Dragon Half Anime Review
US Release By
SD Fantasy Parody
2 28-minute episodes
In a rather odd fantasy world lives Mink, a Dragon-Half--half red dragon and half human (dragon slayer, in fact; her father was commanded to slay a dragon, and ended up eloping with her). Mink is a happy teenager who longs to be with Dick Saucer, an incredibly popular and equally handsome pop singer. Oh, yeah, and he's also a dragon slayer between concerts. As if that wasn't enough trouble, there's the fact that the King is really angry at Mink's father for running off with the dragon that he's now got the hots for. So, of course, the King's going to send out his best dragon slayers (including Saucer) to take down Mink and lure her mother to him (or something like that). And then there's the Princess, who dabbles in the black arts, is the president of the Dick Saucer fan club (and intends to marry him), and really hates Mink. That's more or less the setup, and you can guess where it's headed...
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Dragon Half is the supreme ruler of silly fantasy anime. Plot, logic, and any semblance of maturity are hurled out of the ring in favor of a no-holds-barred SD free-for-all of epic stupidity. It's sure funny, but only for those prepared for a straight hour of chibi nonsense. Perhaps the best part, though, is listening to the entire cast repeatedly go from straight to baby-talk in mid sentence.
Anyway, Dragon Half is about as un-serious as anime comes, stuffed with as much absolutely ridiculous animation, fantasy parodies, really basic humor, and SD as you'll find anywhere. Maybe too much. It'll either be one of the funniest things you've ever seen, or the stupidest.
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There's silly fantasy, and then there's silly fantasy, but Dragon Half is silly fantasy like no other. Plot, logic, and any semblance of maturity are hurled out of the ring in favor of a no-holds-barred SD free-for-all of epic stupidity. It's sure funny, but only for those prepared for a straight hour of chibi nonsense.
Dragon Half does not contain anything even resembling plot. There could be thoughtful moments surrounding the fact that the heroine's love won't accept her because of her race... but not in this series. Some parodies of fantasy cliches buried in there at least approach clever, and a few of the jokes are so random and weird that they're almost brilliant, but the primary mode of operation is pure, unadulterated, whacked-out, below-the-belt low, slap-stick idiocy. This kind of unrelenting stupidity is not everybody's cup of tea, but I'm almost ashamed to admit how much fun I had watching it.
Just in case some exceptionally dense viewers might have missed the fact that Dragon Half doesn't have a serious frame in it, probably three quarters of the production is in SD (with the huge heads, and the chubby little bodies). Everyone and everything is fair game, and there isn't a scene in it that doesn't degenerate into SD at least once (if it was ever "normal" to begin with).
There isn't much else to say, really. Those who hate SD, you've been warned. Those who don't, if really basic, moronic, adolescent (or lower) humor tickles your funny bone, you will love Dragon Half. Just don't come looking for anything clever (aside from some pretty good fantasy pot shots), or even pretty girls in skimpy armor (Mink might be kinda cute, but it's hard to take a girl with a three-foot-high body connected to a two-foot-high head seriously).
Assuming an SD fantasy parody is what you're looking for, the only bad part about Dragon Half is the end, which comes after only two episodes. You won't care enough about anybody to feel robbed at the lack of a conclusion, but there is sort of a story. OK, not really, but I wanted to see more anyway. Again the unspoken rule that any decent OAV series will be cut short after two episodes rears its mocking head.
Moving on to the technical end of things: The art is clean, and the character designs are rather amusing (even a tad distinctive--when they're not SD, that is--due to really pointy noses). The animation is good enough, but much of it is (intentionally) choppy, again to go with the SD stuff. Come to think of it, SD would look pretty strange (OK, even stranger) if it was animated well.
The Japanese voice acting is flat-out hilarious, with some surprisingly high-profile talent. You've probably never heard so many people (everyone, in fact) suddenly kick up their voices an octave or two and switch to baby talk in the middle of a conversation (if you can call the dialogue that). I will warn that you won't fully appreciate the humor if you don't recognize a little bit of the language, or at least have a good ear for it--the way people will shift from talking like the villain to talking like a 3-year-old in mid sentence is only funny if you have some vague feel for what they're saying, and the subtitles don't really get the point across (can't imagine how they would, admittedly). I haven't seen the dub to compare.
A final note: the end theme song pretty much sums up the whole thing: It makes absolutely no sense, yet you can't help but enjoy it. That's gotta be the most chipper, nonsensical song I've ever heard, and it's definitely as cute as Beethoven is ever going to get. He probably rolls over in his grave every time someone watches the credits.
Anyway, Dragon Half is about as un-serious as anime comes, stuffed with as much absolutely ridiculous animation, fantasy parodies, really basic humor, and SD as you'll find anywhere. Maybe too much. It'll either be one of the funniest things you've ever seen, or the stupidest--I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I thought both.
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Gokudo is the only series that even comes close to the wacky level of Dragon Half, but if you've seen Slayers, Gestalt, or Rune Soldier Louie and thought that they had way too much plot, then this is for you. The closest match is, ironically, the SD bonus episodes that accompany the Record of Lodoss War TV series. Alternately, Bastard!! does the fantasy parody thing with a serious edge.
Notes and Trivia
SD (aka "chibi"), for those unfamiliar with anime jargon, stands for Super Deformed, an art style frequently used in parodies (usually of popular characters/series). Artistically, the style basically consists of characters with huge heads and little tiny, chubby bodies, and they're generally involved in off the wall acts (more along the lines of the old Bugs Bunny cartoons than anything). The characters also usually speak in higher pitched voices than usual, and frequently use "baby talk."
The animated version is based on a mid-length comic book series of the same title, by Ryusuke Mita. I'd say personally that the animated version is funnier (and may actually be less serious, or at least more SD-heavy) than the original, but if you're dying to see how the story turns out, you can try to track a translation down (it's not officially available in English as of this writing).
US DVD Review
ADV's DVD features the Japanese stereo soundtrack plus a 5.1 channel English dub. Extras include a commentary track by some of the dub staff.
Not that much objectionable material, save a few gross jokes, a couple of "violent" scenes, and a small amount of chibi nudity. ADV rated it 15-up, which is quite strict; even 13-up is on the high end in my opinion.
Violence: 2 - Plenty of fighting and violence, but it's not serious at all.
Nudity: 2 - The requisite skimpy armor, and one shot at the very end of the second part.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - An accidental kiss, and a handful of randy jokes.
Language: 2 - A couple of expletives.
Staff & Cast
Original Japanese Cast
Mink: Kotono Mitsuishi
Rufa: Mariko Koda
Pia: Taeko Yamada
Dick Saucer: Yasunori Matsumoto
Vina: Rei Sakuma
King Civa: Kenichi Ohata
Rosario: Kaneto Shiozawa
Damaramu: Akio Otsuka
Ruth: Takeshi Aono
Mana: Kikoko Inoue
Mappy: Takumi Yamazaki
Venus: Noriko Asano
Narrator: Kosuke Tomita
Doug Fin: Megumi Urawa
Chuckson: Takumi Yamazaki
Receptionist: Sanshiro Onita
Minotaurus: Kosuke Tomita
[Announcer: Shinshirou Nitta]
Producers: Shiro Sasaki, Mitsuhisa Ishikawa
Original Creator: Ryuusuke Mita
Character Design: Masahiro Koyama
Art Director: Masahiro Koyama (part 1), Takahiro Kishida (part 2)
Script Director: Shinya Sadamitsu
Music: Kohei Tanaka
End Theme "My Omelette"
Lyrics: Kyoko Matsumiya
Music: Ludwig Von Bethoven
Arrangement: Kohei Tanaka
Performed by Kotono Mitsuishi
Additional Music from Part 2: "I Will Get You, Red Dragon"
Lyrics: Ryusuke Mita, Kohei Tanaka
Music: Kohei Tanaka
Arrangement: Kohei Tanaka
Performed by: Yasunori Matsumoto