Asahi is a young girl who has a sheltered, easygoing life until she is sucked into a pond and taken to another world. This new world is a fantasy version of the Kofun period. She’s found by a boy around her age named Subaru who takes her to his home, wanting to help her.
At first, The Water Dragon’s Bride feels about as easygoing as Asahi’s life, as if it’s going to be an innocent and cute manga with some fantasy time travel thrown in. Things start to take a darker turn after reaching Subaru’s home, though. The people want to sacrifice Asahi to the Water Dragon God. Despite Subaru’s protests, Asahi is thrown into the lake to drown as a human sacrifice.
But it turns out there really is a Water Dragon God, and he saves Asahi. He’s a tall man with long blue hair and horns and he views human life as entertainment. He finds Asahi interesting and says he’ll marry her after she comes of age. Asahi turns him down promptly, surprising the god. He assumes she’d find marrying him an honor, and she replies she already has a ton of men on her future husband list, because, at this point, she’s still that naive.
The Water Dragon God is not shown as an evil captor of her, but he is shown as mostly indifferent or unaware of human suffering. He’s frivolous and in his own little world (literally and figuratively). Asahi wants to go back to humanity, and she eventually finds a way to reunite with Subaru, but then a new set of deadly problems arise. And it just might take some divine intervention to set things right.
Though starting out with a fairly mellow tone, the first volume starts to see more darkness and depth. Asahi has to acknowledge that as unaware as the god is, she too was unaware until recently of how cruel the world can be. There’s even a little bit of theological musing in terms of how the gods act, particularly this god. Some characters appear to be all good or all evil, but other characters look as if there are already clues they’re going to surprise us down the line. Rei Toma, the mangaka behind this, is also the mangaka behind the popular Dawn of the Arcana series, so fans of that would probably be interested in this new series as well.
Story & Art: Rei Toma
Publisher: VIZ Media
© 2015 Rei TOMA