Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid Anime (English)

March 21st, 2017

Most of you are probably too young  to remember the television series Bewitched.  It was about a guy, Darrin, who lived a normal, boring salaryman life in the affluent American suburbs. Darrin was so dull and uninteresting that after a few years, they switched the actor who played him and mostly no one noticed. 

The “comedy” in Bewitched was centered around Darrin’s wife – a vivacious, beautiful woman…who was a witch. Samantha could wiggle her nose and make objects appear and disappear and change forms and turn people into toads and that kind of thing. That might have been marginally amusing on it’s own, but it wasn’t the point. The point of the series is that this beautiful, vivacious, magically powered woman (and all her bohemian relatives) were constantly being forced by Darrin in his utter dullness to conform to American middle class affluent white life. It was supposed to be hi-larious watching Darrin (or his boss, or neighbor) get all confuzzled by a magic spell. Watching Bewitched as a child, I constantly felt so angry. I wanted Samantha to take her cool powers, her fun and colorful family and burn down whereeverthefuck she was supposed to be living. 

To me, Bewitched was not a comedy, it was a tragedy. Instead of making Samantha the protagonist, it insisted on centering Darrin with his soul-killing boringness, sexist and racist boss and attitudes and general embodiment of Greyface to Samantha and her Erisian clan. 

I finally sat down to watch Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (streaming free and legally on Crunchyroll) and by the second episode, I realized that I was watching Bewitched all over again.  It’s absolutely possible that Darrin, I mean Kobayashi, might become a warm loving person, but about halfway through the second episode, when she was being kind to Kanna, after basically being an asshole to Tohru and demanding Tohru never use her powers after Tohru worked so hard to make her happy, I gave up.

Darrin is not interesting.  Forcing Samantha to be boring is not funny.

Any series that takes a character with cool powers and then spends all it’s time telling that character to never use those powers? Nope. ^_^;

Yes, Tohru is in love with Kobayashi. And that’s the entirely of that plot complication. It’s got nowhere to go, because Kobayashi being an absolute gut-searing bore is the plot. And it’s all the comedy too.

Nope.

Ratings:

Art – 6 Moe blobs and bouncing breasts
Story – 3 I fantasized about rewriting it wholly into Tohru and her human’s fun adventures!
Characters – 6 Speaking of 70s TV shows. It was all Odd Couple hijinks
Service – yeppers
Yuri – 1

Overall – 5

Obviously, lots of people enjoy the series – and I’m glad. I’m just not one of them.

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18 Responses

  1. Kushieda says:

    While I don’t ever remember watching the color version of bewitched, I do remember some black and white ones on “nick-at-night” as a kid. I remember thinking they were both funny and frustrating as I often wondered why she didn’t just magic everything.

    As far a dragon maid goes, the show’s main selling point for me was to have both Tohru and kobayashi find a balance between each other. At first I agree that the boring human often forces her world-view on the “other”. However, in the later episodes the balance starts to shift. Kobayashi appreciates Tohru and her differences, and I feel that it’s that growth that makes the series fun.

    I’d say you may not have taken in enough episodes, but obviously not every show is for everyone. Especially if it brings back painful memories :/

    Most of the episodes also don’t seem to focus on Kobayashi much, but instead on the other dragons.

    And yes, Kobayashi is boring, even to the end.

  2. Jamie Norwood says:

    I feel like saying ‘it gets better’ butmy anxiety on advocating shows kicks in. But I think the show is meant to start at Bewitched and then move towards healthy. The comiket episode especially is really good.

    • That’s fair. I’m pretty harsh with anime. It takes my time and attention in ways that reading doesn’t, so I rarely want to wait for something to “get better” – especially when there was no reason for it to not be better right off. ^_^

  3. dm00 says:

    I should probably remember Bewitched, but other than the names “Samantha” and “Sabrina”, I don’t really. I assume you’ve heard that it allegedly inspired the magical girl genre in Japan.

    Even if you stuck with Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, I’m sure the Quezalcoatl bits would spoil subsequent episodes.

    Kobayashi does get out of her rut — the Christmas episode is probably the best to see this, with her wild ride with Tohru in the night sky, and her bland acceptance of the neon-lit Santa-access chimney and fireplace added to her apartment — but otherwise, clearly not your thing.

    • Yes, Bewitched is known for inspiring magical girls, but it was not inspiring for magical Erica. ^_^

      That does sound nice. I’m just not willing to wade through more Darrining to get there. ^_^

  4. Josephine says:

    Oh… oh… I’ve just picked up the manga as it’s being translated by Seven Seas and… after finishing volume 2, I’m kinda feeling the whole impending doom of Dragon-pocalypse.

    I also feel like Kobayashi and Tohru are both really plain. I think I’m just desperate for yuri manga.

  5. Natalie_Black says:

    I have to say that I’m pretty surprised by this review. Actually most of it is about Bewitched… and that’s not fair to Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.

    I’m sorry to hear that somehow this brought painful memories, but also I think that you can’t get what this show, as a whole, means with just 2 episodes and a previous experience with an old show. Obviously is your opinion and I respect it, but also I wanted to say something because this anime is not so horrible.

    First of all, I’m a single office woman and my work is related to Mobile Networks, I’m in my thirties, live alone and I’m not the most popular person… As you can see I have lots in common with Kobayashi. What I mean is that someone with this profile can become very weird, grumpy, cold, not used to their space being invaded etc… is difficult to accept someone inside this bubble in which we live.

    Also I have an older sister, and that means that she fought the fights, opened my parents minds and made it easier for me. So saying Kobayashi is nicer to Kanna than Tohru when they first met, well, I can understand why happened (even Kobayashi says so).

    This bits of personal info is to show how different experiencies can influence our feelings about the same anime.

    You talked very little about the anime but I want to give those examples another point of view.

    If while doing my job someone would answer me with Tohru manners (for example, when she opened the door to a messenger), I would reprimand her, and that means teaching education. Also I prefer my underwear to be cleaned on a washing machine (don’t want to do spoilers). What I’m trying to say is that Tohru comes from a different world and even if at the beginning trying to fit in this world looks like the main topic (repressing her powers) is because Kobayashis’s fear (who can blame her). Once we get past this point, this anime makes a great discussion about how a foreign feels outside their country and culture.

    You said that you don’t care what will happen with Kobayashi because of how she is the first episodes and stopped watching, is ok, but what you are loosing is how all the characters grow up as a family and accept their differences etc. As the story develops, all of them change. The plot is about how different people become a family.

    So Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid can be criticized for a lot of things (boobs size, recurring jokes etc), but I think this review is biased because you already think that Kobayashi is Darrin and will die Darrin, and she’s not.

    She’s been alone for a long time and a heart needs time to warm. She’s sweet (chapter 3!), and tries to understand all the changes around her. I guess we will be complaining if this happened at the first episode.

    I respect this blog a lot, and I’m following it for a long time, that’s why this review made me sad.

    Sorry for the long text, probably with lots of typos.

    • Thanks for your thoughts. You’re mixing and matching the anime and manga, though, which is common, but makes it not a review of the anime, but of the series as a whole. (Also, the chapter breakout you use, indicates you probably are reading scans and we really don’t support that here. The manga is licensed in English, please support it by buying the official volumes, thanks.) I reviewed the anime based on what I watched, not on anything else. And sometimes I just disagree with folks who are watching it with different biases and filters than mine.

      • Natalie_Black says:

        Hi Erica,

        Sorry, sometimes I confuse episode with chapter. I’m watching the anime on Crunchyroll, we have now 11 episodes.

        But I think is good to disagree, it makes us realize than for the same thing, different people can have different perspectives and we can’t impose. I’ll still going to enjoy your blog anyway!!

    • Mariko says:

      You have a unique perspective here, and it brings to mind for me the old adages about the ways art takes on its own life outside of the creator’s intentions once it’s out in the wild.

      Not to burst your bubble, though, but it’s worth keeping in mind the manga-ka’s full body of work. Cool Kyoushinsha is a pretty known quantity at this point – he likes yuri that doesn’t go anywhere, shota, gigantic breasts, and nonstop comedy gags. While he is capable of writing a moment or two of pathos (“I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying” is quite a sweet blend of his comedy and emotion at times) he pretty much likes to keep things light and static through the duration of his series to keep the jokes coming.

      All I’m saying is, don’t get your hopes up for a tender meeting-of-feelings for Tooru and Kobayashi.

  6. Cryssoberyl says:

    A fair assessment, definitely. I for one AM old enough to remember Bewitched, and while I agree Kobayashi is the main problem with the premise, the analogy that occured to me was that of the stereotypically noncommittal harem protagonist, who never engages – that is, is never allowed by their writers to engage – with the feelings directed at them by others, for the sole reason that The Status Quo Must Remain As Such.

    So often in anime and manga, characters are robbed of their capacity for reflection and communication, to talk and think about their situations and relationships, what they mean and where they are going. This is just one more example.

    (I also think Kobayashi is a particularly strident and uncomfortable example of the alcoholism associated with Japan’s work culture.)

    I won’t lie, I still enjoy the show, but it is definitely in spite of these drawbacks.

    (Sorry if this is a duplicate, my browser’s plugins sometimes mess things up when I try to comment.)

  7. gogo says:

    Well with Bewitched you have got to keep in mind the Miko culture that colours all magical girl shows.

  8. Josh says:

    I have to disagree with an aspect or.

    I can understand why people would not like Kobayashi. For me, I thought she was more of a stick in the mud at first, but unlike Major Nelson, doesn’t come across as a pig(Despite her drinking habit), and seems like a far more pleasant person to talk to than him. Tohru can certainly be irritating, but her love & devotion comes across as sweet & genuine. While on the one hand it would be nice for the two of them to get together, at the same time I can definitely go for close friends.

    To be perfectly honest, this is one of the few shows that I seem to like everybody. I can see why the moe blob or fan-service is a turn off for some, but those aspects really fit the characters that use them. The sense of family that everybody has for one another tickles that fuzzy part of my mind, and I purr everytime.

    I admit I’m only getting my opinion from the anime, but I have a feeling that if I read the manga, I’d probably get the same feeling. This was really charming to me, but perhaps I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff.

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