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Manga / Shadow Star
aka: Narutaru

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"When you don't fit in anywhere in the world, what should you do? Carve yourself to fit the world...? ...Or carve the world to fit you?!"

Definitely not to be confused with the sequel novel to the movie Willow, which is also called Shadow Star.

Narutaru (full title Mukuro Naru Hoshi Tama Taru Ko, roughly "Corpse of a Star; a Precious Child"), published in the United States as Shadow Star, is a manga and anime series with a very deceptive premise. It looks cute, with a perky Naïve Everygirl lead (who transforms into an Action Girl as the plot progresses, though in a most plausible manner) who happens across an adorable star-shaped Mon while visiting her grandparents during summer vacation. The anime opens with the most upbeat theme music imaginable and has a relaxed first episode. Things go downhill from there.

The story is told from the viewpoint of twelve-year-old Shiina Tamai, after she acquires the aforementioned dragonet, which she names Hoshimaru. Merely being in this creature's company inevitably draws other young people with dragonets to her. Shiina, unlike the others, is not telepathically linked to her dragonet, and Hoshimaru seems to have a will and personality of his own; meanwhile, not all of the other "dragon bearers" have good intentions, for Shiina or the world at large. While the anime is open-ended to say the least, the manga leads towards an almost Gainax-type ending. Unfortunately, the official English release of the manga was not only flipped and censored, but also incomplete. This leaves English viewers no way to officially experience the half of the story that the anime didn't get to, although some unofficial complete translations do exist.


Shadow Star was created by Mohiro Kitoh, who also created the Humongous Mecha series Bokurano, while the anime was penned by Chiaki Konaka, writer of Serial Experiments Lain and Digimon Tamers. Considering his resume, he was certainly a perfect match.

Shadow Star provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Shiina, Akira, and Hiroko all have at least one each. It's also implied that Norio and Takeo had them, but never explained in detail.
  • Adam and Eve Plot: In the final three pages of the manga, with Shiina's daughter and Mamiko's son.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Hiroko may have gone off the deep end, but some would say it's a shame she didn't get a bone thrown to her.
    • Aki may have been an awful human being, but seeing her beg for her life and repeatedly apologize to Hiroko's Shadow Dragon as she gets raped to death gives the viewer a small sliver of pity for her.
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  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Might explain some of Takeo's popularity among the ladies.
  • All-Loving Hero: Shiina is one of these.
  • Alpha Bitch: Aki Honda has to be one of the nastiest Alpha Bitches ever created. Akira also has her own personal Alpha Bitch in Hibiki Shimura, although her taunts seem tame in comparison to what Honda does. However this trope has dire and fatal consequences for Honda....
  • Anti-Villain: Might be debatable who should be called a "villain" here, but still Bungo Takano appears as one of the most decent, emotionally stable and good-natured characters in the manga, after Shiina, her father and pre-insanity Hiroko, who does genuinely feel bad about killing.
  • Anyone Can Die: Even Shiina herself. Subverted since she is brought back to life by her true shadow dragon: the earth itself.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Satomi does this to Shiina when they first meet, just because she overheard her making fun of the name of her school. Much, much later, Akira slaps Shiina to get her out of an Heroic BSoD.
  • Art Evolution: The art in the second half is noticeably less stiff and awkward than in the first.
  • Asexuality: Sudo. He takes it as a sign that he's already gotten above common human desires.
  • Berserk Button:
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Hiroko aka "Hiro-chan", who as soon as she gets her own dragon, Oni, uses it to murder the Alpha Bitch of her school, her brother/lover, the Alpha Bitch's Girl Posse and the parents that cared more about her grades than her emotional well-being, all of them in very gruesome and creepy manners. Hoshimaru must kill her in the end since Hiro-chan has become that insane.
    • Also another of Shiina's buddies, Akira Sakura, who eventually killed her abusive and rapist bastard of a father.
    • Sudo and Komori are both considered particularly nice boys by the people who know them superficially, but are the secretly (well, not exactly secretly in Sudo's case) sadistic egomaniacs with dire plans for the world.
    • Finally, Shiina herself. After having her best friend Akira die in front of her and her mother and boyfriend murdered by angry mobs, all of it one chapter after her father's Heroic Sacrifice, she finally snaps and decides to end the world by sprouting gigantic hands from the earth and bitchslap every single soul to death.
  • Big Sister Instinct: The Virgin Princess who aids Shiina often in the manga is her older sister Mishou.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In episode 2 Mamiko is wearing a T-shirt with a russian word "Самолет" (Airplane) on it. It could be a Foreshadowing if it wasn't in Russian.
  • Bond Creatures: The dragonets.
  • Book Dumb: Shiina. Subverted in the manga, when she gets a scholarship for a very prestigious all-girls junior high. Lampshaded when people speak about how she's the first girl in 14 years to get a scholarship there.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • The manga received a fair amount of edits when it was released in English, with Dark Horse removing entire pages from one volume and getting Kitoh to redraw a certain infamous scene from the same; only seven volumes were even published in the United States.
    • The German version of the manga also received some edits, though they were milder than the English version's (volume 6 got an appendix discussing the nature of bullying in Japan added to it) and the German publishers actually finished releasing the series.
    • Amusing/frustrating aversion in the French edition: the publisher, Glénat, picked it up in the late '90s as a Shōnen (no, really), thinking it was a nice, harmless little Mon series. They pulled the plug after just the first two tankoubon, probably after somebody pointed out what happens later on (that manga and anime were under flak in France at the time due to a combination of Moral Guardians and gross mismarketing didn't help). It took ten years for them to republish it, this time under their more appropriate seinen imprint, so far apparently uncut and unmodified.
    • There was also some Bowdlerisation in the anime adaptation. Many of the more shocking events happen off-screen (though to be fair the anime doesn't cover the second half of the manga, where some of the worse things take place), and the anime is even reluctant to show blood most of the time. .i.e, while Aki Honda's horrifying death still happens, the worst parts (like being raped and torn in half by Oni are given Gory Discretion Shots and at least two rape discretion shots in between.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Shiina's friends Hiroko Kaizuka and Akira Sakura. Shiina herself steadily goes through this throughout the manga, and at the end is as broken as broken gets after losing everything and everyone she ever cared about, and bringing about The End of the World as We Know It along with Mamiko.
    • Averted by Norio Koga, which is impressive given what ends up happening to him. Sure, he was raped to death but he didn't dwell on his situation, and instead focused on helping out Tsurumaru and Shiina by taking out bombers, despite the giant pedophile on his back.
  • Break the Haughty: Satomi, in the manga. Also, Aki Honda in both anime and manga.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Very strongly implied between Aki Honda and her brother Yasuhito.
  • Bury Your Gays: Norio gets what has to be the most horrendous death out of anyone.
  • Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff": The series manages to fall into this on two different levels. All of the monsters in the story are collectively referred to as "dragons", even though most of them are closer to Eldritch Abominations than anything else. There's only one that does look like a dragon, at least in the sense of being a vaguely reptilian creature with wings. . . but it's called "Tarasque", after a monster from French folklore that it looks nothing like.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Years after her father's sexual abuse crippled her emotionally, Akira called him out by killing him.
  • Captain Ethnic: The only Russian Shadow Dragon we see is based on Baba Yaga's Chicken Leg House and flies through space. The American boy who appears later is a less obvious example. His Dragon looks distinctly like the Spinosaurus from Jurassic Park III, with a painful-looking life-support machine in the center, invoking two of the biggest things America is known for in Japan (and worldwide): blockbuster movies and substandard healthcare. It also looks like a stereotypical European dragon, which is the most common idea of a dragon in America.
  • Celibate Heroine: Although Shiina is pretty young, she's already adamant that she'll never get married or have children. This is subverted in the manga; not only does Shiina develop feelings for Takeo, but she even has sex with him near the end, with their daughter going on to be the new Eve of the "cleansed" Earth.
  • Cool Car: Almost all of the cars used in the manga are real models, and interesting cars usually get full panels — in Chapter 12, the very uncommon Subaru SVX is shown off this way
  • Cool Plane: As with the cars, the aircraft in the manga are all real types, and are depicted with great detail. The Sukhoi Su-27 is a major plot element. Others that get shown prominently include the A-10 Thunderbolt (inaccurately depicted as being flown by the JASDF; in reality only the US operates it), the AC-130 Gunship, and the F-104 Starfighter.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Subverted — Miyoko, the only one of Aki Honda's group who showed any kind of remorse or hesitation about their treatment of Hiro-chan, was right. Had the girls not bullied and raped Hiro-chan, they would've not gotten the fate Oni dealt to them. Well, they would've died in the end, but still... Although they might possibly have survived. The whole point of the manga was Shiina being slowly broken by the events that took place. Hiro-chan wasn't the biggest factor, but it certainly played a role.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Sort of — the anime only covers events from the first half of the manga. In condensing said events into 13 episodes, some manga scenes that served as foreshadowing got cut, but the adaptation is otherwise pretty faithful.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • The first manga volume, complete with misleading blurb on the back of the English version.
    • The French version's like that too. The blurb for that volume mentions that Shiina's "exciting adventures are just beginning!".
    • Also, one of the anime DVD covers has Hiro-chan smiling like a typical Cheerful Child character. She's... not quite like that in canon.
  • Creepy Child: Well, creepy teens, but the effect is still the same.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Definitely a few of these in here. Norio's death has to take the cake, though, though Aki Honda's comes off quite close.
  • Curse Cut Short: In volume 7, Yasuhito exclaims "What the f—" upon seeing Oni. His head is crushed before he can get it all out.
  • Cut Short: The anime ended halfway through the story, giving very little closure; either there wasn't enough of an audience to keep going, or the producers were afraid of tackling what was coming next. Or both.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: The Jyun Ezumi that Shiina meets is actually Kyouji, who has taken on her appearance with the help of his shadow dragon; the real Jyun died in an accident two years prior to the story.
  • Death by Sex: Genderflipped, because Takeo is the one who dies soon after he and Shiina have sex.
  • Deconstruction: Though it's less apparent in later volumes, the series deconstructs the Mon genre in the following ways:
    • Unlike most Mon shows, the series doesn't assume that all the children who get cute monsters are automatically good. Some of the children in Shadow Star have the same misanthropic worldview as Real Life school shooters, and are only too keen to use their dragonets to hurt people they consider undesirable.
    • The children have a psychic link to the dragonets and share their pain during the battles, leading to physical and mental trauma.
    • The military gets involved when the dragonets begin to threaten the population, and the kids are caught in the crossfire.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Mamiko, despite being critically important in the manga, only appears in two anime episodes and doesn't even show up in the ED animation.
    • Takaya Mizushima, whose first animated appearance is in episode 12, when he shows up out of the blue to save Hiroko, without any explanation of why he knew to be there, or even who he is, and then only because there was no way around it this time. (Originally, he was Shiina's neighbour and classmate, and a recurring minor character.)
  • Despair Event Horizon: In the manga, eventually crossed by Shiina, after she watches everyone she loves die horribly. The End of the World as We Know It follows.
  • Deus Angst Machina: The plot can really feel like it's running on Murphy's Law at times. It's particularly bad for poor Akira, as there even seems to be a literal conspiracy to keep her from ever being happy again in the manga.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Satomi develops a murderous grudge against Shiina that started just because the latter made fun of the name of her school. In the manga, Sudo shoots two delinquents to death just for throwing a bag of trash into a river.
  • Driven to Suicide: Akira tries to kill herself twice, but either can't bring herself to do it or gets slapped out of it. Eventually, she may have finally ended her suffering by throwing herself out of her hospital window... which might be the closest thing to a "happy ending" that anyone in the series ever got.
  • Dub Name Change: Bungo is renamed Kazuyuki in the Dark Horse manga volumes, probably just because it anglicizes better than ''Bungo''. The last few chapters they translated (which never made it into English graphic novels) changed his name back to Bungo, though. Also, Tomonori is called Akinori on Central Park Media's page for the anime, possibly due to their translators misreading the kanji for his name.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Norio is mistaken for a girl several times in the manga.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Having issues with the world seems to be — and may even literally be — a requirement for bonding with a shadow dragon.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Shiina writes her first name in katakana because she really hates the way it's written in kanji, which is read as "empty husk" or "a seed that will never sprout". It eventually turns out that the name has a positive meaning after all (Misono didn't want Shiina to "leave" her like Mishou did) and when Shiina finally comes to accept it, she's able to link with her real shadow dragon... the Earth itself.
  • Emotionless Girl: Mamiko Kuri and the Otohimes.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Only in the manga, though.
  • Enlightenment Superpowers: A seriously dark take on the trope. To wit, in order to link with a dragonet, a person must go through either a high-grade trauma in order to, or simply realize by themselves, that they're better off without anyone else to hurt them anymore. The degree of which varies by individual.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Subverted with Tomonori Komori. It's revealed some time after his death that he had a sickly mother he was taking care of, but the reader already knows by then that the sickly were among the sorts of people he wanted to kill off.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Bungo bleaches his hair and starts slicking it back in later manga volumes.
  • Fan Disservice: Child sex, underage female nudity... not meant to be actual fanservice, and it shows.
  • Fate Worse than Death: In the manga, Komori's corpse and his Dragonet are found by the military and experimented on. Last time they're seen they're hooked-up to machines that keep Komori from merging with his Dragon and turned into an Otohime, therefore keeping them half-dead.
  • Five Rounds Rapid: What the JSDF does to combat the dragons. It doesn't work; only once is one successfully killed, but that one was rammed by an airplane before going down.
  • Flying Broomstick: Jun Ezumi's dragon.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • There's some in the very first chapter that alludes to Shiina's true dragon.
    Shiina: (while drowning) Am I going to die? Die? I'm going to be gone? I'm going to be gone from this world? To not be...? This world will die... This world will be gone from me? Be gone? Who? Me...? The world...? And then...?
    • By the end of the first volume, Akira revelas to Shiina that when a dragonet links with their partner, it happens psychically, in form of visions and disembodied voices. This is repeated a few times when Shiina meets other dragonet users, despise such a thing never happening between her and Hoshimaru. This pretty much reveals that Hoshimaru is not Shiina's dragonet at all.
  • For the Evulz: Why Aki Honda and the city thugs could be considered to be much worse than the main villains.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: In the manga, Mamiko first goes on a killing spree while half naked. Her first targets? The thugs who'd just raped her.
  • Furo Scene: There's one in the manga, but it's got much more to do with characterisation than fanservice.
  • Gainax Ending: In the manga, Shiina is walking around the destruction of the town, a Framing Device in which we learn from flashbacks that Shiina fell into a Despair Event Horizon after her mother, Akira, Norio, Takeo, and Hoshimaru are killed by an angry mob, which summons Sheol to wipe out the Earth. The only people left are Shiina and Mamiko, who are both pregnant. Mamiko tells Shiina that they can rebuild, but if she wants, Mamiko can have Sheol end the world again. Shiina decides not to rebuild, and the last shots of the manga are Mamiko's son and Shiina's daughter running on the beach naked and about to have sex. It can be compared to The End of Evangelion, but it's really much more bleak and nihilistic. Confusing, too.
  • Gatling Good: Bungo's dragon Hainuwele packs a mean vulcan.
  • Genius Loci: The Earth is a shadow dragon, Shiina's specifically.
  • Genki Girl: Subverted by Misho, Shiina's older sister, who starts as one of these but doesn't stay genki after Shiina's birth, and dies in very strange circumstances. When she reappears as a Virgin Princess, she's much closer to an Emotionless Girl. Also Shiina herself.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Akira pulls this on Shiina, slap included, after her father dies.
  • Giant Flyer: The adult dragons.
  • Giant Hands of Doom: The earth sprouts these when controlled by either Mamiko or Shiina. In fact, this is the way humans meet their doom at the end. Seriously.
  • Girl Posse: Aki Honda's friends Miyoko, Mihaya and Hiroka are a specially nasty version of this. And do they and their Alpha Bitch get nasty Karmic Deaths as punishment. Only Miyoko, who only helped bully Hiro-chan because she was shit scared of being rejected by her "friends", survives — but is left traumatized and crippled.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Pre-haircut Shiina and Hiroko.
  • A God Am I: Sudo certainly thinks he is.
  • Going Commando: Mamiko never wears panties.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The anime does this a lot, especially in the last two episodes. The manga's violence, on the other hand, is much more graphic.
    • Played straight near the end when Shiina's mom gets shot, when she's shot by a shotgun, the resulting gore is not shown.
  • Hate Sink: Aki Honda is amongst one of the worst examples of Alpha Bitch in anime/manga history despite how she never had a bigger, villainous role compared to certain others, and she was written on purpose as well, she has no redeeming qualities and only existed to drive Hiroko insane and have her killed to show how far Hiroko has fallen into insanity.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Satomi about Bungo. Even 13 year olds don't believe her anyway.
  • Healing Factor: An ability of the shadow dragons, though the bearers don't usually recover so well.
  • Heroic BSoD: Shiina gets these a few times. First, after the situation with Hiro-chan. Second, when she finds out Hoshimaru isn't actually her shadow dragon, but Takeo's. Third, when her father dies.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the manga, Shunji sacrifices his life by using his plane (more exactly, its engines) as a weapon to destroy Bungo's dragon
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In the anime, Komori is killed when Hoshimaru replicates his own Push Dagger and spears him with it (as opposed to the broken plane strut used in the manga). A bigger example from both versions would be the way Aki Honda is killed by Oni, mirroring the way she tortured Hiro-chan. It's interesting to note how the anime plays this up twice. While Oni merely used its claws in the manga, in the anime it transforms its finger into the shape of the infamous test tube before doing the deed.
  • Hope Spot: The last chapter of the manga. Shiina seems to have recovered from her father's death and is living happily with her mother. She and her mother head out to visit Akira in hospital... only for an angry mob to shoot up her mother's car, Akira to fall out of the hospital window in an apparent suicide, Takeo and Hoshimaru to be killed by a gang of thugs—after which Shiina and Mamiko initiate The End of the World as We Know It. Afterwards, Shiina, heavily pregnant with Takeo's (who was dying from radiation poisoning) baby, is shown walking around the ruins of the buildings she used to know, unable to muster up the will to do anything more for the world.
  • Hu Mons: Most of the shadow dragons are Starfish Aliens that barely resemble any sort of living creature. One of them, however, looks like an attractive female angel with claw-tipped wings growing out of its head.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Akira doesn't want to have recurring nightmares and be ill because of her link to her Mon.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: On the other hand, Shiina surely does want to be special and have a Mon to call her own.
  • "I Know You Are in There Somewhere" Fight: Rather cruel subversion. Shiina tries this on Hiroko when she goes mad after all the abuse and gets Oni. It does NOT work. Hoshimaru has to kill her instead or she'll use Oni to kill Shiina's father.
  • Idiot Hair: Amusingly enough, Shiina gains one of these after her Important Haircut... after she's stopped being Book Dumb!
  • Implacable Man: Satomi's dragon Amapola, after "evolving" into its more humanoid form. It takes an intervention from the Virgin Princess to defeat it and save Shiina's life.
  • Important Haircut: Akira gives herself one of these early on, after Komori tells her she's got beautiful hair. In the manga, Shiina, after having used pigtails for a good part of the story, gets her hair cut to bob length upon entering junior high; by that time, we see that Akira has let hers grow again.
  • Just Plane Wrong: No, the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force doesn't actually have A-10 Thunderbolts.
  • Karmic Death: Well, sort of. The bullies that "broke" Hiro-chan get this, most obviously with Aki Honda, who has all the torments she devised revisited on her tenfold, before being painfully killed. But even the most reluctant, remorseful member of her Girl Posse is incredibly brutalized and only survives because of outside intervention.
  • Kick the Dog: Satomi, when she gets some screentime when she's not hesitant about killing her school friend in order to get Shiina. Also Takeo practices some dog-kicking in his free time, especially on girls.
  • Living with the Villain: Or rather, Going To School With The Villain; Shiina enters the same school that Satomi attends, while Mamiko also enrolls.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: In the anime, it's implied that Shiina didn't tell her father that Hiroko died and was the one behind his almost death.
  • Made of Iron: Takeo is like this at times in the manga, even taking a shotgun blast to the chest and barely even flinching. He's far from invincible, though, and eventually succumbs to radiation poisoning.
  • Mama Bear: Jane Franklin's son Robert is an Ill Boy who has been captured by the military alongside his dragon. His Action Mom joins forces with Takeo and Shiina, and she will NOT stop until she rescues her kid. Heartbreakingly, she succeeds in getting Robert back... but the poor boy falls victim to his illness in her arms.
  • Mauve Shirt: Ono. Ui might also count if not for the fact she survived that fall.
  • Meaningful Name: The Shadow Dragon Sheol. Its name is often referred to as the Hebrew word for Hell, but its true meaning is simply the absence of God. Either one works pretty well considering that Sheol's body is the Earth itself.
  • Mons: The dragonets, or "shadow dragons", or whatever your translation calls them.
  • Mukokuseki: Averted. You can tell by looking that Jane Franklin and the Russians in the manga are, well, not Japanese. Also "The Pedobear" looks somewhat Latin.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: The dragons are almost impossible to kill, and ordinarily can only die if their bearers die and don't merge with them to become an adult dragon and Virgin Princess. In the manga, the one time a dragon is actually killed (without killing the bearer first) is when Shunji crushes Bungo's dragon in the engines of his fighter jet near the end.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. In the manga, 13-years-old Shiina gets her first period right after she dies and is subsequently reborn in the island where her grandparents live.
    • Also, Naozumi discovers that it's Satomi's time of the month after she passes out and wets herself when her dragon is cut up by an attack chopper's rotor blades.
    • Akira is taunted by some girls at school because of her period and she mentions that she did just have it.
  • Off-Model: The car chase scene in episode six of the anime. Sudo apparently drives three different cars, and the patrol car keeps changing.
  • Offing the Offspring: Attempted by a completely fucked up Misono, who tried strangling Shiina to death when she was a small child, blaming her for the then-recent and very weird death of her other daughter Mishou.
  • The Ojou: Hiro-chan is the daughter of a very rich family and lives in a Big Fancy House.
  • Olympus Mons: Sheol, a.k.a. the Earth itself
  • Ominous Floating Castle: It's not like any bad guys live in it, but even so — one of the manga-only dragons, Baba Yaga's Hut, resembles a kilometre-wide floating house with long claws hanging underneath.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted, since there are two minor yet notable characters named Aki; apart from the nasty Alpha Bitch Aki Honda, there's also Tatsumi Miyako's Sexy Secretary, Aki Sato.
  • Otaku: Bungo, of the military-nut variety.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Indeed. They start off as cute starfish-shaped creatures, but their adult stages can be anything from Winged humanoids to borderline eldritch abominations. In fact, the only one we see that really looks like a "typical" dragon is the one belonging to the American kid in the manga.
  • Parental Abandonment: Although given how horrible Shiina's mother is for much of the series, it's probably for the best that she doesn't live with Shiina and Shunji.
  • Penny Among Diamonds: Satomi and later Shiina herself at Banda Academy. They both have very different ways of handling it to say the least.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: Most people's reaction to Mamiko.
  • Puppy Love: Canonically, Bungo and Satomi when they were younger, though their relationship is bittersweet at best and downright icky at worst.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Shouko gets one of these from Jyun.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Misono. Right after the readers get to see her side of the story, as well as having her reunite with Shiina and patch things up, she's shot to death while trying to save her from an angry mob.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Very strange example in that Shiina does this to herself. When she is accidentally killed by a stray round from a fighter jet, the Earth (which is actually her real shadow dragon) creates a new Shiina a couple of chapters later.
  • Rich Bitch:
    • Subverted. Satomi looks and acts like one, but turns out she's anything but rich, and a big fuss she makes about "elitarism" and social position comes from the fact she's ashamed of failing Banda's entrance exams at first.
    • Also, Aki Honda is a monstrous Alpha Bitch, but she's from a middle-class family.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Played with; when Hiro-chan finally breaks, she uses her dragonet to go on a bloody rampage, killing everyone who ever wronged her. Then she moves on to anyone who stands in her way or she simply happens to dislike. However, she remains eerily calm through the whole thing, even as she attempts to kill Shiina's father. She just seems repressed to the point of being physically incapable of articulating her anger and can only channel it though the monstrous Oni.
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: Well, in the manga giant hands come out of the earth and bitchslap all of human existance into dust.
  • The Runaway: Among the main cast, there's Norio. There's also Kaori, the unlucky young girl whom Takeo deals with in a rather harsh manner when earning his money in one side arc.
  • Scars Are Forever: Shiina gets stabbed through her left hand when trying to fend off Oni, which leaves a fairly conspicuous scar there for the rest of the manga. It stays even though she dies and is brought back.
  • Scholarship Student: In the manga, Shiina becomes one of these when she enters junior high.
  • Seinen: While it can easily be mistaken for Shoujo (because of the perky female lead) or shounen (because of the Mons) at first glance, it's definitely not for kids.
  • Self-Made Orphan:
    • When Hiro-chan snaps, the first people she kills with Oni are her own parents. Also, Sudo may be responsible for the "disappearance" of his parents and older brother.
    • Komori might have allowed his ill mother to starve to death.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Jyun Ezumi has a broomstick-shaped shadow dragon she calls Nendo. Guess what Nendo means. There's also Satomi's dragon, Amapola, whose name is simply the Spanish word for poppy.
  • Shapeshifter Weapon: The shadow dragons fight by forming replicas of weapons they've come into contact with, ranging from blades to rocket launchers and everything in between.
  • Shoot the Dog: Hoshimaru having to kill Hiro-chan when she goes off the deep end and threatens to kill Shiina's father.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The anime adaptation. Most of the cast goes insane and dies in a generally unsatisfying fashion, except for the main character and the vaguely established villains, who vanish off the face of the earth around episode 10. Most of the plot points are Left Hanging, and noone seems to care much. The description that 'nothing much has happened except that a few ineffectual people has died' fits the story like a glove, although this is because the anime only covers the first half of the manga, cutting off right before things start to get really bad. The manga, incidentally, may also count as this.
  • Shout-Out: The chapter Komori appears is titled Black No. 1.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Mohiro Kitoh is a big aviation nut and his knowledge of aircraft shines through with his depictions of Shiina's dad's work and the JASDF.
    • He nails down some lesser known characteristics of Down's Syndrome during a brief appearance by a minor character with the condition. Said character is a florist who has managed to earn several minor government contracts for state funerals and such because of his meticulousness. People with Down's often become almost superhumanly good at certain tasks because the fact they know they're mentally challenged makes them more careful about things and work harder than a neurotypical person would think they need to.
    • Kito is a fluent Russian speaker, so Shiina occasionally would wear a T-shirt that says "Samolet", or "Plane". The chapter in Moscow is written with his original research.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: This series lies on the far, far end of the cynical side. Depending on your view of the world, it can start to feel like wangst.
  • Smug Snake: Tatsumi Miyako and Aki Honda.
  • Social Darwinist: Tomonori Komori
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The anime OP song. Enough said.
  • Spoiler Opening: The intro isn't as innocuous as first appears, and even references some manga-only twists. i.e., Hiroko's first appearance features a malicious-looking Aki and several "100%" on the background, implying Aki's "role" as her bully and the reason why.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Subverted when Shiina is killed very suddenly and very messily right after it's insinuated she might not actually be the main character, almost as though she's outlived her usefulness to the plot. Thankfully, she's reborn a couple of chapters later, and very much remains the protagonist. Played straight with Norio, who is killed off in an extremely gruesome manner more or less just to break Takeo further, and with Misono, who's killed off right after her and Shiina's reconciliation, and her death is part of what pushed her into fully embracing her role as a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • Subverted Kids Show: Though targeted to a seinen audience, this is the only explanation for the tone of the opening as compared to the subject matter. All the characters are cheerily illustrated, dancing to a bubblegum folk sound. Are you ready for this, kids?
  • Teens Are Monsters: See a pattern here? At one point, highschooler Satomi Ozawa uses her shadow dragon Amapola to gas a whole field of soldiers to death with toxic pollen... and that's a relatively mild example!
  • There Are No Therapists: Though if there were, we wouldn't have nearly the same story.
  • They Would Cut You Up: Why Akira would rather keep the shadow dragon issue hush-hush.
  • This Is Something I've Got To Do Myself: In the manga, Shiina accepts missions too dangerous for a girl her age, saying she feels she's gotta do it.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: In the manga. At one point, it's made to look as though Shiina might not be the main character after all, given where Hoshimaru's loyalties really lie. It turns out she still is, though.
  • Tomato Surprise: Again, manga only. Why can't Shiina link with Hoshimaru? Because he was never her dragon in the first place, and instead belongs to her ally Takeo Tsurumaru. She doesn't react well to the revelation, bless her.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Shiina and either Akira or Hiroko.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: How most people react after learning that not only are the monsters real, but some of them are responsible for the nuclear apocalypse.
  • Trauma Conga Line: The final result is only shown in the manga, but even so. Poor, poor Shiina.
  • Tsundere: Satomi Ozawa, especially towards her ex-boyfriend Bungo. Norio qualifies as a male example, though given that his love interest is such a jerk, his deredere side doesn't show much.
  • Turbine Blender: How Bungo's dragon meets its end.
  • Übermensch: Naozumi Sudo.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife:
    • Aki Satou and her fiancé.
    • Shiina's parents. Good thing that their daughters and granddaughter took the looks after Misono rather than Shunji.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Shiina, in the manga. Getting cut in half by vulcan rounds would be a totally unambiguous death in normal circumstances... but then Shiina is mysteriously reborn at the island where her grandparents live. Might be explained by how her and Mamiko's shared actual dragon, Sheol, is the Earth itself.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Sudo and Komori both have their own plans that involve this.
  • Vagina Dentata: Norio's dragon is named this; fittingly enough, its head does look a bit like a toothy vagina.
  • Villain Protagonist: an alternate interpretation for Shiina from those who believe she and Mamiko went a little too far with their planet-wide genocide.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Takeo and Norio.
  • We Can Rule Together: Portrayed more credibly than usual. Akira and Shiina receive offers from Hiroko (Shiina), Sudo and Komori (Akira). None go well.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Satomi's relationship with Bungo.
  • What Does She See in Him?: It is revealed that Aki Sato's boyfriend is not some millionaire or politician, but a humble, ugly (and possibly mildly mentally-handicapped) florist.
  • Wham Episode: While Akira's introductory chapter/episode makes things quite a bit darker than they initially appeared, it's her and Shiina's encounter with Komori that sets the true tone of the series. Hiro-chan's arc and volume 10 of the manga deliver big whams, too.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Norio, to a degree.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Hiroko. "Anything I don't like, I'll destroy." Fortunately for the world, she fails. Then again, much later in the manga Shiina succeeds with this trope. It's not pretty.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Some of the kids become very aware of the power that their shadow dragons give them, and end up abusing it.
  • Yandere: Hiro-chan.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Shiina literally has blue hair.

Alternative Title(s): Naru Taru, Shadow Star Narutaru


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