Dragon’s cry with their teeth. Will we learn what that means!?
|We are drawn into the memories or dreams or maybe even the nightmares of a past life. While this short – and very exacting – story might escape a logical progression, it is still capable of evoking a sense of wonder, and even more important, a sense of sacrifice. The Dragon Dentists seem to be caretakers of and for an awesome power, one that traces it’s roots across several battles and many wars. I immediately wanted to know more about this world as it managed to capture a feeling of past epics. What are the sides in the war and the dragon’s place in it? What’s so important about the teeth? Why dentists and where do they all come from? Even more important, will there more to this story? Metanorn’s Animator Expo post (edited for this one)|
Psychopomp * and Circumstances
Just your average suspended village!
So my introduction is taken from what I said about the original seven-minute-short released back in 2015. I really liked it then, and after watching this first of a two part OVA/TV special, I like it even more now. Now in some respects it looks likesome my questions were answered, but maybe not in such a clear a manner as I would like? Well, there is more. I found the new 45-minute OVA style presentation to be quite fun to watch, and even more tantalizing than Expo version. For the record, the meat of that short is repackaged and presented in this one, contextualized to fit the ongoing narrative this show is looking to expand upon. So you’re not really missing much if you have seen the previous outing. Now, with all that in mind, what do we have going on?
The things you find in teeth…
I’m a military machine! I’m the line between life and death!
First, I’m going to get at least a touch scholarly. I won’t overburden, however, as I don’t think most of you are that interested in the deep lore, and I’m not exactly the most qualified person to do so; I’m just a happy ameteur, I can find links and connections the same as anyone else, one of the many things the internet is for. With that sort of thing in mind, I hope I don’t get to Greek for you…The Dragon Dentist is the work of Hideaki Anno’s Studio khara – and like the way I spell my online handle, they use a lowercase letter. Khara (χαρα) means joy in Greek; and I’m sure you’ve seen that spelling in the studio’s logo. In another link, we go back to Eva just a bit as that the story borrows heavily from Koine Greek Biblical apocrypha to tell it’s tale. The Dragon Dentists in this story are, for the most part, psychopomps. They stand on the line between life and the veil beyond death, and the mysteries that lie thereafter. That’s another Greek term, one that finds a connection to Japanese Shinto and Buddhism in their shikigami…Oh, there’s also dragon’s teeth in Greek myth, and that one has one heck of a Spartan/Military connection.
Bleach!? So how many episodes does Nonoko get to be in!?
Ok, so we got some academic stuff out of the way, what does all that mean to the story? Well, I got you to the shikigami, didn’t I? That’s the meat of this show…and it boils it all down to the thing The Dragon Dentist most resembles, and that is Bleach. Now I have to stop myself from doing a deeper dive. I’m only tangentially knowledgeable of that show – I watched the first two episodes ten years ago – so I won’t tell people stuff they already know and can inform me on. But I think even the most cursory glances shows a connection. The devil will be in the details, of course, so the connection will fall apart the longer you look at it. But, you have: an ingenue male character introduced under special/mysterious circumstances into a mix of fairly typical yet bizarrely dangerous situations involving icky death monsters – only here the monsters are draconic dental caries, a daily activity taken care of by a colorful ensemble cast…not to mention a special surprise by this OVAs end. Also, like Bleach the characters are so very neatly appointed; you can pick them out in a crowd – everyone loves hats and weapons! Bell stands out as the newcomer taking the position from the short’s presentation of Nonoko. They live and they learn, and then the bad stuff happens. But all the while they got a job to do and that provides the backbone. All the while you get a ton of technical terms that go by way to quick for me at times – that’s a lot of mushi- and functions that are introduced but not developed more beyond that, baring one special case. More on that in my final thoughts.
Dentifrices and Dragons…
But before I wrap up, I want to give a shout out to @Yuyucow, a purveyor of the very fine image board Sakuagabooru, and their blog. When I was giving this post my initial thoughts, I found their recent tweets to be handy in distilling a great many of those thoughts I had coming out of my first viewing. I’m often very clumsy when it comes to the specifics of the creators and animators behind the shows I’ve come to love, and in the past I don’t think I’ve covered that aspect very well.
So, this is some valuable information when it comes to the make up of Studio khara and how that influences the show in question. kViN covers the distinctions of the direction/writing/creation process in a succinct and friendly manner, and anything I would say about it here would be a simple act of veiled copypasta, anyway. So this is a tip of the hat and a thank you to a good source. Seeing all this really makes me want to check out Otaro Maijo’s previous work, and rediscover the finer points of Tsurumaki’s work – oh, goodness, more for my every growing pile of fun stuff to check out!
It’s ironic, given the pedigree of the studio, it’s creator’s checkered past, and the sheer amount of production this show takes, that I can, more or less, describe the plot of the show in very few words. It’s a bit of a boondoggle, really. Hello stranger, let me introduce you to the world, the rules, and the things you will find in it. These things are for this, this thing is for that and look out for these other things; this one in particular is a nasty piece of work, but I’m sure it won’t be important to the plot, LATER ON!!! It’s a basic story structure, and one that we’ve seen before. However, that’s the purpose of art – refinement, experimentation, perspective, new ideas, old ideas, form, and function. All of that can be applied to a basic and easy to understand framework, and for a wide audience, that is probably the best thing to do. Besides, it’s the performance that really counts, and khara was right on the money. Simple story, great character design, rich art direction, and a powerful and expansive world. The show is gorgeous…So be back next time, and I’ll cover some of the finer points that fill in the larger story structure – exactes on the characters, the overall plot, the warships, the weird world it’s in, and the like. Now it’s all you, tell me what you thought of the first part, and what you’re looking forward to next time…
…don’t forget to BRUSH!