Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai (2020) – 1st Episode Review
Synopsis: The world that was once afflicted by Hadlar, the Dark Lord, has regained peace in the hands of a swordsman called the “hero” and his companions. Delmurin Island became a place where monsters released from the Dark Lord lived. Dai, who is the only human on the island and longs to be a hero, lives in peace with the monsters. However, that life completely changes with the resurrection of the Dark Lord Hadlar. With promises from teachers, encounters with friends, and a destiny that cannot be escaped… In order to save the world, the adventure of Dai and his quest to be a hero begins! (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: If you’re new to the Dragon Quest franchise like I am, I would like to start by saying that while the first few minutes of the show are a bit hectic, the rest of this first episode is otherwise very welcoming to newcomers. We follow the life of our innocent and kind hearted protagonist Dai, a young boy who’s grown up on a peaceful island of friendly monsters. Once we’re fully centered on Dai and the set up that will lead him to his big adventures the show becomes very easy and even quite entertaining to follow. There’s no endless walls of text, or heavy dose of exposition, just enjoyable glimpses into Dai’s happy everyday life with his monster friends and the eventual catalyst that’ll lead him away from his humble beginnings.
Tom: Dragon Quest is a pretty long lived game franchise, and with any such title it’s natural to be apprehensive about exactly how approachable an anime adaptation might be. Thankfully Dragon Quest: The Adventures of Dai is pretty easy to follow after those first couple minutes Linny mentioned. This series isn’t an adaptation of any of the games either, but rather based off one of the first Dragon Quest Manga that itself loosely adapted concepts from Dragon Quest III. And this anime is actually the second time the story’s been adapted into anime form. The number of iterations we’ve gone through really shows, producing a tight narrative, with a likable cast of characters that feels immediately endearing. Dai himself is a pretty standard shonen protagonist, but his banter with the peaceful monsters that have raised him since he washed ashore instantly makes him someone you can’t help but root for. And it’s that same lively banter that keeps the show feeling fun all the way through too.
Linny: Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai’s biggest strength is how well it sells Dai and his ‘family’ of misfits as this adorable bunch of folks who deserve nothing but happiness together. The show quickly establishes that these are just a bunch of beings who happen to be monstrous in appearance and were only wrecking havoc on humans because of the Evil Demon Lord’s control. (Who we seemingly see slain in the show’s opening moments.) It’s clear now they just want to enjoy a peaceful, carefree life and they deserve to have it. Seeing the mutual attachment and affection between Dai and the monsters is heartwarming and bound to make most viewers invested in their fate, particularly as things turn sour with the arrival of the series’ starter villains.
Tom: This is where Dragon Quest goes from being a fun, light-hearted piece of entertainment, to an absolute blast to watch. Dai’s island is visited by a group of adventures that Dai immediately mistakes as the kind of Hero he aspires to be. This false hero, and his companions, are actually scummy monster hunters, looking to make a ton of money by kidnapping a rare monster to sell to a King. As soon as the game is up, Dai’s friends are attacked, and one rare monster kidnapped, the show becomes a roller-coaster of action. It’s not uncommon for Shonen heroes to do nothing but kick ass in episode one, establishing just how bad ass they are. But the battle here is exceedingly back and forth, with Dai struggling to save his monster friends from being sold off. The way the action unfolds is fantastic and absolutely sucks you in. Not only that but the episode even goes out on one hell of a comedic bang, when Dai meets a royal princess and her personality completely defies his expectations.
Linny: Indeed, Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai does a great job of taking its run of the mill pure hearted protagonist and spinning an amusing story around him regardless of how worn an archetype his character might be. The fast paced action and constant twists along the way, with a healthy dose of gags, makes for a well executed premiere. Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai moves fast with no wasted moments but keeps things approachable even for those who might have never heard of Dragon Quest before this anime. By combining popular tropes with competent comedy and storytelling, Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai is able to present itself as a show with more universal appeal instead of just being limited to fans of the original game franchise. So long as you enjoy comedy and action in a fantasy setting, there’s a high chance you will come away entertained.
Tom: Boasting some of Toei Animation’s best talent, a decent melding of CGI, coupled with tight direction and a classic, well written beginning, it’s hard not to love this show from the get go. It’s traditional shonen at its finest, with just enough subversion of expectations, and avoiding some of the genre’s worst tropes, that Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai is a must try for any anime fan that likes a solid shonen series now and again.