Title:Blue Dragon Ral Grad (just Ral Grad in US)
Genres:Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Ecchi, Shonen
Publication:Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump
Start Date:December 2006
End Date:July 2007
Number of chapters at review:29
Number of chapters read by reviewer:29
General Overview: (Note: this is a mild expansion of the summary given by onemanga.com)
In the world of Blue Dragon Ral Grad there are beings known as shadows, which merge with their "host" in a symbiotic relationship. This is the tale of Ral, a young boy who was locked away in the dungeons of his father's castle together with his "shadow", the Blue Dragon "Grad". One day when the castle is under attack by "the shadow", he is released by his personal teacher, Mistress Mio, to fight for the castle. Following some fights and realisation of how fun breasts are, Ral decides to save the world from the threat of Lady Bira. Why, you ask? For the sake of all the boobies in the world!
... I can't believe I typed some of that...
Category Ratings: (1-10 scale)
First off, I am aware that I'm criticising Obata's art of all people, and a lynching brigade of Death Note fans are probably ready to disagree with me, but the art he's managed to supply for Ral Grad is simply terrible as far as his standards go. Whilst in some areas trying to retain that bishonen charm that sold hits like Death Note and Hikaru to the masses, there is also some level of the crazed, bendy-looking, lanky visual style that carried itself across with some more success into Obata's later one shot Ouroboros. The problem presented in this mish mash between the two styles is they absolutely 100% do not work together, instead creating something painful on the eyes throughout a fair amount of the 29 chapters.
With no punches pulled, the plot of Ral Grad is a mess. Following a storyline only basically attached to the original Blue Dragon game story and then choosing to focus on the protagonist's fascination with breasts as a driving point for the majority of the story, it is quite safe to say that this is basic to a daunting degree, and just a fan pleasing string of events to find the means to an end. Whilst some could look at the description of the basic story and see a good level of comedy and fantasy action, it really translates itself as perversion and samey battle setups. A real dissapointment.
Without giving too much away, the story manages to throw a perverse yet noble protagonist, a caring teacher, a quirky child, a stressful side character and an over eager boy straight at you, expecting something to stick. Whilst the look of the characters are quite interesting against the average art, the characters in themselves are cookie cutter, and lack any substantial selling point to keep you going. Even the other title character, the blue dragon Grad, is just a more pleasant and silent version of Ryuk from Death Note.
Boobies? Is that the theme? I honestly find the theme is buried quite deeply, but in Ral Grad the theme that prevails in the background is probably reaching maturity, or even the traditional jump trinity of effort, friendship and victory. Whatever is the intended theme, it doesn't stand out in the mesh of story and seriously shoots the series further in the foot.
Okay, I Concede. Obata and Takano have managed to take the basic idea of Blue Dragon (the shadows themselves), churn them about in a machine of boobs and bad plot, and created something that changes the original material to a large extent. For that I can honestly say that the series is quite original with how to approach game based manga. It's just a shame that the end product is still just a perverse ecchi series meshed into a fantasy story.
The score may seem harsh, but hear me out on this one. With so many manga, even game based ones, you can sense a passion in what they do. You can actually feel they care about the product, where it heads, and making sure it's not just a boring cash-in for the majority of the story. No alternate approach to a marketing campaign manga can really help it be any better if virtually every other element is poor as hell.
Reviewer note: That's the letter B out of the way. I'll now be taking a short break to read through the only C manga i'm reviewing, known as Cowa! recently licensed by viz. Please look forward to it!
Edit: The last two images are larger than the first two, simply because photobucket thought they were too crude.... and i agreed, it's crude.
Last edited by Maxy Barnard; August 01, 2008 at 01:41 PM. Reason: images removed by photobucket due to sheer crudity of the manga
I think your score is pretty bang on the money. There's some enjoyment to be had in the series, but don't expect too much.
I definitely agree with you. I read it once when I was in the mood for fantasy manga, and it basically had nothing going on. The art was good (this is obata we're talking about ) the characters general cliche' and annoying.
The story went nowhere, it could have had better direction with all the elements that it had, but no...It was royally messed up.
Theme...did it have a theme other than boobs?
I wasted a couple of hours reading it, shame...I've never felt more disappointed in a manga.
Overall, the story was great until they arrived at the 'other' continent... IMO, from that point onward almost everything about the series got botched and hard to keep up with. The last chapter was outright awful. The only thing that made it worthy enough to keep reading was the artwork.
100% agree with you Noodles.
It seemed like it maybe had some potential at first but the story just got worse and worse with every chapter. The cast of characters being so shallow and unlikable also really got in the way of my enjoyment.
There is some humor to had in the series. Unfortunately, the humor is all boob related. In fact i can't remember a single comical thing that happened which didn't involve boobs in some way.
ummm I admit i will have put it like a 6 in overall, then i remember that i actually stop reading the manga for like 6 months because it was getting so boring... so i guess 4.5 is fine XD...
but u know this manga is much times better than the anime blue dragon... well thats my point of view