Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Water Dragon's Bride Vol. 3 Review (Some Spoilers)

Asahi now grown into young womanhood has become an object of fearful reverence to the villagers and a "golden goose" of sorts for other villagers thinking that taking possession of her will ensure fertility and the favor of the Water Dragon God. While Asahi still has lost the ability to speak she has drawn closer to Subaru. While Subaru finds himself feeling stronger and stronger desire to keep Asahi safe from those that would do her harm. While Asahi's relationship with Water Dragon God continues to be prickly and standoffish at best. With a feeling of alienation due to Asahi being unable to speak a large part of the volume are internal monologues from Asahi showing that she still feels out of place and unable to understand not only why people place such stock in her as the bride of the Water Dragon God. In short, it's very much Asahi still trying to come to terms with her place in this world that is so unlike her present-day time. While some focus on her from Subaru's viewpoint shows that he is starting to not only be a protective older brother figure but also develop seemingly romantic feelings for Asahi. Setting in motion a potential love triangle between Subaru, Asahi, and The Water Dragon God. Although for his part Water dragon God continues to be a kind of detached observer who is more interested in studying Asahi like some sort of specimen. Water Dragon God has little in the way of what would seem romantic feelings towards Asahi making him an inscrutable and cold personality even when he gives Asahi her voice back it's less out of any magnanimity on his part and more because he wants to see what will happen. for a character that out of the main three characters has the least amount of time in the volume other than as a detached observer or at one point as a literal Deus Ex Machina. His presence utterly saturates the narrative which makes his choice to try and go about wooing Asahi that much more shocking at the end of the volume. As the Water God has felt so detached for the last two volumes. Whether this will lead to a softening of his personality I don't know but it is interesting to see such a haughty and cold personality deign to incarnate himself into the world to attempt to woo a girl from another time period who doesn't even like him. With an introspective first half that allows Toma-Sensei to craft a heroine with some real interiority that has hopes desires and fears beyond which of the two male protagonists she has romantic feelings for. It creates a kind of alienated feeling for the audience seeing an average girl reduced to a mere role or totem of sorts for others to fight and haggle over. While when Asahi gets her voice back she lays out her pent-up grievances at the society she is living in and the petty and mean-spirited people that inhabit it. Amusing The Water Dragon God enough to make him interested in a level that goes beyond bemused interest. Where the series goes from here I don't know and while a love triangle feels like a foregone conclusion at least the characters feel like actual people and not approximations of people. Or fictional creations made to pander to the audience's desires. Subaru, for instance, feels understandable in his wanting to protect Asahi and that feeling turned into some kind of love that he may not be entirely aware of. That feels real, it feels human it does not feel like the actions of a two-dimensional creation in a fictional universe and honest human emotion is the cornerstone of a good story, not fantasy or wish fulfillment but the simple gift of writing with humanity it's a modest and precious jewel that Rei Yoma has polished to a glossy luster. While character design is strong and use of the cinematic effects in panel layout are strong from a scene of Asahi and The Water Dragon God discussing their impending marriage much to Asahi's consternation. The backgrounds are for the most part blank or screentone looking rushed and empty with no sense of space or place in an otherwise nicely grounded world with its villages and rivers.

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