St. Dragon Girl, Vol. 2
By Natsumi Matsumoto
Published by Viz Media
Momoka is a high school student with a talent for martial arts who is possessed by the spirit of a dragon that can only be brought forth by contact with her childhood friend, Ryuga, upon whom she also happens to have a long-time crush. Momoka is constantly looking for the right opportunity to reveal her feelings to Ryuga, but there’s always something in the way of it–usually some kind of supernatural threat they must work together to banish. Though Ryuga seems to be very much aware of Momoka’s crush, and quite possibly even returns her feelings, for now he is satisfied to tease her about it to the point of occasionally using a kiss to awaken the dragon within her in moments of danger.
This is sort of an odd little series with each chapter standing very much on its own, even repeating much of the same exposition over and over again, as though readers might forget between chapters. This is probably a product of serialization but it feels repetitive in this format. Though there is nothing particularly deep or thought-provoking about the characters or the story and each chapter follows a similar, fairly trite formula, there are some charming moments that crop up here and there. Unfortunately, the randomness of the supernatural elements is a bit confusing and the nature of Momoka’s possession by the dragon is largely unexplored, making its repeated appearance (always to save the day) feel a bit meaningless, at least at this point.
The nicest aspect of the series is Momoka and Ryuga’s relationship which is refreshingly warm and, considering the episodic framework of the manga, remains its one truly constant element and probably the only relationship with any real potential for growth. Their mutual history is particularly evident in the first chapter of this volume, in which a demon takes over the ground beneath a peach tree that Ryuga had long ago declared to be Momoka’s tree. Momoka is hurt when she realizes that Ryuga has forgotten about this piece of their childhood and this undercurrent runs throughout the chapter, giving it a bit more depth that it would have otherwise. Momoka’s spunk and martial arts talent makes her a fun, confident heroine and her determination regarding Ryuga is pretty adorable, as is his devotion to her, even if she rarely notices it.
Matsumoto’s art has as much energy as her heroine, leaping and sparkling right off the page. Though the character designs are perhaps overly-cute, all that shine and energy matches the feel of the series quite well, as do the active panel layouts.
Obviously aimed towards younger teens (I’d even say it was most appropriate for pre-teens, despite the “Teen” rating) there isn’t a lot here to excite older readers, but the teasing romance and spunky, appealing heroine make St. Dragon Girl an attractive choice for young girls, especially those who might be new to manga.
Review copy provided by Viz.