Welcome, one and all, to the third-place play-off of the Crunchyroll of the Dice 2017. This has been a surprising tournament for me this year, with the placing of this particular match-up being perhaps the biggest shocker. Today, Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid and Flip Flappers do battle, and from what I knew of the different series going into the tournament, I expected this to be the final. What essentially happened was the dragons were edged out in a close battle, and Flip Flappers made pulled me out of the story by portraying the characters in the most annoying way possible for episode two. But, what will happen this time around? We’re about to find out, but first, the rules:
- The series must be picked at random
- If it has multiple seasons, I go with season 1
- I have to at least try to watch the episode, no matter what show I get
- Being round three, this battle will be between S1E3 of each show
- After the battle, the episodes get compared in different categories, with the show that amassed most points being the winner
Now … Let’s begin.
Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid
Episode three, ahoy! We open with Miss Koboyashi waking up in the night. She needs the toilet. Unfortunately, she steps on Tohru’s tail. Later, she has a slight collision with Kanna. There’s a multiple person pile-up at the fridge too. Things are certainly getting cramped in Miss Kobayashi’s apartment! The opening video kicks in and I’m finding the same thing as last time; the song is OK, but the video itself feels a little odd. No idea why.
Anyway, the ladies go hunting for a three-bedroom apartment, and eventually find one with a communal roof space. Seeing how much her dragon companions love it convinces Miss Kobayashi to take that particular spot, and the trio soon get to cleaning the old apartment, ready to leave. Tohru’s cleaning song actually made me laugh out loud. We also learn that Tohru likes being clean and brushing (read as clawing flies out of) her teeth. She can also sleep pretty much anywhere. The discussion moves on to Tohru declaring Miss Koboyashi to be sloppy and scolding her for leaving clothes and trash about. She reasons that Kanna will pick up the bad habits and in a sweet moment, Miss Koboyashi decides that this is what her father must have felt like her mother yelled at him. I love that she’s kinda equating herself and Tohru to married couple here. Being the smart cookie she is though, Miss Koboyashi flips it around and says that she’s slothenly by accident because she’s so happy that Tohru is there to clean it up for her. A wee bit manipulative there, aren’t you, Koboyashi-san!
The inter-species family continue to pack up Miss Koboyashi’s things, and Kanna stumbles across a photo album of Miss Koboyashi as a child. She had that tired look in her eyes from an early age, it seems! They all slack off a little, culminating in Tohru finding Miss Koboyashi’s old maid outfit. Tohru tries to get her to wear it, but she refuses as she tried it once but thought that she looked awful. Tohru asks if she can have it and goes to try it on. Everyone agrees that she looks good, but Tohru is finding it a little tight around the chest, much to Miss Koboyashi’s chagrin. Tohru is apparently a D in dragon size, but this may vary from human sizes.
The night comes, and Miss Koboyashi is drinking. She goes to take a bath and discovers that Tohru packed away the towels and clothes. Into one of many, many boxes. They’re soon on the way to their new abode though, and start splitting the rooms up. The dragons are particularly happy to have their own room and immediately start flopping on the bed. While I do wonder if this will be a problem later on (I get the impression that Tohru prefers sleeping alongside Miss Koboyashi), the bed flopping is adorable. Miss Koboyashi takes a bath and Tohru proves herself to be wily by flipping Miss Koboyashi’s previous argument around; yup, she offers to wash Miss Koboyashi’s back, reasoning that she said that she likes it when Tohru makes stuff clean. Well done that dragon! Fight the power! To my surprise, she uses a sponge, and the conversation turns to whether it’s easier for Tohru to wash as a human or a dragon. Tohru panics when her comment about it all being quite stifling leads Miss Koboyashi to ask if she doesn’t like having a human form, and Tohru declares it to be its own thing.
The morning comes, and Tohru is happy to rise early and start cooking. In another sweet moment, Miss Koboyashi tells Tohru that she’ll wash her body as a thank you for yesterday, and leads her up to the roof. It turns out that hoses feel good on a dragon’s scales. Lovely rainbow too.
Miss Koboyashi’s day is busy, busy, busy, and she accidentally returns to her old apartment after work due to stress! Ha! The great thing is, I’ve done similar before now (I’ve gone to the wrong floor in my old office after moving teams). Life goes on though, and Miss Koboyashi soon finds other stressors. Like noisy neighbours and hangovers. Tohru offers to go make a complaint, declaring that if the neighbours don’t listen after she speaks to them, she’ll murder, destroy and pulverize them. Brilliant!
First stop is Ms Sasikabe on the right. Tohru explains the problem, and finds that the noise was due to cooking. The neighbour promises to be more mindful though, so no deaths just yet. Next comes Mr Yana on the left. He appears to be a death metal vocalist. Again though, he agrees to be more considerate. Up above the apartment is Mr Soune, who is using a drill for work. He makes hand carved ornaments. He’s fine to keep the noise down too though. Later, the three neighbours start to argue about who is the noisiest. Tohru breaks up the argument, but decides that humans who keep making the same mistake are beyond help, so she may as well get a little bit kill-y. Luckily, Miss Koboyashi steps in and suggests that the neighbours make a schedule for when they’d all like peaceful times so that everyone can avoid upsetting everyone else with the noise. If that fails, there’s earplugs.
Miss Koboyashi explains the lay of the land to Tohru and, while thinking back to when she lived alone, confirms that she wouldn’t like it if it were too quiet either. The main takeaway here is that Miss Koboyashi isn’t too bothered by Tohru’s noise. Except her loud teeth grinding. Tomorrow comes, and Kanna is struggling to find somewhere comfortable to nap. She ends up dozing on Tohru’s lap. At the same time, Miss Koboyashi has been invited to a work party that she’d like to get out of. Her colleague Takiya suggests that she finds an excuse, and they come up with the idea of a house warming party. Tohru isn’t fond of Takiya, but asks if she can invite friends too, providing they’re well-behaved dragons.
It’s party time! Takiya turns up, shortly followed by a big, purple beast named Fafnir. Tohru insists that Fafnir change, and so he becomes an intimidating, Goth-infused butler type. He dislikes humans and is essentially a dragon shut-in. Next, Quetzalcoatl bounces into the apartment. She prefers to be called Lucoa. Miss Koboyashi is upset that dragons are so huge compared to her. She asks Lucoa if she walked there in her current outfit, which she confirms that she did, and Miss Koboyashi points out that it’s a bit slutty, much to Lucoa’s shock.
We cut to the living room, and Takiya appears to be making a bit of a social faux pas. He is sitting with Fafnir and playing a game where he gets to run around as a knight and slay a giant dragon creature. Fafnir decides to play too, and plays like me, complete with death and moving the pad around wildly as if it will actually help. Even so, he’s hooked, which I suspect may have just saved Takiya’s life. Meanwhile, Lucoa is talking with Miss Koboyashi and tells her that Tohru never really smiled before, so her current happiness must be Koboyashi’s doing. She may be just a normal human, but Tohru’s never really had anything normal before. Miss Koboyashi confesses that she’s never smiled so much either, though she’d never say it to Tohru.
With the food ready, Miss Koboyashi asks Lucoa if she can drink, and the dragon says that she can, but that she wants to check it for curses first. This, Tohru explains, is because she was driven out of her seat as a goddess thanks to liquor. Later, Takiya and Miss Koboyashi get drunk and start slapping Fafnir while he plays. Miss Koboyashi then demands that both Tohru and Lucoa becomes maids (Tohru already is, of course), because … well … she’s drunk. The next day comes and Tohru and Kanna are now playing video games too. The ending theme is suitably peppy and full of chibi illustrations.
In all, that was a superb episode. Genuinely funny and heart-warming at once.
Now, onto Flip Flappers! I kinda felt like episode lost its mind a bit, at least in how it portrayed the leads in the real world, so I’m hoping for a return to form here. Let’s see what happens. A robed figure that is clearly Papika is stumbling through a hot desert. She’s out of water, and there’s nothing but sand and an old boat for miles. She collapses to the floor, worried about Cocona, just as someone starts to walk up behind her. And here comes the opening. I still love the mix of muted colours in the real-world scenes mixed with the more vibrant shades of the Pure Illusion based moments. The big thing though is that I want to see the pair reach the level of happiness that they show in the opening.
So, Papika wakes up surrounded by these odd masked people. Her hands are in stocks and her leg is connected to a ball and chain. A young girl explains that Papika scares them because they’ve not seen anyone like her before. Papika promises not to do anything scary and is given water. He foot is freed, but her hands remain bound. The village that she’s in only has limited water, so it’s shared sparingly. Papika gives thanks for saving her.
Elsewhere, a flying pirate ship is riding through the sky with some rock music in tow. This can only spell doom! Back at the village, Papika explains that she’s looking for Cocona and the girl explains that she saw a shooting star that split in two, making Papika think that the other half may have been Cocona. There’s an explosion, and we see that the pirate horde has arrived. They steal water and try to kill an elder by using a crossbow, but Papika stops the arrow. A massively huge pirate turns up and attacks Papika, but she is able to counter him with a single finger. Shockingly, the pirate’s leader frees Papika’s hands and we see that is … a masked Cocona!
The villagers seem to recognise the mask, so I’m guessing that that will be explained alter and justify Cocona’s strangely aggressive behaviour. A battle ensues, and Papika is sent flying into the air with a well-placed strike. The village elder recognises the fighting style as the Illusory Divine Fist. Papika powers up, declaring this can’t be Cocona and that she hates whoever it is. The two seem to battle to a stalemate until Papika recognises Cocona’s scent. Her belief that this can’t truly be Cocona shatters, and she fires off a desperate headbutt, knocking herself unconscious and shattering Cocona’s mask. Cocona, seeing what’s happened, is upset, and rushes to her fallen friend. The girl that saved Papika turns up riding Bu-Chan, and reveals herself to be some sort of humanoid creature. She describes the battle as a let-down, meaning that she obviously set the whole thing up. Cocona has a flashback to when she and Papika were separated and we get a creepy little shot of the now revealed villain bathing with a bunch of other women who are bound, with their faces covered, and clearly unhappy with their situation. Bu-Chan goes mad, like he’s fallen for the villain, and Cocona rushes in. We see the mask forced upon her and then cut back to the present.
The villain did it because she was bored. Cocona tells her off for hurting Papika, and the villain says that Cocona actually did the harming, and asks if punching Papika made her feel better. She explains that all the mask does is enhance feelings that are already present, meaning that, deep down, Cocona must have wanted to punch Papika. Bu-Chan starts to throttle Cocona, but the pirates turn up and shoot an arrow at the villain. They run pretty quickly when that does no damage, but the distraction allows the villagers to nab Papika. From the tummy rumblings, Papika is obviously sleep-starving.
The villain tells Cocona that she’s empty, and that was why the mask got hold of her so easily. She offers to take Cocona with her and give her a role to play, but Cocona refuses. The villain declares it a shame and tries to take Cocona’s fragment, but Papika turns up just in time to make the save. She ate a giant potato, and it healed her. With Cocona having now eaten some too, she is able to power up as well, and we get the full-on magical girl transformation sequence treatment. It really does remind me so much of Pretty Cure and Mew Mew Power. We even get a little speech from the pair as they declare that they will pluck the evil flower of Pure Illusion (the village elder points out that it was a gung-ho potato that they ate, so that explains the sudden heroic poses and so on).
Anyway, battle time. The villain is strong, and easily keeps up with our heroines as they throw attack after attack at her. No matter what they do, Cocona and Papika simply amuse the villain until she finally decides to reveal her true form: a monstrous, tentacled … uhm … thing. Things go a bit barmy, and the girls launch a massive attack that stumbles the beast. That gives them enough of an opening to summon a huge gun and fire off a laser blast. The villain isn’t done though, and fires back, almost nullifying Papika and Cocona’s assault. The girls push themselves to full power, and the foe is vanquished.
Back in normal mode, Cocona apologises for hitting Papika. Papika apologises for saying that she hates her, and declares that she love, love, loves her. BUT! The villain is still alive! Some other humans turn up and the trio dispose of the beast, for real this time. Cocona starts to thank them, and the leader of the group unmasks as … Yayaka. I thought so. Yayaka takes the fragment, which she describes as an amorphous, and the three leave. Papika tries to follow them, and finds that their traversing hole seems to lead to a room full of weird looking beings with KKK-style head robes. Cocona pulls Papika away and we cut back Yayaka and her group. The leader of the cult-types appears to have heard of ‘Papikana, one half of the Direct Drive.’ From the chanting, I’m assuming the group here is called Asclepius. Anyway, Papika and Cocona return home, and we find that Dr Salt’s group is aware of Yayaka and Asclepius. The story book ending is great, as always, and we then get a post credit scene. Papika mentions that Yayaka is Cocona’s friend, and Cocona confirms that they go way back. Cocona then realises how late it is and returns home. Her Gran says that the cram school called to say that she wasn’t there, and tells Cocona that she’s happy that she’s safe and would like her to call if she’s going to be late in the future. I’m beginning to think that Gran may be aware of Pure Illusion.
That was a big improvement over episode two! Great action, and the girls were far more likable again.
Let the battle commence!
I will now compare each series on several different aspects. The winning series in each category gets two points, and both series get one point in the case of a draw. The categories are: Best Story Progression, Best Character Progression, Best Individual Scene, Best Character, Best Animation, and Best Soundtrack.
Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid is good fun, but the progression there really comes from the characters rather than an overarching plot. Flip Flappers on the hand appears to be the opposite. Right now, neither Papika nor Cocona really seem to be developing too much, but there is a clear story running throughout. With the introduction of Asclepius, Yayaka’s association with them, and Dr Salt and co.’s awareness of it all, Flip Flappers takes an easy win here. Best Story Progression: Flip Flappers
As per the above, Cocona and Papika didn’t really develop. Sure, they were far less annoying that in episode two, but really, they just more like their episode one versions for me, albeit with Cocona maybe being a little more comfortable in herself. On the other hand, Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid gave us a lot with the titular pair. The way they play is adorable, and they’re settling into a good pattern with their living arrangements. Hearing Miss Koboyashi talking to Lucoa was great because it gave us another little snippet about Tohru and also saw Miss Koboyashi admitting that they’re good together. Easy win for the dragons. Best Character Progression: Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid
There are actually a lot to choose from here. Flip Flappers was full on barmy action scenes, which were beautifully done. At the same time, Miss Koboyashi and her scaly crew had a lot of stand-out moments too. I’d say that my favourite between the two episodes was Tohru’s cleaning song though, so that takes it. Best Individual Scene: Death to the world; clean, clean, clean (Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon maid)
Both shows feature a likable cast at this point, and I do feel that if Yayaka had been given more screen time, she would have been a real contender for the points here. As it is though, there can be only one winner: Tohru. From the sweet moments to the underlying homicidal tendencies, our snaggle-toothed maid is a real gem, and stands head and shoulders above her foes. Best Character: Tohru (Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid)
This is interesting because the styles are so different. Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid is bright and colourful, everything moves smoothly, and this episode was superb when it came to facial expressions. Flip Flappers was equally (if differently) bright and colourful, and also presented a smooth experience with some really good action scenes. I don’t honestly think that I can pick between the two here. Best Animation: Draw
Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid felt functional this episode. The tone was fine, and the music well placed, but it didn’t stand out. Flip Flappers had much the same thing going on, but I preferred the opening and ending themes therein, so that just about edges it. Best Soundtrack: Flip Flappers
Final Scores: Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid – 7 points, Beautiful Bones – 4 points
And so, without Beautiful Bones to force a draw, we return to ending rounds without a sudden-death challenge. The score shows Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid as having a comfortable win here, but it was actually a lot closer than that. Moving forward, I think I’ll likely watch both shows through to conclusion. The dragons have been more consistent, for sure, but Flip Flappers has a charm to it that draws me in when it’s on form. This was easily the most enjoyable battle of the tournament for me though, as both shows really shone.
Still, that leaves us with just the final to go!