Tenryu (Dragon Cycle) Vol. #03 (Mania.com)

By:Patricia Beard
Review Date: Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Release Date: Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Sanami Matoh
Translated by:Neil Rae
Adapted by:Jake Forbes

What They Say
Hiryu and Ryukei were just a couple of good-hearted bandits - until they met Princess Ryurei and discovered they were, in fact, Dragon Lords. They have embraced their destiny and unlocked their dragon spirits, but the journey has just begun.

The sinister Lord Torao, leader of the Tiger Clan, has sent his top warriors out with one mission: to destroy the Dragon Clan. But, standing up to seasoned assassins and toppling the most dangerous man in the world is going to take a lot of training, and time is not a luxury of the hunted.

The Review
With this volume the cover presentation finally catches up to the quality of the artwork found inside. Gone are the massive diagonals that disrupted the impact of Sanami Matoh's arresting portraits, replaced with a design that is inviting and allows the artwork to be front and center. The artwork inside has also improved. Matoh sensei's dynamic action passages and energetic line work are still present, but there are many fewer lazy drawings. Of particular note in this volume is the successful use of a variety of screen tones with fairly elaborate background illustration. The result is visually rich and comprehensible, adding much to the environment of this tale of ancient China.

The story thus far hasn't deviated much from the standard quest fare. The dragon kings have been revealed and have assembled to train and develop strategy against Torao of the Tiger Clan's war against the dragon clan. There is a revelation on a current foe and there are battles against more of Torao's minions. A point of criticism might be made on the placement of flashbacks, which feel clumsily placed and the usual visual cues (dark panel border or dark text balloons) are not present. Instead, a change of font is the only indication of a past event. It's not nearly as successful as other visual cues as every time it is encountered it pulls the reader out of the moment.

While the story may not be exceptional, it is competent and the pacing does not flag. But it's the artwork that really sets this title apart with its complex environments and vital character rendition.

Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: CMX
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 200
ISBN: 1401206719
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Tenryu (Dragon Cycle)