Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon S (Merry Days of Anime 2021)

To start the festivities off, I wanted to go with something recent. It’s no secret that my commitment to anime has been very, very aloof in recent years, so I wanted to take a small sample of what current selections had to offer. While searching through options, I was met with Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon S, which I had actually forgotten about. I quite liked its first season and it had just finished airing in late September. Perfect choice!

Still, doubt lingered. I viewed its first season back in 2017, shortly before it finished airing on television. The time between then and now is rather great—I’m not the same person I was then, nor did I have the mental capacity to recall the more intimate details of the series. Watching the second season was both a desire to see how the series would proceed and a test to see if its pleasant nature still appealed to present me. How does it fare?

[WARNING: Mild story spoilers will be present within this post.]

Pre-Review Context

Before anything, I want to take a moment to address how thankful I am that this series even gets to continue. This is the first anime series primarily developed by Kyoto Animation to air since the tragic arson attack in 2019, leaving 36 people dead. This event, coupled with the full force of COVID-19 the year after, left the company in pretty dire straits.

Thankfully, it seems as though the company’s in the process of complete recovery. They were able to produce the Violet Evergarden film from 2020, and are on track to produce films for Free! and Tsurune, as well as adapt light novel 20 Seiki Denki Mokuroku into anime form. While the tragedy will live on forever, it’s wonderful to see that it has not destroyed them. My (albeit late) condolences to those who were lost and those affected by it.

Actual Review

As one can imagine, my expectations for this sequel were fairly high—not only because I thoroughly enjoyed the first season, but because it’s got a pretty high average score on MyAnimeList. Of course, any popular anime sequel is bound to get inflated scores so long as it stays the course. That’s what makes trusting user scores so flimsy. Nevertheless, I had faith; Kyoto Animation has a large selection of series I at least enjoyed, and arising from the ashes with a series like this? Seems like a no-brainer.

Speaking of no-brain moments!

It’s also hard to gauge whether I’ve gotten more or less cynical since early 2017. With how infrequently I engage in anime media now, there’s a vague disconnect with what I once knew and what may now be standard. It may be better to say that I’ve gotten more familiarized with what I appreciate. Thankfully, there are various aspects to Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon S worth appreciating.

High-Fare Hijinks

One of the more appreciable parts to the original series was its commitment to wholesome connections between characters. It’s slice-of-life, but it’s also a contained drama with deeper contexts of understanding other people. The society of humans and dragons at odds based on past, er, “differences” lingers in the background of certain scenes. Even when all seems docile and sweet, there will always be that fine, transparent line between species. The history is simply too deep.

Bear in mind that it’s been four years since I’ve seen the original. I don’t remember some of the deeper moments between characters—what they had to go through and where it left them emotionally. But it did set the foundation for tensile moments between characters of different species, at odds with how to navigate the weight of their experiences.

How to interact with humans as a dragon.

This sequel season takes ample advantage of this, producing a sizeable number of scenes of everlasting consequences. In my post on the original, I complimented the series for at least trying to extend past its genre’s limitations of mindless fun and enthusiasm. I will similarly do so here.

Especially during the earlier and later portions of the episode count, Dragon Maid S takes rather blunt approaches to developing its cast, both old and new. This gives a sort of “edge” to the shape of the show, providing some needed weight to the advancement of characters’ motivations. One can more easily interpret the behavior of the characters more earnestly with properly introduced events that shape their inner mindset. Alas, something about this aspect irks me, but I’ll save that for later.

Then there’s animation, which KyoAni is kind of known for producing in higher qualities. However the process occurred post-attack, it doesn’t seem to have affected the end result of the series too terribly. Oh, how vividly these characters are portrayed; their temperaments, one-note jokes, and mannerisms fully detailing the souls within. One can easily assume who these characters are with but a glance. And, well, they’re all immensely cute. KyoAni is known for their tendency to over-moe, and they don’t temper expectations here.

Moe, moe!

From a more technical standpoint, the overall animation is generally impressive. The few fight scenes featured in the anime all have incredible bombast and color to them; a far cry from what is typically offered from the genre. Perhaps because the fights are so few, they are allowed to flourish in opportune moments. High-speed attacks and giant bursts of energy and frenzy are to be expected from powerful dragons, only adding to the disparity present with humanity.

Comedically speaking, the animation is similarly upbeat. I noticed there is a slight tendency to remove the background in favor of colorful but simplistic backgrounds to exaggerate the goofiness of characters. Nevertheless, the fluidity of characters is rarely suspect. Whether small, intimate movements or the freneticism of battle, it’s always a colorful spread of brilliance.

Just Do It

This is the part of the article where I’ll likely lose some people.

Good bye.

Previously, I supported the notion that Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon S takes itself seriously enough to inject some heavy bits of drama. That at least an attempt was made to give these characters meaning within the greater story. However—this may have been present in the first season, as well—the execution comes off as pretty abrupt… generally.

Plentiful amounts of moral exposition is spouted throughout the course of the series. Individual scenes will begin with obvious inclinations that it’s meant to be taken “seriously,” with characters ramping up the emotions to eleven. And then they’ll just… bluntly state the obvious insecurities buried within their hearts, or are told what they want to hear because… they’re very simplistic.

For example, new character Ilulu is a chaotic brat who wants to destroy because it’s fun. But it turns out (within the same episode she was introduced), she’s really just traumatized from an experience in her past that makes her despise humanity. So throughout the course of the second episode, Kobayashi plays the main character from Fruits Basket and treats her in the exact perfect manner to help her through her trauma. Then from that point, her importance to the “plot” varies from semi-important to background character.

Just what she needed!

Situations like this are scattered all over the twelve episodes. The issue is that they never feel earned, and in some cases random. Pacing ends up being hampered when the decision to include these more dramatic moments feel tossed in with no rhyme or rhythm. While its more slice-of-life nature blends together pretty seamlessly—consecutive episodes of just fun misadventures end up enjoyable—these additional bouts of thematic expansion don’t quite hit home.

Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon S ends up trying to do a lot with a little. They start off with a bang by introducing a new character, just to sideline them for a majority of the season. New events in previously established characters’ lives are brought to light, only to have whatever tension that results from them closed rather quickly. So many different moods and tones create a lack of consistency, affecting the overall product. Binging this, there were some really long-feeling spans interspersed with really cheerful displays of conscious slice-of-life.

Thinkin’ About Those Fans

In my post on the first season, I only offered a blip of the sexual fan service that is mildly prominent throughout the story. This time around, I’m going to make it a point of emphasis. Reason being is that, on top of just not being fond of overt sexual fan service, I think this series kind of goes overboard in some ways.

mfw my breasts are outrageous

Some things I do remember occurring in the first season, as well, though I hardly commented on it at the time. There’s a character often glued to cute-dragon-girl Kanna named Saikawa. Her thing is that whenever Kanna shows any sort of affection or physical intimacy with her, she gets aroused. That’s… weird. Why is a child (she is actually in elementary school) getting aroused like an old man?

Then there’s Lucoa, a powerful dragon familiar attached to a small boy mage, whom she is quite affectionate towards. Very affectionate. Like, sexual harassment levels of affection. Scenes of “Teehee~ I snuggled into bed with him while nude~” pop up here and there to set the mood for what her antics consist of. And while it’s always played off as a joke, because she knows he won’t initiate anything, it still really irks me. I don’t advocate for that kind of thing, even in silly anime things. He’s a child—it’s fucking gross.

Character designs, particularly female ones, overaccentuate the clearly sexualized nature of the dragon’s human forms. Ilulu, despite appearing kind of childlike (teenage?), has breasts larger than almost anyone. It’s legitimately goofy. Of course, cries of “Oppai~ Oppai~” are heard throughout, probably an average of once per episode, whether for comedy or just straight fan service. Not quite the levels of gratuitous ecchi, yet it teeters back and forth between silly fun and NSFW.

Guess what the girl on the left does after Kanna tells her they match?

I realize that this may come off as rather prude—I kind of am one, I acknowledge. Still, much of this sexualization and very easily distinguishable physical traits means a lot of easy targets for humor. Excuse me, “humor.”

Characters (Kobayashi) lamenting about how they’re self-conscious of being too small; large-breasted characters taking advantage of their bodies to get men/others to become flustered; miscellaneous “I am dragon and don’t know human standards” moments leading to misunderstandings. The kind of comedy that one can see coming from a mile away and is about as creative as a PB&J.

Conclusion

If I were to watch this immediately following the first season, who knows how much differently I would’ve taken to it? But we’ll never know now; all that can be said within this timeline is that from first season to second, it’s a downgrade for me.

When it rains, it pours.

Much of the same animated finesse is apparent, and its attempts at developing their characters is encouraging. I was more fond of episodes where the very-blunt moral exposition was kept to a minimum, instead focusing on the general good nature between characters in quieter moments. Yet for as much as it shines, the shadows casted meet them at similar intensity. Structurally flimsy and pacing all over the place, it’s as annoying as it is fun.

Altogether okay. Just okay.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

For more anime reviews, check out the associated archive.

Thank you for your time. Have a great timezone.

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