The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Riko Saikawa

Japanese Hospitality: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S OVA Review and Reflection

“Soon Master Elf, you will enjoy the fabled hospitality of the Dwarves: roaring fires, malt beer, ripe meat off the bone!” –Gimli

When Chloe visits Kanna in Japan, Tohru and Kobayashi do their best to make sure the pair have a good time. Chloe’s first day in Japan is spent in Tokyo’s Akibahara, where the group are accompanied by Ilulu, Fafnir and Makoto. After stopping by a virtual reality arcade and a capsule store, the group runs into Elma, who takes everyone on a run of several desert shops around Akibahara. The next day, Chloe wonders what an average day for Kanna looks like. When Riko shows up to play with Kanna, the three end up swinging by Kanna and Riko’s elementary school, where Riko teaches Chloe how to swim. The three head on over to Riko’s house, where they play Twister, and end the day after swinging by the candy store where Taketo and Ilulu work. During the evening, Kobayashi invites everyone over to have a party on her apartment complex’s rooftops. While Kobayashi helps her into a yukata, Chloe asks Kobayashi how she came to know so many dragons. Kobayashi remarks that things sort of happened, and that things feel like a homestay, one that she’s come to enjoy very much. After an evening of barbeque and fireworks together, Chloe and Kanna retire for the evening. Chloe remarks that Kobayashi is special for having gotten to know so many dragons, to which Kanna replies that Kobayashi has a soft spot for dragons. In the morning, Chloe prepares for her flight back home to the States, and promises Riko and Kanna she’d like to visit again someday. As Kobayashi and the others watch Chloe’s plane take off, Kobayashi remarks that Chloe had been doing her best to take in everything, leading Tohru to remark that Chloe’s got the heart of a dragon, too. Later, Chloe does a video call with Kanna and Riko and says next time she visits, she’d like to stay for a full month. Kobayashi overhears this and smiles. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S‘ OVA was released back in January as a part of the final BD volume, and during its run, serves as a reminder of the craft that Kyoto Animation excels in presenting to viewers: it is simultaneously heartwarming and thought-provoking, utilising its runtime to reintroduce Chloe, who’d befriended Kanna during Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S‘ main run, and fulfilling her promise of visiting Japan leaves the second season off on a high note.

The Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S OVA is written to illustrate two different facets of travelling: on Chloe’s first day, Tohru and the others bring her to Akihabara, a district in Tokyo long regarded as the otaku centre of Japan for its neon lights, countless gadgets, anime and manga shops, and a dazzling array of eateries, from maid cafés to sweet shops of the sort that Elma ends up recommending to Chloe and Kanna. This first day is marked by visiting Akihabara’s highlights in a manner reminiscent of how tour groups operate; visitors are taken to the top highlights and experience something that is counted as a quintessential part of the experience. On the second day, Chloe travels in a much more personalised, intimate manner – visiting Kanna and Riko’s school, checking out a Japanese candy store and enjoying a quiet barbeque among friends as locals would. The sort of experiences one gains from the latter is counted as being more authentic, giving Chloe a glimpse into what Kanna’s everyday life is like. Both modes of travel have their merits: one hits iconic destinations and has iconic experiences with the tourist-oriented activities, while enjoying things as locals would provides one with unparalleled immersion into a given culture. That Chloe enjoys both to equal extent is something that Tohru and Kobayashi comment on – the inquisitiveness that Chloe brings to the table is reminiscent to that of a dragon, and in this way, Tohru is suggesting that being a dragon isn’t about possessing superhuman capabilities, but rather, possessing an open mind and a willingness to accept others. Kyoto Animation has always found creative, heartfelt ways of expressing simple truths to viewers through their stories and imagery, and this Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S OVA is no different: people are at their happiest when they’re broadminded and willing to embrace the fact that others are different than themselves.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Within the first few seconds of the OVA’s run, the appearance of an aircraft made it abundantly clear that this episode would feature Chloe, whom Kanna had befriended in New York: it turned out that Chloe had run away from home after a disagreement with her family, and since Kanna herself was in New York following a disagreement with Kobayashi, the two found themselves bonding immediately. That episode had been a standout in a season already chock-full of heartwarming moments, so I immediately felt that Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S‘ OVA, subtitled “My Attendant is a Dragon”, would be a joy to watch, as well.

  • I typically don’t like to judge a book by its cover, but in this case, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S‘ proved me correct out of the gates; I thoroughly enjoyed the OVA, which sees Chloe fly over to Japan to visit Kanna in Koshigaya, Saitama. Koshigaya is actually located only twenty six kilometres away from the heart of Tokyo, and Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S suggests that Chloe touches down at Haneda Airport, which primarily handles domestic flights. This choice was deliberately made so that the animators could really showcase downtown Tokyo in their work: international flights mostly go through Narita International Airport, but it’s located in the middle of a field some fifty klicks from the heart of Tokyo.

  • To ensure that Chloe’s first day in Japan is memorable, Tohru has arranged for her friends to give a tour. It is no surprise that, being otaku to some extent has shaped everyone’s perspectives. Makoto and Fafnir are brought in for the first spot, and they suggest a VR arcade. Akihabara is long counted as the premiere destination for all anime fans and is probably the best place to see what the modern, cutting-edge Japan is like: indeed, if one were in Tokyo and only had a limited timeframe, exploring Akihabara its surroundings would allow one to get a good sense of the nightlife, pop culture and architecture.

  • I will note that the VR headsets used in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S are probably last-generation technology: it requires the use of a backpack side console to power its functions, and positional-tracking cameras, and motion-tracker markers (the small balls seen on the characters’ gloves) to operate. The first-generation Oculus Quest is one step more evolved, using special cameras mounted into the headset itself and sophisticated controllers, allowing it to be significantly more portable and easy to set up. However, use of the older technology is chosen for an arcade is because it’s tried-and-true: Kanna, Chloe, Ilulu, Tohru and Fafnir have a great time in the game they play, although as Kobayashi remarks, it does look a little odd to be watching everyone move around without seeing the context.

  • Up next is something chosen to be similarly friendly for children: a capsule toy shop known as Gashapon. These are coin-operated machines with opaque capsules that dispense products of varying kinds, and here, there’s something for everyone, from toys that catch Chloe’s eye, to pre-cooked fried insects that Kanna takes an interest in. Ilulu comes across a machine vending models of varying bust sizes and reasons it’s something Taketo might like, although she draws a model with an A-cup. Later, Elma joins the party, having consented to help showcase food places because she herself was interested in checking some of the places out, too.

  • The first stop is a cotton candy vendor, and upon their first bite, Kanna characterises it as マジやばくね (Hepburn maji yabakune). It’s a bit of a slang phrase: yabakune is a mispronunciation of yabai (a phrase for expressing surprise at a bad situation, similar to “shit” in English), and maji is a quantifier for “really”. A literal translation doesn’t make much sense, but with a bit of context, the phrase is equivalent to the English expression that something is the shit (which native speakers immediately pick up as “really good” or “awesome”). If memory serves, Kanna picks it up from a TV show, although given that Japanese people use it, the phrase isn’t vulgar at all, unlike the closest English equivalent.

  • While Elma takes Chloe and the others to several more food places, several more places that elicit a マジやばくね (including a crepe shop), I enjoyed an Uncle Burger today. from A & W; after watching Maiko-san chi no Makanai-san, I suddenly developed a yearning to eat a fast food burger, and it hit me that I’d never actually tried an Uncle Burger before (I normally go for the Teen Burger since that offers the best value). The difference between the two burgers is simple enough: the patty is ⅔rds bigger than that of a Teen Burger, there’s two kinds of sauce, and red onions are used in placed of regular onions, resulting in a slightly more savoury flavour compared to the Teen Burger. All in all, when paired with A & W’s thick-cut Russet potato fries and root beer made from cane sugar, the Uncle Burger makes for a very satisfying lunch that is, as they say, マジやばくね, one I’m glad to have tried.

  • With the day over, Kobayashi prepares to take everyone home, and Tohru mentions that Kobayashi looking after everyone makes them feel like a proper family. When Elma and Tohru have a go at one another, Kobayashi nonchalantly allows them to keep fighting and heads on without them, defusing the fight without even lifting a finger. This impresses Chloe, who begins to see what made Kobayashi special per Kanna’s descriptions of her. While Kobayashi is presented as an everyman in the face of awe-inspiring supernatural phenomenon in the form of dragons, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid shows how open-mindedness is the key to living a fulfilling life and allows one to maturely handle things that might otherwise be unexpected.

  • The next morning, Chloe wishes to see what Kanna’s everyday life is about. The previous day had been equivalent to a tour group hitting iconic destinations, much as how Non Non Biyori Vacation had Renge, her family and friends do typical tourist activities before spending a more intimate day with a local. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S follows the same approach by allowing Chloe to see how the Japanese live day-to-day. The morning peace is broken when Riko shows up, but the conflict arising from Riko’s jealousy of anyone who gets close to Kanna is immediately dispelled. After Chloe hugs Riko, the latter takes an immediate liking to her.

  • Par the course for an OVA, aspects from Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S regular season make a return. Kanna decides to take everyone to her school so they can swim, and on the way, decide to play a game where they can only walk on the white-painted parts of the pavement. When Kanna hops onto an intricately painted manhole cover, leading Riko and Chloe to follow, the amount of contact causes Riko to lose it. Chloe subsequently is made to wear a silly hairdo, and she chases after Kanna and Riko in frustration briefly.

  • While Kanna swims like a champion, Chloe has trouble swimming. Riko decides to teach her, and by the end of the day, Chloe is able to swim and really enjoy the pool with her friends. The water effects in these scenes are gorgeous, and I’d hazard a guess that Kyoto Animation animates water by hand. Some anime use computer graphics to render water, or otherwise simplify its effects to reduce the amount of effort in animation, but given Kyoto Animation’s attention to detail, it is not inconceivable that attention was paid to everything in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S, including water effects.

  • After swimming, Kanna and Riko take Chloe to yet another Japanese experience that only locals would know about: buying dagashi (Japanese candies) from a local candy store. There are specialty candy stores in Canada of this sort, but for the most part, I get most of my candy from the local supermarkets; candy from specialty shops have more variety, but they do require a short drive to reach. While buying their candy, perhaps a consequence of consuming North American television, Chloe is able to spot something that few have spoken up about in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S: that Taketo has the hots for Ilulu. Ilulu herself suggests that he’s not in love with her per se, but rather, her bust, leading to a hilarious outburst from Taketo.

  • Kanna and Tohru head on up to the apartment’s roof for a summer party awaiting them, while Kobayashi stays behind to help Chloe into her yukata. During this time, Chloe wonders how Kobayashi ended up with so many dragons in her life, and Kobayashi herself remarks that things just happened. Friendships do indeed develop naturally on their own, and as Bocchi from Hitori Bocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu found, once one figures out how friendship works with that first friend, things cascade from there. Having precedence to go off of always makes things easier, and once one knows how something is done, the process becomes more straightforward. After meeting Tohru, Kobayashi becomes more open-minded such that by the time Kanna, Elma and Lucoa appear, she is able to take things in stride.

  • The end result of this is a scene that Kobayashi herself certainly would not have thought possible prior to meeting Tohru: that she’d be able to spend so much time in the company of those she’s come to care greatly about and those she can have a great time with. Now that everyone’s present, the party can begin: Elma immediately begins enjoying the barbeque with Fafnir, Shouta and Lucoa, while Kobayashi and Makoto begin drinking. While drunk, Kobayashi is a lot less reserved, and she presumably gets into a disagreement with Makoto regarding maids, leading her to try and strip Tohru. However, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S is a unique series in that while lewd jokes are made frequently, Kyoto Animation knows exactly where the line is drawn and never crosses it at any point.

  • I’d expect that nothing actually happens to Tohru, allowing the younger party-goers to enjoy their fireworks in peace: Chloe, Kanna, Riko, Ilulu and Taketo all marvel at the fireworks, and later, Kanna competes with Chloe and Riko to see who’s senko hanabi lasts the longest. On virtue of her dragon powers, Kanna wins, but when she poses to celebrate, the sparkler goes out, too. All in all, the evening that everyone shares together is evocative of what the summers are for: long, warm days perfect for exploring and having fun without a care in the world.

  • Before they sleep, Chloe asks about what Kanna thinks of Kobayashi, and learns from her that Kobayashi has a particular fondness for dragons. While reality offers examples that aren’t quite so dramatic, the lessons from Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S are applicable to real life: the entire series is a celebration of diversity and open-mindedness.

  • On the morning that Chloe is set to return home to Minnesota (the American state that shares its borders with Manitoba and Ontario, best known for the Minnesota Wild), Riko is barely fighting back tears, while Kanna remains as stoic as ever. To remind one another of their friendship, Kanna gifts to Chloe one half of a matching pair of keychains, and while it looks as though Chloe’s on the verge of tears, she manages to say farewell on a cheerful note, too.

  • The moment was reminiscent of the scene from last year’s Non Non Biyori Nonstop, where Renge was able to say goodbye to Honoka after spending some time together. When Renge first met Honoka, she’d been disappointed to tears upon learning Honoka had gone home earlier than expected, and recalling this memory, Renge was proud to have been able to properly say goodbye. Children have always created some of the strongest moments in anime, and it is with some irony that I remark that those who are quickest to reject slice-of-life series that deal in matters of everyday life are perhaps those who would benefit most from these messages. Series like Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S and Non Non Biyori are successful not from using obscure philosophical or psychological theories, but from practical, everyday lessons that encourage people to be polite, courteous and ultimately, be their best selves.

  • Space and framing is used to convey a sense of melancholy now that Chloe’s headed back home. It is here that Tohru remarks that Chloe also has the heart of a dragon – although dragons in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S refer to supernatural beings of prodigious strength and intellect, Tohru’s living on Earth has led her to understand that there is more to life than merely power from one’s capabilities: it is being able to care for one another and empathise with one another that makes living worthwhile. Messages like these dominate Kyoto Animation’s works, and while I cannot say I am a fan of all of Kyoto Animation’s work, I can say I greatly respect the studio for its portrayal of a wide range of topics.

  • Once Chloe returns home, she has a video call with Kanna and Riko – Chloe’s considering a longer stay that leaves both Kanna and Riko excited. While Kanna isn’t the most expressive of the characters in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, longtime viewers have acclimatised to her mannerisms and body language, much as they have with nuances in Renge’s character, to the point where it’s quite easy to spot how everyone is feeling. This is one of the joys of watching anime; learning the characters and empathising with their experiences is one aspect that I find worthwhile. With this post on Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S‘ OVA in the books, I believe that I’ve now completed Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid as far as can be reasonably completed. I hope that folks will have a chance to see this OVA, as it is a worthwhile addition to the series.

Altogether, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S‘ OVA wraps up the second season in an immensely satisfying and conclusive fashion, giving viewers the pleasure of knowing that Chloe was able to fulfil her wish of visiting Japan and seeing what Kanna’s life is like, as well as meeting Kobayashi, who’d come to perceptibly shape Kanna’s world-views and help her mature as a result. Kyoto Animation has always found ways to leave viewers feeling content when their series ended, and this OVA is no exception, speaking to their ability in creating moving, heartwarming stories that have a tangible, positive impact on viewers. With the whole of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S now in the books, one does wonder what directions Kyoto Animation will have in the future: their next major project appears to be an anime adaptation of 20 Seiki Denki Mokuroku, a novel that follows Inako Momokawa, a young woman who lives in Meiji-era Kyoto. Her life is a tricky one, but one day, she encounters Kihachi Sakamoto, a man who promises to do away with the old gods and usher in an era of progress, brought on by the introduction of electricity. Such a story immediately fills the mind with wonder, and Kyoto Animation’s previous record has meant that such stories are brought to life in an incredibly visceral, immersive and vibrant manner. Although 20 Seiki Denki Mokuroku‘s status is unknown as a consequence of the 2019 arson at their main office in Kyoto, Kyoto Animation’s indomitable resolve (and the fact that they were able to see both Violet Evergarden: The Movie and Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S successfully to completion) means that I remain confident that whatever they’ve got awaiting viewers will be another top-tier work: Kyoto Animation has never sacrificed quality for speed, and whether or not their next work is 20 Seiki Denki Mokuroku or something else, I remain more than happy to remain patient as they work on their craft. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S was a shining example of the commitment Kyoto Animation’s staff have towards their work, and as their latest OVA shows, the time they spend honing a given work is well worth the wait.

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S: Whole Series Review and Reflections

“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.

Valentines and Hot Springs!: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid OVA Review and Reflection

“When you have seen as much of life as I have, you will not underestimate the power of obsessive love.” –Horace Slughorn, Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince

On Valentines’ Day, Tohru is unsuccessful in giving Kobayashi chocolates spiked with a love potion. Kanna receives chocolates from her classmates and Kobayashi shares chocolates at work. Later, Kobayashi accidentally consumes the spiked chocolates from Tohru and becomes drunk. Makoto invites everyone to a hot springs; after a busy day spent relaxing and doing the sorts of things one might do at a hot springs, Tohru gives Kobayashi regular chocolates. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is a unique entry among my “Terrible Anime Challenge” series in many ways – besides being an absolutely engaging and enjoyable series, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid also has an OVA that accompanied the seventh BD volume. Par the course for an OVA, it’s an opportunity to have the characters play off one another in romance, and further becomes a thinly-veiled justification to put the characters in a hot springs; traditionally, episodes such as these contribute very little to the narrative. However, this is not to say that OVAs are devoid of value, and my enjoyment of OVAs typically come from presenting characters in a much more relaxed, or even whimsical moment that shows different aspects to their personalities. In Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, Fafnir is given more exposition: despite his disdain for humanity, that he goes along with customs such as Valentines’ Day and hot springs trips in reasonable accordance with Makoto indicates a degree of begrudging respect for the things that humanity does.

A mile wide and a mile deep, is how I described Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid in my original review: there was enough by way of themes in the thirteen episodes dealing with acceptance of new culture, the importance of family, shifts in perspective through immersion, not taking things for granted, et cetera, such that audiences could relate to various aspects of the show in their own manner of choosing. Without deliberately and forcibly pressing its messages, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid presents ideas through everyday events, having the characters learn and discover things naturally. All of this is encapsulated in comedy, making the characters more relatable. The OVA does the same in its shorter runtime – it is a miniaturised Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, condensing the style and sense of the entire series into a single episode and providing the unique brand of humour the series is known for. In particular, Tohru’s attempts to seduce Kobayashi using a love potion, and Kobayashi catching on was quite amusing. It should be no surprise that Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid utilises its world well to set up humour, and the jokes seen in the OVA have lost none of their potency.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Twenty screenshots for a single OVA is usually the norm for a full-fledged series that I’m writing for, and Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is no exception. Had I done a more conventional review for this series, I would’ve likely given things a thirty-screenshot talk. Even now, I’m impressed that what looked to be a frivolous series could cover so many interesting topics adequately over so short a run.

  • It’s no surprise that at this point in time, Kobayashi has known Tohru long enough so that she immediately suspects that there’s something funny in the Valentine’s chocolates. While Tohru might be a dragon more powerful and terrible than even J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ancalagon the Black, Kobayashi always manages to rein in Tohru with naught more than a glance. During the screen capture session, I managed to obtain a hilarious frame of Tohru pulling the chocolates away from Kobayashi, declaring it to be a defective batch, after Kobayashi warns her about spiking the chocolate.

  • Misunderstandings involving Kanna are always defused quickly in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, and after Riko wonders why everyone is so quick to give Kanna chocolates, Kanna asks for Riko’s chocolates, as well. Despite not receiving any chocolates in return, Kanna’s chosen approach, to eat the chocolate straight out of Riko’s hands, sends her into a bliss.

  • Back home, Kanna’s want for chocolate leads her to find the chocolate that Tohru’s hidden away. This is the chocolate spiked with love potion: chemicals that alter one’s brain chemistry to induce sexual desire certainly exist (aphrodisiacs), the love potions of fiction are liquid medicines that can induce feelings of love. J.K. Rowling writes that no artificial substance could recreate something as complex as love: her love potions only induce infatuation over short periods of time. Given Tohru’s reactions while adding love potion to the chocolate, one would suppose that she’s aware of this.

  • According to Pottermore, the countermeasure for a love potion involves, Wiggentree twigs and Gurdyroot mixed with castor oil. I’m willing to bet that magical substances in the twigs and Gurdyroot must interact in some way with the triester of glycerol and ricinoleic acid in castor oil to neutralise whatever agents are in the love potion. The love potions of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid work differently, and although some claim that the ethanol “cancelled out” the love potion, from a chemistry perspective, this is incorrect. The ethanol present would have been altered in some way (decomposition, or replacement) so that distinct ethanol properties (e.g. inducing drunkenness) would no longer be present. Instead, I’m guessing that the ethanol acted as a catalyst for another reaction with one of the ingredients Tohru added, or else was a non-player in the reaction that neutralised the love potion. Either way, it results in some comedy of the likes not previously seen in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.

  • The OVA consists of two distinct acts, with the second being set around the group’s hot springs trip. They reach the onsen by means of the shinkansen. It typifies anime for depicting various aspects of everyday life in Japan with high faithfulness, and one of the stories I frequently hear is that people often will visit Japan with the aim of recreating their anime experiences, right down to riding trains and the like. For me, riding the trains of Japan were no different than the MTR of Hong Kong, or the LRT back home.

  • When I was in Japan last year, one of my favourite experiences was indeed the onsen. While I live fairly close to the Rocky Mountains and the hot springs of Banff, the geothermal waters of our national parks are actually quite mild in temperature. By comparison, the waters of an onsen were perfect, and I melted in the warm waters of the pool. I had the place to myself that evening, and one thing I noticed was that the (female) cleaning staff seem to have no aversions to continuing their work while I changed.

  • Watching Elma enjoying her food in bliss is most relatable: according to meterologists, we’re significantly colder than seasonal, and the past three weeks that I’ve been back home were characterised by non-stop overcast misery, gloom, and snowfall. Coupled with the chilly weather, I succumbed to a cold and spent several hours of each day in the past week sleeping. Despite this, I’m still getting my work done, and I’m on the mend now. Yesterday, I stepped out for dinner under moody skies: having recovered a fair bit, I decided it was prudent to enjoy myself but not eat too much, so I had a chicken steak sizzling plate with mushroom and red-wine sauce, corn, egg-fried-rice and fries at the local bistro. Dark chicken meat is my go-to meat of choice when I’m not at my best – highly nutritious, it’s also tender and tasty.

  • I often feel that, if I had a sauna at hand, I could spend a quarter hour in there upon feeling the onset of a cold. One of the classic methods to lessen the severity of a cold that my parents employ, is to drink 盒仔茶 (jyutping hap6 zai2 caa4, known more commonly as Kam Wo Tea), a bitter herbal tea with centuries of history. I’m personally on the rocks about its efficacy in stopping a cold, since I always end up requiring a day to rest regardless of whether or not I take it, but as far as relieving a sore throat goes, Kam Wo Tea does eliminate it within a day if taken right when one feels a cold incoming.

  • One way or another, with this cold largely behind me, I’m going to return to my routine very soon. I’ve noticed that blogging output for this past month has dropped by half: things have been remarkably busy of late. With this being said, as we move into October, and the fall anime season, posts will come out at a slow and steady rate. A few shows have caught my eye and together with the continuation of my CLANNAD review at the ten year anniversary, I think that this blog will continue to endure for a little while longer.

  • All of the dragons have a noticeable bust, and because my previous Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid post did not do so, I’ll capitalise on this post to feature one of Elma. Her constant bickering with Tohru, weakness in foods and interactions with Kobayashi are fun to watch. Earlier, a short skit in the OVA shows Elma trying to make chocolates of her own, but fails to create anything to give away, as she ends up eating all of the ingredients. Far from Tolkien’s clever and cunning fire-breathers, or Rowling’s untamed beasts, the dragons of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid are much more human in nature despite their origins being both fallible and adorable.

  • Kobayashi’s decision to chill with Kanna draws ire from both Riko and Tohru, after Kobayashi wonders why all dragons manifest as attractive humans. When asked about what she looks like, the images of Kobayashi in dragon form are not particularly illuminating. It is common practise to drink cold milk after a soak in the hot springs, but during my trip to Japan, I did not bring any change with me for the vending machines, only having small bills the machines did not accept. However, I did have a bottle of cold water, and downed this in the blink of an eye, so I can attest to the refreshing properties of a cold beverage after exiting the onsen.

  • Because I was on a schedule, my next move was to hit the hay so as to be rested for the next day’s itinerary. The cast of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid have home field advantage: their vacation is the onsen, so they make use of the inn’s amenities, and play ping pong here. After a spirited match between Tohru and Elma, Riko and Kanna play a much slower match that Kobayashi enjoys watching.

  • Shouta immediately hits the hay after growing flustered upon seeing Quetzalcoatl and Elma. The same age as Riko and Kanna, Shouta is portrayed as being typical of boys his age – he is not so good with teasing, and earlier, storms off after Quetzalcoatl asks if he’s interested in a souvenir. Makoto has the sense to understand that Shouta was interested in the sword keychain and buys one for him.

  • While Riko and Kanna are fast asleep, Tohru and Kobayashi share another moment together. Compared to Kyoto Animation’s other works, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is comparatively simpler in terms of artwork; the impressive lighting and visual effects of things like Hibike! Euphonium or Violet Evergarden are absent, and the anime is more in line with the likes of Tamako Market in its design. However, the animation itself remains of a solid quality, and I imagine that Kyoto Animation carefully picks the appropriate level of detail for each anime that it does.

  • This is not to say that Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid has poor artwork: a look at the town by night shows that even while working in a simpler environment, Kyoto Animation nonetheless presents it in a rich, appropriate manner to best capture the emotions of a particular moment. The warm lights of the town here stand in contrast with the cool of the night, and sets the mood for a romantic exchange between Tohru and Kobayashi.

  • It turns out that Tohru had made chocolates properly for Kobayashi, and this time, Koyabashi decides that Tohru is being honest with her feelings in this exchange. Audiences will have also picked up on the differences – the Tohru trying to give the spiked chocolates away was more sly and mischievous, whereas here, Tohru exhibits the same nerves that might be seen when giving chocolates to one’s love interest.

  • Kobayashi accepts the gift and munches on the chocolates, before holding her hand out to Tohru and offering to walk back together to the inn. I realise that I am not particularly well-received in some places for my so-called refusal to address yuri in my discussion, and I’ve explained this previously – social and cultural ramifications are not quite as important for me when it comes to addressing this topic, and I only handle it if it is immediately relevant to a show. In shows where romance is present as a central part of or as a natural development in the plot, I will discuss it. However, where it is strictly used as humour (e.g. Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? and Harukana Receive, for instance), I will typically not go into further details.

  • It was a riot when Tohru asks Kobayashi whether or not this is the part where they breed. It’s the most open attempt from Tohru yet, and while Kobayashi is quick to shut things down, there is no exasperation or frustration. It is doubtful that Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid would ever reach that level, keeping things PG and only hinting at Tohru’s want to take things up a notch for humour, but this is quite okay.

  • On the way, back, Kobayashi speaks with Makoto, thanking him for having organised the tour and feeling that with everyone together as often as they are now, they’ve become friends. It is true that since Tohru’s arrival, Kobayashi’s life has become rather more colourful and exciting: for the challenges dragons bring, they also introduce company and joy that has a nontrivial impact on Kobayashi. With this post as my last for the month, I note here that I’m now six posts away from reaching my next major milestone of one thousand posts, and that I’m opening October with a return to CLANNAD, kicking the party off with ~After Story~. Following my conclusion of the first season, I remarked that I would continue to write about CLANNAD if even one reader expressed interest.

One aspect of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid that I did not cover in great depth was the overt attraction Tohru has for Kobayashi: I do not give romantic love between female characters much consideration unless it is present in a way that affects the narrative. In the case of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, the absence of this romance would mean that notions of family and discovery would not be as straightforward. Often, the strong feelings in romance drive profound changes in individuals, and Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is convincing in using this as a reason for why Tohru and Kobayashi change over the course of the anime. Further to this, a lack of romance would deprive the series of its ability to convey humour: in its absence, many moments would feel much drier. With this being said, it is quite unnecessary to read too deeply into this; past discussions on romance from an academic perspective have proven to be, quite frankly, a waste of time that yielded little more than hurt feelings. I’m in the business of watching and enjoying anime, not persuading closed-minded people to stop attempting to treat every series as a work demanding literary analysis and comparison with classical Japanese, after all. We step away from this matter and note that the OVA for Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid was released a shade more than a year ago, and with this OVA in the books, I imagine that this is the last time I will be writing about Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid in the foreseeable future.

Terrible Anime Challenge: Human Lessons and Dragons in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

“Thor Odinson, you have betrayed the express command of your king. Through your arrogance and stupidity, you have opened these peaceful realms and innocent lives to the horror and desolation of war! You are unworthy of these realms! Unworthy of your title! You’re unworthy!…of the loved ones you have betrayed. I now take from you your power! In the name of my father and his father before, I, Odin Allfather, cast you out!” –Odin, Thor

Kobayashi is a software developer who encounters a dragon in the mountains one night after becoming intoxicated, and when she removes a sword from the dragon, she earns the dragon’s gratitude. Introducing herself as Tohru, the dragon decides to become Kobayashi’s maid. While Tohru has the power of the dragons backing her, and she becomes highly efficient with housework, she struggles to understand human customs and values. Over time, other dragons Kanna, Quetzalcoatl, Fafnir and Elma show up: Kobayashi takes things in stride, doing her best to look after Kanna and Tohru while introducing them to human society and keep up with the dragons’ wild antics. Kobayashi moves to a new apartment to accommodate her new roommates, Tohru becomes familiar with the shopping district’s merchants, and Kanna goes to elementary school, befriending classmate Riko. The unlikely roommates celebrate human customs, and as they spend more time together, come to regard one another as a family. Tohru regards Kobayashi as a lover and clashes with her father, the Emperor of Demise; the devotion that Tohru shows Kobayashi also inspires Kobayashi to revisit her own family, after she accepts that she’s become quite distant from them. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (Kobayashi-san Chi no Meidoragon) ran during the winter 2017 season for thirteen episodes – with Kyoto Animation helming the series, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid was counted as a superb anime for its unique characters and their colourful interactions, striking a balance between the comedic and the introspective.

As it turns out, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid delivers more than superb character growth and interactions: during the course of its thirteen episode (and one OVA) run, the anime covers a wide range of themes. Seemingly unrelated moments in Kobayashi’s life and various experiences come together to create a powerful payout for viewers – as Koabayashi spends time with Tohru, she learns to look back on her own life and appreciate her blessings, while Kanna’s presence also brings out a more motherly side to her personality. The changes in Kobayashi’s life lead somewhere tangible and meaningful: slice-of-life comedies often present light-hearted misadventures with limited purpose, and while they can be quite successful, that Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid goes a step further to show that these adventures can lead to a profound change in one’s life for the better. Kobayashi had settled into a status quo in not spending time with her family, focusing on her career, but the introduction of disruption gradually nudges her to think otherwise. Meanwhile, the destructively-inclined Tohru slowly comes to understand humanity to a much greater extent than she had previously, showing that immersion and exposure provides a perspective on things that cannot be acquired in any other way. Each of Kanna, Quetzalcoatl, Fafnir and Elma similarly find a part of human society worth appreciating, and the magic in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is thus – covering enough topics with the depth that it warrants, while at once dealing with a wide breadth of themes that viewers can relate to. The show is a mile wide and a mile deep, featuring something for everyone, and therefore, it is quite unsurprising that Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid was so well received amongst viewers.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Tohru is presented as having romantic feelings for Kobayashi even early in the anime, as seen with her soppy expression here while handling one of Kobayashi’s shirts. While Kobayashi seems blissfully unaware of this, her treatment of Tohru goes from being that of someone to look after to an equal and a peer was one of the best transformations through Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. Character development and growth is the central strength of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid – things proceed at just the right pacing, with characters having a chance to bounce off one another and also take in quieter moments.

  • The title for this post is actually a bit of a misnomer: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is certainly not a terrible anime by any stretch, and under normal circumstances, would’ve earned a strong recommendation from me. The reason why it was made into a Terrible Anime Challenge post was because I accidentally watched the episodes in the wrong order and found myself buried. I decided to wait until the series ended before continuing, and my usual habits of procrastination kicked in. A year-and-a-half later, I realised I’d still not watched this yet, and so, decided to start from the beginning. With the series in the books, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is something that easily falls into the category of “it’s as every bit as good as the reception out there describes”.

  • Kobayashi has no given name, and I imagine that she is intended to represent the everyman. Described as lacking womanly features, Kobayashi is probably designed in this manner to represent an ordinary individual who finds herself with two cohabiting dragons taking human form. Her down-to-earth and hard working personality is offset by a few quirks, such as a love for maids – many viewers will relate to different aspects of Kobayashi’s character and find her a suitable perspective to observe Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid from.

  • Early on, Kobayashi is exasperated by Tohru and Kanna’s idiosyncrasies and lack of knowledge about the human world. However, she nonetheless does her best to look after them; after moving into a larger apartment, teaches Tohru the basics of human interactions to the point where she can go shopping without causing destruction, and enrols Kanna in a local elementary school to give her a chance to spend time and learn with children. As time goes on, things settle into a routine, and Kobayashi comes to regard both Kanna and Tohru as family.

  • Once Kobayashi begins acclimatising to her life with two dragons, a new status quo is reached, and to keep things dynamic, new dragons are introduced. Quetzalcoatl (Lucoa) is another dragon who was banished and friends with Tohru. She’s frequently presented as a bit of a tease and enjoys flaunting what she has, to the general embarrassment fo those around her – fanservice in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is noticeable, but for the most part, is not a serious distraction from the more interesting points of discussion.

  • Because of her origins, Kanna is exceptionally skilled with academics and athletics, earning the admiration of her peers. She initially antagonises classmate Riko Saikawa, but innocence leads her to view Riko’s hostility as a sign of friendship. After counting Riko a friend, Kanna spends a considerable amount of time with her and eventually, Riko comes to develop a crush on Kanna, becoming weak in the knees whenever Kanna touches her.

  • While Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is set in a seemingly-ordinary world, Shouta’s “summoning” Quetzalcoatl and his father’s mention of magic suggest that there’s a bit more to this universe than meets the eye. For the most part, however, the anime constrains this to the dragon’s abilities, and beyond this, their world is otherwise quite ordinary; things are focused on the daily comings and goings among the characters.

  • Yūki Kuwahara provides Tohru’s voice, and attesting to my narrow band of interests in anime, I’ve not heard of Kuwahara in her other performances besides Hai-Furi‘s Sumire Kishima. With this in mind, Kuwahara captures every aspect of Tohru nicely, from those moments where she entertains wiping the world out for fun, to doting on Kobayashi and attempting to sneak chunks of her tail into cooking by ways of expressing affection.

  • Depending on the world, dragon meat is either regarded as a delicacy or poisonous, and because Kobayashi expresses surprise at the things that Tohru might find edible, the nature of dragon meat in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid will remain a mystery. Tohru is a lovable character whose taste for wanton destruction is tempered by her devotion towards Kobayashi; that Kobayashi can talk her out of rampages is a sign of the two’s closeness.

  • Later down the line, Elma appears on earth and becomes stranded. In order to support herself, she takes up a job with the same company that Kobayashi works with. Ordinarily quite dedicated to her duties and standing directly against Tohru, she’s hampered by a fondness for sweets and often has trouble exercising restraint where they are involved. Elma is voiced by Yūki Takada, who had previously played as New Game!‘s Aoba Suzukaze.

  • Kanna comes to regard Kobayashi as a mother of sorts over time: having looked after Kanna, providing her with handmade lunches for school and taking her shopping, Kobayashi also occasionally teaches Kanna about the human world and encourages her. The joy of this interaction is that despite having had no experience previously, circumstance naturally brings out this side of Kobayashi. Nothing in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid ever comes across as being forced, and this further augments the experience the anime provides.

  • Maria Naganawa’s performance as Kanna is one that she’s become well-known for: Naganawa was cast as Slow Start‘s Kamuri later on, a petite, soft-spoken girl who greatly resembles Kanna in mannerism and appearance and later plays the platelets of Cells at Work. In general, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is more of a heart-warming experience, but Kanna also adds a degree of adorableness to things.

  • While Kobayashi originally had not planned on attending Kanna’s sports festival, she later changes her mind and makes an appearance. Kobayashi is said to have little interest in visiting her family, presumably owing to some difficulties, but as the events of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid progress, she begins to regard Tohru and Kanna as family. This gradually begins reshaping her own perspectives on what family is.

  • How Kobayashi met Tohru is told in flashback: after removing a sword from Tohru, Kobayashi spends a drunken evening with Tohru and piques Tohru’s curiosity about humanity.

  • The last anime to reference The Little Match Girl was GochiUsa, when Sharo imagined herself as the little girl of the story, who was made to sell matches and succumbed to the cold. However, in death, she is relieved of her suffering. Curiously enough, it was through anime that I heard about The Little Match Girl: this story was something I’d never heard of during my days as a primary and secondary student, and from the looks of it, the story has been referenced in anime. Shirobako and Yuru Yuri both have callbacks to this story.

  • While Riko was initially quite hostile towards Kanna, the transformation is nothing short of hilarious once the two become friends – Riko’s reaction to physical contact with Kanna is a recurring joke that is always entertaining to watch. One aspect about the dragons is that for their incredible power and distain for humanity, they can dial it back and doing meaningful things for people. During Christmas, the dragons put on an entertaining play for the shopping district; despite being fraught with tension, the play itself is successful and well-received.

  • Mochi is eaten during the Japanese New Year for luck, and in Japanese folklore, rabbits live on the moon, eternally pounding mochi. This is derived from Chinese folklore, where the Jade Rabbit aids the goddess Chang’e in pounding ingridients for the elixir of life. It so happens that today is the Mid-Autumn Festival, and while a combination of a busy schedule and inclement weather precluded enjoying moon cakes under a full moon, I nonetheless celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival with roast chicken and char siu. It was a relaxing evening, which was much welcomed.

  • Admittedly, it is refreshing to write a shorter post not for Harukana Receive – time makes fools of everyone, and with the summer season drawing to a close, I look into the autumn anime season now to see what shows I am watching. The two shows that catch my eye are P.A. Works’ Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara, and Anima Yell!, which I’ve tentatively decided to do talks for after three episodes and overall reviews for. Beyond this, there’s Sword Art Online: Alicization (pronounced “Ali-sa-zation”, rather than “ali-kai-tion” as I originally figured it would be) – this is a big anime, spanning four cours, and I’ll be watching this, but not reviewing it with regular frequency.

  • Tohru’s father is the Emperor of Demise and strictly believes that dragons should not interfere on Earth. In some ways, he is similar to Odin Allfather: he has little desire for dragons to ravage Earth with their war and cares for Tohru’s well-being. Seeing Tohru living on Earth with Kobayashi would be to him what Thor’s actions on Jotunheim resumed a war between Asgard and the Frost Giants, lending itself to the page quote. When a one-on-one confrontation between Tohru and her father breaks out, Kobayashi intervenes, managing to convince the Emperor of Demise to relent and allow Tohru to stay. Both Thor and Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid similarly involve a higher being become changed by their experiences on and becoming close to someone on Earth, as well; coming out of their time on Earth a stronger individual for it.

  • After Kobayashi stands up to Tohru’s father and succeeds in persuading him to trust Tohru, she comes to the realisation that families of all sorts will have their differences and must work out these differences. This leads Kobayashi to finally visit her parents and, showing the impact that Tohru’s had in her life, Kobayashi invites Tohru along. This brings my Terrible Anime Challenge post to an end: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is certainly not terrible, earning an A grade (4 points on the 4-point scale and a nine of ten): it’s an anime that has deservedly earned its praise, and is also a reminder to me that my usual tendencies of procrastination means that I often put off watching excellent shows for far too long. There isn’t anything I can do about this per se, but the fact is that there are many good shows out there worth watching; Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is one of them.

Consequently, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is an anime that I can easily relate to and recommend to viewers: simultaneously hilarious and introspective, making use of both the extraordinary and the mundane, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid shows that the boundary between the normal and incredible is blurred from a certain perspective because the ordinary can be just as important, not to be taken for granted. The culmination of these messages, with the smooth and consistently high-quality animations that Kyoto Animation is known for, strong voice acting and a generally engaging story, means that Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is well-deserving of the praises the anime have earned. With the manga still ongoing, this is a series I would have no trouble in following should a continuation be made, and it is only now that I will remark that the reason I had not watched Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid sooner was because I began watching the series out of order, fell behind in watching the series and then decided to shelve the series until it finished. However, I am glad that the series did not fall to the back of my mind; sufficient excitement in the community led me to pick Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid back up, to see if the series was indeed worthy of the acclaim it has garnered, and now that I’ve finished, I think that the answer to this question is a resounding “yes”.