By William Moo
Seven Little Sons of the Dragon is a manga collection of seven fantasy short stories by artist Ryoko Kui – creator of the hit series Delicious in Dungeon. Each story has one of two recurring themes and is set in a variety of settings and time periods. As its title suggests, the majority of the stories revolve around mythical dragons, but a good number also feature mermaids, drawings that come to life, and a superpowered family like The Incredibles.
There are a lot of stories I could write about in this feature, but I’ll turn my attention to a tale called Wolves Don’t Lie. It follows a young mother named Yukari Umetani dealing with her son Keita’s WWS (Werewolf Syndrome) condition. The story is split into two parts, with the first half covering Yukari’s perspective of raising her young son with WWS. It serves as a prologue to the real story and is done in the style of a casual autobiographical comic.
Much of Yukari’s perspective is used to illustrate how she adapts to her son’s initial diagnosis and the everyday challenges of his wolf tendencies. Her story takes a very grounded approach as it runs parallel to a parent’s reaction to their child having an illness or lifelong condition. Although it features a fantastical premise, there’s potential for the story to connect with those who have similar real-life experiences.
Yukari’s point of view greatly contrasts with the second half of the story, which looks at Keita’s early adulthood. It follows his everyday struggles with WWS and maintaining his independence. Every full moon, Keita becomes very lively and sociable. Afterward, he has no memory of what he has done and is sapped of his energy. As a result, this makes it difficult for him to attend classes or hold a part-time job. It also creates some problems in his personal life, as demonstrated by him having no close friends and causing friction with a girl he met.
One important aspect of note is Keita’s relationship with his mother, who he accuses of using her experiences with him as publicity fodder. He wants to use a special drug to suppress his wolf urges but argues with Yukari because she thinks he doesn’t need it. It’s further complicated when Keita realizes he was wrong about his mother and that the reason he pushed her away is that he doesn’t want to transform and hurt her again. He wants to regain control over his wolf condition and try his best to curb his feral instincts – no matter how many times he fails.
The strength of the story is the humanity which is explored. Relationships are fragile, especially with our parents, but we always find ways to work things out. Sometimes, it can take a great life event to make us reevaluate how we see ourselves. In Wolves Don’t Lie, this is depicted effectively through both Keita and Yukari’s perspectives and the story finds ways to blend some heavy subject matter with heartwarming moments. Like most of the other stories, it ends on a pretty lighthearted note with Keita and Yukari learning a bit more about themselves.
It’s a definite highlight from Ryoko Kui’s Seven Little Sons of the Dragon and I couldn’t recommend reading it more. Fantasies are like parables which help us see the bigger picture in life, and Wolves Don’t Lie demonstrates this beautifully by making its message grounded and relatable.
William Moo is a freelance writer and video content producer. You can find his YouTube channel, which features video essays and commentary on Japanese animation, here, or follow him on Twitter here!
Seven Little Sons of the Dragon
by Ryoko Kui
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