The Water Dragon’s Bride Volume 8 by Rei Toma
One of the central questions I had as a reader of The Water Dragon’s Bride was what would happen if Asahi managed to find her way home? With her return to modern day Japan and her decision to rejoin her friends in the world of the Water Dragon God, I was curious to see where Toma would take the plot next in terms of a main conflict. She introduces a new antagonist for the Water Dragon God and Asahi, and I’m genuinely curious to see where the story goes next because I’m not sure what to expect.
The idea of other castaway people has been touched on a little bit before in this series, but this volume takes a turn when it thoroughly explores the backstory of Kurose, the companion to Tokoyami the God of Darkness, who rules an Underworld where it is impossible for the Water Dragon God to enter. The Water Dragon God enlists Subaru for help, but it ends up being Asahi’s unpredictable reactions to danger and the strength of her caring for others that opens up a possibility for her to escape.
Asahi and the Water Dragon God end up creating some deadly supernatural enemies, and one of the things that I appreciate about Toma is that her antagonists are fully drawn, with motivations and reasons for their actions that cause the reader to ponder the nature of humanity. Kurose is bullied in school, and when he’s rescued by Tokoyami and taken to a world of darkness, we see what happens when a less resilient human gets exposed to supernatural influences without the benefit of Asahi’s strong inner will. Kurose has his own traumatic adventures in the world of the Water Dragon God, where bad things happen to good people, and the gods seem indifferent to the suffering that they refuse to intervene in. As always, Toma’s capable illustrations serve to heighten the impact of the symbolic world that the gods inhabit, contrasted to the lives of ordinary villagers and teenagers in the modern world. There’s a confrontation between the two gods and their companions which will surely happen in the volumes ahead, and I’m very curious to see if Asahi’s unique outlook and faith manages to get herself and the Water Dragon God out of yet another complex situation.