While Kyoto Animation has been garnering major attention through tackling the highly emotional Violet Evergarden as well as producing engaging high school sports series Free! and Tsurune in recent years, it’s always been the times when they’ve come back to their wacky comedy and slice-of-life shows that I’ve appreciated them the most. And that trend continues here with the second season of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, that, while I don’t think hits things as well as its first season, is still an absolute rip-roaring good time.
For those not familiar with the series, the story surrounds one particularly average human, Miss Kobayashi, who ends up saving and befriending Tohru, a dragon from another world, who decides to become her saviour’s live-in maid. The first season of the show gradually develops their relationship while bringing in Tohru’s other dragon friends (and enemies!) as they create a wacky band of misfits against the backdrop of a four-sided war between dragons and gods.
Jumping into Season 2, fans will feel right at home from the off, as it immediately sets about re-introducing its core concept with Tohru finding work at a local maid café where her competitive streak gets the best of her with some hilarious results! However, with a new season comes an opportunity to introduce new storylines and characters, and it doesn’t waste any time in launching in a new dragon, Ilulu, who immediately throws down a fight with Tohru for her peaceful association with humans. After being sorely defeated, Ilulu takes her frustration out on Kobayashi, placing a curse upon her that gives her a man’s body, batting away her offers to help sort out whatever Ilulu’s beef is with humanity.
Leading up to the series airing, I remember this being a bit of a controversial point and I think in some cases it does take its sexual humour a bit too far, with this in particular being a bit mean-spirited when you consider how the other characters react to it. The show is also known for its boob gags, which come off as kind of dull at this point, even though it tries to go to the extremes with Ilulu being presented with a massive chest which she often takes great pleasure in flaunting. However, I’d say these are just bumps in the road as thankfully the sexual themes aren’t the be-all and end-all of each character.
While this is still fundamentally an episodic slice-of-life comedy, the show actually has some great character writing, and this season spends a lot more time examining the pasts of key characters and tying up old conflicts. Ilulu is a particularly interesting character in this regard, as we get to see how she grows from being scorned and burned by the not-so-harmonious relationship between dragons and humans, to finding her own place in the human world. There’s also a couple of episodes that drill down on just why Elma and Tohru supposedly hate each other, while we finally get the last missing bits of Tohru’s story towards the end, which allows both us and Kobayashi to understand better the place where Tohru has come from. I love how this show can in one episode make you laugh really hard then switch to something a bit more serious and thought-provoking without anything feeling out of place, feeling perfectly balanced between the two styles of presentation. There are some great episodes that focus on the human side-characters here as well, with one involving the hunt for the owner of a lost doll, and another introducing a new human friend for Kanna, a young American girl named Chloe, after both characters end up running away from home to New York of all places!
Despite having some great moments for some of the cast, it does however push some others by the wayside. Fafnir in particular gets the short end of the stick with the few segments he appears in being do-overs of story beats from the first season. Lucoa also remains rather one-note and doesn’t see much development other than a couple of titbits around how she appreciates her current situation as the mage family’s live-in dragon.
Visually this is still a lovely piece of work from Kyoto Animation and feels very consistent with the first season. It’s great at matching the tone of its visuals to the events of the story, being bright, colourful, charming, and able to really carry the sense of life in the slice-of-life segments, while becoming grittier in feel for when things become serious. And while there aren’t that many of them, the battles between the dragons look fantastic, with giant blasts of fire and magical beams and some fun physical combat too. Character designs also remain consistently good, while it was fun seeing younger versions of most of the dragons in the past segments.
In terms of the soundtrack, you’ll notice many of the familiar themes from the first season, along with some new arrangements and compositions from series composers Masumi Ito, Kenji Kondo, and kotringo. Pop band fhána returns to perform the opening theme, “Love Supreme!”, which is fantastically integrated with the animation as the characters sing along (although I kind of wish the voice actors had a part in this too!). The voice cast do however get to sing the ending theme “Maid with Dragons♥” which is still a fun song but isn’t quite as catchy as the brilliant “Ishukan Communication” from the first season.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S is brought to us by Crunchyroll, with Episodes 1-12 plus the unaired Episode 13 OVA being presented across 2 discs in both English and Japanese with English subtitles. As with the first season, the Japanese language option is still my preferred way to watch this series due to how well the voice actors fit their roles. Tomomi Mineuchi does a great job in voicing Ilulu, which makes it a shame that she is leaving voice acting behind at the end of the year as she definitely has the talent, but I can only wish her the best in her future endeavours. Sumire Uesaka also joins the cast voicing Chloe and putting in a good performance as a kid. The child voices in the English dub remains the weakest part although they do come close to emulating the Japanese, it’s just painfully obvious at times it’s a grown woman trying to do a child’s voice. Previous problems with the first season’s English dub however have been rectified and I’d say the quality of the actual localisation is very good.
As well as including that unaired episode, extras on here contain all 21 episodes of the Mini Dragon shorts (which are all absolutely hilarious!) along with your usual promotional videos, commercials and trailers, and clean opening and ending. Finally, although it is a bit of an odd choice, we also have the animations that sat behind the Japanese TV sponsor messages here as well.
Overall, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S is a solid follow-up to the first season, remaining incredibly consistent with the presentation of its tone, visuals, and characters, all the while introducing new ones such as Ilulu and Chloe, expanding on key existing character relationships, and fleshing them out with detailed backstories. It’s just a shame it struggles to balance out its cast neatly in terms of their development, while some of its more comedic parts don’t land as well as in Season 1, particularly its more sexually themed ones.