Let's run down some great post-Dragon Maid selections for your viewing pleasure!
Hello everyone, and welcome back to Why It Works! Have you all been enjoying the return of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid? The show stands as one of my favorite comedies of recent years, catering to my love of adorable found families, but also impressing both with its gorgeous animation and whip-smart gags. It’s been delightful to experience the return of both Dragon Maid and Kyoto Animation more generally, but with the season nearly ended, an ominous question emerges: What will you watch after you’ve run out of Dragon Maid?
Fortunately, I’ve been busily rummaging through our stocks of anime productions and have come up with a handful of potential choices. As always with these sorts of recommendation articles, I like to try and break a show’s appeal down into its component parts and provide some choices that seem to embody one or another of an anime’s core strengths. But with Dragon Maid, in particular, my first question is a pretty simple one: Is this your introduction to Kyoto Animation?
If so, boy do I ever envy you. Dragon Maid isn’t an unusually funny or well-animated show within the KyoAni catalog; they all look like that and most of them also possess Dragon Maid’s keen understanding of comedic timing. If you haven’t checked out any of Kyoto Animation’s other properties, you have an incredible bounty of thoughtfully directed, beautifully animated, and endlessly entertaining productions to choose from. If you’re looking for something that matches Dragon Maid’s general appeal, my first choices would be their comedies: try Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions or perhaps Amagi Brilliant Park (directed by Yasuhiro Takemoto, the late director of Dragon Maid’s first season). But if you’d rather lean into dramas, KyoAni is also ready to provide, with either Sound! Euphonium or Tsurune standing as fine choices.
But studio aside, Dragon Maid offers a distinct combination of appeals. First, Dragon Maid stands in a long and distinguished tradition of found family anime, wherein a disparate group of people ultimately find love and community in each other. I’m a sucker for these sorts of stories and anime has plenty of good ones. The first I’d recommend is Hinamatsuri, about a girl with psychic powers who gets taken in by an unsuspecting yakuza. Hinamatsuri is fantastical and hilarious, but also offers plenty of poignant, earnest moments. Alice & Zoroku offers a similar mix of fantasy, comedy, and family; and if you’re okay with discarding fantasy entirely, there’s even more to choose from. I’d personally recommend sweetness & lightning as one of the most endearing and sugary-sweet anime of recent years, focused on a father and daughter who connect through the magic of cooking.
Dragon Maid mines plenty of comedy and drama out of its unique world, where fantastical and mundane elements frequently collide. If that’s what you’re seeking, anime has plenty to offer as well, including the consistently hilarious Witch Craft Works. Directed by Tsutomu Mizushima (GIRLS und PANZER, Squid Girl, Prison School, SHIROBAKO), the show is a master class in comic fantasy, and just a wildly entertaining time. For a more romcom-slanted take on fantasy and reality colliding, I’d recommend the good-hearted Actually, I Am about a high school brimming with secretly supernatural students. For a more farcical direction, try out the strange universe of Arakawa Under the Bridge, where an absurd cast of characters calls the banks of a local river home. And personally, I consider The Eccentric Family to be one of the pinnacles of magical realism in anime, an enchanting journey into a Kyoto suffused with old magics.
And of course, Dragon Maid’s coziness levels are positively through the roof. The show is cozy as heck, offering a warm, soothing environment to dissipate the worries of the day. If that’s what you’re after, anime is happy to provide. I’d first recommend Flying Witch, a show whose hints of fantasy might help ease the journey into a pure slice of life space. But if you’re already amenable to slice of life shows, the possibilities are infinite. I’d recommend Non Non Biyori or Kemono Friends as pure dopamine slices, and if you’re still seeking an element of self-awareness or farce, you can try out the singular Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san.
Ultimately, it feels easy to provide recommendations for Dragon Maid because so many of Dragon Maid’s strengths are strengths of anime more generally. The medium is suffused with warm comedies, found families, and magical realism, and if you’re willing to be open-minded in approaching new genres, you’ll find its appeal resonates in properties you might otherwise disregard. For instance, have you watched any Pretty Cure? Though it’s principally aimed at a young audience, the Pretty Cure franchise is both technically accomplished and profoundly endearing, offering much of the same satisfaction as a show like Dragon Maid. The world of anime is vast and rewards an open-minded explorer with endless treasures. I hope you’ve found a show or two to check out among my selections, and please let me know your own Dragon Maid recommendations in the comments!
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