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Dragon Wars

Author: Ryukihei
Publisher: Studio Ironcat
Volume Information: ISBN 1-929090-03-X
Date of Publication: 1989
Length: 228 pgs
Content: Violence, Nudity - "full" male nudity but no detail is seen
Format: English Translation
Difficulty: N/A


manga jacket

This graphic novel is comprised of the eight parts making up one continuous storyline:

Part I: The Two Headed Lizard
Part II: The Sky Garden
Part III: The Dragon Warrior Departs!
Part IV: The Goblin Boss
Part V: Dragon Warrior Valdik
Part VI: The Magic Stone of Darkest Evil
Part VII: The Dark Force Dragon
Final Showdown - Lufiak Duell: Dragon Fighter

Lufiak Duell has been sent on a quest from his village. He has one year in which to find a dragon and bring back one of its scales. If he should fail to do so, he's been told not to come back. However, Lufiak is not the most able of individuals being unable to even defeat a troll in battle.

And so, when Lufiak finally meets the dragons and hears that the world is being threatened by a great evil, he must decide whether to assist the dragons on their mission to destroy the evil. The "Dark Force" causes great mutations to those who come in contact with it and is slowly spreading into the world from the south. Will Lufiak join the dragons on their mission? And if so, will he be able to survive the upcoming confrontation between the dragons and the Dark Force?

capsule review:

This graphic novel consists of 8 parts that work together to make one continuous story. Beginning with your typical "coming of age" or "rites of passage" story concept, readers are quickly introduced to the main character: Lufiak Duell. Making use of flashback scenes, readers are given the background setup to the beginning of Lufiak's quest of finding a dragon and bringing back one of its scales. Beyond this basic bit of information, it is then up to Lufiak to decide how to go about his task. And much to the reader's chagrin, we are dragged along his headlong plunge into folly and unthinking action. Truly Lufiak's character brings new meaning to the concept of "BF & I" (brute force and ignorance). The only problem is his lack of strength and fighting ability become sources of embarrassment for the readers who are stuck watching his antics.

The setup in part I is reasonably well done portraying Lufiak as a rather simple minded adventurer with little knowledge of the world who meets an even more simple minded monster to battle. The lack of intelligence seen in the characters, while a touch annoying, sets the tone for the intelligence level particularly for the monsters encountered in the story.

Decidedly lack-lustre, characters are two-dimensional and poorly developed. Granted, the time frame covered overall is relatively short, however, the characters feel very flat with little to no background; who they are and why they react the way they do remains a mystery beyond perhaps for the sake of convenience or lack of saying otherwise. This lack of character development makes it especially difficult for readers to either sympathise or relate to the characters therefore. Worse, readers are given no reason to care what happens to any of the characters as they do not seemingly care much about anything or anyone else either; certainly not with any true conviction.

Attempts at lighter humour early in this story leaves readers wondering at the portrayal of both the first monster encountered as well as that of the main character. As there are no obvious moves towards making this a comedy, we are presented with a mild conundrum. Readers are to try and relate to the protagonist, yet the character is weakly defined with an unclear personality and convictions.

Likewise, the plot shows weak development overall with battles (except the final showdown) being short, may or may not be violent/deadly and which likewise have little development. Very quickly, this title starts having a "battle for the sake of fighting" feel rather than taking advantage of development and longer drawn out battles. And while background information regarding the dragons and their ancient enemies is given, readers feel a touch cheated in how this is done. Revealed in a narration, we are essentially given a lecture on dragon history rather than having things revealed bit by bit through asides, discoveries etc., as the story progressed. Perhaps a classroom setting would have been just as effective?

On the first read through this story, certain plot points are developed in an unclear manner and can cause confusion. In one scene, we see Duell's ears grow pointy and long and we are initially led to think that perhaps it is the influence of the Dark Force that is responsible. Yet when we turn the page, he has reverted to normal without any indication of when they regressed or why. It is left as a "blank" and could cause some to believe that the author "forgot" a story point in mid issue. These weak story transitions make this graphic novel even more dissatisfying. I will grant however, that some story plot points do become clearer upon multiple readings of the story.

The saving grace for this graphic novel is the artwork. Fairly clean and consistently drawn, the artists does a good job at portraying a fantasy realm with good detail overall in the backgrounds. While Feenie's and the female dwarf's characters do look somewhat alike (closer inspection reveals differences between the two), overall characters are consistently drawn and distinct. Unfortunately, artwork cannot make up for weaknesses in story.

Poor development and implementation of the story makes things confusing for readers. This combined with weak character development makes it difficult for readers to relate to the main character and the plight he finds himself in, resulting in a dissatisfying reading experience. While the artwork is decent fantasy fare, it cannot make up for the weaknesses in the story.
- JYN, 2002.08.14

café rating (english translation):


2 stars

[2 / 5] - A weak 2 stars overall for storyline development and even that feels generous at times.


3 stars
[3 / 5] - Overall a good 3 stars. Drawing style is consistent and with good detail. Decent fantasy art work.


[ N/R ] -

Overall Rating:

2 star
[2 / 5] - A weak 2 stars. The story becomes more palatable with subsequent reads as one becomes familiar with the leaps in the story line.

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Page last modified 2002.08.14