Meidoragon – SeriesEnd – METANORN

Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon – Series Review

Sometimes you just get what you want.

winter15-highw We now interrupt your flow of new series to put a wrap on the best one from last season. And now we’re back to the kind of series that you don’t want to ever be over. I wasn’t super sold on Kobayashi-san-chi no Meidoragon at the first episode, but wow did it make up for that ever since.

All of the Heart

Settling in to an idyllic home life

When I first had heard that Kyoto Animation was going to make an anime of Meidoragon, I thought “Oh, well, they do everything well, that’ll probably be fun to watch.” I had read a few chapters of it, and it seemed nice enough, but like most 4-koma manga, it was fairly lightweight and I wasn’t really in the mood for that at the moment. Plus, they were going to adapt it, so I try to stay away from reading things that are going to get anime adaptations. I figured it was going to be kind of a palate cleanser after the excellence in Hibike! Euphonium, and go for more laughs and fun. And while it definitely had fun throughout the series, it added so much more that was completely unexpected.

The dragon of self-doubt lives in all of us

At its core, Meidoragon is about relationships. You might focus on Kobayashi and Tooru, or Kanna and Saikawa, or even Fafnir and Takiya. But one thing that really came through in the way the show was presented was that it’s also about your relationship with yourself. Who are you, who do you want to be, what do you want to be doing, do you like yourself, do you like the way other people seem to see you? And it was this subject that the introspective parts of the show really focused on. You can have the comedy, you can have the snappy dialogue and the romance-y vibes, but what always underpinned it was how much all the characters liked themselves more when they were finding relationships they liked to be in. Kobayashi changes from a quiet loner, who admits that she didn’t smile much, to someone who enjoys the bustle of a happy home. She even admits that she doesn’t have much experience with being wanted, and has a hard time understanding and acknowledging that fact.

Going back to the way you were is hard

Dragon Soul

Fafnir has found a compatible person

In the same vein, all of the dragons are searching for that same kind of belonging of self. As I go through the show, I realize that Tooru doesn’t really know who she is or what she is like. She keeps going back to “I’m a dragon”, but we see as it goes that that’s more of a classification, not a description. And her backstory, hinted at by Lucoa and even the times she talks about her past or Kobayashi thinks about meeting Tooru, she’s an outcast. Dragons are loners, and she was more playing the role of a dragon than being a person who is a dragon. And maybe that idea that dragons are loners is more of an externally imposed restriction than an inherent part of their makeup. We see that Tooru’s finding of more of a sense of belonging spurs the other dragons to search for the same thing, which they are finding with varying degrees of success. Lucoa ends up so desperate for it that she stays with Shouta, who has the potential to be a good friend to her, but at the moment isn’t really giving her what she’s looking for besides the potentiality of belonging. Of the rest of the dragons, Fafnir is probably the most successful at finding that person to be with, and even though the show doesn’t go into Takiya’s life much, you get the feeling he was much the same as Kobayashi, and while there isn’t necessarily the obvious physical relationship between Fafnir and Takiya, there’s definitely a connection that they make that is working for the two of them.

Lucoa comes off as the most desperate

Even Kanna wants something that I think Saikawa can’t really give right now

Of the dragons, Kanna is in more of a unique position, in that she willingly takes on that persona of being a child, even though she’s certainly older than Kobayashi. She’s never had that childhood of a doting parent, and there’s a reason that it’s attractive. And even if Kobayashi isn’t really that doting parent, it’s something that she’s learning, as we see from the episode where she makes the decision to make time for Kanna’s school athletics day. And while it can be thought of as “playing at a family”, you could ask the question why is it “playing”? For me, it’s even more important because all of them had a choice and they choose to be together. People frequently have the idea that “family” – parents, brothers, sisters, etc – should be more important than “friends”, but that’s not really been an idea I care for. Why does accident of birth carry more weight than mutual agreement? Why should you accept behaviors from your siblings or parents or children (when they’re old enough to know better) that you wouldn’t accept from a friend or acquaintance? And why should you care more for people you didn’t choose to have a relationship with? This doesn’t come from some place where I’ve divorced my family or anything. They’re fine people, but for the most part, the only common interests we have are getting people to spell our last names correctly. So when Kobayashi tells Takiya that it’s not that she wants to make time for the sports day, but that she feels like she should, that’s indicative to me that she cares a lot about Kanna, especially after Kanna has also allowed Kobayashi to have an excuse to not go.

Compromise

This is the type of visual metaphor that KyoAni excels at

The other spirit of the show was the idea of compromise, something that was important from the very beginning with two people who hadn’t really lived with anyone else for so long. That they were able to find these areas of compromise with each other was probably due to Kobayashi’s dedication to that very idea. And we see other times throughout the series where Kobayashi is the mediator of a compromise: between the neighbors when they want to be noisy, between the dragons when they have disagreements, with Tooru throughout the series. But something that has to be important when you’re willing to compromise is to know those times when you absolutely will not. As dedicated as Kobayashi is to getting along, there are things she will not allow argument on, such as eating Tooru’s tail meat. But even areas where she’s ardent at the beginning tend to show some relaxing through time, such as letting the dragons be more of themselves in play and spirit.

A kid caught when she snuck out, that’s exactly how Tooru reacts

And there is one more time where she’s not willing to compromise: that Tooru should be the one who decides where she wants to be. The last episode of the show was really wonderful with the conflict between Tooru and her father. Something that seemed to start out as a typical ogre father trying to control his daughter became much more clearly a case of a father worried about his daughter making a decision that she would regret and trying to protect her. But maybe children shouldn’t just be protected. It’s true that Tooru is going to be hurt as Kobayashi ages and eventually dies, and she is left without that person in her life. But she knows that. And she doesn’t seem to be just giving it lip service. It’s something she’s thought about for a while, even back to talking to Fafnir. And it’s still a good choice. As Lucoa says early on: Tooru hasn’t had much to smile about in her life. Why shouldn’t she have this time now? It’s not that she’s trading other smiles for these. But will it hurt even more? Probably, but that’s not necessarily a reason to avoid the smiles now.

Even if he’s not terrible, Tooru will still fight him for her love

The final episode really did have a glut of wonderful moments. The show had spent so much time putting heart in these characters that it let the events of the finale really pull at you. And even when you were thinking that Tooru’s father is terrible and just wants to pull her away, he says the one thing, something that not even Tooru had ever heard, and with so much feeling, that it instantly changed how the whole episode felt. Tooru, thinking that the only thing she wants is being ripped from her, hears from Kobayashi that she’s a good person, and then that her father agrees that she is. They’d made it clear that dragons aren’t very demonstrative in either love or approval, and here’s a situation where Tooru’s feeling completely lost, and to hear that it’s not because she’s just a pawn, but because everyone cares for her, completely changes the mood. And maybe that’s what spurs her to not just go with her father, but actually fight him for the first time. Sometimes parents and children just need to have it out, and sometimes you have to do it just as signaling: “This is the thing that is important enough to fight over.”

And that feeling definitely is worth fighting over

This show wildly exceeded what I thought it could do. Emphasizing the relationships, the caring, and the learning about the other people in your life made this show have so much depth and life that it was surprising. And it all kept adding up more and more, interacting with all the different parts of the show. Perhaps the only part that really didn’t add a lot to the whole series was the introduction of Elma, who was really late in the series, and was more just used for throwaway jokes. But everything else was superlative, even the OP and ED songs and animation. Something that KyoAni doesn’t get enough credit for is making these catchy OP and ED songs and videos, and this one uses perhaps fhana’s best song so far. I don’t know if there will ever be more of this as an anime series, but if there isn’t, then this was enough.

Keep spinning on!

About

Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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10 Responses to “Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon – Series Review”

  1. skylion says:

    Well darn it, you capture everything I could say about the show all to well.

    Kanna was always my favorite, mostly because I always felt her reactions and action are more naturalistic. She feels like a normal person, alongside Kobyashi, in the middle of folks that just try to hard sometimes. Not that that is horrible or anything. But she had that chill attitude that was hard to beat, and easy to get along with.

    She also ate things that shocked and amazed a person, but we’ll keep that on the Q.T.

    • Highway says:

      One thing that I didn’t get into this post was more about KyoAni in general, and specifically those misguided fans who seemingly revolt every time they have a character with boobs on a show, saying “That’s not what Kyoto Animation is supposed to do!” It’s like those people are stuck in this “everything must be like the first show I saw by them!” mode, and that first show was K-On or Chuu2Koi. Everything else (ok, maybe not Nichijou, which I don’t know about because I can’t get any motivation to keep watching it) makes jokes about bouncy boobs, even Hibike! Euphonium and Haruhi.

      Get with reality, people!

  2. Foshizzel says:

    Just like most KyoAni series their unique animation style works wonders for the super over the top moments and all the heartwarming moments! They did a great job with Maid Dragon <3

    I'm gonna miss this series and watching Tooru get closer to Kobayashi and Kanna learning more about the human world, but part of me would have loved to see more of the fantasy world where Tooru and the other dragons come from? Then again I think they excel at modern settings with the added bonus of supernatural characters or giving them powers instead of full on fantasy.

    Bring on the OVA content and the eventually movies? That seems to be the way things go with only the super popular KyoAni series! K-on, Free, Eupho and Tamako Market? I know there are some others.

    • Highway says:

      I think it was good to leave it as “the other world”, because showing more of that would be a different show than this show.

      I would like to see more of this show, I don’t know how much more material there is to go through, or how long they’d need to wait.

      • skylion says:

        They could turn out some OVA while the manga publishers are still making tankoubon. Heck they could probably do webshorts, a process that a lot of studios might want to look into in the future.

      • Foshizzel says:

        Yeah its better to leave it “the other world” because hey if KyoAni wanted to do a fantasy series with wizards, knights and dragons they would do that from the start instead of mixing both worlds but again modern settings are their go to for settings.

        @Sky: Ya webshorts might be better, but I’ve heard a few stories and people talking how underpaid artists are over there making four dollars an hour so shorts are kinda a waste of time and effort for some studios I gotta imagine if you are working as an animator for KyoAni you have to be making what? Ten to fifteen dollars an hour or more?

  3. HannoX says:

    One of the best, heart warming series of the last several years. Despite a number of hilarious moments, like the dragons at play, it was basically about finding family. Fafnir and Takiya bond and Lucoa hopes to make a connection with Shouta.

    However, it is Kobayashi, Tooru and Kana who make a family. This is emphasized when in the final episode Kobayashi takes her found family home to meet her blood family. And the final words, “I’m home” are about as perfect as an ending gets. Yes, she’s home. She’s no longer a loner living in an apartment. She has a family and a home.

    • Highway says:

      I have thought that there’s more than just the family aspect of it in that visit. It seems like all of them have found pride in their relationship. One that they want to show off to others. To me, that’s why Kobayashi wants to visit her parents: she’s happy with Tooru and Kanna, and wants to show them that she has found that happiness, along with the people who brought it to her. And she knows that means more to her parents than her success at work.

      • HannoX says:

        I had a similar thought. She was bringing home to meet her parents the people who meant the most to her. Very much like a young adult bringing home their significant other to meet the parents to announce they were getting married.

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