Welcome to this week’s installment of Nothing but Trash, my weekly column in which a game of Anime Roulette tests the boundaries of Hiyao Miyazaki’s famous assertion:
For those of you playing along at home, here’s how to play Anime Roulette:
1. Watch a random anime on a streaming app, as detailed here.
This week, I spent a good long time on steps 2 through 4 after watching an episode of Dragon Crisis. The best single image summarizing the episode?
Name of Anime: Dragon Crisis
Streaming Site Used: Crunchyroll
Episodes Previously Seen: 0
Dragon Crisis is a show about “Main Character-kun.” (I’m sure he has a name, but I never bothered to learn it.) MC-kun has dreams that are so washed out that I adjusted the brightness on my television several times.
I’m pretty sure that the show was mastered or transferred poorly.
Anyway, MC-kun lives the single life at 14, with no parents to tell him what to do. Or cook for him. Or be surprised when ten other underage girls start living in his place. In any normal society this would be uncommon. But as an MC-kun in Japan, him having parents at all would be very surprising.
After MC-kun goes to school in the cold open, the show decides that there might be some confusion about a dream sequence involving a pretty girl and a guy who lives alone. Especially since none of that seems to have anything to do with “Dragons” or “Crisis” or any sort of “Dragon Crisis.” I thought this might have been a show about dragons invading Japan and MC-kun leading a rebel army to defeat them using his obsessive knowledge of dragon lore culled from countless hours playing DnD and other fantasy video games. But no, that would be a “good” show, and wouldn’t sell nearly enough body pillows and PVC figures.
So instead the show decides to use its opening titles to introduce the other girls who live with MC-kun. It’s good that they get to these girls right away, so you can pre-order the body pillows during the first commercial break. But I know what you’re wondering, who are these girls?!
We have Quiet-chan:
Anti-Otp-chan (Not pictured: her growing wings in the opening):
And of course, the goth bishie couple. (I’m rooting for MC-kun to end up with the one on the right.)
And finally, the anime gods showed me that I had performed some terrible sin upon anime and must suffer.
With the credits over and your figurine orders placed, Dragon Crisis cuts to MC-kun in class, where we meet the first of his harem-ettes, Senpai-chan (as in, “Senpai, please notice me”).
I’d go into more detail, but I don’t need to. The show wants us to know that she wants MC-kun to notice her, and I doubt it will give her any motivation or character growth beyond that.
So then in the middle of class MC-kun is “summoned” (in America we’d call it “kidnapped” or “abducted”) by an attractive older woman. She looks like this:
Well, this is probably a better shot.
Ok who am I kidding? Meet Cousin-chan.
It turns out Cousin-chan wants MC-kun to join her creepy LOTR Gollum LARP.
I’m not kidding: check the translation.
After he joins them, we’re treated to a strange CG version of Cousin-chan:
And the completely unexpected twist that Cousin-chan and MC-kun are the only members of her LARP, I mean, “precious hunting society.” (Look out, Frodo-kun!)
Cousin-chan explains they are at the docks because they are going to steal a “Rank S precious.” Note that the show has not, and will not ever, bother to explain what these are. I wish they were just called MacGuffins.
Oh, and then this happens:
What great “characterization” and “plot.”
Cousin-chan explains her master plan for robbing some gangsters using a cane. The cane is pretty much the magical equivalent of a used gun that was “never fired, only dropped once.”
This actually works, because anime:
And so MC-kun and Cousin-chan straight up steal a mysterious case. I’m calling it Girl-in-a-Box for short.
Not pictured: the author pining for the days of Outlaw Star when an anime still had plotting, and not just “plot.” I mean–
Okay, Cousin-chan, I admit it. I love “plot.” Or else why would I subject myself to this?
So anyway there’s a car chase, during which the girl in a box opens to reveal a girl in the box.
The girl shoots fire from her hands. The show will later explain that dragons in this world are just like humans, except they have scales on their hands and the ability to shoot fire.
The girl “imprints” on MC-kun, and spends the rest of the episode talking like Chi from Chobits.
We have feeding, cuddling after a bath, and the always great, “waking up next to the girl in bed and freaking out.”
The only genuinely surprising moment in the episode comes seconds before the credits, where their meal is interrupted–
By a fucking helicopter
And this guy, who I’m going to call Copter-Krieger, because it pleases me.
He looks completely trustworthy and safe. Let’s listen to what he has to say:
No, Copter-Krieger, there isn’t. There’s a little girl who can’t speak who needs to be fed, bathed and slept with. Common mistake.
The end credits decide to let the audience know exactly what other waifus this show has to offer, just in case you aren’t into the “helpless young girl I must teach and feed” type.
Yep, animal girls. You have that to look forward to, if you keep watching. So, you know, don’t.
Final verdict: is Dragon Crisis trash?
Yes. And in many ways this is the worst kind of trash. The pilot’s acceptable aesthetics disguise a plot featuring all of the worst gender roles and tropes in modern anime. MC-kun isn’t a character; he’s a placeholder receptacle for the affection of any of the female characters with agency (whom he will reject because of that agency). He’s predestined in some way for this shit, and he’ll end up with every girl in the opening credits pining after him, living with him, or both. Also, and this is probably Dragon Crisis‘ biggest flaw, the girls are boring. Not a single girl’s characterization deviates from their Moe archetype. As a result, Dragon Crisis has nothing to say beyond, “Tits are life. Moe is love.”