There are times where it feels like everyone has wildly different opinions about Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. Is the show hit all the right marks or is it something that you can miss?
Hello, my name is AJ from the Cartoon Cipher and there are times where it feels like everyone has wildly different opinions about Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. Some people like it for its very cozy atmosphere while others might think that the amazing talent put into the show’s production could have been spent elsewhere. Personally I was never a big fan of the show’s sense of humor which I sometimes found to be poorly timed at best while very tone deaf at worst. So why do I bother with the show when I could just easily ignore its existence and watch something that more unilaterally fits my comedic tastes? Well that’s because I don’t primarily watch the series for its comedy but rather for the prevailing theme that brings these characters together and allows those comedic moments to begin in the first place. Yes, just like the Fast and Furious movies, it’s all about family.
OK, so there aren’t extravagant vehicles being driven in super over the top ways but there are a lot of mythical dragons pulled towards just your average everyday office worker. At the beginning of the series and with some additional insight throughout it, we get an idea of just how detached Miss Kobayashi’s life was from any real sense of household community. She doesn’t particularly seem to have a bad relationship with her parents but there’s clearly not enough there that inspires her to go visit them frequently or look back on them fondly. I think a lot of people have this mentality that family relationships are either perfect or broken with very little room in between but that couldn’t be further from the truth. People aren’t always going to click with everybody and yes sometimes your family might just end up being the people that you don’t click with. There’s no shame in that and if anything, sometimes it can be a good thing to recognize early on instead of trying to force something that was never meant to be
However, just because you won’t get along with everybody on the planet doesn’t mean that you won’t get along with anybody. Fafnir has this beautiful speech in the middle of season one about how people can either be a hit or a miss and not everybody that you come across is going to be a hit. In fact, chances are that misses will define most of the people that you meet. I think it’s safe to say that the people of this world can be pretty unforgiving. Many are selfish, greedy and will hurt you at the first instance they get. You will always find misses around the corner and some can hurt you almost beyond repair. But it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. One hit can be worth 1 million misses. These are dragons that have lived hundreds of years in different realms with loads of informed history from a society with its own politics and infrastructure. Interesting that this show is about dragons that have lived long lifetimes defined by the worst of humanity. They have every reason to dislike humans and some still do in a at times passive aggressive sense as the story goes on…but they still chose to stay. Why is that? Well that’s because all it took was one ‘hit’ to make it all worth it. The people that are patient with you? The people that develop your interests and support your endeavors? The ones willing to put up with your antics when no one else will? That can mean more than anything to people compared to a drop of blood relations.
I do not have a bad relationship with my immediate family and I like the fact that there are some things I can rely on them for. But I think your family can extend beyond just the biological and immediate. I have a person in my life who I call ‘sis’ even though she is not my biological sister because of what she has provided and nurtured in my life. I have friends and colleagues who I can share a drink with after a long day, finding out ways that we can keep doing better next time. Eventually I found a person that I’ve come to love and want to spend the rest of my life with because it’s now become hard to imagine a life without them. When I’m down, lost or scared, I always have someone to call and like Kobayashi, that wasn’t always the case. Here we have someone that was so used to the quiet but frustrating grind of just everyday adult life in Japan and because of that, she never really found someone to get close to. Maybe she was never meant to find her ‘hit’ in the conventional way just like how the dragons probably never expected select humans to open their eyes. In fact, I like that one of the things most of the dragons have in common is the fact that none of them are really asked for much when their former lives were defined by being hurt or stolen from. In fact, there are plenty of cute moments in the show where the dragons are pretty much left confused about what to do because such a simple thing has shaken up what they sort of primarily lived their lives by. This point is further driven home with Ilulu. This character, who I am so tired of seeing on the internet, ended up projecting a similar sentiment onto Kobayashi, thinking that the only reason she could possibly want to coexist with dragons is because she had some kind of primal, ulterior motive. Ironically, it was her own species that instilled that mindset despite the fact that she desperately didn’t want to believe it.
Everyone has their reasons to be spiteful and untrustworthy, but everyone also has their reasons to want to be part of a home. I don’t think this is a big statement on what an ideal world should be. Rather it’s a cozy, thoughtful understanding that a family can take many forms. Maybe you’re down on your luck and just want somebody to talk to. Maybe you don’t know what it’s like to rely on somebody? Maybe you think there’s nothing more to your life that can be added to it. Or maybe you think that it’s selfish to ask for more. All of these feelings are valid but I don’t think we as a species are meant to strive alone. We need that community to grow stronger. We need to believe that there are people out there that are willing to be a part of our lives for the better just like how we might subconsciously hope to contribute positively to somebody else’s.
Now is this underlying theme enough for me to recommend the show to anybody and everybody? No, this is a series that I think has more good than most people give it credit for, but that doesn’t mean it’s enough for people to walk away with the same experiences that I did. Plus, with the amount of mood whiplash the show is prone to at times, interlacing those quiet heartfelt moments with other more uncomfortably funny scenes, there is a good argument to be made that a lot of this is accidental and I’m just reading way too much into it. For me personally, the cozy open mindedness of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid definitely does just enough to help me appreciate it. The show might not be full of ‘hits’, but it’s definitely not full of ‘misses’ either.