Book Review: Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid Volume 1

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid Volume 1 cover

I hope that everyone is having a good week, whether you are back to the monotonous daily grind or not.

Things seem to be going fairly well, now that the bothersome stuff is out of the way, and I can still do something that I can enjoy.

Last week, I got some books from Amazon to try out or catch up on things.

So far, I have covered each title until only three remain.

Today, I will reviewing one of those titles, which is called Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid Volume 1 by Coolkyousinnjya.

Kobayashi is an ordinary woman who does programming for a living and has her own interests that she keeps to herself and close friends.

However, when a dragon comes to her apartment to become her maid, her peaceful, ordinary life is shattered by things this dragon and its friends do in her world.

When I first heard about this series, which was when the anime was being simulcasted, I was not too sure that I would enjoy it, though I did not think I was going to hate it as much as I thought that I would hate Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, yet I ended up liking it.

Now that Seven Seas picked up the manga, I thought I would give it a try, regardless of whether I would lose more space here or not.

And after reading this, I must say that I really liked it.

From the moment that I opened up and started reading this book, I did not want to put it down for any reason, though I do have to satisfy the same needs as everyone else.

Even though manga can accomplish this feat a bit better than prose, since the need to conjure up images in the mind of the reader is done through actual artwork, as opposed to strictly through words, there are still things that need to be done to draw in the reader, such as writing things in a way that the reader is drawn in, and a lot of it has to do with what the writer or, in this case, mangaka, is trying to present.

For example, with a series like A Silent Voice, which I think anyone, regardless of whether they are a fan of manga or not, should read, the audience needs to know about the past of the major characters and how it is currently affecting them, so that we can understand their troubles and root for them to obtain what they want or need.

However, since this series is mainly a slice of life comedy, as that is what it sounds like from the official summary, the series just needs to start off with a feeling that the world being shown is no different from our own, yet still interesting enough to help us escape from our current reality.

Some of you guys might be groaning, and saying that this is not that different from typical American sitcoms, which are hardly funny at all, once you realize how awkward everything feels without the laugh track, but slice of life comedies do not need backstories and such to be good. The only thing that is important, just like every other piece of fiction, is that the characters get fleshed out enough that they feel like their own person, and that is what Coolkyousinnjya seems to be doing.

If Coolkyousinnjya had not done this and just tried to jump right into the comedic moments, I would have been mad because Japanese humor that is found in anime and manga, while being closer to the slapstick side of things, tends of crop up because of the characters' interactions and what go on around them.

However, because Coolkyousinnjya took the time to introduce the characters and the world properly, it ended up giving the manga a great start before delving right into the comedy, and it makes me want to give him a nice round of applause.

I also liked how one of the protagonists was mostly introverted, or, if you prefer, is introverted.

Even though anime and manga can seem to be relatively enjoyable, and even take the reader or viewer on the kind of journey that does not get explored too often, the thing that is kind of annoying is that they do not really have that much variety in the characters, as they are outgoing, can make numerous friends, and are not worn out from things like social gatherings. In other words, the extroverts, or those whose extroverted traits are more dominate than the introverted ones.

Now, there may be some people that would be thinking that a series where an introverted character is a or the protagonist would be dull, as the stereotypical lifestyle of an introvert would bore a lot of people, but they have their own idea of fun, and providing this kind of character does make it seem a little unique, when compared to other anime.

Of course, if I had to point out why this stood out to me so much, except for the fact that I have stated before that my own introverted traits far outweigh my extroverted ones, I would say that there are two reasons.

First, it shows that people who are introverts do not have something wrong with them just because they only have a few friends and do not socialize too often.

In our society, at least in the country I live in, people think that for everyone to be happy, they need to be interacting with people face to face regularly, make a lot of friends, and take risks, the latter of which is kind of necessary to survive, and if a person does not fit into that mold, the person gets labelled as antisocial, and people, especially that person's family that is established through blood and paper, as opposed to their real family, think that they hate people. Such thoughts mean that they cannot accept people for who they are, and end up asking questions that do not address their real problems, as I brought up in my review of the final episode of Orange.

However, in this series, Kobayashi comes off as quite normal and feels like a real and genuine person that could be a good friend, as opposed to the shallowness that comes from people who try to get their introverted acquaintances to come out of their shell, especially because she can handle herself just fine, even if she cannot just casually walk up to strangers and talk to them.

If there were more fictional works that did not portray characters were on their own so much as having something wrong with them, it would be possible for us to really had some unique characters and be able to truly understand people better than we do know, though that does not mean that it will eliminate the need to get to know people personally to help them with what they really need.

Unfortunately, as long as there are those stereotypes associated with extroverts and introverts, which can be easily found on the Internet, I do not see a day when there will be more introverted protagonists, outside of anime, manga, and the detective, mystery, and crime fiction genres, because we are stuck in a world in which people think that everyone is an extrovert and that people can just become extroverted if they try.

The second, and biggest reason, that this stood out to me was that the humor itself works best with an introverted protagonist.

Even though nothing big happens in the series, at least at this point, since I do not know how much the manga differs from the anime, whereas I am aware of the differences present between the anime adaptions and original manga of Detective Conan and Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, the comedy of this series involves dragons coming to our world and trying to fit in, much like how foreign immigrants have troubles, which Gabriel Peralta mentions in an article on Anime News Network that talks about the hidden depths of this series, and because many of the dragons are really hyper, the only way that I can see things getting balanced, so that the humor can come out right is if one of the main characters led a mostly quiet life, as opposed to the highly active ones glorified in fiction created and distributed where I live.

If Coolkyousinnjya had made all of the main characters fit into the mold of the stereotypical extrovert, I would have been very disappointed because this is supposed to be a comedic series, yet it would only seem to be yet another average slice of life show and unappealing as many of the American sitcoms that people know about.

Fortunately, he did not do that, and it makes me want to give him a good round of applause for actually being able to incoperate an introvert that is not really messed up in some way.

Another thing that I liked was how I was able to get quite a few good laughs out of this.

While, as per usual, the comedic moments in here were not unique compared to anime and manga, Coolkyousinnjya executed things well enough that I practically found myself laughing at everything going on, regardless of whether I had seen it in the anime or not, though there was not too much in this volume that anime viewer did not see.

I might like to see series where the characters grow in some way, such as Barakamon, Your Lie in April, and Narcissu, I do enjoy being able to turn off my brain from time to time and just get a good laugh out of something, which is why Baka & Test and D-Frag! are my favorite comedy anime, and this volume was a nice gold mine.

Of course, two moments in this volume stood out the most to me, and made the comedy aspect a real plus.

First, when Tohru was told to stay home and guard the place, she scared away some people that were planning to rob the place.

Even though I do kind of remember this happening in the anime, the way things played out in this volume just came off funnier because the way things seemed to be better executed and the artwork in this volume makes Tohru's dragon form look much more menacing than what I remember seeing in the anime, which made Tohru's regret in not being able to kill the burglars that much funnier.

If Coolkyousinnjya did not do what he did here, I probably would have still found it funny, but I do not think I would have actually got anything more than a chuckle, which is not something that I particularly want from a comedic series.

However, ended up being the way they were, I feel like giving Coolkyousinnjya a good round of applause for actually being able to outdo Kyoto Animation, even if they have not necessarily done anything to outshine any of the series they adapted, whereas Studio Pierrot was able to outshine Yoshihiro Togashi with their adaptation of Yu Yu Hakusho.

The other thing that made me laugh hysterically was the afterword bonus, which showed how this series started.

While it is nice to get some insight from the creator behind our favorite fictional works, most of them seem to come off along a more serious tone, discussing what they have been up to while writing or drawing the content, and there is hardly anything to laugh about.

Here, however, I found a relatively funny afterword.

In the bonus manga, the avatar representing Coolkyousinnjya is contacted and asked to create a “boy meets girl” series, or something similar in the romance genre, but he ended up writing the first chapter of this series and the editor accepts it anyway, with the avatar surprised that it was not rejected.

Just seeing these scenes play out was probably just as funny as previous content found in this volume, and made me glad that I had read it.

If Coolkyousinnjya had not put created this bonus, I might not have cared to too much, since things were already looking pretty good, but because he did this, instead of an actual afterword, it actually made the comedy found in this volume stand out much more, which makes me want to give him another good round of applause, as it shows that he remembered this was a comedy series.

The thing that I liked the most though was how this was actually a fun read.

As I have mentioned many times before, people read for many different reasons, whether it be for work or fun, and they do not want to feel like what they are reading is a chore or just more work.

Out of all the many kinds of fictional work out there, comedic pieces are ones where this fun factor is absolutely essentially, because if the reader or viewer does not feel like they are having fun, they will not be able to laugh about something, unless it is something that they agree with or actually find funny.

Coolkyousinnjya seems to understand this quite well, and was able to put things well together that everything that I had liked about this volume just seemed to grow so much brighter.

If he was not able to pull this off, I would not have been able to see how any studio would want to create an anime adaptation based off of this, since such decisions seem to be made based on sales of the original source and any previous season, since the Spice & Wolf series supposedly did not get a third season due to poor sales of the second, though I cannot really confirm that.

However, because he remembered that readers want to have fun, I feel like I want to give Coolkyousinnjya another good round of applause for a job well done, since it makes me want to start reading the other two volumes I got right now.

Hopefully, this stays consistent throughout the series, as that is what drew me to the series to begin with, but I have to remind myself that Coolkyousinnjya is only human, just like the rest of us, and will not be able to continue churning out go, so I will just have to wait and see how things play out.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly like, at least that could not be added to what I already talked about.

Because my attention was grabbed quickly and held right up to the end, one of the protagonists was an introvert than did not have any major problems, which helped to make the comedic moments seemed to be that much funnier, the funny moments actually had me laughing, as expected of a comedy series, and that it was a fun read overall, this was one of the best books I have read so far.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, such as typos, nothing really seemed to bother me too much.

As a result, I will have to say that there is nothing worth mentioning.

Considering how there was quite a bit to like, especially how I was able to get a good laugh, this was definitely worth reading.

I recommend this to fans of comedy, Coolkyousinnjya, Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, and those that want to have a good laugh, as they will be able to enjoy this the most.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, but it could be a bit difficult to understand the humor.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or buy the review title from either Amazon or The Book Depository, so that I can find more worthwhile reads for you guys, and do whatever you do when you find something that impresses you.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.