Dragon Pilot: Creativity and Heart Prisoned by Netflix

I can’t say that Netflix taking series that I’ve been wanting to watch and releasing them two seasons later is the best thing that has happened to anime by a wide margin. Especially when today’s anime market mostly focuses on releasing anime episodes hours after they appear on television in Japan. Alongside it’s long running Studio Bones brother by the name of My Hero Academia, I wanted to watch this show week to week as well. I think you can tell that this, I enjoyed this show by watching it over a shorter period of time at the pace of one episode a day then I would have watching one episode a week. Yes, I am not a binge watcher. My idea of binge watching is watching a lot of series over a period of multiple hours. With this method, I had enough time to reflect to myself about what happened in certain episodes, so I feel like each episode kept their own identity in my mind while also never having to wait very long before getting into the next episode. I suggest that everyone should try this at some point, because it’s been working a lot for me recently.

Dragon Pilot is one of the most creative anime series that I’ve watched since maybe Devilman Crybaby? I know that people flying on dragons and getting attached to their dragon partners is a pretty popular concept in fantasy series. I can reference fantasy novels like Dragon Lance and Dragon Riders of Pern, which are absolutely fantastic, to attest to that. What about piloting inside of a dragon? What about having all of that happen in a modern-day military setting where the dragons are usually disguised as modern airplanes during flight? What about we include that the pilots can only be females chosen by the dragons themselves so that we could have a bit of commentary on females in the workplace as well. What I am saying with a lot of giddiness is that Dragon Pilot takes something that could have been incredibly basic and pushes it a lot further then you would expect. Plus Ultra!

That being said, Dragon’s Pilot cast is made from a lot of simple, but relatable characters. This is a twelve-episode series and the fact that this show does more than a decent job of giving most of the cast an arc to grow on. Our main protagonist is Hisone and she is a recent high school graduate whose been chosen for a Dragon Pilot. Now, she is the kind of character that says everything that is on the top of her mind without any filler. Well, she was at the beginning at least. Her change is rather gradual, but she becomes a much more thoughtful person as the show goes on. The other four pilots and Maomao are the same way. Each of the pilots has a character flaw that makes them far from the perfect person to be apart of the military or make friends with one another, but all of that changes over the course of the show. Then we get all sorts of military officers and then high school shrine maidens to perform an ancient ritual during the second half of the show. All these characters are very simple characters with relatable motivations, but they all feel so realistic as their perceptions and feelings towards other people are well characterized and change in believable ways. What I am saying is that the character writing in Dragon Pilot is good. Nothing complex, but they don’t have to be to get this show to work.

What makes this show even more relatable is the commentary of women in the work place. I suppose the girls in skimpy pilot suits doesn’t help here, not that Dragon Pilot ever objectifies the girls in anyway. There is some casual sexism in this show. I don’t feel like I am the right person to talk about any of this, but I’ve seen plenty of this at places I’ve used to work at. Men would talk about women in very suggestive sorts of ways and I will not protect myself by saying I am innocent. Maybe I never said anything or just added a nod here and there, but I never stopped it. In my eyes, that makes me feel just as guilty as they are because I let an action happen. It felt like it was expected in some ways because the people involved were more alpha male types while I am the shy beta type that tries not to get any attention drawn to him. Watching this show brought back a lot of those moments in my mind and I can’t help but feel ashamed about how I saw and how I will have to put more thought into what I do and how I act from this point on.

There are other aspects that go into this work force commentary which feels more Japanese in concept to me. You know the whole concept of work vs love and how the Japanese choose to have careers instead of getting married and having kids? I mean, the birth rate in Japan is obscenely low. Maybe this is also commentary toward men because their values are more traditional and conservative because blame should go on both sides of the street here. Anyway, the dragon pilots only have the choice of either falling in love with their dragons and piloting forever or falling in love with somebody else and losing the ability to pilot a dragon because of technobabble. Yeah, the commentary is not subtle here but that’s how Mari Okada’s works end up. Not that that is a bad thing.  Oh yes, a solution does appear at the end of the show.

Ok, let’s talk about some cool and not as important stuff. You know, the visuals. Dragon Pilot’s visuals are functional at best. There are a lot of repeated cuts of dragons putting on armor or their disguise which are used over and over through out the show. The flight scenes are just alright and do give the since of flight that is necessary for the series I think I’ve gotten used to how awesome looking the dog fights are in Yamato 2199 and 2202 and modern Gundam shows like thunderbolt, which are what I consider the gold standard of flight scenes in anime at this moment. But that’s ok, everything else is fine and gives off the messages that the show wants to tell through it’s visuals. The large amount of varied settings in the air and on the ground give this world a lot of depth. Dragon Pilot’s character designs are fantastic, because you can tell what the dragon pilot’s personalities are just by looking at them. It’s all just solid stuff.

If there was a major weakness in Dragon Pilot, it would be the dragons themselves. Yeah, I am kind of stretching this one out admittedly. Maybe I shouldn’t have brought up books like Dragon Riders of Pern, because I’m used to at least hearing what the dragons are thinking. Dragon Pilot does give at least Masotan some personality, but most of the dragon character stuff comes from the dragon pilots and even then, we can’t tell that they are that intelligent. I mean, they are treated like animals or pets. Nothing wrong with that, some inner monologue from the dragons would have helped me out. That’s it from me, really. I have no large complaints when it comes to this show. Dragon Pilot was more then just a simple joy to watch, because it had a lot of meaning behind it. If you haven’t watched this show yet, I highly suggest that you find the time to do so. It’s on Netflix so it’s available to watch worldwide.

Mechanical Anime Reviews - Solid

18 Comments Add yours

  1. Karandi says:

    I’ve been tossing up whether to check this one out or not. Visually it just looks a bit odd and I’m not entirely sure about the story. At the moment I don’t think this one is a high priority for me but hopefully I’ll watch it at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott says:

      That’s perfectly fair. It did take some getting used to for me as well, but I ended up liking it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. raistlin0903 says:

    Well…as you know I love Dragonlance (hence my blogname lol 😂) and dragons in general are always something that I like to check out 😊 I occasionally (when I have the time for it) like to bingewatch series as well, and I have to admit that you have convinced me with this post to give this one a go. I’m hoping to see it in December where if all goes well, I will jave a bit more time on my hands than I have this month. I do agree with Karandi on the visual aspects, but that said…I’m always willing to try out just about anything 😊As always great post and thanks for making me add another anime to my list that never seems to stop growing 😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott says:

      What? I never realized that all *cough*.

      Everybody seems a little put off by the art style it seems, but the show is a lot of fun for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. raistlin0903 says:

        Lol…No I never made it that obvious lol, so I can totally understand how that could be overlooked 😂😂
        Well, honestly I usually don’t worry too much about art style as long as it’s an anime that tells a decent story. This is certainly one that sounds interesting enough to me. If I get around to it in December I will definitely let you know my thoughts on it 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I guess I should watch this then.

    The presentation seems a bit… Eh? But it sounds like something I’d enjoy too.

    Maybe I’ll give it a shot when I’ve got some free time. Sounds interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott says:

      Hmmmmm, I did think the art was a little strange but to the degree that everyone seems to think it is. Then again I watch a show that is hand puppets beating each other with swords so what do I know?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. bossils says:

    The visuals didn’t give me a good first impression so I didn’t really look into it. But it might be something to watch when I’m bored haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott says:

      I guess there is not better time then that I suppose.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jiraiyan says:

    I love the animation of this series and the dragon designs are creative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott says:

      Me too! It’s such a interesting show to watch from a visual and story perspective for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jiraiyan says:

        I couldn’t help to notice that the characters don’t all have noses. I thought that was an interested design choice.

        Like

  6. When did you start adding little rating images at the end of your reviews? I don’t remember seeing them before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott says:

      I’m trying something out, so this is the first time.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I want anime to prosper so I don’t mind western companies funding the industry (providing that they don’t use their influence to censor the product). Waiting for an official release can suck, but then again the net does offer “other ways” of watching a series early.

    Based on the comments I am one of the few people who likes the visuals. The characters have charm and it seems to have an old school feel to it. I recently signed up for Netflix, to watch Castlevania, so I might check this out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott says:

      There are other ways of viewing things, but I would rather not. Especially when I have other things to watch in the mean time because it’s not like I’m waiting forever with nothing else to do. It still is very frustrating though.

      Yeah, definitely check it out. It won’t take up a lot of time to watch 😁.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. LofZOdyssey says:

    This series had some of the best visuals to come out of 2018. Granted, when I just saw some still images and the cover art, I mistakenly thought this might end up being some cheap kids anime. I couldn’t have been happier to be wrong. This was an absolutely outstanding show.

    I would say I agree with most of what you wrote. For example, I didn’t have the same impression of the dragons you did. For me, I had far more issues with the ending.

    But overall, I’m with you on this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott says:

      Yeah, the ending was tricky but it worked out. Also,I think I read too many fantasy books centered on dragons.

      Like

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