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Juana and the Dragonewts' Seven Kingdoms
Author: Ross Locksley

Ross founded the UK Anime Network waaay back in 1995 and works in and around the anime world in his spare time.

Juana and the Dragonewts' Seven Kingdoms

Seven Seas
Kiyoshi Tanaka

Set in a future devoid of humanity, the dragonewts have taken over as the new masters of Earth. Nid, a young dragonewt with a passion for ancient history discovers a young human girl who hatches from an egg. Calling herself Juana, the pair set out on a journey to witness the world of the seven kingdoms.

Kiyohisa Tanaka sets up an interesting, post-humanity world, steeped in its own politics and ideas. Nid is ostracised as a meat eater (it seems herbivores are the natural leaders in this new age) and as such prefers to keep his own company. This makes him somewhat unsuited to deal with Juana's arrival, but better equipped than most to take the journey to Pisan, an area that's now difficult to traverse but ripe with potential for discovering more about Juana.

Character designs and artwork are all pleasing - the dragonewts are interesting characters and the book has notes describing their traits and social norms to give you a better idea of their society. It's clearly been well thought-through and is an aspect of the story that the author is passionate about.

Curiously, I have to say I found the dialogue somewhat un-engaging. The pacing is pretty slow and there's a lot of discussions that lack much in the way of punch or pithy dialogue, and as such I found the book hard to connect with. Things pick up around the halfway mark, with a touching encounter with a dying dragonewt, and the pair's arrival in Schawe, where things don't go well and end on a tantalising cliff-hanger.

The idea of two creatures who can't properly communicate coming together to overcome the odds is a pretty old idea, especially in science fiction, but here it's handled well, and it's nice to see that mankind is now the mythical beast to a new world of creatures that have come after us. 

Visually, the book is quite unlike anything else in my rather vast manga library, so I'll stick around for a few more volumes to see where things go. This is Kiyohisa Tanaka's first serialised work, and I'm hoping his fertile imagination can keep the road to Pisan fresh and interesting. So good, but not yet great, let's see how things unfold.

Interesting ideas, but slow going to start and the dialogue could use a little work. In its favour it has great design elements and visual flair, so I hope this strange new world continues to develop in interesting ways!
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