Turns out that dragon scales are light, fluffy and warm.
Key Animation: Ryosuke Shirokawa, Ami Kuriki, Saeko Fujita, Aoi Matsumoto
Rie Sezaki, Tomoko Yoshimura, Hidehiro Asama, Naoya Nakayama, Sae Sawada, Ryo Miyaki, Aoi Okuno, Sayaka Watanabe, Chiharu Kuroda, Mariko Takahashi
— Takemoto is dead set on turning the family aspect into the core of the series. Since that needed to be established early, it’s no wonder that he ensured that feeling came across by personally storyboarding the first three episodes and even writing today’s. And I have to say that he’s done a really good job at it; by adding an extra segment that points out the living space was getting very cramped with the addition of the two dragons and making them move, then heavily rearranging the material to cover very household-focused chapters, we got a pretty cohesive family story. The weirdest part of this show isn’t the outlandish premise, it’s how it builds a cute and warm tale out of that. I still feel like the idea of an anthropomorphized dragon with big boobs cosplaying as a maid alienates most of the viewers who would enjoy the mood it nails, but I can’t say I’m against projects that make no financial sense. Keep giving me more of this and I’ll be happy.
— Since I mentioned original material already, I have to say I also really appreciate the extra texture given to scenes. After Tohru mentions bugs accidentally get between her massive dragon teeth, Kanna starts innocently chasing a butterfly. The conversation moves on from that, and she eventually gets the butterfly to land on her finger…then eats it, no accident here. Toying around with expectations is one of this show’s favorite tricks, as is giving Kanna childish traits. She often does her own thing and gets distracted when the adults are talking about stuff a kid doesn’t particularly care about. Apparently the gay horny dragon cartoon really is the place to go for depictions of family.
— Truth to be told, Noriyuki Kitanohara’s presence as the episode director felt merely symbolic – getting the episode done rather than having much of a creative effect over it. I thought he might do some fancy animation himself, but there was honestly no need of it so he might as well focus on future episodes. As an action animator, he won’t miss any chance he gets.
— The show has fun with the depiction of the dragons. Just like the absurd fight last week, there are scenes that remind us they’re terrifying creatures they could instantly wipe out everyone. And then they also get to act and look like the goofy dorks they are. It’s a similar contrast to the one inherent in their dragon/human forms, expressed in an amusing way.
— An episode dry on animation for a change! It maintains its cartoony sensibilities even with little motion though, so it’s always a very pleasant show to look at. This episode has a relatively high number of key animators, which is a weird thing to say when it’s still half of what the other show I’m covering this season requires. I get the feeling all the key animation was actually done by the 4 artists credited on top, while the other people belong to a couple of key animation units that were freed from Euphonium and arrived here to do cleanup and help this episode finish production fast. Chances are that this crowd will split to handle future episodes on their own; I’ve heard one of the animators presumably in charge of cleanup mention she was drawing around 1/3 of an upcoming episode herself, so that lines up with that idea. The final minutes of this episode are full of smears, afterimages and loose drawings of all kinds that weren’t really present elsewhere, so that also supports the supposition that the actual animation was split in big chunks for only a handful of artists to handle.
— I promised I would keep reminding people that the backgrounds are great, and that I will. More interesting rough work this week, and also shots that combine animated, CG and painted elements very well; people sometimes act as if seamlessly merging parts is the only way to achieve harmony, but this show makes the relatively distinct elements coexist naturally. Again, thumbs up for the art director Mikiko Watanabe.
First Animation Do episode next week! They’ve stayed away so far, so they should be available to put together something nice.
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