This week on Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon), we get an ensemble episode in the truest sense of the term. The rendition of The Little Matchstick Girl that the cast puts on is as spectacularly peculiar as their fantasy natures.
This show continues to walk the fine Kyoto Animation line I mentioned last week between boredom and interesting ingenuity. For example, we’ve all seen characters within shows assume the role of a director for a play within a play structure, but Maid Dragon makes sure it accentuates the strong points of each character when they give it a spin.
Fafnir is surprisingly considerate of human emotions, for example. This despite the outwardly evil aura he always exudes. In another beat, Lucoa goes out of he way to crossdress Shouta for her own amusement and he bashfully runs away as expected.
Maid Dragon accentuates the strong points of its characters
Also expected, Kanna taking the lead role. Maid dragon eases its other characters into the audition process for comedic effect, but I almost screamed at the screen when I thought Kanna wasn’t going to get her shot. Elma solves that though, when she assumes the main directorial role. Kanna’s celebrates her leading-role with a cute victory V-sign.
Once the roughshod shenanigans of trying to properly cast for the play are set, the dragons agree to disagree and move into a veritable clown fiesta of combined fables fit for the stage. It’s Magical Girls meets 47 Ronin, meets The Little Match Stick Girl, and if anyone else was putting on the show, it would be a recipe for a massive failure.
The friction between the characters as they arrive at this decision are filled with the comedic timing we’ve come to expect from Maid Dragon — Tohru hangs up on the landline the second Fafnir mentions magical girls in one bit, and watching him pull a set of virtual reality goggles out of thin air as a suggestion for the performance was pretty great.
Maid Dragon’s cast leans into intensely bizarre ideas
As Maid Dragon has shown time and time again though, it’s cast is capable of leaning into those intensely bizarre ideas. It doesn’t hurt that their over-the-top theatrics only need to impress eight seniors, Kobayashi and Takiya.
Their special effects wow their audience, but they also gives us some eye candy to look at, too. Maid Dragon takes the play within a play trope and emphasize the theatrical aspects to keep things interesting. The fantastical on-stage costume changes, and the dragons using magic and real fire to create a spectacle looks fantastic.
“Amazing,” one of the seniors exclaims. “Is this that CGI thing?” another asks. It probably wouldn’t have fooled some of the younger folks in Maid Dragon’s world, but it works just fine in an endearing way here.
The ensemble nature of this show continues into the afterparty as well. It’s a ton of fun watching the dragons and children exchanging gifts while they gorge on a Christmas feast. Tohru and Kobayashi’s arial relaxation time was a joy to watch, too.
The show uses the juxtaposition between Tohru’s transformed dragon form and a tiny gift for Kobayashi to make a good joke, and watching the Tohru’s beastly form blush as she flies donuts in the sky will probably never stop being funny.
This entire episode feels like a pleasant resting point before we enter whatever the next and final narrative arc is for this season’s cour. In between the core Matchstick Girl storyline, Maid Dragon also leans on the powerful cuteness of Kanna looking for Santa. From installing a sideways chimney in their apartment for Santa, proving up neon signs on said chimney, and then pouting at Santa’s tardiness, the transitional gags land as well this week as they have every time before.
It’s a great punctuation to the Christmas-themed episode, and one that has me looking forward to the next episode.