Masaoki Shindo debut their new series, RuriDragon, in the latest Weekly Shonen Jump. Shindo’s Ruri Dragon is the second new ongoing manga series in June, the first Fusai Naba’s Alien Arena. Shindo’s previous work included two different one-shots in Weekly Shonen Jump, “Joreishi Rentarō no Yakusoku” in 2017 and “Count Over” in 2018. As with many manga’s RuriDragon was originally a one-shot showing the concept of what the series before giving the series before giving it an ongoing status. This first chapter of RuriDragon will be a redone version of the previously published one-shot. How is the debut chapter of RuriDragon? Let’s find out
Writer & Artist: Masaoki Shindo
Translation: Caleb Cook
Lettering: Sara Linsley
Teenager Ruri Aoki wakes up with horns on her head. Ruri’s mom reveals they are dragon horns as her father is a “Ryu”, another name for dragon, making her half-dragon and half-human. Ruri’s mom doesn’t make a big deal of it and heads out for the day.
On the way to school, Ruri reveals to her friend Yuka that her dad is supposedly a dragon which is why she has horns now.
At school, while initially questioned during homeroom about her horns Ruri says she woke up with them on her head. After homeroom is done the entire class and teacher, asks Ruri about her horns and takes pictures with her.
During lunch, Ruri tells Yuka that she is exhausted talking to her classmates since they never talked to her before. Yuka says that it could be a good thing that Ruri socializes more. Ruri then suddenly starts feeling hot before heading to her next class.
During her modern literature class Ruri gets called out for taking a nap. Her teacher then asks Ruri to read a part in their literature book.
When Ruri is about to start reading she sneezes. When she sneezes Ruri blows fire out her mouth, burning her book and part of her classmate hair off who was sitting in front of her. Ruri then starts coughing blood before passing out.
Later Ruri’s mom picks up Ruri from the nurses office. Ruri’s mom says that the injury is likely because Ruri hasn’t developed a dragon’s throat.
On the drive home Ruri’s mom reveals she went to visit Ruri’s dad in the mountains rather than going to work. Ruri’s dad is said to be proud to hear Ruri has developed dragon features and told her mom how to train Ruri.
Ruri then gets a text from her classmates, who share with her one of the pictures they took together edited so they all have animated bear features. This makes Ruri laugh as she and her mom arrive at their home. End of chapter.
The first chapter of RuriDragon was a refreshing introduction to a new manga. Masaoki Shindo presents us with a world that comes across as very normal while having the reader understand there will be fantasy elements. Those fantasy elements are only tackled with the mention of dragons existing and Ruri Aoki’s appearance but that is all that is needed to tease a bigger world than what is known to the people of this universe.
One of the great things that Shindo does is starting out chapter 1 of Ruri Dragon inside Ruri and her mom’s home. Starting out with the first fifteen pages of RuriDragon in the apartment does make you wonder as a reader what kind of world that is this universe exists in. Will Ruri step out of her apartment into a world that is mixed of real and fantasy? Or is this a series that has a modern real world setting? Creating these questions based on how Ruri and her mom talk added to wanting to know more about both characters.
Adding to how refreshing RuriDragon Chapter 1 feels like is that Ruri does not come across as a typical manga protagonist. First we don’t see Ruri freak out about having dragon horns. She also has a normal, loving relationship with her single mom that is reaffirmed in the final pages of this opening chapter. Then when we get to school we get that while Yuka is her best friend it doesn’t mean she is an outsider or complete introvert. Ruri is shown that have been more of a normal kid that kept to herself but did not mind interacting with her classmates before.
The school setting especially helps set this series apart. I was honestly fully expecting Ruri to be positioned as an outsider, loner character that would get ostracized even more because of her dragon horns. So I was surprised at how positive and excited both her classmates and teachers were about the sudden dragon horns Ruri has. Seeing them take selfies with Ruri and just asking questions in a positive way was refreshingly different from what we’ve gotten in so many mangas before. In the end you feel how this was an exhausting experience for Ruri as her normal days aren’t this packed with talking with so many people.
This also made how Yuka was positioned as Ruri’s best friend well handled. Yuka, like her mom, is clearly a strong supporter for Ruri. Yuka calling out how it would actually be a good thing that Ruri socializes more was coming from a place that shows they care for each other. As we get further in this series I’m interested in what kind of role Yuka will play as part of Ruri’s main supporting cast member.
Ruri’s mom going to visit Ruri’s dad was a god development to hook the reader in what will happen next. Seeing how its not just dragon horns but other dragon powers like fire breath that Ruri will develop does create a lot of questions for what will go on in this series. Ruri being put through some training by her mom will give Shindo a fun way to explore their dynamic as a family. It can also help build towards anticipation for whenever Ruri meets her dad, who was said to be excited his half-human daughter was getting dragon powers.
Shindo’s artwork was solid. Given the setting Ruri did stand out as being out of the ordinary with her dragon horns. The moment Ruri sneezed fire from her mouth looked cool and got me excited to see when Shindo draws some action sequences. The rest of the manga looked like a typical slice-of-life series.
RuriDragon came with a strong debut in its first chapter. Masaoki Shindo introduced us to a world and characters that can make this a standout new manga series for Shonen Jump. Ruri is presented as compelling main character with a ton of potential. Hopefully this series gets a long-term run so Shindo can fully tap into that potential.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10