Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon) meaningfully explores Tohru’s affection for Kobayashi this week, and it does so in a way that personally hits me hard.
Tohru infiltrates Kobayashi’s workplace while masking her presence with magic. She wants to see how Kobayashi works — a reasonable desire for someone in love with more than just a person’s surface features. The pair have been living together for two months at this point, after all.
We learn that Kobayashi is as hardworking as you’d expect, and also heavily relied on by her coworkers. Tohru thinks this is super cool, and I couldn’t agree more. Kobayashi might look like she just types all day, but she codes, prioritizes, and collaborates with her teammates, and she does this all in quiet defiance of her awful manager.
Tohru thinks Kobayashi is super cool, couldn’t agree more
It’s a great example of a modern day cool person, even though her boss doesn’t agree. He foists his work onto Kobayashi, even though it’s trivial, and he makes repeat visits to her desk to call-out her incompetence.
The sequence gives birth to one of the most satisfying cuts of a face planting idiot that I’ve seen in a while. The invisible Tohru repeatedly tripping him might not make much logical sense, but the 14-second comedic pay off is worth it.
Since Maid Dragon has, so far, nailed enough great jokes like that one, it can tell an imperfect one and get away with it as an ironic allusion. When Maid Dragon zips us inside the head of Tohru trying to understand the science behind humans’ sleight of hand and “ESP” she saw on TV, the background darkens, a grid matrix overlays, and a 3D X-ray illustration of a brain spins around.
The first thing I thought of was several games from the early ‘00s. The second thing that comes to mind is how even the intentionally satirical sound effects and 3D animations here are more fitting than everything in Hand Shakers combined. The poorly animated, flimsy romance in that show can’t shake a stick at Maid Dragon.
It was already abundantly clear that Tohru loves Kobayashi, but the little things in this episode, centred around Tohru’s head space, prove the point once again. It’s pretty convenient that the infatuated dragon can repair seemingly anything with her magic, since she repeatedly destroys furniture and miscellaneous objects during embarrassed fits.
Tohru kabe don-ing a coffee table into pieces is the equivalent of a flushed teen screaming into a pillow in romantic bliss.
Fafnir announces he’s making a permanent go of it in the human world this episode though, and in the process he warns Tohru of the impermanence of her relationship.
“When you return to your world, will you be able to kill humans?” he asks, chiding her for being too much like the lesser beings she now lives among. Tohru doesn’t plan to go back, even if Kobayashi’s life might end before their relationship does. It’s a brief moment that reaffirms Tohru’s feelings. It well placed and paced within the episode. The voice acting of the two immigrant dragons is believable. And I hate that I love it.
Kobayashi’s life may end before their relationship does
I hate thinking about romances mired by asymmetrical lifespans, especially in slice of life shows. They can be executed well. They can add a valuable dynamic to a couple’s emotions. More often than not, we don’t even see the ending state of such hypothetical scenarios. However, the mere idea of a happy pair being torn apart by biological inevitabilities hits me hard — hard enough to shed tears at the hypothetical alone.
So while the statement of fact in this episode that adds valuable depth to the way Maid Dragon’s main couple interacts with each other, it’s a fact that I personally struggle to digest. I struggled with it in Spice and Wolf, Bakemonegatari and Angel Beats. Even Arakawa Under the Bridge gave me pangs, and the differing lifespans in that show aren’t even portrayed as a reality of the world.
The two minute scene in this episode of Maid Dragon is no different. The quality of the entire show, or the weight of the asymmetry on the outcome of a show’s plot are irrelevant to me. The crushing potential sadness is all that gets me.
That said, most stories with this conceit end up being some of my favourites. Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid has done nothing to drag itself down to this point, so this episode serves as another good entry in the strong log it wrote over the last four episodes. I see plenty of hope its future, too.