Episode four of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S comes in three parts, each about how the dragons misunderstand the human world in revealing, even joyful ways.
The show is now firmly in its serial, slice-of-life structure. As in last week’s episode, three plotlines are sequentially introduced and then resolved while building up to an even greater understanding of the show’s characters. A quieter episode than the past three, episode four benefits from its focused, character-driven framework.
In other Dragon Maid news, Kyoto Animation’s YouTube channel uploaded a full version of the Kobayashi song from last week in the form of a Kobayashi x Tohru AMV. Give it a listen, then read on for our episode four recap.
Episode 4: “When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do (It’s Hard to Match Others)”
Episode four’s first plotline is set at Kobayashi’s office, where Elma has worked since season one. To Kobayashi’s surprise, she discovers that Elma knows how to code (apparently that’s what Kobayashi does). Kobayashi had been doing Elma’s work since she started so that the dragon could serve her tea during the day. How fitting.
A coworker describes Kobayashi to Elma as a pillar of the company for her ability to carry such a workload, which immediately spurs the dragon into a competitive frenzy. But before they can get carried away, the two talk and get to the source of Elma’s drive. Elma misunderstands what “pillar” means at the office, instead reminded of human sacrifices in the dragon world.
It’s an apt metaphor. Kobayashi has been sacrificing herself for the dragons, her company, and the maids that are equally in her care as she is in theirs, so Elma’s confusion reveals something a bit under the surface for Kobayashi. They call off the competition and go out drinking after work, where a drunk Kobayashi berates Elma, ruining the sentimental rapport.
Next, the local market where Tohru shops hires her to patrol the area because they’ve noticed a suspicious person (that’s definitely just Fafnir being weird nearby). Tohru shows up to patrol duty in casual clothes. It’s a fittingly femme and adorable look, making me wish we got to see Tohru express herself via clothing more as she accompanies the market’s human shoppers.
Tohru quickly runs into “delinquents” that are loitering and littering, the gravest of offenses. Though her reputation precedes her, a big, tough guy that’s drawn like a shonen character tries to fight Tohru. He quickly regrets it, and the boys run away as Tohru carries on.
Then Tohru encounters Elma. This week’s episode again invokes the history of dragon factions, which brings Tohru and Elma’s long-standing relationship into focus. Tohru grew up a Chaos dragon, Elma a Harmony dragon. Despite Tohru’s reformation, the two have a long history of competing and fighting against each other, usually by bickering in their human forms. But seeing that Tohru is doing something to explicitly protect other humans than Kobayashi, Elma begins to suspect Tohru has changed, and she accompanies the other dragon on patrol duty.
They soon run into Fafnir, dancing in the streets because his apartment was too small, and they end up talking about how the human world has influenced each of them. Though they can’t entirely assimilate, Tohru recognizes that it’s a good thing that humans and dragons end up misunderstanding each other sometimes—it’s even a source of fun. Tohru really hones in on how the show itself functions here, all the while delivering a wider metaphor about accepting difference over homogeneity.
And then more delinquents show up, and the biggest, baddest one, “The Dragon of Destruction,” tries to take on Tohru. This group’s art style features bigger, bolder lines that distinguish these foes from the roughians before, and it reminds me specifically of Studio Bones’ Mob Psycho 100. I wouldn’t put the allusion past director Ishihara. The delinquents are all quickly dispatched, and life moves on for the dragons.
Finally, the apartment decides to go to an amusement park! Kobayashi and Tohru take Kanna, Llulu, and Saikawa, who all run off together. In a montage we see how Saikawa’s maid Georgie tries to help Saikawa get closer to Kanna at each of the attractions by working at the park. Kobayashi and Tohru go on several rides together, but Kobayashi doesn’t understand fun, and Tohru doesn’t understand humans.
She comes away from the park thinking that it’s supposed to simulate riding a dragon, which she suggests Kobayashi could do with her anytime. It feels like the whole plotline may have been building up to that innuendo, and, well, it lands.
There’s not much sense of larger conflict or big steps in character development this week, so we’ll have to wait and see where the dragons, maids, and otakus are headed next Wednesday, when episode five of Dragon Maid S releases.