A long-running Shounen manga, Ryuroden, also known as Ryuuroden still lacks an animated adaptation, but still has a strong cult following for its impressively drawn art, interesting story, and intense action scenes, all while avoiding the usual overly-long Story Arcs.
Shiro and Masumi are childhood friends who attend the same school. Shiro's mother was of Chinese descent and her lessons in the Chinese language inspired an interest in Chinese culture and history for Shiro. The two children are on their annual Class Trip one day and all seems well... When a dragon appears out of nowhere and snatches Shiro out of the plane that they were flying on. Masumi, having held onto Shiro for dear life, is also pulled along by the dragon, and the two seemingly vanish without a trace. The dragon promptly drops them into the middle of a massive battlefield. Shiro, with his knowledge of Chinese history, quickly realizes that they are no longer in modern-day Japan, but ancient China. Specifically, the era when Romance of the Three Kingdoms takes place.
Shiro's life is saved by the famous military strategist Dan Fu/Xu Shunote , but is mortally wounded in the process. Dan Fu, believing that the dragon brought Shiro into their world for a reason, appoints Shiro as his replacement strategist with his dying breath. Shiro, wishing to maintain the proper course of history and to honor the wish of the man who saved him, uses his knowledge of history to defeat an army of 50,000 men with only 5,000 followersnote . Word quickly spreads of the miraculous Dragon Child's strategic genius and Shiro and Masumi are quickly treated with the same regard as some of the highest ranking nobility. However, the opposing army's leader is also very interested in Shiro's power and wishes to capture him so that he can use his power.
Thus begins Ryuroden, a shounen manga notable for its little fanservice, refined art-style, clear displays of the author's knowledge of the Three Kingdoms era, and unique use of many Shounen anime tropes.
Ryuuroden contains examples of:
- Action Girl: Lian Hua. She uses the Tiger Style of martial arts, which consists of quick movements meant to confuse her opponent.
- Art Evolution: The initial art style is a very traditional Sounen style. Later on, it's much more comparable to Seinen manga art styles.
- Bring Him to Me: More than one villain states that he'd like to have Shiro, the Dragon's Son, by their sides. Justified based on the era the story takes place in. Dragons were seen as divine and humans brought by them would doubtlessly be seen as PhysicalGods.
- Came Back Wrong: Black Tiger is actually vengeful spirit of Zhang Jiao, the founder and leader of Yellow Turbans, who was resurrected as a demonic being in Black Cloak.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Subverted. Initially displaying this kind of power based on the training Shiro goes through after settling in the Three Kingdoms Era, it's later revealed that Shiro's birthmark is a sign that he became so powerful not through sheer talent, but incredible spiritual power.
- Chick Magnet: Shiro, specifically after he takes a level in badass.
- Death by Adaptation: Early in the story, Dan Fu AKA Xu Shu died and Shiro had to take his place and face the danger of changing the course of history. Originally, Xu Shu lived on, even if he didn't do much afterwards.
- Dirty Old Man: Played for Laughs when Zuo Ci groped Lian Hua after he healed her wounds.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: Shiro and Masumi, but Shiro manages to avoid most issues that being an example of this would present due to his extensive knowledge of Chinese history.
- In Name Only: The main antagonist, Zhong Da, is basically the style name of Wei's famous strategist and the forefather of the Jin Dynasty that ended the Three Kingdoms era, Sima Yi. However, Zhong Da is a muscular superhuman akin to Lu Bu as opposed to the scholarly Sima Yi, so it's still unclear whether he is a corrupted Sima Yi or not.
- Living MacGuffin: Both Shiro and Masumi are seen as these.
- Original Generation: For the Three Kingdoms cast, it's Lian Hua. She's introduced as Dan Fu/Xu Shu's sister (whereas there has been no notes that Xu Shu has a sister)
- Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons follow the usual eastern archetype, being divine beings that doesn't usually meddle in mortal affairs, but are still benevolent. The only dragon ever seen, though, is the one that brings Shiro and Masumi back in time.
- Physical God: Shiro displays signs of this, with his Divine Mark. That birthmark on his forehead is a sign that he can manipulate the world's Karma and Ki. Masumi later developed into more and more like a goddess with strong spiritual and even healing power.
- Plot Detour: Very late later, eventually the threat that Shiro had to quell moved away from Three Kingdoms and thus he and his friends had to move to Mongol and the story takes place there instead.
- Running Gag: Lian Hua having to play the Ms. Fanservice angle. Either by an older man groping her boobs or she's getting a shower scene. And she naturally always reacted badly.
- Sexy Discretion Shot: Shiro and Masumi did it the night before Battle of Chibi.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Making up a huge bunch of the story arc, just when Shiro and Masumi thought they'd be together within the Shu banner, Masumi got captured by the Wei forces and saw the good side of Cao Cao, making her not quite willing to leave. That and she had to keep an eye on Zhong Da.
- Took a Level in Badass: Shiro before entering the Three Kingdoms era: A scatterbrained nerd whose strength might be about how he's Genre Savvy about the Three Kingdoms. Several volumes later: Shiro is practically a superhuman master of martial arts after encountering many warriors around.
- Would Hit a Girl / Would Hurt a Child: When Zhong Da corrupted Emperor Xian and took over Imperial Court, they ordered execution for Cao Cao's wives and children, some of the children are still underaged. Thankfully, some of them are rescued just in time by Shiro and Cao Ren (who has become some kind of ninja at this time). Among the rescued children are Cao Pi, the future emperor of Cao Wei, who was still in late teen or young adult.