After this past year’s horrific fire at Kyoto Animation, I found myself looking at all the animated series that Kyoto Animation had done in the past, and found that I had seen so very few of them, and that they were also all on my to-watch list well before the fire. The body of work of the studio was at a level that I’d compare to GAINAX at their prime. So, having read the first volume of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid a couple jobs ago, while I was working in Downtown Portland, I decided to bump that show up on the list. Also, as a part of the weekly anime viewing nights I’d started with my parents after I got my Dad into anime, I decided to add that show to the rotation, sight unseen. The results were favorable, with an asterisk.
First off, the very basics of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid – Miss Kobayashi is a programmer at a Japanese corporation. She works hard, and in accordance with the requirements of Japanese corporate culture, she ends up drinking hard. One evening, after some heavy post-work drinking, Kobayashi ends up wandering through the woods and stumbles into a dragon, Tohru, who she ends up helping. Kobayashi asks the dragon to come be her maid, and the dragon accepts.
The show just basically goes on off of that concept, from a variety of vectors, particularly after a couple more of Tohru’s dragon friends show up – Kanna, who is a child dragon and whose human form is as a grade schooler, and Fafnir, who takes the form of a butler and moves in with one of Kobayashi’s male co-workers and one of the few recurring Humans in the cast.
In short, a lot of episodes effectively run into “Tohru, Kanna, Fafnir, or one of the couple other dragons who come to this world interact with a mundane human thing and try to parse it with Dragon Logic before finally figuring out the Human Logic way of handling it.” On top of that, each of those characters end up approaching their situations through their own weirdness. For example, Fafnir ends up rooming with a hardcore Otaku, and starts picking up on Otaku culture.
This all comes to a head at the start of the last third of the series, with the show’s draconic cast effectively half-volunteering, half being drafted into doing a Christmas play version of “The Little Match Girl” at a retirement home which I cannot do justice to with words alone.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is also incredibly well animated. The more mundane elements are generally fairly simple, but they still include a lot of really nice little touches that flesh things out further, like in the later part of the series where we see Kobayashi peeling a Mandarin orange. Things go even more into high gear, with an extra side of sakuga when we get into the dragons doing anything really “draconic”, like when we see what it looks like when Dragons play Dodgeball – with a level of animation that would fit in brilliantly with something like Nichijou (which is also from the same studio).
That said, being that I watched the show with my parents, there were bits that are iffy that they called out – especially related to the character of Lucoa. While more than a few jokes are made about Tohru’s bust size (she describes her size as “D for Dragon” when it’s probably a little larger) – Lucoa’s size is positively absurd. That in and of itself is okay – but she becomes a more permanent character after she’s re-summoned to this world by a young kid from Kanna’s school. He’s from a different class from Kanna, but is about the same age, and is from a family of sorcerers. And his name is Shouta. Like “Shotacon.”
And if that wasn’t bad enough, well, Lucoa likes to wear skimpy cleavage-revealing outfits around the character and actively hits on him, which makes him very uncomfortable.
Consequently, while my family generally really enjoyed the show, by the end of the series my mother, at least, was done with Lucoa, even if she enjoyed the rest of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, both the story and the cast.
In all, I can give Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Made a recommendation, but one only with the asterisk of – expect a lot of boob jokes, some of which get kind of gross. However, if that’s not a problem for you, you should have a lot of fun.