「さらわれた少女」 (Sarawareta Shoujo)
So Taiga’s been trapped in a box for about a couple years, and it caused a little memory alteration due to the brain damage she sustained from being in a coma for so long. Somehow the box she was encased in let her jump the dreams of Ryuji’s to find the right one, and she somehow confused this Ryuuji for him. Will she find the right Ryuuji? Will this replacement be enough? Dragon Crisis. The unofficial secret sequel of Toradora.
Based on a light novel, Dragon Crisis has been published since 2007, and is written for a “seinen” audience, if any of that matters. While the director, Tachibana Hideki, only has experience from H2O, the first episode of Dragon Crisis was nicely done, with interesting cinematography, and a packed story. However, like a lot of movies, you’re merely taken along for the ride, with no information on what’s happening or why, but just to shut up and take it all in. When you throw in some well done action and the eventual, “this is so cool because I have no idea what’s going on” response, you’ve got the formula for a pretty fun episode to watch. If anything, this is how a first episode should be done.
Taiga, or Rose, is a super primitive loli conquered tsundere (I say conquered because she already loves the protagonist), whose emotions have no moral suppression, and whose words only consist of “Ryuuji.” She is the basic of the basic, possessing only the purest traits of a loli tsundere, as if anything else would just weigh her down. I mean, if I had to explain what kind of character someone like Shana or Taiga was, I would just point to Rose. Screw all the other definitions. And who else to play the purest of the pure except Kugimiya Rie? This role wasn’t just made for her, it IS her. Well, her voice anyway. Meanwhile, the other characters are as generic as you can get, with the MC Ryuuji (Shimono Hiro) being dragged around by women, stuck at the brunt of it all and acting as if he doesn’t enjoy two girls throwing themselves at him, while still having a shy Etou Misaki crushing hard on him. Then you’ve got the older well endowed but lazy “nee-chan,” Nanao Eriko (Yukana), being the one that actually makes Ryuuji’s life less mundane. While the cookie cutter characters can become less so with development, the relationships they all have with each other are stupidly common, and after years of watching anime, it is getting intensely annoying to keep seeing the same type over and over.
The good thing is, the story is fast, and it’s actually interesting, though a bit nonsensical. It’s still basically the “girl falls into protagonist’s lap and makes his life way better than mine” premise, and the fact that Dragons can turn into pedophilia inducing lolis when they reach the adult stage is silly, but the pacing from scene to scene makes makes me stop caring, even wrapping it all up with a nice cliffhanger. The animation is DEENTASTIC, meaning a ton of inconsistencies that would make Gonzo blush, with uneven eyes, poor proportions, and randomly contorted faces that change every screen. Even so, this is probably one of Studio Deen’s best work, but it’s still a notch down when compared to studios like J.C. Staff. Funnily enough, Dragon Crisis does seem like a show J.C. Staff would do, and Deen did pull some of the seiyuu you’d see if it were a J.C. production, those being Kugimiya Rie and Horie Yui (Oh look, it’s Taiga and Minori~n). Also, fantastic soundtrack.
What you’ve got here is a fun show, and I hate to keep using that word, but that’s what it is. It’s not a must watch by any means, and I know many are sick of Rie lolis (this one is like a 100/10 on the loli Rie scale), but it doesn’t deserve to be ignored. Besides Deen’s lack of perfection in animation, Dragon Crisis surpasses mediocre for me, purely due to the execution. It’s the age old question, graphics over story, or story over graphics?
Love the OP song to bits due to its unique but catchy melody, although the animation was mostly a slide show. Again, DEENTASTIC. ED is a bit more colorful and interesting though not really a song I’d listen to down the road, and uses as little frames of animation as possible. Real smooth, Studio Deen, real smooth.