telophase: (Gojyo - Soviet Russia kappa feels you!)
While I have discouraged people from purchasing Ral Grad due to the extreme fanservice that's fanservicey in a way that tends to make my right eye twitch a lot, I bowed my head to the power of the dark side Obata Takeshi's art and got Ral Grad volume 1 from Amazon. I AM HELPLESS IN THE SIGHT OF OBATA TAKESHI.

So now I am reading it so you don't have to.

The main character is Ral. A powerful Shadow - Grad, the Blue Dragon - entered his body at birth. To prevent Grad consuming Ral, Ral's father the King had him raised in total darkness - without light, there are no shadows. Ral is tutored through the wall of the egg he's trapped in by Miss Mio, who notably fails to teach him about girls, and also manages to strike up a partnership with Grad. As the manga starts, a Shadow army is besieging the castle and Ral is released from his egg, naked as the day he was born, as a last-ditch attempt to save the castle.

In short order Ral whacks his father for imprisoning him, discovers that girls have some rather intriguing differences from boys, and fights the Shadows off. In that order. He spends a good part of the second chapter in the bath, getting attended to by a group of naked girls, being saved from a higher rating by strategically-placed steam, hair, and limbs, and talking with his dragon.

Ral does not actually wear pants until page 103.

Shortly after he dons pants, he sets off with Mistress Mio and what is probably the first of a scrappy band of adventurers to campaign across the continent and eventually defeat the current Shadow Queen. The Shadow Grad fled to the world of light to raise power and eventually defeat the Queen, who has ransacked the world of darkness and turned most of its inhabitants into slavering minions - quite literally, as they fight and compete for the chance to consume a strand of her hair and partake a little in her beauty - and who is determined to wipe out the human race.

Ral's motivation, however, is BOOBIESBOOBIESBOOBIESBOOBIES I FIGHT TO SAVE THE WORLD FOR BOOBIESBOOBIESBOOBIESBOOBIES. I am not kidding about this. He uses a slightly-differently worded version of that argument a few times.

I could probably get past Ral being obsessed with girls and boobs, as it is a Shonen Jump property he is a 15-year-old boy who has just had his hormones hit him with a mallet and has just discovered the existence of girls, and has most of his demands catered to because, well, he's got this ENORMOUS FREAKIN' DRAGON that he can control that scares the willies out of everyone. It's Miss Mio's wimpy "No, no, you shouldn't do that!" reaction to him ripping her clothes off and fondling her in public, and the overt evil sexuality that the Shadow Queen wields that grates my nerves raw.

There is a point where Miss Mio attempts to explain to Ral that no, you don't get to fondle the princess' boobs just because you save her, but I am afraid the lesson does not stick for long. Especially as the moral so far is that women's sexuality is a thing to be given to men as a reward for doing good deeds, and any woman who uses hers for her own ends is evil. Miss Mio gets to be the mother figure; after she establishes to Ral that he is not to rip her clothes off and despite the occasional regulation boob-grab, he ends up snuggling with her in a little-boy fashion at night, as she muses how sad it is that he has to sleep with a light on because after 15 years in the dark, he's frightened of it.

There are bits and pieces of a really interesting story here, i.e. one that hits my Cool Bits but so far it's failing to live up to that. Drawn really well, though.

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