I’m never making a JoJo reference again.
I’ve watched a lot of odd anime in my time. And I do mean a lot. Most of which have light novel titles. The other major chunk of which are Studio Trigger series. These are including, but not limited to:
- Kill La Kill
- Darling in the Franxx
- No Game, No Life
- Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
- Citrus (no, I’m not proud of it)
- W’z (my eyes will never be able to recover)
- Handshakers (never before had a show pushed me that close to suicide)
- Parasyte- the maxim-
- The Devil is a Part Timer
And so on. You get the point. I’ve seen some weird shit. But I don’t think that I’ve ever quite seen a show so bizarre as Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.
Where the hell do I even start? This is honestly one of the most fun, wholesome and relaxing shows I’ve seen in a long time. But I swear to god, every two minutes had a scene that made me yell “What the actual fuck?!” Not in a bad way, don’t get me wrong. I never said that because it was bad.
I was genuinely confused. To an extreme degree. Smiling and laughing? Yes. But confused.
Plot: Please Let Me Serve You!
Just writing that sentence made me feel… dirty. So I’m never going to write something like that again. Probably.
The plot is simple, yet odd. Kobayashi is an office worker with a bit of a drinking problem (and a fetish for maids, I guess), who stumbles upon… a dragon in the woods, who has been stabbed by a sacred sword. In a drunken fit, she pulls the sword out, gets the beast drunk and… tells her to come work for her as a maid, since the mighty beast doesn’t have a place to stay. So the dragon, Tohru, transforms into her human form, dresses as a maid, and helps Kobayashi around her home.
But Kobayashi’s life is only going to get more strange. Tohru’s dragon friends (as well as a few enemies) appear one by one and join Kobayashi’s life, including the adorable dragon kindergartner Kana. Together, the three share odd slice-of-life adventures. All while Tohru desperately tries to woe Kobayashi.
Quite unsuccessfully, I might add. But it’s cute nonetheless.
It’s hard to really break down the plot in this show, since… it doesn’t really have one. Each episode has it’s own self contained stories, each featuring the different characters in the cast having their own adventures. For example, Kana stories are focused on her adventures in school (my personal favorites, with the only exception being the one time she… climbs atop her classmate/best friend and tries to bang her maybe?), Fafnir stories are focused on his otaku habits, Tohru stories are focused on her different escapades in trying to please Kobayashi, etc.
There are stories with continuity that carry across the other stories, don’t get me wrong. Especially near the end of the season. But there is very little character development, as the show is more focused on gags and comedy. The arcs that are present are rushed, such as Kobayashi growing to accept Tohru, destructive tendencies and all, after… roughly an episode and a half.
Still, it’s clear that the character development isn’t the central focus. This show is fixated on one thing: making you laugh and feel good. And it does a splendid job! Each episode is a hilarious and heartwarming as hell. This is a feel good show through and through.
Though some continuity and genuine character development would give the show a tighter, more connected feel. If each action, joke or not, had consequences on the relationship between the characters and the world around them, it would only improve the comedy. Jokes without consequence are funny and all. But you know what’s funnier? Jokes that have a lasting effect.
Because guess what? People would notice and remember if a group of dragons destroyed a park in a game of dodge ball! Bring that back! Some character is paranoid and afraid of Tohru and her friends, and they spend the whole episode tailing Tohru, for fear that she’s going to destroy something. They’re shocked and paranoid at the sight of her day to day actions, seeing her mundane actions as the start up for possible destruction.
See? A single joke in one episode can be used as the basis of an entire story later down the line! That story is full of jokes of it’s own, which can later spawn more episodes based on those! One event leads to the next, and those lead to the ones that come after. Y’know. Like how a story works.
Still, a story wouldn’t work without characters. Luckily, Kobayashi’s world is filled with colorful, interesting and fun characters all throughout! Each one has their own different running gag, from Fafnir’s introversion to Tohru’s nigh stalker-like infatuation with Kobayashi. While it does sound like these gags would get old quick, they never get old! They play well with the characters, their personalities, and they’re own individual goals.
They’re not the most compelling characters in the history of anime. But they do the job, and they do it quite well. For the story they’re in, they’re perfect. I wouldn’t give up any of these characters for anything.
Visuals: Simplicity is Bliss
Oh my god I love how this show looks! The animation, the music, the direction, everything is just so god damn cute! Just looking at it makes me smile!
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid employs an incredibly simple, line-light style. Each character design is unique, but simple. They light use of lines makes it much easier to animate, allowing for far greater shots than would be possible before. Whether it be in a slice of life shot or when the action kicks up (oh yeah, there are light action elements in this show), each and every shot is drawn and animated with incredible care and kinetic energy.
Simply put: less is more.
Each and every character has a unique design that stands out completely on their own. You can take one look at any character and immediately know who they are, what their deal is, and what they do. When combined with the simple style the show employs, they simply pop and come to life on the screen!
A few paragraphs, I mentioned the show’s action. Well, I feel now is the right time to address it. While there are no full-blown fight scenes, as the action typically only lasts a minute or two at a time, the few that there are are… oddly incredible! The use of dynamic camera angles, kinetic and energetic animation and simple but explosive choreography make each battle extremely exciting. Which, in an odd way, is kind of hilarious, considering how short and kind of pointless they are.
You don’t come to this show for action. But when it gives it to you, it’s oddly incredible. Even if they range from one minute to a single shot.
The music is… okay. None of it is especially memorable. It neither hurts or especially improves the scenes where they’re placed. The only tracks I can even remember are the OP and ED. They are a ton of fun to listen to and, much like pretty much everything in this show, they are bat shit fucking crazy!
Though that may be because of the animation.
Conclusion: Who Needs Drugs When You’ve Got This Show?
Anime is well known for being bat shit crazy. Hell, Japan as a country is known for being totally insane! That’s the primary reason why I love them so damn much! But even by their standards, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is a cut above the rest.
Not a small cut, either. It’s like, half the damn pizza. Actually, scrap that. It’s the entire god damn pie! Maybe even the whole fucking restaurant!
That may come across as a bad thing, from the way I’ve been writing this. But I assure you, all of this is a good thing! It helps the show stand out even further than it already did. And I assure you, with the incredible animation, wonderful comedy and lovable characters, the show escalates into one of the greatest, cutest and most wholesome shows I’ve ever seen!
Watch this show! For the love of god, watch this show! It is so good, so cute, and every single episode just makes you feel good! And with season two currently in production, now would be a good time to see what all the hype is about!
Then you too can appreciate adorable dragons doing adorable dragon things.