These past few months, I've been talking a lot about the mainline Dragon Quest series, but this week I want to discuss something a little different: the Dragon Quest Monsters+ manga. It's a continuation of the Dragon Quest Monsters games, which featured Terry from Dragon Quest VI as the protagonist. The manga is a sort of sequel (hence the “+” in the title), that features a new protagonist named Kleo and some familiar faces from the games.
Mine Yashizaki does both the story and art for Dragon Quest Monsters+. Fans of manga (or amphibians) might recognize that name, since Yashizaki is also known for the Sgt. Frog series.
If you haven't played Dragon Quest Monsters games, then don't worry. The manga does a fantastic job of introducing readers into the world, as well as all the mechanics that go along with being a fledging M.M. (Monster Master). In fact, as I read Vol. 1, it felt a lot like playing the beginning parts of a video game. There are nifty side characters to describe the mechanics involved with monster taming and breeding, as well as explaining plot points from the games that new readers may not know about.
So, What's It All About?
I'll try to be as spoiler free here as possible. The two volumes I've read, which are the only two volumes translated into English so far (although many more are due later in the year), follow a young man named Kleo–an aspiring hero who gets wrangled into being the next big M.M.
Readers follow Kleo and his growing tribe of monsters, which include a sassy slime named Slib and a little dragon nicknamed Junior. Wacky misadventures and death-defying spectacles ensue, of course.
So, What are Some Spoiler-Free Highlights?
Fans of the Dragon Quest series need to read this manga! There are so many references to previous DQ games, especially III and VI. There were several times I found myself looking at a monster and being fondly reminded of encountering them in some mainline Dragon Quest game. Fans of Pokemon and Yo-Kai Watch will also probably enjoy the monster taming/breeding/battling mechanics–even if they've never laid eyes on a Dragon Quest game.
The manga is also hilarious. I found myself laughing several times, especially during interactions between Kleo and Slib. And there was a moment in Vol. 1 that broke the fourth wall, which was definitely a highlight for me.
Between the story and humor, I was also swept away by the characters. Kleo is a cocky young dude who makes up for what he lacks in brains with a good go-get-em attitude (in other words, he's similar to other protagonists we've seen in DQ games). My favorite character is probably Slib, the little blue slime that serves as Kleo's sidekick. I like Watabou, who you might recognize from the games, although he's not nearly as much of a major character in this one…yet, anyway.
I'm trying to keep this as spoiler free as possible, so if you want to see what other fun characters and humor await you, then you'll have to read Dragon Quest Monsters+ for yourself.
So, How Does it All Fit into the DQ Mythos?
Like, I said before, Dragon Quest Monsters+ has close connections to games in the mainline series. While some function merely as Easter eggs, others might be confusing if you aren't familiar with Dragon Quest at all. For instance, you might not understand what the big deal is regarding a certain bad guy, unless you've battled this baddie in a game previously.
Those people with even remedial knowledge of the series should be fine, though. And if you're brand spanking new to DQ, then don't worry too much. You might not get ALL the references, but you definitely won't be overly confused or overwhelmed by the story or world.
Dragon Quest Monsters+ initially takes place in the same world as the DQMonsters games, so expect to visit familiar kingdoms like GreatTree. As in the games, the manga takes place in alternate worlds the hero visits. So, when Kleo goes through a traveler's gate to another world, the possibilities are endless. It will be interesting to see where the story (and Kleo) go in future installments.
So, That's It?
It's a fun series, and I'm looking forward to reading Vol. 3 when it arrives in June (Vol. 4 and Vol. 5 should be out later this year, too).
Have you read Dragon Quest Monsters+ yet? Let me know what you think!