Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
Directed By: Yasuhiro Takemoto
Written By: Yuka Yamada
No. of Seasons: 1 (Currently)
No. of Episodes: 13 (Currently)
Production Company: Kyoto Animation
Licensed By: Crunchyroll
Original Release: January 11 2017
Based on the manga series of the same name, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is yet another addition to the steadily rising trend of anime featuring not-quite-human characters, mainly girls, in an otherwise normal, that is to say non-fantastical, setting. However, contrary to those anime, most of which fall under either the harem or slice of life sub-genre, Dragon Maid is primarily a romantic-comedy series with most of both genres provided by our titular dragon maid, Tohru, though not quite in the way that you might think.
You see, one morning Miss Kobayashi, or simply Kobayashi as her first name has yet to be revealed, was getting ready for her office job and is greeted at the door by Tohru in her full dragon form before transforming into a demi-human maid. As it turns out, Kobayashi, in the midst of a drunken excursion into the mountains, not only discovered the newly arrived Tohru but had saved her from a holy sword stuck in Tohru’s back. Finding out that Tohru has no place to stay, the drunk Kobayashi invites Tohru to live at her apartment as her maid.
Contrary to how most anyone else would react, though I for one would like do several back flips of joy at having, however inadvertently, saved/befriended a dragon, Kobayashi does not immediately welcome Tohru into her home. By a mix of guilt and Tohru’s draconic abilities though more the former than the latter, Kobayashi accepts Tohru into her home.
Thus, shenanigans ensue.
See, while Tohru is understandably grateful to Kobayashi, she is also head over tail in love with her as well and has absolutely no trouble proclaiming as such at every available opportunity. What makes this anime distinct from others of its kind, at least in genre, is the fact that Kobayashi is the “straight man” insomuch that she acts like a normal person would in the face of Tohru’s affections. She does not become immediately flustered or even stand-offish. Rather, she comes off as having accepted Tohru’s love for her and while she never says so outright, there is some affection growing steadily in her heart as the episodes go by.
Of course, that’s just on the romantic side of things. Comedy however, oh man, where do I begin? I suppose the one thing that stands out the most glaringly. Tohru is a dragon. Yes, yes, I know, rather obvious but what isn’t so obvious, and oftentimes can be buried by comedic antics, is the fact that there is a huge cultural difference between her and Kobayashi.
Case in point, one of the common running gags in the show is Tohru constantly attempting to get Kobayashi to eat her tail, which regenerates almost instantly and appears to be a significant token of affection between Tohru’s particular breed of dragon.
Speaking of, Tohru is not the only dragon to appear in the series though there appear to be several laws that dragons, or at least those of Tohru’s “Chaos Faction” bar their presence. The first to arrive in the human world is Kanna Kamui who initially comes off as having searched for Tohru to bring her back home when in truth…
She was kicked out of their home world for her behavior by her parents and cannot get back on her own due, initially, to the lack of magical power and know-how. As it turns out, Kanna can actually draw more magical power by way of electricity. Kanna is something of a breakout star in the anime, popular among fans for being both ridiculously cute and cutely ridiculous.
Like Tohru, she too has something of a cultural clash insomuch that while Kanna is young by dragon standards, so much so that her human form resembles that of a young child fit for third grade, she is still much older than she appears and can be surprisingly devious when she wants to be. That doesn’t quite stop her from asking Tohru to set up a series of neon lights right outside the apartment door, and later an actual working chimney, to ensure that Santa Claus knows this is the residence of the “good girl Kanna-chan.”
Not going to lie, I nearly fell out my chair when I saw that from laughing so hard.
Of course, also like Tohru, there’s something of a cultural clash with Kanna. For example, wanting to go outside and play with Tohru, the two dragged Kobayashi along to a landscape far from any humans and proceeded to do just that. Play as dragons do by way of launching thunderbolts and fireballs that tore up most of the landscape before Kobayashi put her foot down and demanded the two play like a human would. Thus began the common game of “human” wherein the two over-exaggerate many of Kobayashi’s common complaints from work, namely her sore lower back.
Following on Kanna’s coattails by way of invitation from Tohru, and wanting to check up on her, are a pair of dragons of a more recognized renown. Fafnir and Quetzalcoatl, or Lucoa as she prefers. Like Tohru and Kanna, the two legendary dragons inadvertently end up drawn to the human world for two entirely different reasons.
For Lucoa, she was intending to go back home when she happened to feel a strong summoning spell taking place nearby, one that would unintentionally draw a very powerful, and nigh uncontrollable, demon if left alone so she answered the call before said eldritch abomination could. Unfortunately, the summoner, a young boy ironically named Shouta, does not believe that Lucoa is anything but a succubus attempting to tempt him into damnation.
Given that the supposed divine dragon’s every attempt to remedy this leads to further misunderstandings (and plenty of fanservice), I can see the young lad’s point though that doesn’t quite stop him from forcing her to leave his house. Her common running gag is that she is commonly “arrested” for her choice of attire, and dragged away in order to change into something more appropriate.
… I never thought I’d see the day when an anime outright pokes fun at fanservice but there you have it.
What makes it really funny to behold though is the fact that Lucoa literally doesn’t realize what she’s doing and has, more often than not, been totally oblivious to the fact that her lack of personal space when dealing with Shouta, namely getting him up close and personal with her, ahem, assets, is what sets the poor boy running for the hills whilst proclaiming her a bad, bad demon.
As for Fafnir, oh now his is an interesting story. Much like the legends portray him, Fafnir is cold and often aloof and completely disinterested in the world around him and was as such until his gaze happened to be drawn that drew his interest. Video games. Yep, no joke, whilst attending a get-together at Kobayashi’s apartment, Fafnir was drawn in by a game that Kobayashi’s co-worker/friend/fellow maid/butler enthusiast Makoto Takiya was playing.
Since then, Fafnir has taken residence with Makoto and has become something of a gaming obsessed otaku, spending many long hours of the night playing MMORPGs and other games when not taking minor “breaks.” A common running gag with him is how quickly he switches between an outright dangerous dragon to an extremely nerdy otaku, oftentimes in the same breath.
Heck, one afternoon whilst playing a game at Kobayashi’s apartment, Kanna returned home with her friend and proclaimed that the two were now involved in a duel. Kobayashi’s reaction was confusion, Tohru’s a proud proclamation of assistance, whilst Fafnir stated he’d kill their opponents outright all by himself. Death threat aside, one must remember that Kanna is a child in dragon years so Fafnir’s reaction, while still over the top, is understandably justified considering any such duel that took place in their world would result in either extreme bodily harm or death.
Last, but not least, is my own favorite dragon Elma who… Y’know what? I’ll save her for a review all on her own. Believe me, I’ve got a lot to gush–SAY! I’ve got a lot to say about this one.
Similarly to most other slice of life anime, each episode has a “theme” going for it such as Kanna getting ready for her first day of school, a day spent at the beach, and even a school sports festival. What is particularly funny, and hilariously meta, is that like most anime, each episode of Dragon Maid has two titles with the secondary one oftentimes being a crack at what the episode is about. For example using the same episodes I mentioned…
Episode 04: Kanna Goes to School! (Not That She Needs To), Episode 07: Summer’s Staples! (The Fanservice Episode, Frankly), and Episode 09: Sports Festival! (There’s No Twist or Anything).
While there is something of a progressing story in the anime, there isn’t much in the way of an actual plot as most slice of life anime are wont to do. That’s not to say that there isn’t a steady progression but rather that there isn’t some great force of evil to overcome or some plot-twist waiting to be unveiled. This is an anime that features a dragon being a maid to a woman that saved her life and whom she has fallen head over tail for. That’s really all there is to it.