Books (Manga): The Water Dragon’s Bride by Rei Toma

cover of volume 1 of the Water Dragon's Bride by Rei Toma, Viz edition.

The Water Dragon’s Bride
by Rei Toma
published in English by Viz / Shojo Beat (complete – 44 chapters)
2017 – 2019

Unable to resist the gorgeous drawings of Toma’s most recent manga, The King’s Beast, I eagerly sought out her earlier work, The Water Dragon’s Bride. Here we can see Toma’s gorgeous men, with beautifully shapely eyes and long, flowing hair, represented with special elegance by the Water Dragon God.

Asahi is a little, contemporary, beloved girl, who is grabbed by the water in her parents’ garden pond (!!) and spirited away to another era. A boy of similar age named Subaru finds her in the forest near the lake (her pond’s ancient form) and takes her home to his village, where Asahi realizes something is… different. No, everything is different. No wires? No phones? No train station?

Subaru’s enthusiastic mother wants to take her to a special ritual, which, Asahi realizes too late, involves tying her to a rock and returning her to the lake.

Unlike the other girl-child sacrifices, Asahi is lucky: the Water Dragon God is… just bored enough to keep her alive (with tips from friends).

But she is still just a lost little girl, and her survival from this event would be suspicious to the superstitious villagers. Can she survive? Can she make it home to her own time and loving parents? Can Subaru hide her from his family? Importantly, can she hold the inhuman and generally indifferent Water Dragon God’s attention long enough to get his help?

This is a story of survival, friendship, politics, rivalries, ancient forest spirits, greed, war, community, superstition, spiritual darkness, hope, water-doors between worlds, years away from home (!), personal development, and Love with a capital L. I have a soft spot for stories about little girls falling into other worlds, which was my favorite genre as I was learning to write (though I included a frivolous number of talking animals in my stories, but still). Our favorite characters evolve, though the villages of humans… continue to disappoint in a way I find realistic. I got misty-eyed at the very end, which I didn’t expect.

Toma’s especially beautiful Water Dragon God and his special effects are lovingly drawn. I love this story (with serious stakes) and charming art, including the little round illustrations near the beginning of each chapter. I recommend it!

Rei Toma's Chapter 21 cover for The Water Dragon's Bride, featuring the Water Dragon God himself
Rei Toma’s Chapter 21 cover for The Water Dragon’s Bride, featuring the Water Dragon God himself.

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