Miss Kobayashi is your average office worker who lives a boring life, alone in her small apartment–until she saves the life of a female dragon in distress. The dragon, named Tohru, has the ability to magically transform into an adorable human girl (albeit with horns and a long tail!), who will do anything to pay off her debt of gratitude, whether Miss Kobayashi likes it or not. With a very persistent and amorous dragon as a roommate, nothing comes easy, and Miss Kobayashi’s normal life is about to go off the deep end!
I’m a bit late to the game with this one, I must admit. I couldn’t help but feel a little put off when it first came out about all the hype that was surrounding it – sometimes, that makes me actively ignore an anime despite the amounts of people that may be singing its praises. However, now things have calmed down I feel like I can assess Kobayashi and Tohru without being influenced by outside forces. So I watched as Kobayashi, having a had hard day at work, went out, got drunk, took the train home, missed her stop and ended up wandering in the mountains where she came across an injured dragon that she ended up helping, and then drinking with – during which time the dragon becomes absolutely smitten with her. And so this unassuming salarywoman ended up co-habitating with a dragon who can take human form that wants to me her maid.
What I realised whilst watching Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is that the original manga was created by Coolkyoushinja, who is also the creator of I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying, which is one of my favourite anime shorts that I’ve seen in the last few years. Spurred on by this knowledge, I settled down to some slice of life comedy that started off as I expected it would – with Tohru trying to adjust from being a gigantic dragon in the open to living in (and cleaning) a small flat. And her maid skills are unconventional to say the least. She cleans clothes by swallowing them, uses crazy magic in order to clean and is often crashing into things when she intends to be tidying. But it’s not just Tohru that Kobayashi finds herself dealing with when acquaintances of her dragon maid start relocating to the human world too.
Kanna is a small dragon who is very childlike, who ends up living with Kobayashi and Tohru and attending grade school in the human world. Then we have the dour Fafnir, who initially dislikes humans but finds himself warming to them after he discovers their hobby of ‘computer games’ and ends up moving in with Kobayashi’s geeky colleague Makoto. Then there’s the exuberant (and incredibly busty) Lucoa finds a nearby roommate when she answered the summons of young mage Shota. And then there is Elma – a dragon who doesn’t necessarily get on with Tohru because they come from different dragon factions. And much shenanigans and hilarity ensues.
Despite all the comedy and antics surrounding it all, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is a story about two lonely people finding one another and being happy together. Kobayashi didn’t realise how empty her life was until all these people arrived, and it seems Tohru was never completely comfortable in the dragon world and there was something that seemed to have caused her to leave for good. Throughout the story there was a good mix of unique comedy and heartwarming moments, especially towards the end when we see Tohru coming to terms with something that she’d been avoiding all along: though she wanted to stay in the human world with Kobayashi, she had to understand that their lifespans are vastly different, and eventually she would have to say goodbye.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid was a very pleasant and amusing watch. I found myself getting through the episodes pretty quickly and enjoying the characters. What worked well with just a large cast of colourful characters was that they sometimes has ‘snapshots’ of them going about their life in the human world. You had some quick insights of how Fafnir was getting on in his apartment and playing his online games, Elma struggling to make choices with all the variety in snacks the human world offered and we even saw Lucoa and Shouta’s relationship develop despite all the embarrassment she gives him when they’re out together. I can see now why everyone was so complimentary of what came across as quite a silly show last year.