Three episodes in, Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon has charm unlike many others.
This didn’t make my cut among the five spots upon my seasonal roster, but after dropping Urara Meirochou, a spot freed itself for a replacement. I also considered going with Demi-chan wa Kataritai, but something about Kobayashi-san made me curious. I was a fan of the mangaka’s other work, I Don’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying, so I decided to go with my gut and take a shot with this seemingly carefree and explosively moe show.
It ended up being only a little of both.
From the cover alone, some (like me) would assume that the show is a brainless attempt at cashing in at the recent trend in “monster girl” stories. The synopsis doesn’t help much either, as the wackiness and suddenness of the setting helps create an atmosphere of clichéd mediocrity. Watching the opening scenes does little to quell this looming suspicion of a road most traveled. This hesitancy is normal, as is the development of a person-meets-person scenario leading into the two eventually growing closer as the episodes roll by. Judging solely by this, Kobayashi-san is a failure, adding nothing to an already tired formula with only a mask of intrigue created by one of the major characters being a dragon.
Alternatively, Kobayashi-san is a lesson in enjoying the journey rather than getting to the destination. Like many slice-of-life’s, the anime is more concerned with the charm of its characters and their interactions than engrossing the viewer with the bravado of an all-out story. It wouldn’t be far off to say that Kobayashi-san does nothing differently in comparison to others within the genre, settling for a realistic setting, moe character designs, and humor that plays with the insecurities or irony of the situation. The only major distinctions from the tropes is the decision to follow adult characters outside of high school, and including dragons as a change of pace from the monotonous reality of everyday life. These things on their own don’t do anything for the quality of an anime, particularly with a slice-of-life. It’s what the anime chooses to do with them is what ultimately decides its fate.
The mangaka behind the original work has a knack for creating tender and realistic bonds over time. I’ve seen it in Can’t Understand, and I’m definitely seeing it here, as well. I’ve found myself immensely charmed by the behavior of the cast and the constantly evolving way they view one another. While one-dimensional to a point, most of the characters hint at a number of different layers upon their character, which helps create some variety in the humor and execution of more affectionate scenes. There’s not a single character thus far that I can bring myself to dislike, much less despise. The origins and manner at which these characters and their motivations are introduced are nothing to be amazed by, but their staying power has more of an impact than one would expect. It definitely helps when the characters are mature enough to handle situations that would usually lead to embarrassing shrieks and stuttering vocal fire.
As of now, the series is very promising. It has the charm of character to pull in those looking for a nice balance of goofy humor and giddy-emotional satisfaction. Should I complain about anything, it’s that the humor could be better, as despite the adult age of most characters, some of them fall prey to the same jokes that would be in something like Yuru Yuri or A Channel. There’s plenty of time to resolve this, as the third episode gave a little more insight into typical generalizations of dragons in literature, which I thought was a nice touch. Of course, anyone not interested in simply looking at characters be cutesy and out of their element need not apply. It’s enough to get someone who’s normally pretty staunch about the usefulness of the slice-of-life genre to buy in, at the moment. If one really cannot find it in themselves to enjoy something from the genre, Kobayashi-san probably won’t change their mind. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to try.