Dragon Girl 2

April 2, 2011

Toru Fujieda – Del Rey – 2011 – 2 volumes
this is an omnibus containing the last half of volume 3 and volumes 4-5

Man, I liked this series a lot, despite the fact I drug my feet about reading it the past couple days. As I said last time, the ouendan theme is very unique, as is Rinna, the main character. She’s not unsure of herself, or a sad sack, or any sort of doormat. She’s cheery, outgoing without being aggressive, and just an all-around great character to take the spotlight in a series like this. She goes through her doubts and periods of sadness, and the usual themes of friendship and whatnot pull her through, but there she is at the end, cheering everyone on, being exactly who she wants to be. Plus, it’s hard to fault a character who is shown hugging their dad rather than their crush on the front of the book.

Granted, her beau is left as a mystery until the end of the book. She falls in love with a mysterious character named Subaru, who sort of leads her on before dumping her coldly, but he may have a reason to do this. She’s also catching the eye of the school’s resident bitter introvert, and the big-hearted captain of the squad is also in love with her. One thing I like about both this series and Fujieda’s other, Oyayubihime Infinity, is that the love interest isn’t decided until the very end of the book. She does a good job keeping the reader guessing. I was hoping for a little more of an upset this time around, but she mixes things up enough that it’s not completely cut-and-dry.

The story this time was a little more soap-opera-ish than the last volume (which one of the characters points, out, too). Rinna has to deal with her father’s past, some drama surrounding her private life getting mixed up with a rival school, Yaotome’s emotional coming out, a whole lot of family issues… and… yeah, she runs away from home for awhile, too. That’s a shame, because her father and grandma are two of the coolest family members you’ll see in a shoujo manga, but she does have her reasons. Also, there’s the real plot of the series, which is Rinna’s attempt to get the ouendan cheering squad back to the forefront of student activities and re-instated as a school club.

This is three volume’s worth of story, so I can’t go into too much detail without spoiling it, but a series about a cheering squad is pretty much guaranteed to be a lot of fun, and the shoujo manga parts of it ensure romance and drama aplenty for those who want it. But because there was so much general crazy going on, the one thing that had me a little disappointed is that it felt like some parts could have gone into more detail, and that would have drawn me in a little more. I always feel like pointing out when something isn’t the best series I’ve ever read… and yeah, this isn’t. But it is a lot of fun, and it has more going for it than most mid-ground shoujo series.

Also, it’s worth pointing out that the spines of the two omnibus volumes form a picture of Rinna. I always get a kick out of spine images, and they’re used so infrequently (Dragonball, hardcover Buddha volumes, Vagabond VizBig volumes, the narrative running down the spine of Detective Conan). It’s worth pointing out and appreciating them when they do appear.

Cheerleading, a great main character, an upbeat mood, and great shoujo manga elements make this a hard one to pass up, and the two-volume omnibus format makes it even harder. It has its flaws, but it’s unusual enough that many shoujo fans will probably want to check it out.

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