|Genre||Adventure, Comedy, Science fiction|
|Written by||Kenichi Sakura|
|Magazine||Monthly Shōnen Jump|
|Original run||August 3, 2001 – January 5, 2006|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Kim Ki Du, Noriyuki Fukuda, Takahiro Umehara|
|Original run||July 4, 2002 – March 27, 2003|
Dragon Drive (ドラゴンドライブ Doragon Doraibu?), a Japanese manga by Kenichi Sakura (佐倉 ケンイチ Sakura Ken'ichi), was published by Shueisha and serialized in the manga magazine Monthly Shōnen Jump. Publication ended on January 5, 2006, with a total of 14 volumes. Viz Media, leading publisher in Weekly Shōnen Jump (Shueisha) and Shōnen Sunday (Shogukukan), acquired the rights to distribute the Dragon Drive manga in North America.
Dragon Drive follows lazy junior high school student Reiji Ozora who routinely gives up on everything he starts and is terrible at his school work. Tired of seeing him give up at everything and continue to perform so poorly at school, his childhood friend Maiko Yukino shows Reiji the virtual reality game called Dragon Drive. It is a fighting game in which players and their dragon partners face off within a virtual reality city. Reiji's general lazy personality and lackluster school performances lead him to gain a seemingly equally lazy small dragon whom he calls Chibi. Only later do both of their true strengths show as Chibi, despite being small and sleeping in his first appearance, turns out to be the rarest dragon in the game, a discovery which leads Reiji and his friends to another world called Rikyu.
An anime adaptation directed by Toshifumi Kawase began airing on TV Tokyo on July 4, 2002, running a total of 38 episodes, the last episode aired March 27, 2003. In 2004, the anime series was released by Bandai Entertainment in North America. The franchise also spawned several video games, Dragon Drive: Tactics Break for PlayStation, Dragon Drive: World D Break for Game Boy Advance, and Dragon Drive: D-Masters Shot on GameCube.
Reiji Ozora is a chronic quitter who never completes what's assigned or handed to him, but one day Maiko, his closest friend, walks him to a local arcade where the latest game craze is happening Dragon Drive. After meeting Chibi, a seemingly meek dragon, Reiji wants to make himself and Chibi stronger. To obtain this strength, both are taken to a secret training room in the "D-Zone", the same room Maiko and Daisuke snuck in earlier upon seeing a strange dragon appearing in the sky. The dragon suddenly absorbs them into another Earth known as Rikyu, where they meet Meguru, a girl who was also transported to Rikyu. There, the elder of the village reveals the intentions RI-ON, the group behind Dragon Drive, have trying to obtain the Jinryuuseki stone, which grants its welder the power to control all dragons in Rikyu.
RI-ON conspires the children to be used as their soldiers. Should they succeed, both Rikyu and Earth will be destroyed. This is where Chibi, who is actually the legendary dragon Senkoukura, the savior of Rikyu, and Reiji become important to both worlds. In order to protect both worlds, Reiji and Chibi must enter the Dragonic Heaven tournament, where RI-ON has already sent for an agent to enter, and win the Jinryuuseki stone. Remembering that Agent L is an employee of RI-ON, the one who helped him through his first few games, Reiji is polarized between both sides, believing the elder and Meguru's testimonies while skeptical of the alleged foul intentions of Agent L or the employees of RI-ON. In the end, he doesn't truly chose either side but instead resolves to fight in order to learn the truth about RI-ON, Rikyu and Dragon Drive.
In the manga, several years later progress and Maiko's little brother, Takumi, receives severe warnings to never play Dragon Drive. One day while hiding from a storm, he obtains his first set of cards from a strange old man he meets. After receiving his cards, Takumi finds his new calling by showing strong determination and the mysterious ability to talk to dragons, forming a strong friendship with his strongest dragon Raikoo, as he works to help him gain his memories back.
After a dream one night, Takumi discovers his dragon is one in ninety-nine special dragon cards, all of which are called Raikoo, that were given to certain players of the game called Raikoo masters. Soon a group going by the name of RI-IN enters the scene, and all the players, with the exception of the ones in the gaming stores vanish, leaving the world in ruins and dragons in their place. Left behind in this rapidly changing world, Takumi, Raikoo, and their new friends must rally the remaining Raikoo masters together in hopes of restoring Earth and bringing the people back. In order to save the world, Rikyu and Earth join to become one, and the dragons disappear completely to become spirits. Twenty-seven years later, the game resurfaces to a new audience while Reiji, Takumi, and their friends live out fruitful lives.
Near the end of series' serialization in Japan, Sakura had created a separate story outside of the Dragon Drive canon. Consisting mainly of vegetables, the cast also featured a two-legged dragon, a humanoid rabbit, and a law enforcer/angel of an unidentified species. Sakura wrote another story that followed the comedic story of a cowboy with a pet penguin as his sidekick in his great quest to become a legendary Dragon Drive player. Along with the manga series, this story came to an end in Volume 14.
At the end of almost every manga volume, two to four pages of thumbnail-scans containing submitted artwork for Dragon Drive are displayed for the reader's viewing pleasure (in the American release, the pages are divided, with one at the end of each "chapter") along with a winning piece and "character commentary".
|Character||Japanese voice actor||English voice actor|
|Reiji Ozora||Romi Paku||Brad Swaile|
|Chibisuke||Chinami Nishimura||Tabitha St. Germain|
|Maiko Yukino||Yūko Sasamoto||Brittney Irvin|
|Daisuke Hagiwara||Michael Shitanda||Samuel Vincent|
|San Waltz||Yūki Matsuda||Andrew Toth|
|Hikaru Himuro||Kenichi Suzumura||Michael Adamthwaite|
|Kyoji Tachibana||Tomokazu Sugita||Andrew Francis|
|Sayaka Towa||Yukana||Willow Johnson|
|Ichirō Sumishiba||Issei Miyazaki||Bill Switzer|
|Meguru||Sayaka Ohara||Chiara Zanni|
|Ensui||Kiri Yoshizawa||Pam Hyatt|
|Rokkaku||Takehito Koyasu||Lee Tockar|
|Kōhei Toki||Kōhei Kiyasu||Richard Ian Cox|
|Saizō Toki||Ryūzaburō Ōtomo||Scott McNeil|
|Agent L||Emi Shinohara||Lisa Ann Beley|
|Agent G||Jun Fukuyama||Ted Cole|
|Mukai||Rica Matsumoto||Michael Coleman|
|Agent S||Takaya Kuroda||Adam Henderson|
|Sally||Akemi Okamura||Nicole Leroux|
|Sue||Miyu Matsuki||Chantal Strand|
- Dragon Drive (manga) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- Dragon Drive at Shueisha (Japanese)
- Dragon Drive at Carddas (Japanese)