Another year has come and gone, and the Chinese New Year is upon us again. This zodiac sign for this year is the Dragon. A creature that plays an important part in Asia history and culture, the dragon also gets lots of page time in manga. Here is just a sampling of the manga available in English that features dragons.
Dragon Ball – THE classic manga and probably the first title that comes to people’s minds when the word dragon is mentioned is Dragon Ball. This title by Akira Toriyama is still considered among the best in both the US and Japan. Young monkey-tailed boy Goku joins the teenaged girl Bulma on a quest to collect the 7 Dragon Balls. Legend says if all dragon balls are gathered, then the gatherer can call for Shenron, a dragon that will then grant them one wish. Dragon Ball is the better half of the series, and would have been so much better if it had ended at volume 16. I love Toriyama’s dragons, both the serious and the silly.
Dragon Knights – This series, along with Inuyasha and Dragon Ball, was one of the first manga series in English I ever bought. It follows three Dragon Knights of the Dragon tribe in the land of Draqueen. Rath, the Dragon Knight of Fire, Rune, the Dragon Knight of Water and Thatz, the Dragon Knight of Earth, travel the land, helping the people and slaying demons. The series starts off light and with a lot of humor, but in later volumes becomes weighed down by multiple story lines that weave around each other, causing a lot of confusion. So does the character designs, which look a lot like. But it’s still an enjoyable story, and one I need to re-read. Maybe reading it all at once will help keep things straight.
St. Dragon Girl – Momoka is a tomboyish girl who is good at martial arts. Ryuga is her childhood friend whose family has the power to summon dragons. When Ryuga summons a dragon to stop a demon who is after his sister, Momoka gets in the way and the dragon possesses her instead. Ryuga seals the dragon in Momoka, and its power can only be released by a kiss from him. This title is a shojo with Momoka pining for Ryuga, while Ryuga likes Momoka, but won’t admit it. It’s a cute and fun title, with some great looking dragons.
Two Flowers for the Dragon – Shakuya is a princess of the Dragon Tribe that rules an oasis in the desert, and can turn into a dragon. She has also been betrothed to two men. Lucien was betrothed to her when they were children, but he mysteriously disappeared. Kuwan, the captain of the guard of the oasis then became her betrothed. The story starts with Lucien suddenly returning, with many of his memories missing. With two fiancés now, and neither willing to give up Shakuya, The queen gives Shakuya two tattoos; a rose for Lucien and a bellflower for Kuwan. The tattoos will grow with Shakuya’s feeling for each man, so both men must compete for Shakuya’s affections, but Shakuya has a mind of her own and won’t be swayed so easily. This is another shojo series, aimed toward the tween audience, like many of Nari Kusakawa’s books are. This series was released by CMX, and cancelled before the final volume was released.
Dragon Drive – Reiji Ozora is lazy. He never finishes anything he starts, and hardly makes it to school on time, until his childhood friend, Maiko Yukino shows him the virtual reality game Dragon Drive, where player fight each other with custom dragons that are based on the player’s personality. Reiji’s dragon, Chibi, ends up being a small fry that sleeps a lot. But, there seems to be something different about Chibi, and the game as well, as Reiji and his friends are transported to another world where the dragons and the battles are real. This is another fun title, that younger readers and tweens will enjoy. My oldest daughter loved them when she was in elementary/middle school.
Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac – This series is a fighting manga that helped make bishonen (pretty boys) popular in Shonen Jump. The main characters all wear armor, called cloths, and are based on constellations. The Cloth worn by Shinryu is based on the Dragon constellation. Not only is this cloth considered to be the strongest of the cloths, it has legendary offensive and defensive capabilities, and Shinryu wields them expertly. Shinryu is the calm, cool one compared to Seiya’s firey and impetuous ways. His attacks all feature a dragon, usually of water roaring and striking fear in his opponents.
Saiyuki – This mix of fantasy and modern re-telling of the classic Chinese tale Saiyuuki has a dragon roaming its pages. Jeep, also known as Hakuryuu is a pet to the main character Hakkai. He is normally the size of a house cat and can breathe fire, but for most of the series he is seen in his transformed state, that of a Jeep, that the boys use as transportation. Jeep is very cute and is usually seen draped around Hakkai’s neck.
Dragon Voice – While there is no actual dragon in this series, the main character Rin Amami is thought to have the legendary “Dragon Voice”, a deep voice that while by itself sounds like Godzilla, mixed with the right voices has a charismatic and captivating sound. Sadly, this series was dropped by Tokyopop with only one volume to go. The it’s worth the time for fun, outrageous story and wild characters.
I’m sure there are a lot more manga that I’ve missed with dragons in them. Leave me a comment and let me know what else I should be looking up!