Anime Expo 2018 News Roundup: Day Zero, One, Two Headlines
Anime Expo 2018: Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan Premiere

by Nikki Flores,

Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan has a strong pedigree. The new series, streaming this fall on Netflix, was helmed by Shinji Higuchi and Hiroshi Kobayashi, produced by Masahiko Minami, and written by Mari Okada. Studio Bones produced the series, which kicked off on Japanese TV on April 13. Sadly, fans outside of the land of the rising sun have to wait a little longer, as this one hits Netflix in September.

At Anime Expo 2018, Netflix showed off the first two episodes for the first time in North America. The show was prefaced by a quick Q&A with directors Higuchi and Kobayashi. During this session, the two revealed that the screening would presented in Japanese, not only because the dub hasn't been announced as of yet, but also because they felt audiences would better suss out the subtleties in the Japanese cast's emotions.

Dragon Pilot opens with a young girl, who's contemplating her future. Her despondent ponderings fade to the sound of jet engines as the scene shifts to a military airstrip. Fighter planes are shown preparing to launch. Each of these mighty machines reflects the style of their designer, Shoji Kawamori, who handled aircraft designs for the title.

It is here that the audience is introduced to Hisone, a young woman who's a bit of a chatterbox, with a penchant for stating exactly how she feels. Because of this, though, she often chooses not to speak. This lands Hisone in hot water when she is sent to deliver paperwork to the mysterious Hangar 8. Upon arrival at the facility, the girl is swallowed by a massive, mysterious creature. She awakens in a hospital bed, only to learn that dragons are very real, albeit disguised as fighter jets. More surprising, though, is that this particular dragon chose Hisone as its pilot, or “D-Pilot” for short.

The first episode moves at a lightning pace, sweeping audiences into Hisone's frantic journey from grunt to pilot. Hisone's awkwardness quickly endears itself to the viewer, especially as she starts to open up and speak freely. Her rambling dialogues and non sequiturs, especially, feel like they're a window into the audience's inner thoughts as she tries to make sense of the situation.

Here's a fun wrinkle in all of this: in order to pilot the dragon, a D-Pilot must be swallowed by her creature. You read that right, the pilots are ingested. Pilots pass directions to their dragons by literally kicking at their innards. It's within this fleshy prison that Hisone discovers a plaque bearing her dragon's name: “Masotan.”

One has to admit that the situation outlined here, with the ingestion, the kicking, and the plaques, is a bit odd to picture. Still, it does somehow make sense in the context of the series, and offers a fresh spin on the typical mecha tropes.

Masotan, like Hisone, manages to assert a larger-than-life personality without dialogue, allowing his gestures and facial cues to do the talking. It should come as little surprise, really, that Toshinao Aoki's design would put a plush version of him at the top of every fan's shopping list after watching the first few episodes.

The show's lighthearted tone and rapid pace is a refreshing palate cleanser against the seemingly endless slate of weighty titles that have taken the forefront as of late, though never underestimate Mari Okada's ability to make us all cry. You can make your own judgment call when the show hits Netflix this September.


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