Where can I get my own Dragon Maid? Now accepting applicants.
What’s the Story?
When Kobayashi opened her door the last thing she expected was to find a dragon waiting for her, let alone a dragon that wants to be her maid! Turns out one night when Kobayashi got drunk after work she happened across said dragon, and after pulling a sword out of her, said she could come and stay with her. Now Kobayashi’s rather solitary and work-orientated life has been turned upside down, having to explain human behaviour to Tohru, while also trying to stop her using her fantastic magical powers to blow stuff up. Then more dragons start turning up…
This show feels like something special, it’s not the most thought-provoking work or the most unique, heck it’s probably not the funniest, but each episode feels like a little ball of sunshine. By the time ending starts to play I’m grinning from ear to ear, and humming along a little bit, every single time. This could so easily have just been another gag anime, a series of fish out of water jokes with some bits of fanservice and cuteness here and about, but this show is more than that. This show has a heart, a big beating heart, it cares about its characters and that makes you care about them so that you’re more inclined to laugh along with them, and even cry when the times comes.
One of this show’s major strength is that it knows how to blend comedy and genuine drama that makes me want to track down the writer and make him my sensei. The show can flip from Tohru overreacting to a typical human problem with way too much too force, and firepower (seriously, never challenge a dragon to a volleyball match) straight to Tohru contemplating just how lonely she was before she met Kobayashi and wondering just how long this will last. It all feels natural too, there’s no tonal whiplash, which was honestly a surprise to me. Though this doesn’t have an over-arcing plot, it is pretty much just a slice of life, watching Kobayashi and the dragons cope with the rigors of day-to-day life, but because the characters have believable emotions, it makes them so easy to invest in. I want to see Tohru happy, content to have a found a place where she belongs, working for the woman she loves. I want to Kobayashi come out of her shell and mature into a person who isn’t always alone outside of a drinking buddy from work. I want them to be a family because Kobayashi and Tohru are good for one another.
There are other dragons in this series and each of them all bring their own unique comedy and heart to the show. Kanna is the winner of cuteness personified, seriously her child-like antics are so sugary sweet you’re likely to go into diabetic shock if you watch her too much. She also has a school friend who is so in love with her that the slightest touch or thought can set her off (I’m seriously worried about the kid, she should just open up, she keeps repressing like this and she’s likely to explode).
There’s Fafnir who’s rather gloomy and into curses and playing online games all night long (which has got to be more entertaining than just sitting in a cave on a bed of gold). At first he’s rather in the ‘kill all humans!’ camp, but he just takes a while to warm up and in the end he finds a good human. That just leaves Lucoa who is… well she’s… she’s a… a very well developed person (and now I’m motioning with my hands and that’s not really helping). She’s mostly there for fanservice and jokes about her inappropriate choice in clothes at times, but she’s also the wise motherly type of the group. I just feel sorry for the kid she’s living with, not only is he going to grow up with some misconceptions about the proper proportions of the human body, but he’s going to be mobbed by every boy at school when they all hit puberty.
Oh wait I’m forgetting one of the dragons, Elma. Yeah, she doesn’t really do much, she doesn’t have a human to tag along with and the few bits of her character seem to be that she’s indecisive and has a big appetite. She does at least give use another look at the wider world of the dragon’s, showing us that the dragons are actually split into factions, namely Order and Chaos. There are a few titbits of information sprinkled throughout the series about the dragon’s own world and I really wish we got to have a bit more of a look. We know the humans are mostly in a medieval society, the dragons are fighting amongst themselves, or occasionally against the Gods and there’s a none intervention policy for our Earth, apparently (well I suppose they can always give us a season two to answer this stuff).
Lastly, one of the other strengths of this series, you know, aside from the characters, the comedy, the heart and the perfect blend of all of the above, is the animation. This anime is way better looking than it has any right to be. Every frame is just gorgeous with eye-popping colour and during battles it’s so quick and fluid. It perfectly captures the mood and emotion of every scene, whether that’s the gentle humour or heart-tugging feels. The action scenes are out of this world. When some of the dragons throw down or go soaring through the sky, you can feel the power of these beasts (they’d give Goku a run for his money).
In the end Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is a sweet, charming and heartfelt little show that is beautiful in more ways than one. The character’s emotions all feel genuine which brings a real warmth and occasional sadness to the series that’s a nice complement to the series’ gentle humour. This show will have you laughing and crying and begging for more, which, really, is all we can really ask for from any series.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.