Two Flowers for the Dragon by Nari Kusakawa
Two Flowers for the Dragon manages to be a nice light fantasy manga despite being burdened with a clunky premise. The dragon in the story is the main female character. Shakuya is the heir to the dragon clan, a family that is charged with protecting a desert oasis. Long ago her fiance Lucien left town, and she has since been assigned a new fiance – the stoic officer of the law Kuwan. Kuwan is an older man, and his mystique is further emphasized by his eye patch. Lucien suddenly comes back, but with a twist. He has amnesia and doesn’t remember Shakuya or his life, although he treasures a letter Shakuya sent him as one of his dearest possessions. Now Shakuya has two fiancees, and two flower tattoos on her hands. Bellflowers represent Kuwan and roses represent Lucien. As her feelings increase, the tattoos grow in complexity. K’s flower has several blossoms on Shakuya’s arm. There is a single rose on Shakuya’s hand for Lucien.
Shakuya goes through her day, occasionally being interrupted by her protective duties. She can turn into a dragon with the power to control water, which certainly comes in handy when her oasis is threatened. Lucien’s flirty demeanor begins to get under Shakuya’s skin, and Kuwan’s habit of being strong and silent isn’t helping her to remain confident about his feelings. The rose tattoo begins to sprout a bud, and Shakuya quickly covers up with gloves to hide the evidence of her emotional confusion.
Shakuya and her two suitors deal with a traditional festival featuring armed combat, the antics of two tiger cubs, and a snake charmer whose abilities have an unexpected effect on people with dragon blood. I thought Shakuya’s habit of turning into a powerful dragon when her emotions get out of control provided an interesting twist on the traditional power dynamic that you usually see in shoujo manga. The art is attractive and dynamic. Shakuya’s eyes are large, with cat-like pupils that highlight her status as something more than human. While I haven’t read any series by Kusakawa before, CMX publishes two other titles by the author – Recipe for Gertrude and the Palette of 12 Secret Colors. I’ll definitely be on the look out for those titles, since I did enjoy Two Flowers for the Dragon very much. It is a perfect fantasy manga to read on a weekend afternoon when you don’t want to think too hard.