In Dragon Goes House-Hunting Vol. 1, a young dragon named Letty gets ousted from his father’s nest after letting an egg get snatched by hunters. He must find a place to live and prove to his father he can make it on his own, so he resolves to find a place to live and gain independence. Along the way he meets a variety of fantasy creatures and characters, most of which are after his hide! Is this first volume engaging enough to make the series take wing?
The best word to sum up this series is adorable. Writer Kawo Tanuki makes Letty’s personality so charming with his naivete and helplessness approaching the line of annoyance, but never crossing it. One of the first lines of dialogue in the volume is even a campy “Jeez Laweez” from Letty as he’s taking stock of his situation once his father kicks him out of the nest. What helps keep the character from growing too unlikable in his helplessness is the elf architect, realtor, and demon lord Dearia. Dearia is much more mild-mannered, level-headed, and calm, so the characters play off each other well, keeping the dialogue interesting through juxtaposition while also grounding Letty’s naivete a bit.
A lot of the humor in the series comes from its many videogame references, from fantasy mainstays like spellcasting and “respawns” to more specific callouts to franchises like Monster Hunter and The Legend of Zelda. I let out a laugh the first time I saw a Monster Hunter-esque hunter with their Palico, and one of the first homes Letty considers buying is clearly inspired by the puzzle-loaded dungeons of Hyrule. The references range anywhere from tropes for people to recognize on their own to meta dialogue with lines like “This isn’t a mobile game!” There are definitely jokes that won’t speak to readers who don’t play a lot of videogames–characters even use terms like “mats,” which not everyone will recognize as materials meant to upgrade armor–but most of the references can also read as typical fantasy tropes most readers can recognize.
Artist Choco Aya takes a series that would function just fine with low-detail, cartoony art and instead treats the reader to richly detailed fantasy goodness. Letty has the proportions and scale of an adult dragon, but Aya strikes a superb balance of rich rendering and humor with his expressions. There’s a lot of comedy to be found in his exhausted grimaces, frightened gasps, and blushing shyness. Dearia is probably the most beautiful character in the series with his long, flowing hair and glamorous eyelashes. The environments are loaded with so much detail, Aya would only need to add color and some of the spreads would serve as concept art for a fantasy game. For such a funny series, I was pleasantly surprised by how hard Aya leaned into creating a rich fantasy world and am all the happier for it.
Overall, Dragon Goes House-Hunting Vol. 1 is a cute, funny series that’s sure to appeal to fantasy and gaming fans everywhere. So far the plot is very light and while I didn’t leave the volume desperate for more, I’ll happily pick up the next release to see the next chapters in Letty’s house-hunting antics.