Shounen – Adventure, comedy, ecchi, fantasy, gag
3 Omnibuses (complete)
Super strong Mink is the daughter of a dragon and a human. But her idol crush is not only a popular singer but a dragon slayer as well! Mink sets out on an adventure to find a magic potion to turn her fully human, but with a couple of dead-weight companions “helping” her, royals with a secret chasing after her, and the fact that her beloved believes Mink is an evil dragon, her journey may take longer than she thought!
Dragon Half isn’t going to be a series for everybody. All the ecchi bits alone — stripperiffic clothing, girl-on-girl chest grabs, perverted fathers, and tentacle grabs — are going to dissuade many readers. In addition to all that, this is is also a series from the late 80s and early 90s, and the art clearly reflects that. It’s not as hard to follow along with when compared to some other older series, but the art is visually darker and faster-paced than most contemporaries. Plus, with all the risqué content, this is for more mature readers and not an all-ages read.
But if you don’t mind that, and you know anything about JRPGs (or, to a lesser extent, video games in general), Dragon Half is an excellent parody and lampshade-filled adventure.
I mean, take a look at the main characters. I know you can pick up on some obvious references. (Some slight spoilers below.)
In a side drawing, Mink is shown to be Level 25. Most of you would probably agree with me and say that’s not really a high level in a game. But most everyone around her must only be about Level 5, 10 maybe at the most, since she overpowers almost everyone. Her two best friends, in that same image, are Level 0 and Level 1, so Mink is definitely absurdly powerful in comparison. Plus, Lufa at Level 1 usually has to be convinced to help out… like seeing a hot guy or the promise of money. Pia just comes along for fun; she’s the only one in actual armor, but she’s considered too young to fight.
Mink gets much of her innate stats from her heritage: she’s the daughter of a powerful dragon slayer and a dragon. (Hence the title.) But she, like most girls, has a crush on an idol: Dick Saucer. But Dick isn’t just the most popular singer in the land; he’s also a warrior who hunts dragons. The kingdom’s princess, Vina, declares that someone like Mink would never be suitable for Dick.
Well, long story short, Mink sets out to get a potion to turn her human. And getting the potion turns into defeating the greatest evil in all the land.
But don’t expect some grand life-or-death adventure. This is nothing but a bunch of idiots running around who are all either stupidly and/or selfishly trying to capture or assist Mink. Don’t believe me?
- Mink’s father is a layabout who thinks it would be easier just to have a new child instead of worrying about Mink.
- The king wants to take down Mink’s father not because he betrayed his kingdom… but because he married a hottie. (Who, of course, is a dragon.)
- Mink’s friend Lufa is a magician who really can’t cast any spells, and if she does manage to cast one, it usually hits Mink.
- An octopus reveals the way to defeat his boss, Demon Lord Azetodeth, thanks to some flattery from Mink and company.
- One recurring character’s catchphrase is that he “regrets everything”, but it’s everyone else who really regrets meeting him.
Since Dragon Half is a parody of a video game story, it’s gamers who will get the most mileage out of the manga. But plenty of Japanese-style fiction tropes are made fun of. Captain America, magical girl anime, it’s all fair game. Yes, Dragon Half is an adventure-fantasy story, but everything revolves around making readers laugh. The characters are all missing at least one screw in their head, the fourth wall is broken plenty of times, and each mission or side-quest is as crazy as the one before. It’s a deadly plant! Oh, but it’s a plant, so it can’t move. The king tends to pull cords to drop anvils on his advisor’s head. To learn the secrets of the sword, they must figure out some vague clues. “Hail Hydra!” to a hydra. There are times when characters are genre-savvy, and there are also moments when the story is actually pretty sweet and heartwarming. But really, the whole point is to see what jokes the author is going to drop on the readers next. Dragon Half is pure comedy. Think Looney Tunes. Even when I was expecting the next punchline, Mita still manages to go beyond what I was expecting and get me to laugh out loud.
Of course, as I state at the beginning, much of the humor is perverted: wardrobe malfunctions, bragging about body sizes, and making very unsubtle passes. Even the characters make jokes about whether others know what “bad touch” means because there is plenty of inappropriate touching or attempted inappropriate touching going on. But what will raise the most eyebrows is the behavior of the fathers of Mink and Vina. Even if you consider Rouse’s attempted stripping of Mink as training, King Siva would clearly jump into bed with Vina if given the opportunity. There is a difference in parent/child boundaries between Japan and other countries (particularly America), and there is also a difference in what would be considered comedic. Both of these are also affected by changing times. So if series like The Seven Deadly Sins were a no-go for you because of the main character’s habit of groping the heroine, I believe this one is going to be even more problematic. But at least the people in this kingdom are pretty progressive: humans and monsters hook up fairly regularly, and one character is clearly bisexual if not homosexual. (There’s even a joke about overcompensating.)
Despite the craziness and the uncomfortableness, Mink herself also makes this a solid read. Since she’s so powerful, she’s the one doing almost all the heavy lifting in the story. She is understandably upset at people who aren’t pulling her weight and her love for Dick is rooted as a fangirl crush, but she’s a good protagonist who isn’t helping others just out of a selfish desire for the potion. She has a couple of really great moments throughout the series that show a kind heart that goes with her often emotional self.
Pia, being younger, would seem to be the group idiot, but that’s Lufa. She also is responsible for much of the risqué content here. Other characters will have their fans, but they drop in and out too often. Only one or two show real development, which isn’t a surprise in a gag manga like this.
The art, as I mentioned, will be a barrier for some readers. If you read Mita’s comments throughout the manga, he mentions all the times he thought the art was weak if not awful. He even adds that some chapters were completely redrawn in the original Japanese tankouban volumes compared to their original magazine versions. For me, I didn’t really notice a huge difference through the story. Yes, the art features all the 80s hallmarks like big hair, angled cheeks, and huge glistening eyes (think Magic Knight Rayearth), but much of it works considering very few characters are human. Ironically, I noticed the biggest difference in the final chapters — and not for the better. The faces suddenly got super long and proportions feel way off. Dick, for instance, instead of being a bishounen, just looks like a girl. It’s like his style changed at the very end, or rather he stopped making any corrections since he comments he really like the ending. Otherwise, I don’t have much else to say besides it’s an 80s series — an ecchi 80s series in the style of Cutey Honey and Dirty Pair. Expect to see some nudity and plenty of fanservice. The art also plays a large part in the humor thanks to recurring gags like Pia’s parents fainting or one character showing up in a wide range of forms.
Let me move on to the actual release though. It isn’t often that English manga readers get a premium release without the series having been published before. This is a thick softcover book, and although Seven Seas manga are typically shorter in height versus the competitors, this is one release where a larger trim size would have been nice. Not expecting Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon’s Eternal Edition size, but, say Princess Jellyfish or Until Death Do Us Part size. I imagine this is in line with the Japanese edition, as manga tends to be smaller there. I ldo ove the simple silver covers, even though they gave me the impression we would follow Mink’s life from when she was a young girl.
But these volumes are thick! The first two volumes combine two Japanese volumes while the last contains Volumes 5 through 7. The page quality is on the low side. It kind of reminds me of Japanese magazines, but this may also be because the art is older. Regardless, each volume includes several pages of promo art, and a few chapters have the original color pages. (I don’t think this would be all of them, but I could be wrong.) It was neat to see manga-style art versus anime-style art. Other extras include an interview with Mink’s seiyuu (who you may recognize from Sailor Moon and Neon Genesis Evangelion) and a “who’s your type” compatibility test that spans all three volumes. All in all, the series looks is a nice release at a not-so-premium price.
Honorifics are not used (minus one exception). There is a page in the third volume where they forget to erase the Japanese text, so the English is just pasted on top. Although this is a large, deluxe release that required more work bringing over than the average volume, I don’t know how this managed to get by editing. This may be a single page (and the text is still easy to read or at least figure out,) it’s pretty egregious in an official release..
Jokes appear to be rewritten. Some may be a bit dated, but this is a dated manga. Most of the names are written in katakana, so while there may be some disagreement on how things could have been romanized, I don’t have much to say. Plus, a lot of names are references anyway.
Dragon Half probably limits its audience with its sexual innuendo and sexually inappropriate comedy, but the rest of the humor is excellent. If this was more PG, I’d probably be pushing this manga down everyone’s throat because it’s so hilarious.
Dragon Half‘s OVA was released by ADV Video, but it’s currently available to stream on Crunchyroll.