The Spring 2021 Preview Guide
Dragon Goes House-Hunting
by The Anime News Network Editorial Team,
How would you rate episode 1 of
Dragon Goes House-Hunting ?
What is this?
When a dragon fails to live up to the fearsome standards set for him, his family kicks him out. He embarks on a quest to find a new home, but soon finds that life on the road is no place for a cowardly beast of legend. In a fantasy world full of elves, dwarves, and other mythical creatures, where everyone wants a piece of him—literally—the frustrations of house-hunting reach a whole new level.
How was the first episode?
“In which a manchild moves out of his father's basement.”
Dragons sit at the top of many a fantasy world hierarchy. They're as smart as humans (if not smarter), excel at magic, and are resilient to the point of being practically invulnerable. Of course, it makes sense that there will be a runt of the litter every once in a while. Dragon Goes House-Hunting is about one such dragon: Letty is weak, lazy, and lacks any semblance of self-confidence. Hell, he can't even fly. So when he's kicked out of his family home, he's completely unprepared—a relatable scenario to many a sheltered child who has suddenly been forced into the real world.
That said, he does have his priorities straight. While sad and worried, his number-one goal is to find shelter (along with the safety shelter provides). Of course, as a dragon who doesn't know how to be a dragon, this is easier said than done—especially as it seems that most of his knowledge of the outside world comes from monster-centric fairy tales. What's interesting about Letty's misadventures in this first episode is that there's no strict designation for which races are good and which are bad. Sure, the dwarves want to kill him for his raw “resources” while the more monstrous harpies and fish people offer to let him live with them, but we also see a lone human adventurer give him directions at one point, while his elven real estate agent saves him from a squad of would-be heroes at another.
Speaking of the party of heroes, it feels like they were drawn right out of a Terry Pratchett novel. As the sage once said, “You could say: I am a hero, so when I kill you that makes you de facto, the kind of person suitable to be killed by a hero.” And that is certainly what is going on here. They want to kill Letty just because he is a dragon. Letty hasn't attacked any villages, and none of the heroes have any tragic backstories pushing them to get revenge; they just want the renown that comes from dragon-slaying—nothing more, nothing less. The only glaring weakness the first episode has is its meta-commentary. Letty directly mentions RPG video games several times, which either breaks the forth wall or implies that this fantasy world has technology like TVs and games. Nothing we see indicates the latter, except for Letty's “status screen” ID card. I admit, it's leaving me confused about what is “real” in this fantasy world and what only exists as part of a gag.
That said, Dragon Goes House-Hunting is a light-hearted fantasy-comedy about a person learning to stand on their own. We'll just have to see if the house-hunting framework is capable of supporting an entire season of content.
House-hunting sucks. I get that. I work in one of the most notoriously underpaid fields, in a city with one of the country's worst housing markets, with specific accessibility demands. I don't think I have a single friend who hadn't feared that they would end up homeless when their lease ran out. Because of this, I expected Dragon Goes House-Hunting to be funny and relatable, but instead I found it pretty boring.
It was off to a strong enough start, with a cold open of a pair of slimes taking a tour of a cave home, excitedly discussing all the ways it's perfect for them, like the dampness and a set of nooks where they'll be safe from being stepped on by intruding heroes. The opening is bright and catchy, and I can easily see myself listening to it well after I've stopped watching the show, which will likely be immediately after finishing this preview.
But then Letty enters the fray, and that pretty much killed the show. Letty is an unusually meek red dragon, kicked out of his family home for sleeping while a hero stole an egg from their nest. Now he's looking for a new home where he can be comfortable, but since dragon parts are rare and valuable in their world, everyone is eager to take advantage of him in his vulnerability. Normally, I would feel bad for Letty, but he is just unbearably whiny and I mostly just wanted him to shut up.
The humor is repetitive as well: Letty asks another fantasy creature for help finding a home. They agree, but it doesn't work out either because the environment is unsuitable or they want to take advantage of him. Letty bemoans his poor stats, because 99% of fantasy anime these days are contractually obligated to refer to gaming abstractions. He runs into a hero cooking a dragon tail over a fire and runs away. I don't mind run-on gags, but they need to be broken up with less formulaic jokes to work.
The art is pretty, but the animation is extremely limited, with a distinct lack of motion for much of the episode. Letty rarely moves more than his mouth on screen, which is animated with a simple hinge motion. Dearia is beautiful, as all elves should be, but I like a bit more animation in my anime.
Once again, humor is highly subjective, so it's hard for me to give a solid yes or no on whether or not I think this is worth people's time or not. At the very least, it's gentle and harmless, unlikely to upset or offend even the most sensitive viewers.
Buying a house is stressful enough when you're human. What about if you're a dragon? That's the position poor Letty the Red Dragon finds himself in. First he gets kicked out of his house and disowned by his family after accidentally falling asleep and letting adventurers steal their egg, then when he tries to ask some dwarves to build him a house they try to vivisect him, and harpies make fun of him, and he almost drowns, and then heroes attack him…Letty the Red Dragon is having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad life. Even his ID card photo is out to get him.
Dragon Goes House-Hunting is another first episode that feels like it functions more as the series prologue than anything else, but it's also one that does a good job of giving us an idea of what's to come. The title, to be sure, is nicely descriptive on that front, but seeing Letty interact with members of the other various races and species he comes across also really helps to cement his place in the world. He's supposed to be this big, scary, fearsome creature, and that's precisely what everyone treats him as – either by being afraid of him, trying to kill and/or eat him, or just being less than impressed with the reality before them. This whole episode is pretty much Letty taking a beating from the world around him, and there is something a little sad about that.
Fortunately, there's a lot more that's funny in terms of how all of this is presented. Hands-down my favorite part was at the end when Letty, having almost reached the home of Dearia, an elf who is also a talented builder and architect, runs into a group of self-proclaimed heroes. (“It's a job title!” they cry.) Everything about this scene, from the heroic music to Letty looking around to see who they could possibly be threatening to Dearia's entry on scene is just pitch-perfect, a total sendup of the usual RPG- inspired fantasy, and it drives home a point that the big slimes in the opening scene make: the real nuisance animals in this world are the heroes.
It's a fun concept, essentially framing heroes as the equivalents of squirrels in the attic or mice in the cupboards. Mr. Big Slime and his wife are moving to a new dungeon because their last one was listed in a heroing magazine as one of the best dungeon dives, sort of like the way my street must be listed in some sort of groundhog publication, because every single house has at least one somewhere in the yard. (We named ours Bob. Last year Bob had a chuckling.) When Dearia takes care of the heroes bothering Letty, he makes it sound like he's just cleaning out the mousetraps – and he doesn't use have-a-heart traps.
The visuals are also quite nice here, with the designs carrying over well from the source manga. The addition of color to the scenes and characters is very appealing, and if Letty's position looks uncomfortable, well, at least it's consistent throughout the episode. This series stands to be a lot of fun, the fantasy and real estate mashup you didn't know you needed. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more.
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