Netflix has really been going all in on their original anime series as of late. Most of the series that the streaming platform has made have been hits, producing shows like the newest seasons of Baki and Castlevania. It seems that Netflix is trying to capture the same kind of magic that they did with Castlevania with their newest anime series, Dragon’s Dogma.
Like Castlevania, Dragon’s Dogma is a video game adaptation and not from a manga. Does Dragon’s Dogma hit the mark like its predecessors or does it fall flat?
(Spoilers for the first episode ahead)
Dragon’s Dogma take’s a lot of influence from the game the show is based off of, even more so than Castlevania. The show begins with the main character, Ethan, having a nightmare of a dragon attack on his village in which his pregnant wife, Olivia, dies.
This nightmare turns out to be more of a premonition as the exact day that Ethan has this nightmare, the first dragon to appear in over 100 years attacks. This leads to the death of Ethan’s entire village, including his wife and unborn child. Ethan, who was turned into what is known as an Arisen by the dragon taking his heart, seeks vengeance on the Dragon.
Ethan is then joined by what is known as a Pawn, a soulless humanoid being that is summoned the next day. The pawn, that Ethan names Hannah, is charged with aiding and protecting Ethan on his journey as an Arisen.
The story takes place over seven episodes, each being named after the seven deadly sins. Each episodes conflict revolves around the sin at which is named after. Despite this somewhat telling the viewer what the theme of the episode will be, the show still comes up with ways to surprise the viewer.
The ending of Dragon’s Dogma (don’t worry no spoilers here) gave me mixed feelings. On one hand it is satisfying and it is foreshadowed kind of heavily but could have been executed better. Something that may have worked in the shoes favor would have ben to have more episodes. This would give more time to flesh out the reasons for the ending.
The ending does at least feel like a good ending. It doesn’t sequel bait or leave a cliff hanger, but does leave it open ended enough for a possible second season. This was a nice surprise in a world where it looks like every shows season ends with a cliff hanger to set up the next.
Dragon’s Dogma is set in a fairly generic fantasy world. The world is fully of monsters of all kinds from different mythologies, which allows the creators to use what even monsters they want. This includes goblins, skeletons, cyclops, griffins and of course the titular dragon. We get to see different aspects of this world throughout the show and you can really get the sense that this is a living world.
While it is a fairly generic fantasy world, we get to see the effects that having a destructive force as strong as a dragon has on the world at large.
In terms of characters, Dragon’s Dogma has a small but overall likeable cast.
The two main characters that the show focuses on are Ethan and Hannah. Ethan is a strong and honorable man who, like we mentioned earlier, seeks vengeance on the dragon. Before his village was destroyed, he was considered an outcast. This was due to his choice of hunting rather than fishing, which was the towns main occupation.
Hannah, being a pawn, starts off the series as an emotionless character, making choices based off cold rationality. Hannah has to learn overtime what it means to be human, as she is basically a being without a real soul. We also get to see how the pair’s journey effects Ethan, as he sees the best and worst of humanity.
Aside from them the two biggest characters are Olivia, Ethan’s dead wife and the dragon itself. Olivia is shown through flashbacks throughout the series and we get to see just how important she was to Ethan, being the only person who didn’t think of him as strange. The show does a good job at showing how important she was to Ethan, who wanted nothing but a family. Strangely she doesn’t have the same accent that the rest of the characters in the show do and it is strange
Speaking of strange ways of talking, the dragon is also a big character in this show. The dragon speaks in old English, using words like thee. This is done to show it’s age being the first dragon to appear in over 100 years. The dragon itself is a very apathetic creature not caring for the destruction that it brings humanity. It also turns Ethan into an Arisen due to Ethan’s hatred towards it, seemingly just for amusement.
We also get to see some interesting side characters, but the most interesting unfortunately only show up for two episodes. Those being a pair of knights, Simon and Balthazar. Aside from that we do see character development and good interaction from our two likeable leads.
Dragon’s Dogma is another Netflix anime that goes with primarily 3D animation. This is in line with what Netflix has been doing recently to help get their shows out faster. If you don’t like this style then you aren’t going to like the way that this show looks but I will say that this is probably the best the style has looked to date. If you are used to or liked this style in previous shows it looks a lot better here overall but some scenes aren’t the best. The dragon itself is the best example of this, looking good for most of the time it is on screen, with the exception of a few scenes, where it looks almost like bad green screen. One thing that does constantly look good is the dragon’s flames, that always have this flamethrower like quality. The various monsters that are seen throughout the series also genreally look very good in the animation style
The show does make use of traditional 2D animation but only for certain moments. These are mainly just flashback scenes and the final moments of an episode that tease the next. The strange thing is that while flashbacks are almost always in 2D, characters like Ethan and Olivia are still shown in their 3D form. This makes them look really out of place during the flashback scenes.
Stream Or Skip?
Overall, I’d say that if you don’t mind the art style and a fairly short simple story, you should definitely check Dragon’s Dogma out. This show isn’t at the level that Castlevania is at but that’s not what it is going for. The show is a simple yet fun trek through a fantasy land with a satisfying, if not somewhat baffling ending.
Even though the ending did tie up the story it left room for a continuation, which is something that personally would love to have. This show is a great quick binge for anyone looking for something new to enjoy, so I’d say stream it!