Manga Mondays: Seven Little Sons of the Dragon
Title: Seven Little Sons of the Dragon: A Collection of Seven Stories (Ryuu no Kawaii Nanatsu no Ko / 九井諒子作品集 竜のかわいい七つの子)
Author: Ryoko Kui (Story & Art)
Genres: Fantasy, Comedy, Short Stories, Slice of Life
Published: 2011 – 2012 (magazine); November 2019 (English tankōbon)
Volumes: 1 [Complete]
Japanese Publisher: Fellows! (magazine)
English Publisher: Yen Press
Available to Purchase in English?: Yes (Indigo / Amazon / Barnes & Noble)
This Review is Based On: The entire series
Synopsis: Ryoko Kui, the master storyteller behind the beloved manga series ‘Delicious in Dungeon’, pens seven brand-new tales that will delight fantasy fans and manga devotees equally. Covering a broad range of themes and time periods, no two stories in this collection are alike! (Amazon)
Here’s something different for this week’s review – a collection of short stories! I mean yes, while Calico Cat Acupuncture Clinic was also technically a series of short stories, those were all linked to each other through their characters; Seven Little Sons of the Dragon‘s short stories are all completely unrelated to each other.
The seven stories are:
The Dragon Turret
The Mermaid Refuge
Wolves Don’t Lie
Byakuroku the Penniless
“My Child Is Precious,” Cries the Dragon
Because the manga is of the fantasy genre, each story features either a mythical creature or a kind of supernatural power. In a couple of stories the magical creature of choice is a dragon; creatures featured in other stories include a werewolf and a mermaid. The last story features people with supernatural powers.
In The Dragon Turret, two countries are isolated from each other due to a dragon which has made its nest on a trading route that links the two nations. Anytime someone with a horse gets near the nest, the dragon freaks out and attacks. Therefore trading has fallen to a standstill and both countries are running out of provisions.
One day a young man named Sanan from the country of Sealand arrives at the mountain nation looking for an item to take home. He meets a young woman named Julka and her father, who makes an agreement with Sanan wherein he will bring items from Sealand to their country, and they will send him home with items Sealand is short of. Julka is initially very suspicious of Sanan and dislikes him, but begins to warm up to him with each of his visits.
The plan is for both nations to attack each other once the dragon learns to fly, but what will happen to Julka and Sanan and their respective homelands once war arrives on their doorsteps?
The Mermaid Refuge seemed to me like a commentary on racism. In this story’s world, humans and mermaids co-exist. However mermaids are looked down upon and treated like lesser beings by some humans. Hmmm why does that seem so familiar…
The story begins with the main character Jun finding a mermaid on the side of the road. He nurses her back to health but when she indicates she’s trying to reach his high school, he fills a wheelbarrow with water and wheels her along the side of the road and up towards his school.
There they run into Jun’s friend Hama, who despises mermaids and wants nothing to do with them. Jun’s nameless mermaid has a connection to Hama, one the teenager completely denies. Jun is upset at Hama’s rejection and so he returns the mermaid back to the ocean. But, will that be the end of Jun’s relationship with the mermaid?
My God is a short, cute story about a young girl named Yukie who can see the spirits of gods in the world around her. When she meets the spirit of a fish who is dying because the river he came from has been filled in, she takes him home and tries to keep him alive. When that proves futile she sets up an aquarium for him, and prays that he will help her with her upcoming middle school exam. Will she be able to keep the fish god alive while passing her school exam?
Wolves Don’t Lie is about a young man named Keita who is a werewolf. His mother can sometimes be a little overbearing, but she means well and has done her best to support him as he has grown up. Keita tends to lose his memory around the time of his monthly transformation, and that issue takes center stage in this story.
During one of Keita’s memory lapses he meets a young woman named Saya, who encourages him to say some things to his mother that he’d been withholding from her. Keita doesn’t remember this conversation but assumes that he was angry at his mother over how she treats him sometimes… except that he wasn’t mad at her. Saya is horrified to hear that Keita went off on his mother and says that Keita had actually originally praised his mother for loving him as much as she does, and for being so supportive. Will Keita be able to fix his relationship with his mother??
In Byakuroku, the Penniless, the story features an old man named Byakuroku who was once a talented artist. He was so skilled that he had the ability to make his creations come to life; however because he didn’t always want tigers and soldiers running around, he used to leave one eye blank. This prevented them from becoming real.
One day Byakuroku finds a counterfeit painting of a man with a horse than someone created based off one of his pieces. Byakuroku wants to bring some of his creations to life, using the limited inkstone he has remaining, in order to capture them and sell them (hence his name referencing his lack of money).
Byakuroku and the young man travel by horse and foot to several different locations where Byakuroku’s art is being kept. Along the way, the counterfeit drawing reveals that he wants to become human one day.
However during their last encounter, with a dragon no less, Byakuroku is struck by lightning and looks like he may not survive. In the middle of a rainstorm, the man and the horse must take Byakuroku’s still body to where he can receive medical care. But will the trio make it to safety in time?
The second to last story is titled “My Child Is Precious,” Cries the Dragon, and it’s a doozy. Prince Shun is the son of the king and his father is sick. Prince Shun wants to travel to a dragon’s nest to retrieve one of its scales; with the scale he can supposedly cure the king’s illness. A young woman named Yoh in the village offers to go with him, and a few other men decide to travel with the pair as well.
On their way up to the dragon’s mountain the prince suffers a poisonous wound on his leg, and one of their companions gets a scratch on his face. Yoh’s group can hear the loud roars of the dragon as they approach its nest. The men traveling with the Prince and Yoh are suspicious of Yoh’s behaviour, but the prince believes she means them no harm.
Well, they eventually climb the mountain and reach the dragon’s nest. Is Yoh who she said she is? What are her motivations for helping the Prince?
Last but not least is The Inutanis. It’s about family where each member has a special supernatural power. Levitation, telekinesis – the list goes on. One day the family is celebrating their twin daughters’ milestone of having finally fully developed their own special power. Although, one is perhaps a little more useful than the other. ^^;;
That evening the family’s celebrations are dampened when the father brings home someone who was caught in the rain. With a human in their midst, everyone has to struggle to remember to not use their ability in front of the unsuspecting human. However an incident with the grandfather leads the family’s guest to think that there’s a murder plot going on, and the girls are his main suspects!
This story is really goofy and plays out like one big game of Clue. In the end, the twin with the “useless” power is the one who saves the day. Give this story a read to learn what her special power is, and how she learns how to come into her own at exactly the right moment.
Of all these stories I think the second story about the mermaid is the one I connected with the most. Its last few pages caught me completely off guard and I definitely did not see that story ending the way that it did. I also really enjoyed My God, if only for the cute fish deity. Byakuroku also had a lot more depth than I thought it was going to when I first started reading it.
The artwork of Seven Little Sons of the Dragon is very remarkable! Ryoko Kui is very definitely very talented. ^_^v I especially enjoyed the expressions of the men traveling with Yoh and the Prince in the sixth story – they look very similar to expressions I saw on the faces of the characters of Dragon Half!
Do I Recommend This Title to Others?: Yep! I didn’t dislike any of the stories in this manga, I merely connected with some more than others. I like that the stories are all family-friendly and can be read by anyone, and while some will make the reader think more than others, they’re all a fun read.
Final Score: 9/10