New Manga - Ruri Dragon (ルリドラゴン)

Another week, another new series in Shonen Jump. Yesterday (6/12/2022) saw the release of the first chapter of Ruri Dragon by Masaoki Shindou. 

The plot is fairly simple. A girl named Ruri wakes up one morning to find out that she has grown dragon horns. The tone of the manga is immediately set when both Ruri and her mother treat this as an unexpected inconvenience and not a horrific disfigurement. It's not that such things are common place in the world of the manga, they most certainly are not. It's just that if you wake up one day with dragon horns, well, what are you gonna do about it? Life goes on. 

Ruri's mother reveals in an equally matter-of-fact tone that Ruri's father, who has never been present in her life, is actually a Ryu (龍 I'm guessing was the kanji used), a dragon. Specifically, he is a Japanese dragon. It's not really explained in the chapter, but there are a lot of differences between dragon myths in Europe and Asia. For the time being let's grossly oversimplify things and say that in Europe, dragons are serpents associated with fire and poison that heroes like Beowulf and Sigurd slay. In Asia, dragons are serpents associated with water that offer blessings of rain and power. If you want to know more about the circular influence of European and Asian mythology on modern fantasy fiction stay tuned for a future episode of the podcast. 

Ruri heads to school where her day proceeds surprisingly normally. People are curious about the horns, but for the most part they think it's neat. Everything is going well until Ruri sneezes and breathes fire. 
I know that I just said Asian dragons are water-types, and they went out of their way to specify that this is a 龍 and not a ドラゴン. I suspect there's some of that circular influence I was mentioning earlier going on. We'll see if they explain it.

Anyway, Ruri scalds her throat and has to be sent home from school. Ruri's mom reveals that she spoke with Ruri's father. He's excited to hear that she's growing up. Ruri has a surprisingly real exchange with her mother about how her father was never a part of her life and that she is hurt that her mother kept this secret from her when she thought they were all each other had. The chapter ends with the two making up and getting ready to make dinner. 

I don't normally go for low stakes, slice of life stories. That's more Isekai Sensei-sama's thing. Every once in a while I find one that clicks for me, though. This might be one of those. I enjoy the deadpan humor mixed with the heart of a teenager struggling with their identity and relating to their parents more as an adult. The dragon transformation feels like a metaphor for growing up that can be used as both a source of conflict/drama, and humor.

It's too soon to say if this will live up to the hopes I have for it, but if you are a fan of the slice of life genre then I would keep an eye on this one. It get's a tentative recommendation from me.  


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