Cool + Suck =/= Balance

 Anime, Dragon Crisis  Comments Off on Cool + Suck =/= Balance
Feb 232011

So I’m keeping up with four series this season: Madoka, Level E, Wolverine, and… Dragon Crisis.

Call it another case of masochism. The Dragon Crisis bit that is.

I’m keeping up with Dragon Crisis for the same reason why I kept up with Bakemonogatari despite it also pissing me off at times. Both series have bits that really click with me, but they also have bits that make me slam my head against the wall in frustration. Where Bakemono had some great dialogue and interaction between Araragi and Senjougahara, Dragon Crisis has a world that seems pretty awesome. It’s a modern-day setting where people go around on what I have to assume are Indiana Jones-like excursions to find artifacts with magical powers. There’s conspiracies and monsters and people shooting guns and badass priests all sorts of cool stuff, and when the anime concentrates on that shit it’s a hell of a lot of fun. I don’t care much for how the main dude can take down bad guys by “engaging” with Rose and going all Shounen Hero Twink on us, but I can shrug that part off since we get cool stuff like a dopey gaijin priest being possessed by an evil dragon sword and an evil artifact thief with the powers of Spiderman’s Sinister Six.

But Dragon Crisis pisses me off in the same way Bakemono pissed me off: it all boils down to yet another lame white knight harem fantasy.

The main dude in Dragon Crisis has the same “gotta catch and protect them all” attitude as Araragi in Bakemono, and the storyline is tailored to play off of that patronizing attitude. The dude is “engaged” with a baby dragon who takes the form of a bratty little girl and he has to protect her from people who want to use her for their own ends or dissect her or whatever. Then he meets a haughty dragon princess who needs to be protected from her family’s past. Then he meets Felicia from Darkstalkers and has to protect her from her “master” who uses her to steal shit for him. And all throughout the series we get to hear the main dude prattle on about how he just needs to protect people and blahblahblahthesameoldboringshit.

There’s two problems here:

  • Everyone the main dude helps is a cute girl around his age, thus creating a harem effect.
  • The script feels the need to remind us that the main dude “just wants to protect people.”

It’s a matter of details that seem insignificant when taken out of context, but when they’re placed in the context of the story they change the overall feel. If the series didn’t have Rose, or if “Odd Eye” wasn’t a furry chick, or if he was helping a dragon prince in the second story arc, that harem effect wouldn’t come into play because the main dude would be aiding a wide variety of people. But when every single person that needs “saving” is some pretty moe face, you can’t help but conclude that the writers are angling for that harem effect that the otaku so love. The same goes for the way we get constant reminders of the main dude’s motivations. It was especially bad in the latest story arc, where a pair of earrings acted as a plot device that allowed us to hear the dude’s ever thought while he helped the wolfgirl escape from her “master.” We already know that this dude’s the decent sort that’ll help people, but by emphasizing that fact the series is playing up the white knight factor.

These little details make a hell of a lot of difference when it comes to how a series appears as a whole. Change the gender of a character or two and you no longer have the series head towards a harem situation. Deemphasize monologues about helping others, friendship, and shit like that and you don’t get the sort of annoying, patronizing morality. Avoid having every single character be a teenager and you avoid the feeling that the writers are trying to vicariously relive their teenage years through fictional characters. None of these changes would change most anime storylines, but these changes would change the feel of the storylines for the better.

So yeah, I’m a masochist for sticking with Dragon Crisis, but it’s a rationalized masochism. I think.

Also: Rose sucks. If they just dumped her from this series, most of these issues wouldn’t be nearly as apparent in Dragon Crisis.