“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.” –Walter Anderson
Tohru decides to work at a maid café and encounters another dragon, Ilulu. After Tohru fights her, Ilulu decides to remain behind and ends up befriending Kobayashi. Ilulu eventually picks up a job at a local candy store and helps return a doll to its owner, while Kanna and Riko spend more time together, and during the summer, Kanna makes a new friend in New York. Shōta learns that Lucoa enjoys his company, although her openness still bothers him. Elma begins settling to her job at the same company Kobayashi works at, but is horrified when she learns that their hours might interfere with her ability to buy time-limited sweets. Over time, Kobayashi learns that Elma and Tohru had known one another for quite some time, as well as the fact that what Tohru had desired most was to live out life on her own terms. At the summer festival, Tohru spends time with Kobayashi and openly admits that she has romantic feelings for Kobayashi. Lucoa later invites the entire crew to a hanami, and Tohru seizes the chance to try and get married with Kobayashi. This is Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S, Kyoto Animation’s triumphant return to the television format after the devastating fire at their main studio back in July 2019. Continuing on with the story that the first season had presented four years earlier, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S capitalises on its established cast to push the story in a new direction, all the while retaining all of the stylistic elements that had made the first season so enjoyable. During its run, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S impresses because it is able to cover a wide range of topics, from what constitutes a hobby, to the appreciation of nuances about interpersonal relationships and the importance of having a place to return to. Although Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S never explicitly defines an Aesop regarding these topics, the conversations that spring up are detailed enough to invite viewers to reflect on these questions for themselves; as varied as these topics might be, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S suggests that, through things like Kobayashi coming to realise how much Tohru’s done for her, to Tohru and Elma coming to terms with how they’d supported one another despite always being at odds owing to their factions, there are many things in one’s everyday life that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Despite the plethora of smaller motifs that crop up in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S, the core element within this story is that one benefits most by being true to oneself, irrespective of whatever labels one involuntarily inherits as a result of their birth or on virtue of their station. Tohru might have been born into the Chaos faction, which had sought to annihilate humanity and the gods, but her experiences had led her to wish for a peaceful life, going against her faction’s goals, and pursue life on her own terms. This is what ended up leading her to Kobayashi, and while perhaps a bit bold as a visual metaphor, generally speaking, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S suggests that, in life, people are often pushed in a direction that may not align entirely with their desires. The end result is that one winds up living with regrets that can accumulate over time and fester as feelings of doubt, or even resentment. For Tohru, after seeing the kindness that Kobayashi demonstrates towards her, she begins to accept that humanity as a whole has its merits, and in particularly, has no qualms about following her heart where Kobayashi is concerned. For viewers, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S can be seen as a series encouraging people to do the same, and be truthful to themselves, whether it be one’s life choices or identity. To live life being constrained by labels or assigning labels arbitrarily to others is to deliberately hinder one from being their best. Kobayashi discovered this in her youth; after desiring to wear a maid’s outfit once, she was surprised to learn that no one figured she’d look good in one, and was dissuaded from trying again. However, Tohru indicates that it matters little what others think; if Kobayashi likes wearing maid outfits, then she should do so regardless of what others make of it. Of course, there is a limit, too: Fafnir’s ill-fated attempt at creating a dōjin is hilarious, and here, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S indicates to viewers that while one should be true to oneself, there are occasions where some lines shouldn’t be crossed, either: the key to things is moderation. Although Tohru’s way of living sometimes gets on Kobayashi’s nerves, more often than not, seeing the remarkable ease at which Tohru gets along with other people, and even those of an opposite faction, is comforting to Kobayashi, who slowly opens up and comes to realise that she returns Tohru’s feelings.
Screenshots and Commentary
- The last time I wrote about Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid was three years ago: back then, I’d taken this anime up for the Terrible Anime Challenge and found that the first season had definitely earned its reception. Here in the second season, things begin with Ilulu’s introduction, and like Tohru, who initially had a tough time adjusting to life with Kobayashi, Ilulu has trouble understanding why Tohru chooses to hang around with Kobayashi. She wonders if Kobayashi’s managed to seduce Tohru and attempts to mess with Kobayashi by changing her biological sex.
- However, Kobayashi manages to fight off the problems posed by this new body, and after sitting Ilulu down to chat with her, succeeds in convincing Ilulu to stick around. It turns out that Ilulu had long been curious about humanity but was discouraged by other Dragons. In the present, Ilulu becomes a regular member of the cast, and in her human form, appears as a petite but stacked girl. However, despite being the same age as Tohru, she ends up finding more joy with the younger members of the cast.
- As a result, Ilulu ends up spending time playing Monopoly with Kanna, Shōta and Riko, learning that despite her appearances, Kanna is diabolical, and Riko’s so infatuated with Kanna that she’s willing to sacrifice herself to let Kanna win. The character dynamics in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S are as solid as ever, and it was great to see everyone bounce off one another. However, while the youth have fun, Kobayashi learns from Tohru and the others that doing something isn’t about what others think, but rather, what one thinks. This is a recurring theme in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S, to the point where I’m confident in saying that the series is letting viewers know that one should always be true to themselves, and relationships are no different, even if things are unconventional.
- Beyond its core messages, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid excels with presenting a variety of topics, such as what makes a hobby fun. Tohru initially struggles with the concept before coming to realise that it’s an activity to be pursued for one’s enjoyment – not everything necessarily needs to have merit to society, and so long as one strikes a balance between their responsibilities and interests, having a hobby is fine. Of course, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid indicates that there is a little something called moderation, and hilariously shows what happens the moment Tohru finds something that amuses her.
- While Elma had joined the company that Kobayashi and Makoto work at to earn the funds needed to buy the sweets she’s become fond of, she ends up being an integral part of the team, as well: Dragons have the ability to trivially master tasks that take humans years to cultivate, but in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, the Dragons’ prodigious skill always end up being used in a hilarious fashion, and the Dragons themselves are more human than they realise. This combination creates much of the comedy throughout the series: Kyoto Animation’s best works have always struck a balance between more moving moments and humourous moments by timing the latter in a way as to release tensions after the former.
- The end result is that Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is able to cover more impactful topics, but then create catharsis by dropping a punchline once the lesson from the topic is conveyed. In other cases, the Dragon’s outrageous abilities are applied to trivially solve mundane problems. For instance, when Tohru helps one of the women from the neighbourhood watch on her rounds, she ends up frightening the living daylights out of some local thugs, and the thugs later regard her as someone respectful, surprising Kobayashi.
- The Dragons might possess power surpassing humanity’s, but what really keeps things going is their interest in human constructs. Kobayashi takes everyone to an amusement park, and Ilulu is able to spend a fun-filled day with Kanna and Riko. As with the first season, Riko continues to positively melt in pleasure every time she’s with Kanna, and in return, Kanna does seem quite fond of Riko, as well. The pair end up going on several more adventures throughout Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S, and Ilulu herself begins stepping out into the world after Tohru presses her to get a job.
- The conflict between Elma and Tohru is a longstanding one: neither understood the other when they’d met during medieval times, and while the two have attempted to fight one another to the death on several occasions, their dislike for one another usually manifests in a more human fashion, such as clashing every time they meet. The depth of topics that could be covered regarding Elma and Tohru’s stance on humanity is actually a worthwhile one that could comfortably occupy its own post, speaking to the strength of the writing in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. With this being said, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S is a series that could’ve been written about in an episodic fashion because it touches on such a diverse array of topics. The story that Tohru tells of how she and Elma met, for instance, might be seen as a lesson in theology and humanity’s relationship with religion. Folks who’ve studied this sort of thing in post secondary would find Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid actually has something interesting to say about worship in human civilisation.
- Similarly, the anime deals with aspects of sociology and pyschology: while touching upon them in the dialogue, the characters’ actions end up saying much about these topics. However, I’m not covering these topics because they weren’t my area of expertise. Instead, while Elma enjoys her sandwich with “indecent enthusiasm”, I can speak to the commonalities between the programming language that Kobayashi’s company utilises: she notices that then language is similar to the spells that Mages in their world uses. While seemingly a minor detail, it suggests that magic in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is Turing Complete (i.e. it can be used to describe a solution for any problem), in turn implying that magic is much deeper than the anime lets on.
- The more serious or intensive topics in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid are balanced by the fact that fanservice is casually incorporated into the story. Here, Ilulu (unintentionally) embarrasses and flusters Taketo after taking up a job at his grandmother’s candy store by changing out in the open. Watching the characters bounce around in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid stands in stark contrast with these more interesting conversations and creates the sense that while there are serious moments, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid isn’t all serious, either.
- When the children ask why she’s so stacked, Ilulu indicates that her chest is actually the storage for the organs that generate her fire. The children think nothing more of things, and as it turns out, Ilulu excels at her job, bringing joy to everyone who visits the old candy store. By this point in time, Ilulu’s integrated very well with humanity, and her destructive inclinations are cast aside. Ilulu had always felt a pull towards humanity, and when she’s able to be herself, with people who are rooting for her, she’s at her very best.
- No individual is an island, and people are shaped by the company they keep: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid indicates that people in good company have the potential to become their best selves, and this is a very encouraging thought. Over time, Taketo comes to understand Ilulu a little better, and even comes to appreciate her helping around the candy shop. Here, Taketo offers to teach Ilulu a trick so she can impress the customers the next time they visit by evening: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid has solid artwork and animation befitting of Kyoto Animation, and while their different series have different art styles, one thing that stays consistent in all of their works is the attention paid to detail, as well as the depth of colours in a given scene.
- One day, Shōta tires of being treated like a plaything and seeks out Lucoa’s weaknesses in the hopes he can hold them as a trump card against her. When Lucoa learns of this, she explains to Shōta that her biggest fear is losing her home, and while she is more than capable of coming and going as she pleases, she stays by Shōta because of his spirit and kindness. The dynamic between Shōta and Lucoa reminds me of what was seen in both Mother of the Goddess’ Dormitory and Miss Caretaker of Sunohara-sō; both of these series purely utilised the humour of the ensuing chaos, but in Miss Kobayashi‘s Dragon Maid, there is a balance between crude laughs and meaningful moments that allows the anime to be more than merely an ecchi comedy.
- From rivals to best friends, Kanna and Riko are a fan-favourite. Voiced by Maria Naganawa, who’d also voiced Slow Start‘s Kamuri Sengoku and Laffey of Azur Lane, Kanna is an adorable Dragon whose love for practical jokes led to her exile. In human society, Kanna gets along well with those around her, occasionally uses her abilities to gain an upper hand in an unfavourable situation but otherwise finds that despite being a Dragon, she can learn much from the people around her. Befriending Riko facilitates this, and Kanna comes to appreciate the value of friendship.
- The pair’s journey to the confluence point between the Motoara and Naka Rivers allow Riko and Kanna to share time together. The anime is set in and around Koshigaya in Saitama Prefecture, and Kobayashi works at the heart of Tokyo. Moreover, Fafnir and Makoto submit works for the Comiket event. The gentle, nostalgic presentation of landscapes and cityscapes alike in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid have a Lucky☆Star and K-On!-like feel to them, creating a sense of nostalgia. Compared to the first season, the improvements in visual are subtle, but still noticeable in that the second season has better reflection and lighting effects, which can be seen on the rivers here.
- In order to create his dōjin, Fafnir enlists Lucoa’s help by using her as a model of sorts for his sketches. Despite his aloof mannerisms and initial dislike for humans, Fafnir lodges with Makoto and continues on his treasure hunt with Japanese pop culture (i.e. manga and games). For his Comiket submission, Fafnir decides to do a dramatisation of the dynamic between Lucoa and Shōta, but on the day of the event, his work fails to sell, while Makoto and Lucoa both enjoy greater success, speaking to the idea that there’s a gap between what one considers to be treasure, and making something worthwhile for others.
- The setup in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is such that more introspective stories are given more time, and then a funnier segment is shown right after. In this way, viewers are assured that after the anime says something meaningful, the moment is gently diffused using humour to remind folks that life is a balance of taking things seriously and finding things to smile about. Here, Shōta reacts to finding Lucoa’s submission to Comiket. I do not doubt that viewers would be curious to see this for themselves, but for Shōta, seeing Lucoa in less-than-flattering poses and outfits proves a little too much for him.
- If and when I’m asked, I’ve always had a fondness for Lucoa: unlike the other Dragons, she’s strictly neutral but gets along with both the Chaos and Harmony factions alike. Further to this, despite her preference for tight-fitting clothing and provocative manner, Lucoa is wise and kind to those around her. Lucoa had previously given some wisdom to Tohru, hence their friendship, and even herea on Earth, she continues to offer Tohru advice, such as how to best look after Kobayashi when she falls ill. While Lucoa might be a little dicey at times, her heart is in the right place, and with this, Tohru is able to help get Kobayashi back to health.
- While Kobayashi is out with the common cold, Tohru fears the worst and sets off in search of a panacea capable of neutralising all disease while Kobayashi rests. When she returns to Kobayashi, she’s distinctly woebegone after her journey. While Kobayashi has since recovered, she accepts this anyways, realising the extent that Tohru cares for her. It’s a touching moment, at least until it turns out this panacea also transformed Kobayashi into a cat. Each segment of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is broken up by cards that display five symbols, some of which are pertinent to the segment’s messages, and some of which are random.
- Some folks have felt that these symbols might conceal a hidden meaning behind everything in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, but for the most part, viewers aren’t concerned about any additional messages that the anime might be trying to convey. Here, after Ilulu grows worried when a doll is abandoned at the candy shop, she sets off in search of the owner. With Kobayashi’s help, the owner is found, and she reveals that she’d long to keep the doll but worried about peer pressure, thinking that abandoning it would be the most painless way. It turns out Ilulu has her own story about having done something similar, only to regret it since, hence her determination to get the doll returned.
- The biggest moments in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid are all related to being honest with oneself, and what one truly wants, rather than giving in to peer pressure. Whether it be something like wearing the clothes one wishes to, holding onto things of great importance to oneself, or pursuing the relationships of one’s choosing, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid encourages viewers to follow their hearts. Consequently, I find that Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is a fantastic vessel for communicating things like yuri, even more effectively than dedicated yuri series: this is a story that presents a world accepting of things that might be unusual or uncommon, and this acceptance is what leads people to find their happiness.
- This lesson is certainly applicable to reality; different people will have different preferences, and it is not society’s business to judge others for this. I’ve long held that, so long as people are not actively causing harm to others as a result of their choices or imposing their choices onto others, they can do as they wish, and I’ll accept them all the same. Conceptually, this shouldn’t be difficult to do, so it is a little baffling as to why there is so much of a fuss where others are concerned. All of the Twitter and Reddit wars on these topics are therefore impertinent, and not worth paying any mind to. Back in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, on a summer’s day, Kanna, Riko and Shōta decide to ask Elma to take them on a picnic after Tohru suddenly was called in to work.
- It is notable that by this point in time, Shōta’s become friends with Kanna and Riko, enough to hang out and converse with them. After cooking up fish and whipping up some curry, Elma gets distracted by how refreshing the creek water is and fails to notice that Shōta’s headed off to search for some magical sources, with Kanna and Riko tagging along. Elma ends up tearing half the forest apart, all the while worrying that Tohru will think of her poorly. When she does catch up to the three, she’s relieved they’re fine, and Tohru is none the wiser. Elma’s overreaction to what she thinks Tohru thinks of her is not dissimilar to how Yama no Susume‘s Aoi tends to imagine Hinata mocking her where in reality, Hinata is unlikely to do so.
- Tensions eventually reach an all time high between Elma and Tohru; the matter of Tohru leaving unexpectedly has been a bit of a sore spot for Elma, and the pair decide to have an old-fashioned no-holds barred throw-down. Fights between Dragons rival the fight on Titan, when Thanos uses the Power Stone to rip the crust off a nearby moon and throw the pieces onto Titan’s surface to overwhelm Tony Stark, but the fight in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S also allows Elma and Tohru to talk things out. The fight is resolved, the pair leave with a better understanding of one another and accept a dinner invite from Kobayashi. Later, the two look like they’re back at it again, only for it to be a test of resistance to see who could last the longest without laughing after being tickled.
- When Kanna gets into a disagreement with Kobayashi over something unseen, she decides to get some space and flies off into the night, eventually ending up in Manhattan. This story was particularly charming, and in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S, a series already brimming with heartwarming and enjoyable moments, Kanna’s New York trip was particularly fun to watch. After arrival, Kanna realises that she’s unfamiliar with English and falls back on her magic to quickly pick things up. The remainder of the segment is rendered in Japanese, and Kanna is able to learn from a hot dog vendor that he doesn’t accept Japanese Yen. The sharp-eyed viewer will notice Tohru chilling in the stands here, beside a couple taking a photo together, attesting to Kyoto Animation’s incredible attention to detail.
- Kanna eventually runs into a girl similar to her in age and saves her from some kidnappers. The girl introduces herself as Chloe and buys Kanna lunch in thanks, before the pair take a tour of New York together. As it turns out, Chloe had also run away from home after some trouble occurred, and after Kanna heads off, the kidnappers manage to catch up to Chloe. Before anything can happen to her, Kanna arrives in time to fend everyone off, before offering to take Chloe home with the aim of having her talk things out with her parents.
- In doing so, Kanna realises that she should also return home and properly apologise to Kobayashi. Besides giving viewers a chance to check out New York, this episode of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S also indicates that one of the best way to determine on a course of action can be found in helping others out. By speaking with Chloe and offering one course of action, Kanna comes to understand that there are parallels in her situation and Chloe’s. Kanna ends up flying Chloe home before heading back to Japan, but not before inviting Chloe to come visit whenever she has a chance to do so.
- It typifies Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid ability to make all of their characters so enjoyable to watch: there is no particular group of characters I favour over the others, and everything in this series is entertaining to watch. One element in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid I’ve completely skated over is the music: the opening and ending songs are fun, and while the incidental music is quite ordinary, there are some moments where it shines, as well. The song that plays while Kanna flies Chloe back home, while speaking of how family are the people who will always be there for one, no matter what happens, is a heartwarming one that reminds me of the songs used in a Studio Ghibli work: it’s the first track on the soundtrack and is titled 希望の歩み (“Steps of Hope”).
- After Kanna returns home, it’s back to the languid and laid-back summer of Japan. On a particularly hot summer’s day, Kobayashi’s got the day off, and she decides to take it easy on this day. With life as busy as it is, I’ve now begun to really appreciate those days where there are no major tasks to finish (ranging from life-related matters like bills and bank appointments, to blogging) , and I am afforded the time to do exactly nothing. Unlike Kobayashi, I tend to spend this idle time with my nose in a good book: over the past few years, I’ve been slowly working on building up my personal library because the public library’s offerings have been on the decline. In fact, it is now easier to buy back the books I read back when I was a student, and the advantage is that I would no longer need to make a drive to the local library for books.
- In a heart-melting moment, Kanna accidentally spills her barley tea onto her homework and attempts to dry it using a hair-drier. A subtle touch I found particularly nice was the fact that she’s using her tail as the electrical outlet. Kanna possesses an affinity to electricity, and while she can’t regenerate her magic owing to the lack of mana in the air, electrical power replenishes her stores. It is clear that this electric energy can go both ways, and she generates enough power to run a hair-drier. In the end, Kobayashi spots her and helps her clean up.
- If memory serves, it’s actually quite rare for Kobayashi and Kanna to spend time together, so seeing the two spending a day together was quite refreshing. Quieter moments like these are actually becoming increasingly uncommon in reality, and a ways back, I read about how the ongoing health crisis had one unexpectedly positive effect on some folks: it forced them away from their more hectic and busy lives. Prior to the lockdowns and whatnot, families were focused on juggling multiple extracurricular activities and schoolwork with athletics and community service. As it turns out, parents hold the belief that being busy is a status symbol: it feels good to be getting things done all the time and having things to tell one’s colleagues and friends.
- When the health crisis shut down these activities, at least 40 percent of Canadian families reported they were spending more time with family in a positive way, and 37 percent of people found the reduced commutes meant they had more time to pursue things they otherwise didn’t have the time to do so. While things are slowly inching towards what they had been prior to the health crisis, more people are considering adopting a more balanced lifestyle, versus trying to pursue full schedules and social status. In retrospect, I led a moderately busy life prior to the health crisis (workweeks were packed, I went to the gym four days of the week and did martial arts on the side, and had enough time left over to blog), but I still found things manageable.
- As such, once things do pass, I see myself returning to my old routine without too much concern, although I will likely be blogging less in favour of spending time on other pursuits. Back in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, Kobayashi enjoys a massage from Tohru after the latter learning about her stiff back from work. The penultimate episode focuses on Kobayashi wondering if she’s worthy of Tohru’s attention, and one day, after Kobayashi is called in to meet her company’s CEO (Shōta’s father and a mage himself), she also ends up speaking with the Emperor of Demise, who explains that he wanted Tohru to find her own way after a lifetime of conflict. In the end, Tohru opens up to Kobayashi and reveals that, fed up with the conflict between the Chaos and Harmony faction, went to fight the gods on her own, but was impaled and ended up back on Earth.
- Having found her happiness with Kobayashi, Tohru no longer feels compelled to be someone she’s not: throughout Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S, Tohru is much more receptive of humans and makes a more sincere effort to understand them. In the process, she also develops more human-like traits. When Kobayashi teases her by using a counting-out rhyme to pick a kimono for Tohru, Tohru responds by picking the opposite one Kobayashi landed on. The finale is a fitting one for the series, seeing the characters visit a summer festival before partaking in a very special hanami session.
- On the night of the summer festival, after learning there’s a line for omurice at Tohru’s stall, she panics and laments missing out on the host of other summer festival foods. Elma’s penchant for foods is unmatched, and while she has a serious disposition, her weaknesses with food means that others can buy her out easily by promising to treat her to something. Having grown familiar with Elma’s traits, Tohru promises to save her some omurice, and here, I will remark that today is Halloween. It’s also grown cold, befitting of the weather this time of year; on Friday, we had our first snowfall of the year, and yesterday, I decided to go for a stroll in the snow-covered woods nearby, headed in to get my MacBook Pro recycled and wrapped the day up with a delicious dinner of our usual favourites (sweet and sour pork, fried tofu, seafood and chicken, seafood and Chinese broccoli, and a beef and daikon dish).
- We’re not expecting anyone for Halloween tonight on account of the neighbourhood being an older one, but I am looking forwards to my customary Halloween KitKat and sitting down to my two favourite Halloween specials, Garfield’s Halloween Adventure and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, later this evening. Back in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S, Riko and Kanna head off, as do Ilulu and Taketo, and Shōta and Lucoa, leaving Kobayashi and Tohru alone to take in the summer festival’s sights together. When the fireworks begins, Tohru attempts another kokuhaku with Kobayashi, but Kobayashi laughts things off, shocking Tohru. During the summer festival, each of the pairs speak about matters dear to them: Kanna and Riko wish to spend more time with one another, Taketo and Ilulu comment on how it’s okay to be childish every so often, and Shōta and Lucoa speak on their world’s differences.
- Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S ends with a beautiful hanami party set in a special place known only to Dragons: the event was hosted on Lucoa’s suggestion, and Tohru’s got a few special events planned out for the day. This represented a superb way to bring the second season to a close by allowing everyone to unwind and bounce off one another away from their day-to-day lives; for Tohru, it’s also a chance to soften Kobayashi up to see if her feelings are returned. By the end of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S, Kobayashi has certainly opened up, although it looks like it’ll take more than a peaceful atmosphere and with a few drinks in her to get Kobayashi to be entirely honest about how she feels regarding Tohru.
- There is no denying that after Tohru arrived in Kobayashi’s life, things have certainly been more colourful and eventful; Kobayashi certainly never expected to have such experiences, and Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S is yet another example of how chance encounters can completely alter the course of one’s life in unforeseen, rowdy and more often than not, positive ways. This speaks to how things like romance and friendship can suddenly come out of the blue, and it is evident that despite her words indicating otherwise, Kobayashi does return Tohru’s feelings (although at this point, not quite to the point where she’s willing to partake in a wedding).
- Overall, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S is a solid A (4.0 of 4.0, or 9.0 of 10 for the folks familiar with the 10-point scale): it’s a triumphant return to form for Kyoto Animation, being a strong all-around performance that shows the studio has not only endured, but found a way to carry on in spite of tragedy. While Kyoto Animation’s future remains somewhat uncertain, I do hope that they will continue producing anime with the level of quality and integrity that they do: Kyoto Animation stands apart from other studios for treating staff well, which in turn is reflected in the fact that their works are consistently excellent.
- The ending to Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S is well-chosen, showing that heading into the future, while Kobayashi’s likely to find herself subject to more of Tohru, Kanna, Elma, Lucoa and Fafnir’s misadventures, she’s come to enjoy them as well; while initially exasperated at Tohru’s attempt to marry her, while escaping from the proceedings, she also smiles, indicating that she has accepted and embraced the fun that comes with the craziness of having Dragons around. However, just because this marks the end of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S proper does not mean things are at an end just yet; in the new year, an OVA accompanying the home release will become available, and I rather look forwards to seeing that, too.
Sporting the iconic Kyoto Animation style, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S is simultaneously a continuation to their successful run of 2017’s Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, and a respectful tribute to the 36 lives that were lost in the terror attack back in 2019. The quality of the artwork and animation in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S are of the standards Kyoto Animation is known for: backgrounds are detailed, water and lighting effects look photorealistic, and the animation is smooth, making use of creative camera angles and perspectives to capture everything from the intimate moments Tohru and Kobayashi share, to the scope and scale of destruction whenever dragons clash. In spite of the tragedy, Kyoto Animation’s staff evidently put their hearts and souls into making Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S a successful anime: I noted this in an earlier discussion for Violet Evergarden: The Movie, but it is worth reiterating that actions like these are the best form of revenge. The terrorist responsible for such heinous actions had sought to inflict death unto Kyoto Animation for a perceived slight, with the aim of gaining notoriety, and so, by rising above and beyond this unfortunate incident, their staff have demonstrated commendable resilience. Violet Evergarden: The Movie and Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S show that their current staff continue to honour the fallen by doing their best work. The sum of the themes in these two works after the fire implore viewers to keep moving forwards and be true to oneself; together, both works remind people of the importance to continue pushing forwards no matter how difficult it gets. In particular, because Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S was written as a comedy, Kyoto Animation is also indicating to viewers that despite what happens, making the most of the present and seizing the future gives people something to look forward to, and smile about.