Review: Juana and the Dragonewt’s Seven Kingdoms Volume 1
Nid, a young adult dragonewt, finds a creature that can only be a thought-to-be-extinct Muernandes, or human, seemingly hatching from an egg. Feeling responsible for the girl, Juana, he decides to try to take her to the place she calls home, a land far to the north of the dragonewt kingdoms. They start on a journey that is filled with wonder, sadness and danger, where nothing is what it seems.
Juana and the Dragonewt’s Seven Kingdoms Volume 1
By Kiyohisa Tanaka
Seven Seas Entertainment, January 2018
180 pgs, $12.99USD
Juana and the Dragonewt’s Seven Kingdoms is a coming of age manga set in the far future, where humans have all but vanished from the world, leaving only their artifacts. Rising to take their place are the Dragonewts, or Guardunes, reptilian beings who have become the dominant species, taking after their predecessors in many ways.
The story follows Nid, a timid yet impulsive young male dragonewt, living on his own. To earn a living, he goes out into the wastes, gathering human artifacts to refurbish and sell. His only two friends are Zeddan, who he also works for, and Remi, an odd seamstress that intimidates Nid, though there isn’t much that doesn’t. He hates confrontations and will do anything to avoid them, causing him to act without thinking. He feels like an outsider with his own people, especially since he is harassed by the townsfolk because of his carnivorous lineage.
Juana is the young human girl Nid finds. She appears to be 6-7 years old, and the opposite of Nid in many ways. She speaks only Spanish, so Nid (and the reader) can’t interpret her words, but she still finds ways to be understood. She isn’t timid, and she will make her needs known. She is fiercely loyal to Nid, treating him like a big brother, seeking comfort from him when scared and keeping him calm in a crisis.
A lot of time is spent setting up the dragonewt world and developing Nid as a character. Because we are shown most of this, it does take a while for the story to get moving. But the characters and their world are interesting enough to make it worth the wait. Nid and Juana are relatable, and watching them start their journey is a lot of fun, even as Nid’s naivete makes you wince leading up to the volume’s cliffhanger.
Tanaka’s art is filled with as much playfulness and energy as her characters. Much of Juana’s communication is done through her actions and expressions, which Tanaka carries off well. The same can be said of Nid’s fears and doubts coming through. There is also a great variety of dragonewts, with many unique looks and even serpentine bodies or extra limbs.
Juana and the Dragonewt’s Seven Kingdoms Volume 1 is a fun read, even if its world-building does take some time to get Juana and Nid going on their journey. It makes for a richer and therefore more satisfying story, one which am I eager to continue.
Filed under: Manga
About Lori Henderson
Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!
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