Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S
by Lynzee Loveridge,
How would you rate episode 3 of
Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S ?
Well, yesterday was fun, so why not do it again with episode three? I'm kidding mostly, but after having a couple gripes about the opening two episodes I found myself really enjoying this episode and the bulk of the shenanigans. The vignettes are somewhat tenuously linked – I wish there was a more coherent theme running through them over the course of the episode. I found the switch from designing an outfit for Kobayashi to Tohru wanting a hobby came out of nowhere. Since each story felt self-contained, I'll look at each one individually. There's pretty good stuff in each one.
The episode opens with Kanna's friend and admirer Saikawa coming over to play for the day. The Kanna x Saikawa dynamic is one I find pretty cute, even if I'm not a huge fan of the H-style facial expressions that Saikawa displays whenever she gets cuddly with Kanna. Their interactions track for me though, at least anecdotally, to what I remember grade school crushes and interactions were like. The real meat of the episode though is between the two girls and Ilulu, who is still grappling with her "delinquent" behavior. Lucoa gets in big sister mode to help integrate Ilulu into the group, which also pushes the dragon to decide to solve her own social problems instead of having Kobayashi force an easy resolution.
I thought this interaction was written well; we get some emotional insight and growth from Ilulu and of course KyoAni's animation is stellar throughout. There were at least two separate instances where I was struck by how pretty Ilulu's color design is. I know folks were wary of her design and I had a dig at her proportions earlier, but I've got a big soft spot for her shark teeth and gremlin energy. I'm also a former "Loo Loo" (why did my parents spell it that way, it looks like a toilet joke) so I can't help but give her some leeway. I would like the show to decide if we're supposed to put her in the kid group or the grown-up group, given the insistence that she's Tohru's age. A lot of the earlier debate was that her design is geared towards fanservice which is okay because she's not a child, she's short. While technically that's true, it's disingenuous to play it both ways like it's being framed in this particular segment. Note, I'm talking broadly here. There isn't any fanservice of Ilulu in this actual episode.
The next part centers around, well, self-confidence and gender expression. Kobayashi has stated before, including just an episode or so ago, that she's not 100% satisfied with her body type. She'd like to have "some" of Ilulu's endowment but alas, she's resigned herself as a member of the IBTC (Itty Bitty Titty Committee for non-members). I wouldn't go as far as to say she has some kind of dysphoria over it, but after all her friends submit "suitable" maid uniform designs and a heart-to-heart with fellow enthusiast Georgie, Kobayashi realizes that she let other people's opinions influence how she presents herself. It's actually very sad when you think about it; Kobayashi wanted to cosplay and wear cute uniforms but because of her body type she adopted a masculine style instead. It reminds me, at least a bit, of Momoe from Wonder Egg Priority.
I think a lot of people can relate to that feeling, broadly, regardless of what size, shape, or color of body they have. There are a lot of outside opinions, be it from people you know, influencers you don't, or even barriers within fashion at large, that can have a detrimental effect on expressing the vision of you that you want. Especially within cosplay, too. I liked that the series acknowledged that and I'm curious if it means if we might see Kobayashi outside of her work uniform more often.
The third segment was possibly the weakest, as it was mostly Tohru checking in with her neighbors and trying out different hobbies until it's explained to her that a hobby isn't fun unless there's a challenge to get better. Ending the episode on her perfectly creating all kinds of Kobayashi merchandise was great though. I hope she hangs the paintings all over the apartment.
As an aside: the episode also captured the true spirit of Monopoly: the soul-crushing realization that there are no real friends in capitalism. Shōta looks to have a promising future as a slum lord.
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