Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S
by Lynzee Loveridge,
How would you rate episode 1 of
Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S ?
How would you rate episode 2 of
Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S ?
Sometimes a family is a working-class woman, her dragon maid, and their adopted child. That sentence succinctly explains what drew me to Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid. Kyoto Animation's colorful character designs and pitch-perfect timing certainly didn't hurt either. I was content riding the emotional river running through the show, even when that ride included a big speed bump. That aforementioned "bump" is divisive; it's a hindrance or a feature depending on why you tune in to this show. Simply put, it stems from the source material and its creator's own taste.
Coolkyoshinja is a prolific manga creator that has carried on multiple series for a handful of publishers simultaneously. Their body of work includes three series that are being adapted into anime just during this season; Dragon Maid, Peach Boy Riverside, and The Idaten Deities Know Only Peace. Their work covers a variety of different scenarios but if I could pinpoint one reoccurring theme it's this: big titties. In some cases this includes big titties on chibi-style character designs. Specifically for Dragon Maid, this means Ilulu.
Ilulu is the newest dragon to join the cast and she looks to be approximately 4'11 with comically large breasts. This was, understandably, a point of contention early in the show's announcement but to that I say this show already features another large boob dragon who directs her unwanted sexual attention on a prepubescent boy named "Shota." Last season's camera had a more-than-necessary fascination with Kanna's thighs. This stuff comes baked into the series, not unlike Made in Abyss' fascination with a little robot boy's penis. A lot of viewers, myself included, are stuck talking around these elements.
For the mainstream audience, or anyone otherwise not interested in fanservice that involves creeping on kid characters, a show like Dragon Maid can be frustrating. We're watching in spite of this particular content because there's a good heart underneath and the series is indulgently animated. That hasn't changed in the new season, which features great sequences focusing on Ilulu in particular and her backstory as a former friend to humans. The first two episodes set up a philosophical question where Ilulu, as an orphan, is told that humans are responsible for her misery. The adversarial relationship between the two species appears to be primarily dogmatic and the dragons have multiple factions based around how to interpret those beliefs. Ilulu begins to learn through her interactions with Kobayashi, who has a strong belief in free thought regardless of society's imposed expectations.
That's the good part. In the middle is a plot beat that fails to land comedically, serves little purpose to the overall narrative, and purports gender essentialism in a way that runs counterintuitive to everything described in the previous paragraph. The short of it is Ilulu causes Kobayashi to grow a penis and there is so much to unpack with how this is handled that I can't decide whether to call it out or settle on not wasting my breath on what is, in the end, a huge misstep for what amounts to a inconsequential joke. I have not read the corresponding manga chapter(s) for this, so I can't say how much KyoAni reworked the bit and, if by doing so, it led to being as inconsequential as it ultimately is here.
I'm of the opinion that it probably should have been cut entirely. There's no character development or insight garnered by Kobayashi and her feelings toward Tohru—the best we could have expected is a more frank admittance that she's a lesbian but the show's writing seems unwilling to fully embrace that either despite it being heavily coded in...everything about her. Kobayashi's magical dick is instead mostly a set-up to get her into scenarios where she could pop a boner from familial physical contact and embarrass herself as a result. Then there's her fear that if Tohru finds out that she's packing that it will, essentially, lead to her being forced into a sexual encounter which is just...not funny?
The taste issues don't make for a great opener and the underlying messaging of the dick joke goes sour if you think about it for even a minute. We don't even get an answer to the first episode's most burning question: Why was Fafnir banned from his fav MMO!?
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