Anime of the Week: Ms. Kobayashi's Dragon Maid

©Kyoto Animation

©Kyoto Animation

As a person living with constant daily troubles like depression, politics, and school, anyone would want to just shut off their brain for an anime season and watch a stupid anime with stupid anime tropes like a large-breasted blonde dragon maid and have fun. The anime I chose for that purpose during the Winter 2017 anime season was Ms Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, a show that I would find to be my personal favorite show of the season. I expected stupid laughs, but ended with my heart touched. It makes me laugh over Tohru, the dragon maid, trying to feed Kobayashi-san her tail, but it also deals with the difficulty of trying to interact with other human beings and feeling out of place in this world.

Plot. The plot of this show is, at first glance, anime schlock. Waking up with a severe hangover, Ms. Kobayashi opens the door to her apartment to find a Tolkien-esque dragon named Tohru wanting to live with her, and be her dragon…maid. Turning back time to the night before, after a long day at work, a drunk Ms. Kobayashi rode the subway into the woods, befriended, saved, and perhaps wooed this dragon into becoming her maid. This fantasy slice-of-life rom-com revolves around Tohru and Kobayashi-san, living together as businesswoman and maid, almost like a married couple. They adopt(?) a child dragon named Kanna, meeting other peculiar dragons and people, and have all sorts of fun antics.

Characters. What makes this story so important is the characters. From the large-breasted MILF, Lucoa, to the shut-in butler Fafnir, every character in this show has loveable quirks that give you an embarrassing smile when watching. The adorable gothic-tribal dragon Kanna is a stand-out for being an internet icon with her cute antics. At the same time, no matter funny characters are, a show can still end up blander than a piece of bread. What really makes these characters for me is their depth. To give an example, I would like to talk about the two main characters, Tohru and Kobayashi-san. They are both important as individuals and as a semi-couple. Tohru is ditzy and cute, but she also has quieter moments, like when she doesn’t understand certain human interactions, or when she eventually tries to understand them. Kobayashi-san has that same trouble with people overall, having to make a considerable effort to get to know Tohru on a personal level. Their relationship, like most yuri couples, is mostly one-sided, but other relationships exist because of the genre trapping, never going over the burden because of ratings or like. This relationship, on the other hand, exists because of Kobayashi’s personality. Kobayashi just isn’t that type of person. She's more subtle, calm, and almost deadpan. There’s a reason for trouble. Add in Kanna, Takiya and everyone else and it’s just great, deep pool of character.

Art/Direction. I initially interacted with this show way before the anime announcement with Coolkyoushinja’s initial manga. To be perfectly honest, I hated it. It was boring, subpar, and had the worst crime of all: being generic. I don’t dislike it nearly as much after reread, but at the time, it was the worst. I threw it into my mental trash bin and felt unimpressed when hearing of the anime announcement. Thankfully, all of that got overturned by Kyoto Animation. Of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Lucky Star fame, Kyoto Animation usually does in-house projects, but extended their reach by doing this show. They did stellar work, inserting breathtaking sakuga moments that can give any viewer pause. At the same time, they use the genre of comedy to full its, breaking harsh, tense and emotional scenes with snappy gif-able comedy scenes. By now, Kobayashi is plenty worthy of having meme status due to the comedy, which is heightened by the animation and directing.

©Kyoto Animation

©Kyoto Animation

Rating. Overall, I just loved this show. My only nitpick is that it took more than eight episodes to introduce the final dragon waifu, Elma, a character heavily advertised in the opening and ending. At the same time, that wasn’t too much to worry about, with how much I was enjoying Tohru and the other characters, their troubles, and their antics. This show has the laughs, beautiful animation, heartfelt moments, great characters, everything! If you love slice-of-life, fantasy, yuri, and monster girls, Ms. Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is last season’s anime for you!

-T. Ngo