Story/Art: Ryoko Kui
Translation/Adaptation: Taylor Engel
What They Say
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!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
This is my first time reading Ryoko Kui’s work. As such, I cannot make comparisons to her other works. Judging from this collection though, she’s capable of covering a wide range of themes and time periods.
The title might lead you to believe that these stories are somehow connected or share a dragon theme. That is not the case. The seven stories are completely unrelated, and only half feature dragons. I’m not sure why she titled it Seven Little Sons of the Dragon, but the only thing they hold in common is they all contain an element of fantasy.
The first story, “The Dragon Turret,” does contain dragons (four in fact), but it’s less about the dragons and more about the prejudices of two medieval groups warring nearby. The second, “The Mermaid Refuge,” is also about prejudices, but the groups involved are mermaids and modern Japanese folk. That’s followed by “My God,” a somewhat amusing tale about a displaced fish deity and an elementary school girl stressed out about entrance exams. Next is “Wolves Don’t Lie,” about a young man struggling with a genetic syndrome that causes him to transform into a wolf every month. The fifth story, “Byakuroku the Penniless,” is a comedy set in feudal Japan about an elderly artist’s misadventures with paintings that spring to life. Then the mood darkens with “‘My Child is Precious,’ Cries the Dragon,” a tale of revenge set in ancient China. The volume wraps up on a light note with “The Inutanis,” a murder mystery parody featuring a family with supernatural powers.
Although the settings and tone vary within the collection, each story is thought-provoking in its own way. In “The Dragon Turret,” “The Mermaid Refuge,” and “‘My Child is Precious,’ Cries the Dragon,” people at odds find common ground. Characters in “My God,” “Wolves Don’t Lie,” and “The Inutanis” struggle with identity and their place in the world. As for Byakuroku, he is forced to reevaluate assumptions he’s made in life. While the conclusion of Byakuroku’s story is best described as bittersweet, the remaining six stories have hopeful or funny endings.
Regarding illustrations, Kui-sensei is sparing with screentones, so there’s a lot of black/white contrast. Her character designs are comic or cute as needed, but they don’t have much to distinguish them. (Prince Shun’s guards all look alike.) Her backgrounds are pretty sparse, but her animals, especially those in “Byakuroku the Penniless,” are beautifully drawn.
Extras include translation notes, fold-out color illustration, and bonus comics.
Don’t be misled by the title. Only half of this collection involves dragons, and none of the stories are related at all. That said, if you’re looking for a wide range of short fantasy works that are generally positive and appropriate for a young teen, this is worth considering.
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: A-
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: November 26th, 2019