The Fall 2018 Manga Guide
Dragon Goes House Hunting
What's It About?After failing to protect his family eggs, a young dragon named Letty is exiled from his family home. Unlike the majority of his kind, Letty is weak and timid. In order to protect himself, he resolves that he needs shelter.
And so, he sets out to find a house where he can live, safe and secure from all the dangers of the outside world. After several mishaps, misunderstandings and disasters the dragon is eventually led to an Eleven architect named Dearia. Dearia is immediately endeared to the dragon, and offers to help him find a homestead of his own. And so, the two begin a long, fraught search for Letty to find a home. But will Letty's timid nature render him completely unable to find anything to his satisfaction? And what of Dearia, also called the demon lord? What reason could he possibly have for choosing a creature as weak as Letty to travel with? Whatever the justifications, the two are traveling together and are about to form a friendship as inexplicable as it is beautiful.
Dragon Goes House Hunting is an original manga series by Kawo Tanuki. It is published by Seven Seas Entertainment, retailing for $9.99 digitally and $12.99 physically.
Is It Worth Reading?
Dragon Goes House-Hunting delivers exactly what the title promises—and it's all the better for it. This isn't a dragon flying from one castle to another to attack kings and seize hordes of treasure, but a dragon who actually hires the services of a (demon) real estate agent and architect in order to find his ideal home, HGTV-style. Letty doesn't exhibit many traits one associates with a dragon, other than his gigantic size, which definitely poses a frequent obstacle during his house-hunting escapades. His desire for a small cottage with a fireplace and to be left alone is endearing, even in the face of the fact that it's an impossible dream for a dragon constantly sought after by adventurers. Dearia, the second most important character, so far only demonstrates a stoic, no-nonsense personality, but his unflappability in the face of bizarre goings-on makes him almost as funny as Letty himself.
Aya's art is eye-catching and detailed, a must in a series that focuses so wholly on home décor and architecture. While there are humorous manga-style emotional reactions fairly often, the character designs achieve the right balance between cartoonish and reality as a whole, making Letty's quest to find the right house even more amusing, as he truly does look like a hulking, awkward dragon just trying to find a safe place to rest his weary head.
Dragon Goes House-Hunting volume 1 is a humorous send-up of fantasy tropes and a must-read for fans of fantasy comedy. There isn't much depth to the story (yet), but it shows no signs of getting repetitive despite the potential for that in a limited concept such as this. Letty and Dearia play off each other's personalities brilliantly, demonstrating that while a unique concept may sell a story initially, it's the endearing characters who make sticking around worthwhile.
House-hunting is stressful enough when you're human-sized. Imagine doing it if you're a dragon. An anxious dragon, no less, and one who's as sheltered and wimpy as you can get. That's the unenviable position Letty the Dragon has landed in at the start of this volume – kicked out of the family home for letting an egg get stolen, Letty now has to find a house that's cozy, comfy, and won't let hunters or yuusha hungry for glory and/or rare materials in.
Letty's meet-up with Dearia, an elf/demon lord/architect/realtor, may or may not be a godsend for the dragon. That whole “demon lord” thing isn't ever really explained in this volume – although his previous travels with a different dragon and disregard for yuusha hint that it's a disposition thing rather than a question of race – but he definitely has some odd ideas about what makes an awesome home, especially for someone as timid as Letty. I actually suspect that Dearia may be trying to keep Letty with him for as long as possible, because he does mention at the end of the volume that the last time he felt fulfilled was when he was traveling with his other dragon friend, and elves and dragons appear to be the only races with similarly long lifespans.
Or he may just be a jerk who enjoys tormenting the world's least dragony dragon. That seems likely, too.
That also feels like the easiest way for the Kawo Kanuki to set up the humor of the series. Since Letty is afraid of everything (including beards now that he's had a run-in with dwarves), Dearia's apparent drive to set him up in horrible houses provides a lot of entertainment for us. Whether its evading a ghoul party, coping with overenthusiastic help, or tripping every single trap that exists, Letty's haplessness makes for good comedy. Choco Aya's art is more in the classic fantasy vein than anything more traditionally manga-style, and that helps too, enhancing the sillier aspects by looking so serious. It's also quite beautiful, especially where Dearia is concerned.
The translation is a little odd in its use of “yuusha,” which I believe is simply the word for “hero.” Perhaps it has a connotation not covered by the English word; even if that's the case, however, it might have been a better plan to simply use several English words to get as close as possible. Regardless, The Dragon Goes House-Hunting's first volume is a goofy fun adventure, and while I wouldn't want to see it drag out too far, this is thus far a journey worth taking.
Dragon Goes House Hunting is charming, likable and incredibly entertaining. I wasn't sure what to expect based on this premise, but its world-building is incredibly strong and earnest, and its characters are just the most loveable dorks. How Dragon Goes House Hunting plays with the tropes of high fantasy and its characterization are its strongest aspects. Letty is a great protagonist; sympathetic and endearing in equal measure without ever letting his timidity grate. And Dearia's deep humanism in contrast with his demonic powers comes close to genuine complexity. The series does a fantastic job establishing the mechanics of its world, making it feel real and authentic without ever slipping into the problem of letting its characters and story fall by the wayside.
Special attention must be paid to the art here, which is positively gorgeous. It recalls classic fantasy novel cover art in a way that is detail-rich and enchanting, allowing the reader to almost inhabit the world and really understand its beauty and scope. The various monster and creature designs are fully-formed and weighty; classic in their composition but well-done enough to really make them striking. That's the manga in a nutshell, really.
Dragon Goes House Hunting is at its weakest when it falls into easy jokes about video games and fantasy trappings. In these moments, the likeable earnestness falls away, descending into unearned satire. This detracts from both the surprisingly compelling world building and the well-done characterization, as the nature of the world has been so thoroughly established that a joke about a stat sheet kind of takes you out of the moment. The translation also indulges in the occasional modern meme reference, which could date the manga a few years from now. I found this mostly ignorable, however. Dragon Goes House Hunting is less a satire of fantasy tropes and more a celebration of them. It loves dragons and elves and dwarves and haunted mansions and fairy forests. And it loves its characters. And it's hard not to let that affection affect you as well, and it translates into me kind of loving this manga and its beautiful beating heart. Highly recommended.
Kicked out of their home for not being scary enough, naive dragon Letty goes on a quest to find a home they can call their own. After traveling all over the land, nothing seems perfect. Seeking the help of the Dark Lord of Real Estate (an elf named Dearia), Letty begins their journey in finding the perfect home fit for a dragon.
Dragon Goes House-Hunting has its charm, but in general is kind of boring. This manga is House Hunters meets high fantasy, and as fun as that all sounds, it's the worst parts of both of those experiences. Letty is one of those characters that has basic requirements but everything sets them off to disagree to not purchasing a house. Obviously, there were discouraging traits about each house, but their helplessness becomes tiresome after the first chapter and I found myself wishing they would find a house already and that Dearia would listen to their requirements instead of just throwing any house at Letty. There aren't many enjoyable experiences with the fantasy races. Dwarves threaten to kill Letty for the sake of high paying organs and body parts, and the warrior hero humans are so mean! Even Dearia is a little icy at times. Maybe if Letty caught a break every once in a while, they wouldn't be so whiny.
The atmosphere of the whole manga felt off as well. The dialogue felt a little corny, especially with how Letty compared everything to an RPG, despite there being not direct evidence that this in an RPG. Letty for some reason has stats, and when hit by an arrow, they take ten damage. Though all of this happens, Letty's father reprimands them that this is not an RPG. There's even a blatant reference to Luigi's Mansion and Resident Evil.
Dragon Goes House-Hunting has a really cute concept, but clearly it wasn't for me. It was formulaic to the point of repetitive and lacked entertainment. Despite not enjoying it, I do truly hope Letty finds the house of their dreams.
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