I’m not quite sure what I really thinking about this particular manga just yet, because during the first volume Rei Toma-sama, the writer and artist for this manga has raised more questions, than have been answered.
The manga seeks to tell the tale of a young girl living in what I assume to be modern day japan with her mom and dad. She is then abruptly transported to a new place set in an ancient Japanese styled fantasy world. How or why she is there is not explained to her or the reader. It’s just one moment she’s talking to her dad in their family garden, and the next she’s in a forest. This immediate switch of setting isn’t as disorienting as it sounds, but it does leave the reading wanting to know more. I fact I think this entire first volume of The Water Dragon’s Bride is just one big tease for an intriguing story that doesn’t develop in its first volume. Think of it as an introductory level in a game, a tutorial level of sorts.
Our main character in the story is named Asahi. She’s an adorably illustrated character with pink hair and supposedly grey eyes, but to me they look violet. Asahi meets a young noble born boy named, Subaru and his sister when she is transported to this new world, and quickly becomes friends with him. She’s inevitably taken in by his family; however, Subaru mother has ulterior motives involving the girl. When these motivations come to light, Asahi meets a Water Dragon God. A God who is devoid of much empathy. He views humans as insignificant, superstitious idiots, and amuses himself by watching them do foolish things. When he meets Asahi he considers her peculiar enough for him to marry, but there are a few road blocks on that plan. Most of all being the Asahi is an adolescent girl, and also has her own plans for her marital future.
By the time you get to the last page in The Water Dragon’s Bride you will find that you have more questions about it than when you begun reading the manga. Now this may serve as a way to keep readers interested in possibly picking up the second volume, but I found this to be more annoying than anything especially considering that the volumes are being published quarterly. Cliffhangers are good when the reader has enough context to care about what happens next, this first volume doesn’t succeed in doing that. During the three chapters contained in this first volume I found nothing that grabbed my attention enough to keep me interested for long. In fact I started reading another manga for review when I was at the halfway point of this one, then I returned to it after completing that other manga.
Let that sink in….
As for the artwork in this manga. I think the best term to describe it would be, adorable. Characters are all well designed. Asahi and Subaru are so well illustrated that I almost couldn’t contain my inner “awwws”, and the occasional gushing. The water god is also stunningly beautiful, like an elegant noble lady. As for the setting and environments it reminding me greatly of one of my favorite anime of all time, A lull in the sea. This is due to a major portion of the volume taking place in the water Dragon’s under water realm. I’d love to see what this world would look like in full color, and so does its mangaka, who drizzled a lot of background to the process of creating the characters and world between chapters.
The best advice I can give regarding this manga is to wait for the second volume before considering picking it up. It’s not a bad concept, but the story doesn’t develop enough in the first volume to warrant an immediate purchase. If by the time the second volume is released we get some more development to the characters and the plot then I’ll likely recommend getting it, because so far it doesn’t seem to be a bad manga, just incomplete.
The copy of The Water Dragon’s Bride used for this review was supplied to us by its publisher, viz media. The manga is rated ‘T’ for Teens and is published under the Shojo Beat imprint. Volume 1 carries an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN. THE WATER DRAGON’S BRIDE is available digitally via VIZ.com and the VIZ Manga App, as well as from the Nook, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, comiXology, and GooglePlay stores. Future volumes of the ongoing series will be published on a quarterly basis.