Dragons Rioting Vol. 1 TP
Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: November 17, 2015
Price: $13.00
Creator: Tsuyoshi Watanabe
Format: 160 pgs., Black & White, Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9-780-3163-0541-9
Age Rating: Mature
ICv2 Rating: 2 Stars out of 5

This book is a disappointing step downward in quality for Yen Press.  It is rated "Mature" for its themes and extreme fan service.

The basic premise of the book is that at the age of six, Rintaro is diagnosed with a rare heart condition that will threaten his life if he gets overexcited, including sexual arousal.  His father spends the next ten years training him in the martial arts, so that he can control his body reactions and stay alive.  Then, for reasons known only to the author, the father disappears from the story, leaving the son to get admitted to the wrong high school, one he applied to only because he misunderstood the meaning of the school’s name.  Instead of a high school for boys, it is a school that is 90% girls, mainly martial artists.

The book then becomes a weirdly unfunny high school martial arts harem comedy, in which the harem aspect is directly life-threatening for the main character.  His skill leads him to become a martial arts sensei for one of the girls. He spends the first volume trying not to become aroused by encountering half-naked teenage girls.  Since he never tells anyone his medical problem, no one understands why he acts so strangely.  That’s the entire comedic element, his trying not to die of heart failure, without telling anyone.  This is an unusual source of comedy, at best.  The bullying and extortion subplots in the story certainly aren’t funny.

The over-the-top fan service is supposedly played for laughs, too, but if so, it fails artistically.  The artist doesn’t seem interested in details, such as keeping a female character’s exaggerated body form the same from panel to panel.  Faces are drawn very well, and very expressively, but attached to seemingly random bodies, depending on what physical attributes the artist is choosing to exaggerate in that individual panel.  Usually breasts, which Rintaro is desperately trying not to see or touch, but those are drawn as if each character has an inflatable implant with variable settings.

The fan service art will find an audience, which will be readers who want to look at exaggerated, hyper-sexualized high school girls.

--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.