Monday, November 19, 2007

Blue Dragon

Story: Tsuneo Takano

Art: Takeshi Obata (Hikaru no Go, Death Note)


In a world reminiscent of our medieval Europe, creatures called Shadows have invaded the world. Born in darkness, Shadows have no shape or form, but when they emerge into the world of light, they take over the body of living creatures, and through these they gain bodies for themselves. There are 3 types of Shadows, but regardless of what type they are, they cannot manifest themselves without light.

Ral, a prisoner kept in perpetual darkness by his father Lord Roy, was possessed by a Shadow when he was just a baby. For 15 years he was kept in darkness, but one day the assault of the Shadows grow too strong, and the people of the castle must rely on his power. Yet he’s been kept as a prisoner for 15 years, and Ral had promised Grado to take revenge on the people who first took them prisoner. In addition to this, Grado wishes to overthrow the current ruler of the Shadow world, and in exchange for lending Grado his intellect, Grado will lend Ral his power.

Ral attacks Roy as soon as he is freed, but Rin protects him from the guards who rushes to protect their lord. Seeing Rin for the first time, Ral is greatly interested by the difference between males and females, and asks Rin to teach him about women. In exchange, Rin asks him to kill the Shadows currently assaulting the castle.

Jumping off the tower, Ral and Grado fly down amongst the Shadows. Grado manifests himself in Ral’s shadow, which the largest of the Shadows recognise as The Raging Demon Blue Dragon. Grado easily dispatches all but the largest Shadow, which tries to run away, but is killed just as easily by Ral. Amidst the cheers of the villagers, Rin takes Ral away for his ‘lesson’, and the villagers wonder if their saviour has finally come.


Takeshi Obata is back with a new serialisation, and that is some good news indeed. His track record shows hits after hits - with his most recent and famous series being Hikaru no Go and Death Note. Blue Dragon is something markedly different from his previous works though - it’s unlike Hikaru no Go or Death Note, which are mostly set in the modern world with a fantasy twist, but is set in a medieval fantasy world where monsters run free.

This hasn’t stopped Obata from delivering his high quality art though. The change in setting doesn’t seem to hamper him, but rather provides him with more creative freedom. Like the death gods found in Death Note, the Shadows take various forms, some even having the ability to transform. Their non-humanoid appearances gives Obata more space to exercise his imagination and design, and although none yet are as memorable or as full of impact as Ryuk and his ilks, Grado looks truly fearsome. In short, Obata’s art is as good as ever, and there’s really nothing to complain about.

What about the story? So far it’s hard to judge, but it seems the story is going to center around how Ral and Grado overthrows the Shadow Queen. The two protagonists, Ral and Grado, who constantly talk to each other, provide two different types of hero - Ral, who knows nothing about the world, has infinite room for evolution and growth, while Grado seems to have a deep and interesting background, though how much focus will be given to him remains to be seen.

The first chapter also leaves a number of mysteries waiting to be solved. Apart from Grado’s background, what is the reason for their special blending, why wasn’t Ral completely taken over by Grado like the others possessed by Shadows? The Shadows claim they want to exterminate humans before they destroy the planet, so what is the world of Blue Dragon really like, how are the humans, who lack our destructive technology, on path to destroying the planet? Why did Grado, who is obviously a powerful Shadow, pick a little baby to possess?

Although it’s hard to say what the story will turn out to be like, I have some faith in whoever it is that picks the writers for Obata’s manga. Both Hikaru no Go and Death Note had outstanding stories, although they were great in vastly different ways. How Blue Dragon will turn out remains to be seen, but I really look forward to reading more of it.

This manga review was taken from here

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