Admittedly, Dragon Half is not one of the first anime I had ever seen, that honor goes to either Sailor Moon or Dragon Ball, but it is the first one I had ever purchased for myself and holds a nostalgic piece of my heart even to this day. Dragon Half is both a direct to video production, or more commonly referred to as OVA (original video animation), and a surprisingly long running manga that had seven volumes to its name. Not that many admittedly compared to the more mainstream ones but considering that it ran during the height of said mainstream manga, that’s quite a feat.
The story of Dragon Half follows after the titular heroine herself, a half dragon and half human girl named Mink and her quest to find the legendary potion that can turn her fully human. Unfortunately, the “People Potion” as it is called is in the hands of the most powerful demon in the whole land, a dreaded creature by name of Lord Azetodeth.
As epic as that sounds and looks thanks to the above image, Dragon Half is actually a tongue-in-cheek fantasy comedy that pokes fun at every anime and fantasy RPG cliché known with the most prevalent being in the major characters, including Mink herself.
For you see, Mink wants the potion solely so that she may earn the heart of a legendary pop singer and monster slayer, Dick Saucer. Unfortunately, Dick Saucer is not strictly a monster slayer as he is a dragon slayer due in part to his parents having been slain by an imperial red dragon, one that bore a remarkable resemblance to Mink’s grandfather…
Speaking of Mink’s lineage, contrary to popular assumption, her father is the one who is human whilst her mother is the “monster,” otherwise known as the dragon. What makes her parents’ all the more hilarious/unbelievably odd is that her father, Rouce, was once known as “The Red Lightning” for his uncanny speed that made him appear as a crimson bolt to his foes. Rouce could, and still can, move at such speeds that he can leave a bloodied “R” wound upon his opponents before they even realize he’s moving and, like Dick Saucer, he was an accomplished dragon slayer before meeting Mana, Mink’s mother, and running away with her.
In dragon form no less…
But I digress. Being a dragon half, Mink is distinctly unique even amongst other half humans in the manga. While mostly human in body shape, but Mink also has many draconic traits and abilities. Her traits include a small dragon’s tail, an equally small pair of wings that she can retract into her back but allow her to fly at incredible speeds, and a pair of horns upon her head. Aside from these features, the most distinguishing sign of her heritage is her blazing red hair and eyes, a hue that no full human could possess. Mink is able to breathe also impervious to fire to a limited degree and can breathe a rather impressive stream of it herself.
Yet, Mink’s most impressive ability is her strength that starts off as borderline draconic and eventually grows into being absolutely legendary. When we first meet Mink, she can break through stone golems without even realizing it. Mink’s strength grows in such incredible leaps and bounds that she actually undergoes ecdysis, a form of draconic metamorphosis by way of “shedding” the older skin, twice something that was only said in prophecy and myth amongst dragonkind.
However, there is one other thing about Mink’s character that needs to be said.
No, seriously, like, she had to have been an incredibly bad person in her previous life because she honestly cannot catch a break. She inadvertently makes enemies wherever she goes and, for the longest time, every time she tried to paint herself in a better light to Dick Saucer she ended up making his opinion of her worse than it was previously.
The world that Mink inhabits is a literal stereotyped world of fantasy. I say stereotyped because, one common trope throughout the manga is that whatever Mink and her friends kill, they later cook and eat. This includes creatures that are sentient but are otherwise not human be they half breeds or baring remarkable resemblance to humans i.e. elves or dwarves.
Speaking of elves and dwarves, Mink’s two best friends happen to be an elf mage-in-training Lufa and a dwarf-half named Pia armed with a fairy mouse named Mappy. I mention these three because, in order, Lufa’s parents happen to be named Link and Zelda while Pia’s are Mario and Peach. As to Mappy, I say “armed” because despite being a creature inappropriately named fairy mouse, Mappy possesses the ability to shift between cute and cuddly teddy bear sized mouse to full grown grizzly with the attitude to match at the drop of a hat.
Overall, the manga and the anime both are quite enjoyable. Would I say that they’re the absolute best of their respected media? Hrm… I’d say yes if one were looking for a good laugh at the expense of many a cliché and stereotype but as far as story and character are concerned…
It is a product of its time and there are times where one feels the need to slap one’s face at the characters’ antics and responses to certain situations. Honestly, the second time Mink met Dick Saucer, she was so busy gushing over him that she failed to realize that he was trying to kill her for a solid five minutes before he called her out on being a dragon in disguise and not a half human.
Finally, I’ll wrap up this review with one final note. As many can attest, most anime themes, both opening and ending, have little to do with the actual anime itself. This has change in more recent years with some being so freaking good that they can be purchased on iTunes and the like but Dragon Half is perhaps the most infamous of them all as the ending theme is sung, via Mink herself, about an omelet sung to the music of Beethoven’s Symphony No.7, 4th Movement.
Don’t believe me, see for yourself…