In a significant deviation from its usual here and now focus, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon) treats us to several flashback sequences this week, setting a peaceful lull before next week’s final confrontation.
Just like in recent episodes, this one starts with a mundane example of dragon-human family life. A quiet breakfast, an inquiry into dinner preferences, then a gentle farewell as Tohru flits through house chores before setting about making the tastiest omurice on Earth.
Tohru’s emphatic approach to dusting and scrubbing comes across through snappy cuts while she sings a made-up cleaning song. It’s hard not to love.
As she transitions into cooking, her enthusiasm doesn’t wane. We get to watch her physically focus her energy and emotions into making the dish the best it can be. And although it looks tasty enough for any human to consume, it’s not quite up to her lofty standards. That’s why when Lucoa drops by, the basic cooking advice — “use good ingredients” — comes as a subversive punchline in the face of Tohru’s housework skills.
It’s hard not to love Tohru’s Maid Dragon cleaning song
Tohru takes her advice to heart, though. She stalks the supermarket for the finest poultry she can afford, but she can’t afford much, so she opens a portal back to her own dimension to grab some fixings.
A brief shoujo manga-style cut in this sequence shows us how Tohru views her relationship with Kobayashi. It’s a small wonder that the sheen has lasted this long, but it also smoothly explains Tohru’s willingness to literally go to another world to procure dinner supplies.
Meanwhile, on Kobayashi’s train ride home, she dozes off into a dream sequence recounting the stress-filled drunken night when she first met Tohru. In an attempt to forget her overbearing boss (who would later get his comeuppance at the hands of an invisible Tohru,) Kobayashi hops on the wrong train nursing a giant bottle of sake.
Kobayashi’s alcohol-addled stupor is a grand treat
It’s a grand treat when we get to see her alcohol-addled stupor bring her face to face with Tohru, nearly dead from a holy sword wound. Watching Kobayshi ignore the dragon’s warnings thanks to liquid courage is super endearing. It make you want to side with the annoyed Tohru, caught in a sober personality reversal from the drunken love we’re used to.
Kobayashi hauls the sword from Tohru’s flank, saving her life and earning her gratitude. But instead of accepting her thanks, she enlists Tohru as a new drinking buddy, and they bond over sake-instilled belches and the injustices of their respective worlds. It’s a really fun glimpse into a crucial moment that I didn’t even realize I wanted exposition for.
The scene expertly reveals nuances of the pair’s characters, and it transitions well into a Tohru flashback once they’ve sat down to enjoy dinner.
In the most extensive and lucid flashback we’ve seen from Tohru’s past, we see her interactions with a bandit human that harbours no fear for the winged beast before her. In a tense moment, the bandit sits still as Tohru threatens to step on her, but splays her toes leaving the human girl unharmed. The sequence makes Tohru out as a dragon that’s never had a bad heart. She was just shackled to the societal restrictions she was born into.
That Maid Dragon can wrap these emotional beats into characters that feel surprisingly real within a fantasy setting is a testament to the production’s understanding of the genre’s tropes. It doesn’t need to explain why Tohru knows the girl is a bandit, and it doesn’t need to explain her telepathy. These things just are, and so we believe.
That verisimilitude extends to all of its characters in Earth’s world too. Interspersed between transitions this week, we see short, but highly revealing scenes about the other dragons’ lives among humans.
Even though he denies it, Shouta rushes out his front door, worried that his Setsubun ritual actually worked to banish Lucoa. And even the game-obsessed Fafnir takes time away from grinding MMO levels to bring in laundry from the rain and prepare a towel for Takiya’s return home. Maid Dragon keeps Fafnir in his chair to play-up his obstinance, but uses smart framing and dialogue to show the connection between the two men.
It only takes a few seconds, but the anime gently shows how its characters have assimilated. Then it verbalizes it through Elma. “I’ve sure blended in to this world,” she says. And she’s speaking for all the other dragons, too.
The glint of paternal crimson scales don’t look friendly
The sudden rain that soaked Takiya and kept Elma inside a cafe doesn’t seem like a random weather occurrence, though. With so many hints at peace, and tangible flashbacks to the dragons’ world, Maid Dragon smoothly builds towards an inevitable climax.
Something followed Tohru through her “shopping” portal, and the glint of its paternal crimson scales don’t exactly look friendly. It’s a great way to tease the next episode while satisfyingly concluding the current one.