Dragon’s Dogma: It’s Formulaic, But A Guilty Pleasure – Netflix Anime Review

I take a look at an adaptation of a medieval fantasy video game series.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

In the medieval land of Gransys, Ethan (Yūichi Nakamura/Greg Chun), a hunter, loses his wife Olivia (Miyuki Sawashiro/Cristina Vee) and his surrogate son Louis (Yūko Sanpei/Jeannie Tirado) to an attack by a savage Dragon (Takayuki Sugō/David Lodge). The Dragon, sensing Ethan’s hate, takes Ethan’s heart and revives him as an Arisen. He is soon joined by a magical humanoid creation called a Pawn, whom he names Hannah (Nana Mizuki/Erica Mendez). Together, the two head through Gransys to slay the Dragon, and all of the monsters they meet along the way.

It’s good Ethan was a hunter rather than a baker. It’d be hard to cook the dragon.

END SUMMARY

This show’s apparently an adaptation of a video game, and that’s kind of what it feels like. Every episode feels like the next level that slowly gets to the “boss” Dragon. While this provides some boost to the structure and pacing of the show, it does get a bit repetitive, mostly because the characterization of Ethan and Hannah is really thin until the very last episode. Even the episode that fleshes out Ethan’s backstory doesn’t really do it in a way that evokes a lot of emotion. The monster designs are pretty solid, but only a handful of them are particularly creative. The rest are just picked from a DnD Monster Manual.

The Hydra works exactly like you’d think a hydra does, until suddenly it doesn’t.

Every episode is named after a particular sin representing one of the monsters in it or the general theme, which, at times, feels a little like a PSA. This is particularly true of “Sloth,” which generally comes off as being a Reagan-esque “Winners Don’t Do Drugs” fable. This vibe conflicts with the fact that the violence and nudity give the show a distinctly adult feel. This tonal inconsistency is only matched by the character inconsistency, with several supporting characters seeming to change motives at a moment. It’s particularly noticeable with Ethan and Hannah, who both seem to fluctuate between “help the people” and “kill the dragon, screw the people” depending on what the current episode needs.

Winners don’t use drugs; they use magical arrows.

In positives, the fight scenes are pretty good. Some of them are creative or at least have nice visual elements. I will say that the last episode does make me want to see more of this show, because they open it up for a completely new direction. At seven episodes, some of which are under 20 minutes, the show isn’t a major investment if you just have some time to kill. 

The Dragon has some of the best characterization.

Overall, if you like hack and slash, give it a try, but if not, maybe wait until we find out if Season 2 is any better.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

DoroHeDoro: It’s Glorious and Gorey… Goreous? – Netflix Anime Mini-Review

I take a look at the story of a guy with a reptile head and his martial arts chef friend.

SUMMARY

Welcome to the Hole. It’s basically a city from Mad Max, except that magic wrecked the world instead of nukes. Sorcerers, a mutant species of humanity created by demons from hell that live in a different dimension, periodically come to the Hole to experiment on the humans that live there. One of those humans was Caiman (Wataru Takagi/Aleks Le), a man who was cursed by a sorcerer to have a giant lizard head. Caiman awoke without any memories and found out that when he puts his mouth around a Sorcerer’s head, that a second person crawls out of his throat and decides if that Sorcerer is the one that cursed Caiman. I know that sounds weird, but it’s literally the opening of the show, so get used to it. He’s accompanied by his friend Nikaidō (Reina Kondō/Reba Buhr), a local chef and expert fighter. The pair work together to eliminate Sorcerers from the Hole and find out who cursed Caiman. They end up drawing the ire of the Sorcerer gangster En (Kenyu Horiuchi/Keith Silverstein) and his lackeys: Shin (Yoshimasa Hosoya/Sean Chiplock), Noi (Yū Kobayashi/Cherami Leigh), Fujita (Kengo Takanashi/Bryce Papenbrook), and Ebisu (Miyu Tomita/Cristina Vee). 

Masks are very popular in the show.

END SUMMARY

From the very beginning, this show makes it clear that it’s not going to shy away from being pretty dang gross. Not only do you see a human being emerge from the throat of a lizard man, you then see a person essentially minced into a number of pieces too great to count. The wood chipper from Fargo was probably more forgiving to Steve Buscemi’s body. This sort of thing happens frequently in the show, although the cartoon effects do lessen the disturbing nature of some of the acts. This show’s not for the faint of heart, is what I’m saying. 

No, he’s not eating him. This is diagnostic.

The world that’s been built here is never fully elaborated on, but what we see of it keeps drawing the viewer further in. Sorcerers basically view humanity as lab rats to be experimented on, with very few humans willing to stand up to them. When we see the range of their abilities, this unchecked domination starts to make a lot of sense. Almost all Sorcerers only have a single ability, like “creating mushrooms” or “bringing stuff back to life,” but those are sometimes taken to horrific ends when it’s revealed that one of the sorcerers can literally just turn people into mushrooms or that bodies don’t have to be whole when they’re resurrected. It’s like everything is taken to a twisted natural conclusion. This includes the fact that once a year, the Hole’s dead come back to life as zombies due to the amount of magic that the Sorcerers leave behind.

Some sorcerers are not just strong, but nearly invulnerable, so there’s that.

The characters are compelling in that nobody really seems to be the “good” guy or the “bad” guy. Caiman is a victim, sure, but he also massacres people for his own enjoyment. Nikaido is the closest we have to an altruist, but she has her own secrets and past issues. En seems malicious, up until you find out that he was the ultimate victim in his youth and is seeking to break up a horrible societal problem. Most of his henchmen are similarly ambiguous. Everyone kills people or Sorcerers pretty frequently. It makes for a lot of interesting scenes where we know everyone’s motivations, so we feel extra invested in the conflicts. 

The character designs are also a nice blend of form and function.

Overall, it’s a pretty good show. Glad I checked it out.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.