It’s (red) dragon slaying time! After the opening chapter catches us up with Namari and her party, adding some to the title’s mythos and doing a bit of foreshadowing along the way, the rest of the volume is focused on taking down the dragon that wiped the party back at the beginning of the story. Working against our heroes is that they’re down two members compared to the last time they took on the dragon. The good news is that, thanks to Senshi, they’re able to have a delicious meal of fried frog thigh meat cutlets before the fight and aren’t going to be defeated by hunger this time. Even so, the red dragon is the biggest and most dangerous monster the party has faced yet. How are they going to manage to take it down in a way that doesn’t involve anyone else dying (this time around)?
If you guessed that they manage to pull it off through proper planning and preparation, then go back and re-read the first three volumes. (It’s okay, I’ll wait.) Once you’ve realized that this party’s plans tend to fall apart even with proper preparation, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that everything comes down to the fact that adamantine woks can contain explosions really well and Laios getting in the right position to put his leg into the dragon’s mouth. It’s equal parts heroic and crazy, perfectly keeping with the tone of the series so far.
Do they manage to resurrect Falin after the battle? Let’s just say that there are some complications that have to be worked through, and will have lasting consequences for the party, before everyone can enjoy the mega-happy ending and post-battle banquet. Mangaka Ryoko Kui also delivers some nice character moments in the last couple of chapters that warm the heart in a way that really feels earned by the narrative. Of course, the ending comes brandishing a knife that you can fully expect to be stuck in your guts and then given a twist once vol. 5 comes around. I know that sounds painful, but it’s something I’m willing to suffer through for a series this good.