By Thea Srinivasan
This is going to be really strange to say, but seeing a child grow up within a matter of one volume makes enjoy this manga even more. It’s a really bad thing to say when everything is falling apart for one character, but I think that brings more emotion within the reader themselves. It’s almost like they’re a spectator for the godlike author. But really, what I’ve read in one volume makes me hope for more to come.
The Water Dragon’s Bride is about a little girl named Asahi and she gets transported to another world after she accidently trips in a pond in her backyard. The world appears to be without modern technology and there she meets a little boy named Subaru. While trying to figure out how to get home, Subaru takes her to his home and begs his mother to accept her until she is able to get back home. While Subaru’s mother does so, she ends planning a ceremony where she sacrifices Asahi to be the bride of the Water Dragon. Needless to say, Subaru becomes unhappy after her disappearance in the water and Asahi now has to deal with an apathetic water god whom she feels is a monster. As the two move on with their lives, Subaru struggles to find a way to bring Asahi back and Asahi struggles with trying to find her way back to her mommy and daddy.
I really liked the premise so far. It’s darker than the usual shoujo manga style as we see Asahi struggle with dealing with Subaru’s mother, an apathetic god and the idea of her whole world no longer existing. When is it ever a good idea to sacrifice a little girl to a disinterested god? To me, that seems a little traumatizing. But what makes me love this story a little more is the fact that we see both of these kids push their limits to make their goals come true. I don’t think I’ve ever seen kids with this much grit and stubbornness. Add on the fact that Subaru has such a strong crush on Asahi and Asahi just speaks her mind gives even more emphasis that the innocence still exists within both kids and is most likely going to chip away as they experience more with the Gods and the village where Subaru from.
Although the Water Dragon is seemingly careless with Asahi, he does find himself intrigued by her innocent, open-spoken nature. But even then, that isn’t enough for him to really care and I think that’s what makes him a great shoujo manga character without stuck to one archetype. He’s never going to fully love her yet he still is fond of a new toy coming into his life.
I’m also really pleased with the art style of the characters. The unique fluidity matched with the sharp attention to the person’s face makes a lot of the scenes character driven. Unfortunately, with that being said, I also have to criticize on the fact that there’s not a lot of emphasis on the setting except in a few moments that build up to a certain climax. With that being said, I do think that emphasis on the setting right before the next movement brings even more tension to what happens next for all the characters.
While I don’t have a lot to say about this manga, I am very pleased on how it’s coming out so far. There are a few hints of typical shoujo manga archetypes, but the moments are so small that it reminds me that this manga is veering away from the usual style. I really hope the future volumes carry this on and I honestly cannot wait to review the next few volumes. For anyone who wants a slightly dark yet adventurous manga with a dose of harsh realities, then this manga will definitely treat the reader’s mind and heart all the way without being smothered in gaudy romance.
The Water Dragon’s Bride vol. 1