loves him so much - while also coming across as an extremely fallible and selfish person.

There's a healthy dose of humor here too. The manga isn't especially dark or anything - even the dramatic scenes are short and usually followed by something funny - but I really did enjoy the humorous vignettes, especially the ones involving the captain. He spent 3/4 of the series with a completely ridiculous mustache / goatee combo, but this is a shoujo series - so naturally when he shaves it off and cuts his hair a bit, he's a complete bishie. Seeing the girls of the school suddenly take notice of him (and his clueless reaction to this) is very amusing. I also liked the tie in of the final battle between rivals being a mirror of the first battle for the cheering club, right down to the crows. And it's always nice to see the blunt dialogue that a short series allows - I love him, Will you go out with me, etc. Complete with a fantastic kiss at the end.

Yen Press had a couple of odd series licenses this last year that they decided to bundle into omnibuses, and Dragon Girl is by far the better of the two. With an unusual choice of 'sports' to focus on, an enthusiastic, strong yet feminine heroine, and a bunch of hot guys (even if some of them are in disguise with horrible facial hair), Dragon Girl is a great pickup for anyone wanting a cute, fun shoujo manga that doesn't drag things out.

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