Anime: Dragonar Academy
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: November 24, 2015
Retail Price: $64.98
Dragonar Academy is an anime series that is shown from the perspective of “problem child” Ash Blake, who is mostly a lone wolf at the Ansullivar Dragonar Academy. In this series, there are dragons with trainers known as breeders, with individual attachments to their creatures. Breeds of dragons are determined by those branded with a star like Ash, but for some time the 16 year old’s companion had never appeared. That is until one day a mysterious girl appeared named Eco and seemed to be the dragon he was supposed to have — unlike any other partnership! To complicate the unusual and new relationship between Ash and Eco, Eco arrives to stake her claim as the master and Ash and her pet in a quest to establish her prideful demeanor. The concept of the series is definitely different from other series, but with *ahem* bustier women and a single male protagonist — you can guarantee that the harem-ish quality is all too familiar to anime fans.
The anime does include multiple plot points to explore including romance, fan service, action, and adventure, but the most prominent feature to Dragonar Academy would definitely be the relationship between Ash and Eco. The entire premise of the series is created to depict the companionship of dragon and trainer, so it comes down to how that dynamic is handled throughout the series run. It is established that Eco is indeed a half-human, half-dragon being (which is a first for both kind) with the intent of carrying on the dragon race, protecting them from potential extinction. Having a practically contracted relationship to begin a series could send viewers in two directions, hopeful for the budding pair, or uninterested in a destined ending, but the journey to find out which depends strictly on one’s preference. While viewing, I found that there were both good and bad aspects to it – as there is in most relationships!
The concept of the series sounds interesting enough, delving into the realm of fantasy and mythical lore that can be a popular among anime fans — and a wide variety of gamers or general media fans (when isn’t the genre popular…) — but, once you get past the introductory beliefs to Dragonar Academy, it begins to nosedive into unfortunate inappropriate fan-service territory like many anime licenses today. The women are sexualized from beginning to end, and the relationship between dragon and tamer screams suppressed frustrations as an over used trope for anime series. Perhaps if anime series were made to be more diverse, they could branch out and enlist new viewers who only view anime as this general genre — but that’s a whole other discussion. The nudity isn’t completely revealing, but enough to create major frustrations in the span of a short series.
Now to focus on the positives aspects of the series — epic dragons. There are plenty of dragons, of many different kinds to avoid tedious repetition, which creates an interest in what others you will encounter as the plot progresses. The fantasy set story is worth praising, as it can be a majestic realm with characters and creatures to enjoy. The artwork in Dragonar Academy has may perks, with differentiated characters on all fronts, the visual appeal of the show is something that makes up for the fan service-y direction the series takes. For the character art, Ash probably has more memorable characteristics, and a range of amusing reactions (as most male character in these harems have.) Despite being scantily clad, Anya and Navi both also have more unique attributes that are more distinguishable over the other characters. (Don’t get me started on the inappropriate creatures Japan loves so much.) The art is definitely the strongest force for Dragonar Academy, and it was evident that the series was made with care — it just would have profited from focusing on the potential story instead of the constant romantic themes. The artwork and story also delves into ecchi, which crosses into territory that completely narrows the possible fan base of the anime — and I wasn’t one of them. The English voice cast does a nice job at making the characters as tolerable as they could, which was quite a task given the genres. I tried to look for positive traits as much as I could, but in reality the anime captures nearly every negative stereotype in regards to anime. The fantasy world has fun visual appeal for its creatures, but the anime will most likely strictly appeal to harem fans.
Overall Score: 5/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
– Nice artistic concept with a mythical setting
– Very bad use of harem and ecchi, something I have no desire to see in anime.
– Underutilizes potential for extensive or interesting plot