Reading Between Reviews: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

Don’t you wish, sometimes, that you didn’t have to worry about your daily chores?

Wouldn’t a maid be good to have sometimes?  Someone who could just take care of everything you don’t want to deal with?  Or, even better, wouldn’t it be great to have a Maid that’s also a DRAGON?  Then they could use magic to clean things up, they could give you rides to work, it’d be GREAT!

…Right?

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid was…definitely an anime.  It was a strange one, and I mean, with a concept like that, how could it not be?  Airing earlier this year, from January 2017-April 2017, I figured I was a bit late on the ball, and decided to watch the series.

All things considered, I’m glad I did.


1. Story: (8.3/10) – Great

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The world we live in now is a boring, simple one.  For the most part, humans live their daily lives in a routine, boring manner, going to work, eating, socializing, and going to sleep.  Paying off their debts, making a living, and enjoying miscellaneous events in their free time.  But alongside our own world, lies a mystical, fantastical realm, of mythical beasts and legendary creatures that could wipe humanity out with a single breath, if they desired.

Among these creatures are dragons.  With immense physical strength and size, the ability to perform potent, powerful magical spells, with pride that is just as powerful, the dragons should have no need to interact with us weakling humans.  They could easily trample us into dirt, pay us back for the pain they suffered at the hands of our ancestors-

Wait, that’s not the story of this anime?  My bad, let’s try this again.

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Our story’s a lot cuter than that.

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is all about one dragon, Tohru, who meets a stoic, yet kind human.  This human, named Kobayashi, unknowingly met Tohru in the woods after a particularly heavy night of drinking, even offering her a place to live!  Having no other place to go, Tohru takes Kobayashi up on the offer, determined to repay her kindness by becoming her personal maid!

And so, this is where our story begins: with an immeasurably powerful dragon who knows nothing about the human world, posing as a cute girl, serving as a maid for an average human with a programming job.  What could go wrong?

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Dragon on a rooftop with a rainbow.  Seems like a normal day.

The story of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, simply put, follows Tohru and Kobayashi, as they learn more about each other, and how to function with the new things they bring into each other’s lives.  From Kobayashi having to learn about magic, mythical creatures, and living with another person, to Tohru learning about the basics of human society, they just have to walk through life together, and see where it takes them.

It’s a rather simple plot, but at the same time, it is also very absurd.  There is a natural disconnect that exists, between the world of dragons that is so often acknowledged, and the world of humans, which is simple by comparison, and it is in this disconnect, where the plot is moved forward.  After all, Tohru’s a dragon with mystical power, so why would she need to know about…”doing laundry?”  “Making friends?”  “Being a maid?”

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The premise of the story in a nutshell, really.

This anime chooses to focus on these daily struggles, on learning more about the intricacies of human life.  Because of this, it becomes slower-paced anime that is adept at expressing the emotions of the day-to-day, and for that, it is an excellent story.

From a structural standpoint, the story does its job, and remains very simple, allowing for the characters and artistic style to shine.  And luckily for those of us watching, both the characters and the style of the anime are EXCELLENT.


2. Characters: (9.0/10) – Exceptional

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Good enough Tohru, don’t you worry.

The characters of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid are a HUGE part of how the series draws you in.  And beyond just the characters, it is the relationships between them all that make the anime very fun to watch.

Tohru and Kobayashi in particular have a dynamic that make the anime entertaining every step of the way.  Kobayashi’s straight-edge, yet caring personality acts as a grounding point for the audience in general, so that we can then appreciate the antics of Tohru as she tries to learn about the human world.  Tohru, for her part, is a wonderfully entertaining character, mixing boldness, power, and aggression, with child-like innocence and a desire to learn.

Oh, I know what's going on here!
Yes Tohru.  It is totally that tsundere thing.

However, this isn’t discounting any of the other characters.  From the tiny, young, freaking ADORABLE dragon-girl, Kanna, to the busty ex-goddess Lucoa and the black-haired, stoic Fafnir, every character is jam-packed with personality.  Their designs work extremely well, despite being exaggerated to the point of absurdity.  You know based on design alone what each kind of character each person is meant to be, but because of the casual craziness of the series’ story, they all fit very, very well.

These characters and their interactions are simple, but their conversations are extremely well-written.  They really get across the idea that, despite their different backgrounds, powers, and personalities, they’re just living their daily lives, enjoying building deeper relationships with each other.

The casual conversation that takes place throughout the show does wonders for their individual character growths, as they learn that their personalities don’t have to change, but rather, they could learn to live with other people, and simply enjoying having them in each others’ lives.

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An accurate statement–and one that really does reflect the slow growth throughout the series.

The character development in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is not defined by epic speeches, past demons and drama.  Rather, it consists of the small moments, the lessons learned naturally, when learning to accept other people into your life.  It is a unique form of character development that I don’t remember seeing in quite a while, and it is something I appreciate very much.


3. Art/Style: (9.5/10) – Exceptional

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Chillin.

Here is where the anime shines, in almost every way possible.

Up to this point, I’ve been saying that the anime was rather slow, but pulled it off thanks to its characters, and its pure sense of technical style.  And yes, the characters are great, colorful, and full of life.  But a huge part of WHY these characters were so great, was because of the art, music, and undeniable sense of quality that the anime displayed.

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It’s a basic scene, sure…but doesn’t it look nice?

Every moment–regardless of whether it was an over-the-top showdown between dragons, a mid-afternoon nap, or going to buy groceries at the local market, was something special.  The music can be calm and bubbly in one moment, to upbeat and lively in the next, or even epic and powerful, all to fit whatever nonsensical event is going on at the time.

This command over the tone of each episode made the series a joy to watch, as it meant no moment was ever boring.  Casual moments felt special, while more extreme moments, characterized by the supernatural powers that Tohru brings to the table, were also executed extremely well.  The same atmosphere is prevalent throughout the anime: a feeling of day-to-day excitement, a feeling that just around the corner, might be something extraordinary.

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Tohru’s a bit over the top sometimes–but it’s great to watch.

Overall, the technical quality of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is exceptional.  It keeps things very simple, but lets the audience know very frequently, that if it wants to, it can go from 1-100 real quick.  And throughout it all–from massively destructive dragon fights, to simply sleeping together in a bed, a consistently warm, fun attitude is maintained.

Really, the tone of the show is some of the best I’ve seen in a long time, and that really helped Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid stand out from the rest of the pack.


4. Personal Enjoyment: (9.3/10) – Exceptional

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Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid was probably the most well-done feel-good anime I’ve watched yet.

Over the past few weeks, life’s been a bit tough–just personally speaking.  Jobs, academics, family and more have been catching up with me, and it’s been more than a bit stressful.  But this show was something I could look forward to watching whenever I had the chance, and having finished it, I can say that it was exactly what I needed.

It’s rare to find series that so proficiently make day-to-day experiences special.  Some make them dramatic and emotional, like the family troubles displayed in Clannad, while others portray life as a romantic journey, such as the journey for love in Toradora.  But in the case of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, I enjoyed it for a slightly different, more simplistic reason.

Simply put, this anime made everyday life feel like an adventure, and man, it was great.


Final Score: (9.025/10) – Exceptional

Recommended If;

  • You’re looking for a good time, plain and simple.
  • You can appreciate some cutesy, sexual, stereotypical Japanese-anime-style humor.
  • You need to just relax sometime.

 

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