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This Girl Is On Fire

RuriDragon, volume 1

By Masaoki Shindo 

12 Apr, 2023



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Masaoki Shindo’s RuriDragon (Japanese: ルリドラゴン, Hepburn: Ruridoragon) is a Japanese modern-day manga series. Originally a one-shot published in Shueisha’s Jump Giga magazine in December 2020, RuriDragon was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump starting in June 2022.

Adolescence is a time of sometimes bewildering physical change. Japanese schoolgirl Ruri is more bewildered than most teens. One morning she glances in the bathroom mirror to discover that during the night she has sprouted two razor-sharp horns.

Noticing her daughter’s horns, Ruri’s mother nonchalantly explains that the horns are because Ruri’s father was a dragon. It seems that Ruri has inherited at least one of his traits. Perhaps she has inherited others. Ruri’s mother is not particularly concerned and hurries her daughter off to school.

Ruri’s horns attract attention but do not provoke alarm. A simple sneeze provokes more concern, especially for Yoshioka, the boy in the seat immediately ahead of Ruri’s.

Ruri can breathe fire. She cannot control when she breathes fire, nor does she possess a dragon’s immunity to fire (at least at this time). Ruri, having provided her classmate with an unrequested hair-do makeover, coughs blood and collapses.

The narrative does not end here. Ruri has draconic healing powers as well. She quickly heals. Her throat adapts to flame. With the help of her pragmatic mother, Ruri takes a short holiday to focus on learning how to control her fire breath.

Although unenthusiastic about returning to school, Ruri begins attending classes again. Her return is less dramatic than she feared: Yoshioka survived partial incineration, although large swathes of his hair did not. Her fellow students have spent the last week speculating what exactly Ruri is — time traveler? bio-organic weapon? — but they’re more intrigued than alarmed.

Crisis comes from a direction Ruri failed to anticipate: she missed a whole week of school. Ruri has many fine qualities but she is not remarkably bright. Can she possibly catch up? Is she willing to pay a frightening price for help … social interaction with strangers?


There are two essential fantastic elements in this manga: the first is that dragons exist. The second is that the humans in this manga are basically reasonable people who when confronted with novelty will explore it in productive ways rather than seeking out the most counterproductive, spiteful solution.

One of the recurring jokes in the series is that Ruri aside, absolutely nobody is fazed by a fire-breathing girl with horns on her head. No one doubts that dragons exist. Indeed, her affair with a dragon was something Ruri’s mother didn’t see a need to mention to Ruri until it became all too clear that Ruri is her father’s daughter.

Reactions to her dragon nature are generally divided between delight at the diversion presented by a half-dragon teen (her classmate’s reaction) and attempts at pragmatic solutions for the occasional challenge presented by her inhuman physiology (her homeroom teacher and her mother’s reaction).

The manga doesn’t really focus on the supernatural world; it’s much more concerned with the problems of a surprisingly judgmental [1] but socially timid schoolgirl. Up till now, her main coping mechanism has been to ignore problems in the hope they will vanish. That is not working in this instance. However, Ruri’s problems do turn out to be solvable once she confronts them.

RuriDragon is a well-drawn comfort read. The manga is so relentlessly good-natured that I archive-binged the whole thing in one sitting. Which was possible because there are only six chapters so far, due to the author’s ill-health. The manga is on hiatus.

This is the only complaint I had about the book. Possible silver lining: I see the author has published a number of one-shot mangas. I plan to track those down.

RuriDragons six translated issues are available on Viz’s site.

1: One of the reasons Ruri is unwilling to accept tutoring is that the offer comes from Kashiro, who’s a bit unconventional (she dyed her hair) and is so high-energy that she makes Ruri uncomfortable. Luckily for Ruri, Kashiro believes it’s best to be friends and that persistence can pay off.

I am not convinced that someone with razor-sharp horns is in a position to snark about hair dye.