Welcome back to the blog for another OWLS post. Chances are you guys were redirected here from Karandi’s post on Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions or possibly even directly from the OWLS website. It’s been a while since OWLS last did a tribute type tour (remember the Yuri on Ice one?), so when I saw this theme, I wasn’t sure if I would participate. I mean, I haven’t watched many series by Kyoto Animation so what would I even talk about? But I’m glad I decided to sign up. Like usual, this post is going to contain lotsa spoilers
For this month our theme is “Believe” and we will be talking about…
Kyoto Animation. We all have that one anime we enjoyed from Kyoto Animation. Whether it is pain or joy, Kyoto Animation has brought to life stories that can touch our emotions. For the month of August, we will be honoring Kyoto Animation and all it has done for art, storytelling, and popular culture by discussing some of our favorite Kyoto Animation series. We will discuss what we love about these series and what they taught us.
The fire that happened at the studio is indeed a tragedy. We pray for the lives that were lost in this tragedy and the families that are suffering at this time. Fires may be dangerous, but there are flames that burn within us that spark passion, hope, and belief in ourselves.
Like I’ve probably shouted to the heavens millions of times, I’m not the type to really watch and enjoy a slice of life story but ever since I saw Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, I knew I had to watch it. It’s actually been on my to-watch list for quite some time so when Lyn gave us the prompt way in advance, I knew this was my chance to sit down with this series and oh boy, was I blown away by this beauty
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid tells the story of both Miss Kobayashi, your typical everyday office worker, and Tohru, her new maid who also happens to be an incredibly powerful dragon. One night, when Tohru was sure she was on the verge of death, Miss Kobayashi, in her drunken state, saves her by removing a holy sword from Tohru’s dragon form and even invites her to be her maid after hearing she has nowhere to go. The next day, as promised, Tohru arrives at Miss Kobayashi’s residence, ready to repay her debt only to find that Kobayashi has forgotten about their late-night bonding
Even though guilt is the reason Kobayashi ends up agreeing to hire Tohru, as the series progresses we see that she opens up and begins to care for Tohru, which in turn, changes her own life
Believe That Our Differences Are Beautiful
One of the first themes that I picked up while watching this series fell so in line with the beliefs of OWLS that regardless of anything else that was shown, I knew I’d be talking about this. When Tohru arrives at Kobayashi’s home and is hired to take care of the house, she is clueless as to what her duties entail. Which is why she doesn’t think twice about turning into a dragon when some burglars try to break into the house. From the start, we know that Tohru hates humans and it’s to be expected. I mean, 98% of her encounters with humans usually led to bloody battles and attempts at killing her
However, the longer she spent time with Kobayashi and learning how to be human, Tohru comes to see that not everyone is going to act (or react) the way humans did during the Crusades (with fear and violence). During her trip to the market, she ends up saving someone’s belongings when using her dragon speed and strength, and instead of the fear and rejection she was expecting, the people thanked her and were wowed by her abilities.
Tohru came into our human world knowing nothing but with tolerance, she began to learn about a new culture and even came to love it. She didn’t push away her own dragon heritage, as we often see her go “stretch out” in dragon form and even sneaks back home to pick up some interesting delicacies. It was her personality that won over the humans that she interacted with
Fearing the unknown seems to be a big thing with people and misinformation often fuels this. Generalizing the actions of one person or one group of people to a whole race or culture seems to be the “norm”, but this series pushes for something beyond these confines
Believe in an Unorthodox Family Structure
While I picked up on the yuri vibes from episode one (what with Tohru not being afraid to shout to the world that she loves Kobayashi), I wasn’t sure if it would go anywhere past fanservice (the boob grope) or it’s all in your head. I like to think it’s not all in my head. After all, wouldn’t it be cruel if Kobayashi was leading on Tohru? And then that episode happened and I was convinced
The beauty of this show is that it really gives us many instances of healthy LGBTQ+ family structures. When Kanna comes to the human world to find and take Tohru home (and fails), she becomes the third person in this developing two-person family structure. We see how Kobayashi doesn’t think twice about opening her home to Kanna and even moves so that the three of them can have a better living space. When Kanna watches the kids walking outside and heading to school, Kobayashi doesn’t think twice about also sending her to school. And when Kanna has the festival at school where parents are encouraged to go see them, Kobayashi pulls longer shifts in order to attend. Kobayashi is often referred to Kanna’s mom by others and while Kanna mainly calls Kobayashi Kobayashi-san, she admits that yes, Kobayashi is like her mother (and Tohru like a big sister)
I am not well versed in the yuri realm, but I often hear that yuri seems to not exist in media and I also have to admit that the lesbian experience was something I discovered until much later in my adolescence. Getting to see Kobayashi and Tohru living together and having Tohru express her love so openly was such a treat, and adding Kanna was the cherry on top
I may be behind on my news, but being gay seems to still be seen as something that is contagious by some people, which might be one reason that it’s argued that gay couples shouldn’t be able to adopt children. Perhaps it’s just general discrimination that gay couples shouldn’t have children near them because they are seen as perverts or sinners.
Regardless of why this series emphasizes two things that I was extremely happy about. One is that a lesbian couple can healthily nurture a child and two is that we shouldn’t even be surprised by the different types of family structures. That a mother, father, and child family structure shouldn’t be considered the norm
I would also like to give a shoutout to the boys of this series
We don’t really see too much on the side of Takiya and Fafner, but from the little we do see, I screamed. Even though Fafner came into the human world believing it was beneath him and was ready to curse generations of families for any type of transgression, he comes to appreciate the life he’s had the chance to live with humans. He even calls Takiya a hit (vs. miss) and tell me that’s not beautifully gay
We also see how they are completely in harmony with each other and the day with the rain sealed it for me. I adore these two (really I adore all our gay children) and I loved that we didn’t just get a lesbian couple but the makings of a gay one as well
Believe in the Surprises That Life Grants Us
There is an episode in this series (I believe it’s #13), where Tohru’s father comes and takes her back home. When Kobayashi learns about this, she tries to go back to how her life was before Tohru but finds that she can’t. She’s gotten used to having someone greet her when she comes home, to make her coffee just the way she likes it, and as many others have pointed out, she smiles more. She even changed where she lived based on both Tohru and Kanna, deciding on an apartment with a communal roof so that both dragons could use the space. With Tohru gone, Kobayashi’s home is more somber and quiet, and it doesn’t just hit Kobayashi but the audience as well
Sometimes we don’t realize what we have until it’s taken away and Kobayashi felt this firsthand. She had the option of continuing her life or fighting to keep Tohru by her side
Tohru was something unexpected, but that amounted to so many surprises and moments of happiness. It was because of Tohru that she had the chance to meet Kanna and be a mother to her. It was because of Tohru that she got to meet all the other dragons in her life, expanding her social life from just drinking with Takiya. We don’t always know what a single person or experience will bring us and I felt that this story is telling us to embrace those moments, and when you feel strongly for them, to not be afraid to fight to keep them
Kobayashi was scared when she was attacked by Tohru’s father, but she didn’t give up. Even though it was only a few days without Tohru, she realized she didn’t want to go back to her old life. She followed after the two Chaos dragons and fought to keep Tohru by her side. Sometimes fighting for something that you cherish or believe in can be scary because it makes you vulnerable, but it’s worth it
Believe That You Are Worth It
I often see people say that X-thing wouldn’t happen to them and I have to admit that I’ve also had this mentality. I especially see it in relation to significant others, but also just in relation to having an “exciting” social life. Perhaps we won’t end up saving a dragon maid from the verge of death and have her scream her undying love for us while blasting away our breakfast because of impatience, but we have to believe that we are worth someone’s attention. If we don’t believe that we are worth it then how do we work towards achieving the things we want?
While Kobayashi had the help of alcohol and a pretty “whatever” personality (she’s very chill about stuff), she also took her chances and allowed Tohru to become part of her life. While she wasn’t as outspoken as Tohru about her feelings, you could tell that she held herself with confidence, especially as the series progressed
Sometimes it takes someone reaching out to you to get things rolling, but we also have to put in the effort in opening up, being ourselves, and wanting to keep what we love close. To do all this, we have to believe that we are worth having these connections and I felt Kobayashi’s growth really emphasized this. I mean, she’s just your average workaholic otaku. Doesn’t that sound like us?
Oh boy. I was trying to go for a short post but this is long. Next up on the tour is Mel so watch out for her post later this week! But I’m curious. Have you guys watched this series? Did you feel that it talked about all these themes? Was there something else that you felt spoke to you? LMK!