This show has settled a long debate about Kyoto Animation in regards to how they handle yuri in their shows. Contrary to popular recent disbelief, KyoAni is not anti-yuri. In fact, this anime showed us once and for all that if the adapted series is 100% yuri to begin with then KyoAni does not add or tease yuri in their anime adaptations. They still like to torture the Yuri Nation but do not show disdain toward the community. Question now is whether the anime as a whole was good or not. Let us find out as we take a look at Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.
Genres: Comedy, Slice of Life, Fantasy, Yuri
Themes: Dragon, Maid, Office Lady
Number of Episodes: 13 + several specials and 1 OVA
Plot Summary: Miss Kobayashi is your average office worker who lives a boring life, alone in her small apartment–until she saves the life of a female dragon in distress. The dragon, named Tohru, has the ability to magically transform into an adorable human girl (albeit with horns and a long tail), who will do anything to pay off her debt of gratitude, whether Miss Kobayashi likes it or not.
Before we begin the review there is a little thing we need to briefly bring up regarding a controversy in the Funimation English dub. Contrary to the scripts the voice actors were given in episode 1, Miss Kobayashi is not someone who is not sexually attracted to women. In the manga and Japanese dub she was more surprised by Tohru/Tooru’s sudden confession and made a remark that is akin to the staple yuri manga trope known as “but we’re both girls”. In short, no, Tohru is not forcing a straight woman to reciprocate her romantic feelings. She is flirting with a single office lady.
Now on to the review. This show can be best described as a hilarious, charming, relaxing and especially heartwarming comedy that shares a few similarities to the third season of Yuru Yuri. It is about the daily lives of Miss Kobayashi, the dragon maid Tohru and a bunch of other dragons disguised as people along with their respective human friends/roommates. The cool part of the dragons is that each one is based off either commonly known Western depictions of dragons in fantasy media or mythical dragons. In fact, each dragon’s personality is partially inspired by their source of origin. Check out King Kai’s post here for more details or go look up more information on the dragons whereever available. They even come from another world that combines both religion and mythology based on the few times their world is mention because the main story is more about the human race than the fantastic so it makes sense to not harp on the other world too much.
To be more specific on what the show’s themes are about than simply saying the human race, it is a study of both the intrapersonal and interpersonal aspects of society looking at the good and bad traits of humans, more so the good We know humanity is often depicted in a negative light but we are not all bad and not everything about us is deplorable. Besides looking at humanity, the economy and even “otakudom” there is also the intrapersonal study of everyone. Both the dragons and humans’ lives were changed in very interesting ways ever since the two began cohabiting with one another. Many interesting emotional topics such as belonging, lifespans, the self, love and many more are brought up throughout the show’s heartwarming scenes.
I have talked about the interesting, educational and heartwarming but I cannot leave out the comedy. Like many anime comedies the effectiveness of the humor depend on how much the viewer enjoys…shall we say, Japanese humor. While I can easily say the show’s humor made me laugh 95% of the time (Fans of the show can guess what the excluded 5% refers to) it may not make other viewers laugh as much. Still I can confidently say the comedy is for the most part as good as the emotional and heartwarming moments, meaning excellent.
When it comes to the show’s animation quality it should be no surprise that it is top notch since it comes from KyoAni, whose excellence in animation is undeniable. The soundtrack is very relaxing with some nice tunes to listen while chilling out. The OP and ED are good too. Not my favorites in the Spring 2017 season but still enjoyable to listen to.
The characters are all likable with only one duo’s dynamic being give or take. First of all let us talk our leading ladies Tohru/Tooru and Miss Kobayashi. Miss Kobayashi is a kindhearted person at heart who is not very good at expressing herself deepest feelings in order to save face. She is not mean by any means, just has a hard time being honest with herself, even her hidden sex appeal. Next up is Tohru who might as well be a lesbian’s dream spouse. Of course she has “plot emotions” hidden behind her radiant smile but other than that she is a lovable, badass and sexy maid dragon.
Third on the character introductions is arguably the breakout star for many, Kanna. She is a walking nuclear bomb of cuteness who most of the time has a poker face but her angelic purity is so strong she could cut off the electricity to 500 states all by herself without shooting a single electric spark. EVERYTHING this young dragon does is adorable and precious. Her soul mate is also someone viewers should pay close attention to.
Then there are the other three dragons along with their respective roommates, two of them anyway as one of them seemingly lives by itself. Most of the dragons and humans have excellent chemistry together…except one duo in particular, Lucoa and her roommate. Perhaps it is due to how their relationship is presented but the big-meaty hottie and the small shrimp’s dynamic can be best described as…catering to a specific target audience. I will admit that they do have a few moments, mainly when not focusing on their relationship. Also one of the dragons takes a long time before finally debuting. The side characters are all likable as well.
Speaking of relationships I am happy to say that there is almost nothing to hide when it comes to yuri. All I asked from KyoAni when it was announced that they would be producing this anime was to not subdue the sexual desires of any girl or woman on the show. KyoAni did not tone down the yuri at all and thanks to that we got two memorable blossoming lesbian couples (and even one for our neighbors).
Having praised the show a lot that I suppose I should mention some nitpicks and other stuff that may upset certain viewers. The aforementioned iffy duo (big meaty hottie Lucoa and little shrimp)’s chemistry I hinted being hit and miss. Also Lucoa not getting to shine very much and mostly showing off her wonderful assets will disappoint viewers who wanted to learn more about her besides the obvious fact that she is hot (unless the viewer is not into big meaty hotties). There is also the dragon I mentioned who shows up really late in the show and barely gets the time to shine. Perhaps the “I want to see more of that character” feeling will pop up for some viewers. Then there is Kanna and her soul mate’s interactions. While they are adorable and romantic there is the running gag with Kanna’s girlfriend, an intentional “meme-face”. Also there is one scene that might be too much for people who are not into ” intense youngling love”…shall we say. It is only one segment but it is a steamy one.
Overall Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is easily one of the best anime of 2017 without question. The comedy for the most part, the emotional and heartwarming moments are all excellent, the animation is vintage KyoAni excellence, the soundtrack is chillaxing. the cast are all likable and the yuri is delightfully fluffy. Like all shows in existence it is not perfect but its pros far outweigh its cons in my opinion. Most yuri fans will find something to enjoy in this show and like Yuru Yuri even some non-judgmental viewers who are not part of the Yuri Nation can find a lot to enjoy in this show.