From acclaimed director Kazuya Tsurumaki (Rebuild of Evangelion, FLCL), comes a new two-part TV special: The Dragon Dentist. This anime asks the question of what it’s like to be a dentist for a dragon, covering the ups and downs of this unique lifestyle.
Our story follows Nonoko, who is a newly appointed dragon dentist protecting a dragon that lives in Dragon Country. One day while doing her duties she finds an unconscious boy who has come from the dragon’s teeth. The boy is known as Bell and is a soldier from an enemy country who died and was resurrected from the dragon.
It’s said in the Dragon Country that if someone is resurrected from inside the tooth of a dragon it means a major disaster is forthcoming. As Nonoko, Bell and the others living on the dragon go about their daily duties, they start to see the beginnings of a fierce battle unfolding. Are their lives about to change forever?
Although I enjoyed watching The Dragon Dentist I can’t help but find it a bit disjointed in places. On one hand, it wants to tell the story of Nonoko and the other dragon dentists, tasked with looking after the dragon and protecting its teeth from harm. On the other hand, there are political undertones, which are never fully explored.
It seems like two countries once used the power of the dragons to fight, but that has since been outlawed. Despite that, it seems like the enemy nation wants to put this particular dragon down for good (or at least steal its teeth, which seem to be considered valuable?). It feels like the war between countries is there to fill out Bell’s backstory and create drama, but otherwise, it doesn’t matter.
None of this makes The Dragon Dentist a bad watch by any means. I like the world-building (at least the stuff that makes sense!) as well as the cast, so as long as you can overlook the issues, it’s a fun watch. Both Nonoko and Bell have laid-back, cheerful personalities that are easy to invest in as a viewer. By the end of the second part, I was rooting for them to find happiness one way or another.
In some ways being in two distinct parts does help the storytelling. The first part is focused on what it means to be a dragon dentist, while the second half spends more time on what’s happening in the rest of the world. It’s a nice even split with both parts running for roughly 45 minutes each and although it’s not quite enough to avoid feeling disjointed, I admire the fact they did try to give each aspect a chance to shine.
Animation for The Dragon Dentist has been handled by Studio Khara (Rebuild of Evangelion films and is certainly nice to look at! The art style seems to be inspired by 3D animation (and I think there is some usage of that in the show) but doesn’t lean into it enough to put viewers off. Character designs are simple but detailed while showing a wide range of expressions. It’s not the most colourful show because it uses a lot of muted whites, reds and blacks but that suits the tone of the story overall.
Music for this anime has been handled by Yoshitaka Koyama (no other roles of note). While there isn’t a lot of variation in the tracks, the compositions work well and blend into the scenes they’re used in. I wouldn’t say the soundtrack is memorable, but I did become fond of it while watching The Dragon Dentist.
Where voice actors are concerned this release includes The Dragon Dentist with its original Japanese audio and an English dub. Both teams do a good job and I think viewers will be happy with whichever they choose to watch. Although having said that no one’s performance stood out to me, which is a shame.
This release comes to the UK thanks to Anime Limited and is available as a collector’s edition that includes both Blu-ray and DVD’s. The set includes a poster and 28-page booklet.
Overall, The Dragon Dentist is an interesting anime but suffers from a disjointed plot and short runtime. However, if you’re interested in dragons or looking for something a bit more unique to watch then this is certainly worth picking up.