St. Dragon Girl 7

June 6, 2010

Natsumi Matsumoto – Viz – 2010 – 8 volumes

This story isn’t particularly strong, even considering the age group its targeted at, but I guess I’m just a sucker for shoujo stories like this.  It’s got all the right pieces (cute romance, magic, pandas, fight scenes), and I enjoy its sense of humor well enough.  I think I enjoyed this volume more than the others because it’s becoming clear that the series is climaxing.

One of the biggest improvements was Mao, a silly half-demon sorcerer who is after Momoka.  Of course there’s the expected foot dragging about whether or not she’s really dating Ryuga, but Mao’s ardent pursuits, plus his nifty magic and the lengths he’s willing to go to in order to impress Momoka were pretty fun.  The stories are still all one-shots, but I think having characters that stick around in the main storyline helps, too.  I had forgotten how many people had come and gone through the volumes until I saw the couples amusement park date in the last chapter, featuring couples I’m sure I’m supposed to remember from the past stories.  Sorry, guys.  Mao’s sister is probably a little excessive as far as new characters go, but on the other hand she’s the one that kicks off the climax, and I do like her glasses that let you see the red thread of fate, so that’s all right.

There’s still lots of pandas, and most of the romantic interaction is still limited to Ryuga saying something to ruin the moment and Momoka booting him into the horizon, but it’s still fun considering what it is.  Not fun enough for me to go back and pick up the volumes I missed, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to want to read the ending, so take that as you will.  It’s a shame they make so many breast jokes, because otherwise this might be good for little girls, too.  The pretty art would make it especially appealing.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

St. Dragon Girl 6

March 12, 2010

Natsumi Matsumoto – Viz – 2010 – 8 volumes

Oh dear.  You know when you open the volume and the title page illustration invites you to fill in your own dialogue in the blank speech bubbles that you may be a little too old for the series.  And I’m definitely not the target audience.

There’s a lot of fun in this volume.  The chapters are still episodic, with the only continuing plot thread continuing to be the shy, unaknowledged relationship between Momoka and Ryuga.  The chapters in this volume contain more stories of ghost possessions, demon fights, girls possibly moving in on Momoka’s territory, and a cute chapter at the end focusing on Ron-Ron, the stuffed panda inhabited by the spirit of the “Panda King.”

The clear winner of the stories in this volume was one involving a fox demon who was masquerading as a movie star and collecting souls through her popularity.  Momoka was her stunt double in a movie, and she steals all her memories of Ryuga away.  It’s a two-part story, and while it wasn’t edge-of-your-seat thrills or anything, it was still pretty heavy stuff for this otherwise light series.

It’s extremely cute, and as I said, it’s pretty fun, but it’s a shallow kind of fun.  It lacks a lot of the charm similar adorable series have, maybe just because it lacks character and plot development.  Nothing is ever a serious threat, and it’s pretty clear how things will shake out before they happen.  One thing to its credit is that the stories aren’t repetitive cliches, and I think that’s what saves it from being uninteresting… but still.

This is adorable, and fans of cute shoujo aimed at younger readers will likely find a lot to like in it, but there are much, much better things to read out there.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

St. Dragon Girl 3

May 29, 2009

Now, these lighter shoujo series aren’t so much my thing, they’re just a bit too much shallow fun for my tastes.  That’s fine, considering the audience for them is actually younger than, say, High School Debut, I’m just not into these types of stories.  They are always extremely cute though, and sometimes even I need that extra shot of sugary sweetness.

St. Dragon Girl actually stands out from the crowd a little bit (at least among the stuff I read) because it doesn’t really have much to do with the characters in school.  There’s still a shy romance between childhood friends, but the girl is a martial artist and the boy is a magician, so most of the stories are about jobs the boy has exorcising things, or spirits coming to menace the two of them, or other supernatural phenomona the two run into.  I actually like it quite a bit for that.

In this volume, Momoka is possessed by a Chinese wedding garment, Shunran and Momoka make friends with the spirit of a little boy (this story had a pretty fun twist at the end), one of Ryuga’s relatives is having problems with his mother and little brother that Momoka helps out with… the stories aren’t really interconnected, and the only continuity seems to be the relationship/crush between Ryuga and Momoka and their family history in their respective fields.

It’s good fun, if you’re in the mood for something light, cute, and action-y.  Most of the stories are buildup to a final fight where Momoka beats people up and Ryuga releases the dragon inside her.  There’s not to much to it other than that, so look elsewhere if you want something to sink your teeth into.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

St. Dragon Girl 1

December 4, 2008

Much like I typically hate series that run in Wings magazine, I also generally dislike anything and everything from Ribon magazine, with the sole exception of Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne.  There are others I like well enough, but they had flaws, and KKJ is probably the only one I liked unconditionally.  Whereas Wings has no excuse, Ribon mostly doesn’t appeal to me because it’s been too long since I’ve been an 8-year-old girl.  The stories are fine for what they are, and I think they’re great for kids as far as that goes, but I generally look for more in my series.

Take St. Dragon Girl, for example.  The basic premise of the series is that a pair of childhood friends, one a martial arts master and one a powerful magician, find themselves in a position where the magician can now call his most powerful magic, in the form of a dragon, from the martial artist.  This in itself is not bad.  There are many awesome places you can go with a plot like this.  St. Dragon Girl doesn’t really go anywhere with it, though.

The stories are episodic, and typically the two have some sort of minor scuffle, some minor evil occurs within the chapter, then the magician calls the magic out of the martial artist and she beats everyone up, and they live happily ever after.  This happens for all four chapters in this volume.  The stories themselves are okay, but I deeply regret the fact that there’s not more of an overarching plot.

There is a romance, of course.  The martial artist loves the magician, but she’s too shy to confess her feelings.  The magician knows this, and teases her a bit about it, and the two always come close to a confession at the end of every chapter… but it just doesn’t happen.  I wish they would admit their feelings, though, the two of them are very cute.

I have no idea why this series is rated Teen, unless it’s because the martial artist has a tendency to comically beat up the magician.  I can imagine there being a lot of little girls that would inhale something like this… but I think it’s probably not so much for people over a certain age.