Welcome, one and all, to my latest anime review. This time around, I’ll be looking at the series that finished third in the 2017 Crunchyroll of the Dice tournament. That’s right, it’s Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid! Let’s see if it was worthy of its high finish.
Background: The source manga was written by Coolkyoushinja, who also wrote I Don’t Understand What My Husband is Saying. The anime is produced by Kyoto Animation, the creators of many popular hits such as K-On!, Clannad, and Lucky Star.
Story wise, we’re looking at a slice of life comedy about Miss Koboyashi, an ordinary office worker with a fascination with maids, and her new companion, Tohru the dragon. The unlikely pair met when Miss Koboyashi wandered drunkenly up to Tohru in her dragon form and pulled a divine sword from her, leaving the dragon indebted to her.
The Good: When I first saw the trailers for this, I figured that it would be one of those love or hate shows for me. It looked fun and colourful, and it had an interesting premise, but I worried that it would focus entirely on fan service without adding any substance. While I would be a liar if I were to claim that the show was devoid of fan service, I was very happy to see that it was a far cry from my worst-case scenario.
A big part of this for me is down to how the various characters come across. Miss Koboyashi herself is actually a very balanced lead, with her stony demeanour cracking just enough to show her not to be one dimensional from the get-go. As the series goes on, she softens and develops in a very natural way, thanks in a big way to how she plays off her fellow titular character, Tohru. Tohru is a lot more forward than Miss Koboyashi, and certainly more openly fun loving in nature. In truth, I found her antics to mostly be a joy to watch, which really aided my enjoyment of the show.
In the supporting roles, we have plenty of fun characters to get to know too. Of these, Fafnir was my favourite, with his tendency towards violence being matched only by his newfound love of the otaku lifestyle. Meanwhile, Kanna brings the childlike wonder to the series, and the goddess Lucao and human Takiya provide ample back up for them in terms of entertainment.
The only other Coolkyoushinja title that I’m familiar with is ‘I Don’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying.’ That was an odd series for me as it was listed as a comedy, but I somehow found plenty to like about it despite not getting the humour. A great deal of the humour in Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid hits the mark a lot better for me though. The way the characters interact give rise to plenty of laugh out loud moments, which was a nice surprise for me, particularly when it comes to Miss Koboyashi and Tohru’s verbal battles and Fafnir’s blunt statements of death.
The real golden moments come with the slow burn romance between Tohru and Miss Koboyashi though. Starting out as seemingly one-sided on Tohru’s part, Miss Koboyashi slowly learns how much she cares for her dragon maid, and it is an absolute pleasure to watch. The way they play with each other, and the little sweet moments combine to make for an excellent love story. That they did touch on the difference in the two lady’s life expectancies was also a pleasant surprise in this regard.
Aesthetically, the show is also very good. The animation is crisp, the character designs are interesting, and the soundtrack sits nicely in the episodes rather than distracts from the visuals.
The Bad: The show does little wrong, other than overstep the mark for me with some of the humour. The overly well-endowed Lucao’s constant harassment of the young boy Shouta was something that flopped for me. It’s a real shame, because Lucao is otherwise very likable in her elder role. In the same way, I thought that Riko’s crush on Kanna was perhaps overplayed. I mean, I know that over the top scenes like those covered by the two points above work for some people, but they really fell short for me.
Subbed or Dubbed: I’ve not seen the dubbed version, but I can certainly vouch for the quality of the Japanese cast. Everyone pulls their weight, but it’s Yuki Kuwahara as Tohru that really shines.
Final View: While some of the gags miss the mark (by quite a considerable margin), Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid really did live up to the hype. It does a great job of balancing comedy, sweetness, and general fun. Well worth a watch.
Final Score: 4 / 5