Anime has a special talent for mixing the worlds of fantasy and reality. Among the anime that I’ve experienced so far (which I admit is limited), it’s rare to see an anime focused on the adult workforce that also brings the fantasy into the real world. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid does exactly this, with the realm of dragons and magic clashing with the world of salarywoman and maid enthusiast Kobayashi. Turns out, it’s a really special kind of recipe. Spoilers ahead.
One night, a drunk
and disorderly Kobayashi stumbles into the woods, and in her stupor she meets a dragon named Tohru. They bond over a conversation that Kobayashi won’t remember in the morning and Tohru decides that she will adopt a human form and live with Kobayashi full time as her maid (and eventually her lover if Tohru gets her way).
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (KDM) is a unique blend of comedy, fantasy, moe, a touch of action, and slice of life, all helmed by none other than studio Kyoto Animation. Every episode is able to pass on that whimsical airy feeling you get when you know you’re about to go on the adventure of a lifetime.
Like all good slice of life anime, KDM is carried on the magically strong shoulders of it’s cast of dragons and otaku. It really takes the “opposites attract” philosophy to heart, pairing characters with clashing personalities (dark and light, reserved and uninhibited, serious and bubbly, tsundere and freaking adorable) and letting us watch the fun happen. The relationship between Kobayashi and Tohru feels particularly special, though I’m not eloquent enough to explain exactly why that is, only that I can feel it in my gut.
You don’t often see the descriptors “wholeseome” and “lewd” used together to describe a plot, but it fits here. KDM is able to accomplish this by erring on comedic rather than serious, providing us moments of family bonding followed by suffocation via buxom mystical dragon. While at times it feels excessive to the point of ridiculous, it soon becomes clear that is exactly what they intended. Never fear if that still isn’t your thing. They don’t only rely on chesty dragons for humor; KDM is filled to the brim with quick-witted one-liners and other clever visual gags.
Surprisingly, even among all that humor you can still find an incredibly heartwarming and wholesome story. While none of the main cast are related by any sort of blood or marriage, they are the picture perfect example of a relationship where blood isn’t the only thing that defines family. There’s a growth and closeness that you can see forming as you watch the episodes. It’s a subtle organic growth that isn’t broadcast by large events, leaving you wondering at the end if they’ve actually been that close the entire time.
As I mentioned briefly before, the animation studio behind KDM is Kyoto Animation, and that signature KyoAni touch can be felt all over it; it has that extra touch of life. The animation is fluid, the music perfectly set for the atmosphere, and it has a cast that feels like they were born for their roles. Truly, it is a technical masterpiece. I’m always amazed at the feeling of precision KyoAni creates.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid won’t wow you with it’s deep plot or profound philosophical meaning; I’m fairly certain there is only one seemingly major plot arc in the whole series and even it is resolved in an episode or two. Instead, it will slowly bring you closer and closer to the characters on a personal level until you feel as if they always have and always will be right beside you. It’s an anime that exudes the warm comfort of your personal getaway. Personally, I don’t really get tired of watching this anime because it always feels like returning to visit old friends. I only hope season 2 is able to maintain this level of magic.