I’m on one of those manga sprees. I usually read either longer manga series or novels that take me a bit longer to finish then I mix in a spree on shorter manga and first volumes I’m intrigued by.
And well, I am currently going through a lot of manga and they all seem like stuff I want to tell you guys about. I might double up on Manga posts for a bit.
Why I Picked up Dragon in the Kitchen
I was looking for a sweeter fantasy. You know, something with a bit of fantasy but not too much blood or fanservice. And Dragon in the Kitchen had a very sweet summary.
Eastern Europe, 1980s. A Japanese Art student finds a mysterious egg in her new house. Born from it is a small lizard-like creature that shrieks in a strange voice, and their new life together begins.
My First Impression
Aww, this reminds me of How to Raise Your Mummy
What I liked
I’m going to put these in random order.
First Dragon in the Kitchen gave me exactly what I wanted. In that, it was a fantasy manga or even a magical realism manga (which is also cool) that didn’t get too heavy. The first part is almost slice of life and little Lizard-kun was absolutely adorable.
I enjoyed how the fantasy elements are weaved into the rest of the story. There aren’t that many but the few that are present are memorable and they fit in seamlessly. Makes you sort of wonder if you might see a dragon tomorrow if you just paid a little more attention.
There aren’t that many characters to speak of. Aside from Nono who is the main character, there’s a friend of her mother’s and her own daughter that are helping Nono in this foreign country. There the forest guard who is introduced halfway through and a friend from school we only see once or twice.
It’s a sparse cast which means we get to spend a lot of time with just Nono and Lizard-kun. And really, that’s the best part of the manga so I ain’t complaining.
Dragon in the Kitchen manages to thug at the heartstrings without getting too insistent. There were a few genuinely touching moments that I appreciated more because of how grounded they were. And if you do read the manga, there’s an extra chapter at the very end. A one-shot that’s not directly related to the story. You shouldn’t skip it, It’s adorable!
But Dragon in the Kitchen isn’t entirely a light slice of life about a girl and her dragon. I have a feeling I might have liked it more if it was. There are two big conflicts woven in. One is done better than the other, but both have their flaws in my opinion.
The first one is the ominous understanding that dragons become huge and powerful creatures that can easily destroy and kill without too much issue. There’s a sort of nurture vs nature narrative. In the past, there have been dragons that have nearly destroyed entire cities, so what will happen when this one grows up.
I actually like this concept a lot. I think it’s fair. And as someone who has owned dogs people were scared of, I personally related to it a lot as well. It’s a difficult question and I think that Dragon in the Kitchen did a pretty good job tackling it. But it also abandoned this thread way too quickly. At the end of the day, there was not enough time to develop this conflict in a way that ever made me believe there was a real chance things would turn out differently than they did.
The second conflict is this rather vague political unrest happening in the country where Nono is studying. She is a foreign exchange student on an art scholarship so she doesn’t actually know what’s going on. As such. We don’t either and we only hear little bits in the background. There’s a vague anti-foreigner sentiment that starts to rise up in the later chapters.
The problem with this is not the plot in itself but I honestly don’t know what the strife was about. There are conversations about freedom and closed borders, and lack of jobs but no real details about what is happening in practice. The people of the country speak Czech and it’s happening in the 1980s so I’m assuming this was an attempt at portraying European communism and well… Maybe because of my personal history, it felt rather clumsy to me.
It also just felt out of place.
So there you have it. This is a manga that truly has Good and Bad points. I think I ended up on the slightly good overall. I really did like Lizard-kun a lot and his relationship with Nono was adorable. I would watch it as an anime.
It’s only four volumes so it’s an easy read to get through but I will understand that some might feel it’s not their cup of tea. Then again, look at this little face!