Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S: Episode 1 Recap
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S is a sequel season to the 2017 hit adaptation of mangaka Coolkyousinnjya’s series of the same name, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. Created by famed animation studio Kyoto Animation, known for works ranging from K-On! to A Silent Voice, episode one begins as a simple continuation from the first season after some some brief, unspecified time.
Dragon Maid S is Kyoto Animation’s first TV release since the 2019 arson attack destroyed its studio and took 36 lives. Among them was Miss Kobayahi’s Dragon Maid’s season one director, Yasuhiro Takemoto, who maintains a posthumous credit as director on season two. Leading the team now is veteran director Tatsuya Ishihara, known for directing popular series such as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Nichijou, and Sound! Euphonium.
That last title shouldn’t inspire much confidence for fans of Dragon Maid’s yuri themes, as seen abundantly in season one. Ishihara is often blamed for Sound! Euphonium 2‘s queerbaiting—in which a narrative sets up but does not follow through queer representation—between main characters Kumiko and Reina. Granted, Dragon Maid S’s first episode is keenly aware that the relationship between the human Kobayashi and her tsundere dragon-maid Tohru are of prime interest, which is a promising start as the new season travels into one of the manga’s most important storylines.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid Season 2, Episode 1: “New Dragon, Ilulu! (Please Be Nice to Her Again)”
Kobayashi, Kana, and Tohru are living together, and their friendships with other dragons in the human world are still strong. The episode begins with Tohru working at a maid café in her spare time away from serving Kobayashi. As Kobayashi has noted many times, what Tohru lacks in etiquette and grace she makes up for in her skill. Her cooking quickly brings the café popularity, but after getting to show off to Kobayashi while she visits, the dragon decides that she’s done being a maid for other people.
And thus the status quo resumes until a new dragon shows up—Llulu! In case you need a reminder, Dragon Maid’s otherworldly dragons are each aligned with factions: Chaos, Harmony and Spectating. Tohru is a sort-of-reformed Chaos dragon who has controversially chosen to live alongside the humans. Llulu isn’t there yet. She wants to cause destruction for destruction’s sake, finding the cast’s coexistence laughable.
The episode’s art style and animation are gorgeous, and the visually stunning production that KyoAni is known for comes through in Tohru and Llulu’s climactic magical battle. Fighting with ancient spells above the city, the two come to a standstill until Kobayashi bribes the sugar-loving Spectator dragon Elma with sweets to break her faction’s neutrality. With Elma’s indirect help, Tohru defeats Llulu.
Afterwards, a weakened Llulu confronts Kobayashi alone in a verbal exchange, accusing her of loving Tohru. While Kobayashi doesn’t explicitly deny the accusation, she appeals to her gender to say that no, she couldn’t. Then Llulu, chaotic to the core, casts a spell on her to change that. Where we are left after all this is merely the start of the manga’s infamous gender swap arc.
It’s unclear what exactly the show wants to explore with Kobayashi’s gender change, or what its overall importance to the rest of the season will be. But given Dragon Maid’s insistence that the protagonist is profoundly heterosexual in the face of Tohru’s advances, I’m left wary of what’s to come. Like Sound! Euphonium before it, Dragon Maid is an adaptation of a series that, for all it does well, depicts a fraught representation of gender and sexuality. While KyoAni has deftly navigated queer tropes in their past projects, Ishihara hasn’t been a part of those productions.
If anything, this has me eager to see where he takes the show in its next episode, and what that means for season 2’s larger yuri themes.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S premiered on July 8. Its second episode is set for July 15.