In a world where humans live in fear of being possessed by the demonic beings known as Shadows, one boy has been locked in darkness all his life. As the host of the Blue Dragon Grad, fifteen year old Ral has been shut away to prevent the powerful demon from ever manifesting, but now that a new force of deadly Shadows threatens his country, he is let out into the light for the first time. Motivated by respect for his teacher and desire to feel women’s boobs, Ral sets off on a journey to save humanity from Queen Bira and her Shadow army.
Although I’m not particularly interested in the Blue Dragon franchise as a whole, Takeshi Obata’s involvement in this manga ensured that I had to check it out on account of his artwork alone. Unfortunately, whilst it was certainly visually sound, the actual content proved to be rather underwhelming.
Blue Dragon starts off as a pretty average fantasy tale, giving us the usual party of eclectic heroes fighting against an enemy who waits in a final boss castle whilst dispatching increasingly strong underlings. The unique spin this time is that our lead is an incredibly naïve young man who is motivated purely by his desire to feel the breasts of the world’s women in a paradoxically innocent perversion that is at least mildly amusing. With that in mind, it was clearly never going to be a favourite manga, but it did at least seem solid enough to justify reading through to the end.
At only 29 chapters in length, however, it was inevitable that as the series progressed, the pace would get more rushed. With no time for a proper, full-length quest, everything got packed into the space of a few confusing chapters in which so much was going on that it was hard to follow more than the general gist of what was meant to be happening. Of course, that ultimately led to not really caring about anything more than just getting to the end of the series.
As well as Ral and his dragon Grad, Blue Dragon plays host to a number of characters, including the typical teacher, weaker allies and cocky rival types you’d expect to find. None of the characters are particularly well developed or inspiring, with their shallow nature doing little to lift the series out of the realms of mediocrity.
As mentioned earlier, the artwork for the series is handled by Takeshi Obata of Death Note and Hikaru no Go fame, which ensures that this aspect of Blue Dragon is at least above average. Although the designs don’t differ that much from Obata’s staples, everything is well-drawn in his distinctive style, ensuring that the series is nice to look at even when the plot isn’t making much sense.
Had it just been an average fantasy tale, Blue Dragon would have at least been a good distraction series, but the rushed pace in the latter chapters renders it something of a disappointing waste of time. I’m not sure how it compares to the other entries in the Blue Dragon franchise, but certainly this is one corner of the series that isn’t really worth exploring.
Story: Tsuneo Takano
Artwork: Takeshi Obata