Mink—the daughter of a dragon and a retired dragonslaying knight—sets out on a journey to get tickets for a concert held by Dick Saucer, world-famous teen idol and dragon hunter. Meanwhile, the corrupt king of the land is trying to take her hostage to get at her mother, and his magic-using daughter seeks to foil Mink's quest out of sheer spite.
The early and mid 90's were probably the golden age of mindless comedy in anime as far as my viewing goes. A lot of it was just as hit and miss as any other period of time, but the field was vast, filled with various styles of comedic offerings, like Compiler and Junk Boy. Dragon Half is one of these, an OVA parody of RPGs and fantasy adventures, and is the best of the sub-genre I've seen to this day, without a close second.
The plot is incredibly simple, but it's all the motivation a comedy needs. Something as easy as a half dragon
who wants to win the affections of a super pop star who slays her kind in his off time by becoming human is just absurd enough to rank very high on a comedy scale. Getting into a comedic show for a plot is asking for trouble, and you might rob yourself of fun. So, it's about as easy as The Little Mermaid-er, Dragon, as Mink and her friends make a complete mockery of the adventure genre. It deserves it after giving me Those Who Hunt Elves.
Character designs are really cute and vibrant, with virtually every cast member shifting between vaguely serious mode to wacky chibi in a matter of frames. The show spends most of the time in super-deformed mode. It's hammered down your throat, but this was back when chibi characters using physical comedy was still pretty damn funny and fresh to me before becoming a fairly predictable and stale novelty that it is today. The animation is mildly dated, but still looks pretty great with Production I.G, as the visual gags and dialouge are perfectly timed, making the best out of SD characters and a silly script. I loved them all, from Mink's completely perverted father, to Vina and her father, including his assistant. As well as Damaramu, who was Kamina from Gurren Lagaan for his time, only 5000 times funnier and more enjoyable to me.
The English dub is one of my favorites, including some of ADVs best best talents from the mid 90's like Marcy Rae as Mink's mother, the fantastic Brett Weaver doing what he does best; voicing a loud-mouth buffoon as Damaramu, and Jessica Calvello (A woman who needs more work) as Mink. Probably the only English dubbed animes I've found this funny were GTO and Azumanga Daioh. The ending theme is very, very catchy as well, I believe it's singing about breakfast. God, I dig it so much.
IN CLOSING: This is a rare treasure. It's from a different era of satire, so it may not be everyone's cup of tea for younger veiwers. Probably the biggest drawback against it being a satisfying experience is that the manga continues the story, so you might feel a little gipped when the OVA just abruptly ends. Even above and beyond that, it's almost comedy perfection that does little wrong and is probably only hurt by the passage of time and the fan's palette for what defines a farce. It's earned a permanent, golden plaque on my shelf as one of the funniest things I've ever seen come out of Japan.
P.S. Sorry for sounding like an old man again in my reviews.
OVERALL SCORE: 9 out of 10
PROS: Fantastic retro satire, Dungeon & Dragons-inspired parody, a pioneer of the chibi-SD humor, great ADV English dub,
CONS: Lack of continuation might dampen experience, out of date style of comedy might not sit well with younger audiences
Dragon Half was a two episode OVA based on a seven volume manga by Mita Ryuusuke. It was handled by Production IG. That's right, the studio behind Chocolate Underground, Usagi Drop & Stand Alone Complex, to name just a few. So, how does this one hold up?
We open with our heroine, Mink, trying to watch a pretty boy idol on the television while her parents fight. She leaves the chaos to converse with her friends about Dick Saucer & his upcoming concert. Unbeknownst to her, the king, Siva, has the hots for her dragon mother and plans to kill her father for his crime of... not
killing the red dragon he was sent to kill so he can get together with her.
Okay, I know this is a comedy and the story doesn't matter that much, but why did the king send a knight to kill a dragon if he wanted to have carnal interactions with said dragon? Wouldn't it have made more sense if he'd sent the knight to try to woo her for him or something?
In any case, the king's wizard, Rosario, has a cunning plan, he's basically Baldrick. If they kidnap Mink, her father will be forced to try and come to her rescue which will get him right where they want him. This rapidly devolves into schemes to get Mink from Siva & Rosario. All the while Mink and her friends are looking for a potion to make her a normal human because Dick Beaker doesn't like dragons.
Okay, this gets on my nerves. She's going to try and change who she is to appeal to this Dick Nugget? You know what? Just be who you are. If a potential romantic partner isn't interested because they can't handle what that is, they aren't worth your time and effort. You should be able to be a dragon if that's who you are. Just incinerate anyone who doesn't like it because you're a motherfucking dragon.
The humour of the series is largely based on absurd, over the top stupidity. For example, the ending theme tune uses a composition by Beethoven but gives it lyrics heavily focused on food and a lot of vocalisations that aren't actual words but just weird sounds. There's also the obvious gag of the antagonists having all their traps backfire. As a whole, it's not bad but it's also not really funny. About the funniest it gets is with Damaramu's over the top entrances, followed by very anti-climactic exits.
There's not much to them. Dick Sauce is a generic pretty boy. Mink's friends have very little in terms of personality. Mink herself is just a hyperactive comedic protagonist. Now, I've talked about how comedies don't need great, complex characters before. They just need characters who have strong comedic interactions. Unfortunately, that's not really something we get here.
The bulk of the series uses a very simple, chibified style. Occasionally, it pulls out of it and uses a more standard action style. A lot of the time it pulls a Panty & Stocking and uses that for fan-service purposes. Because if you can't be all that funny, you might as well show some boobs.
I will say, Mitsuishi Kotono is a really good choice for the protagonist in the type of fast-paced, absurd comedy they're going for. Her performance has a lot of energy and, if it were paired with stronger comedy, it would be infectious. They've got some other good actresses like Sakuma Rei, Kouda Mariko & Kawata Taeko but I have to call them "good" based on their performances in other anime. In this one they're just mediocre. The music is fine. I'd be tempted to call it better since they do use classical music, but they kind of weaken it with their attempt at giving it a comedic twist.
There is a scene where Mink's elf friend decides that she should kiss Mink for a really stupid reason, but it's obviously intended for a joke and they both have the hots for Dick Frisbee so, obviously, nothing happens.
Dragon Half does have a few funny moments but the comedy is largely just over the top nonsense and, overall, it's pretty sub-par. If it sounds like it could be your type of comedy, I would still suggest trying it, especially since it is short. For myself, I can only give it a 4/10. It's not bad, but it is weak.
Take the dumbest anime you can possibly imagine, multiply that by 2, and what you get is something that's probably only half as stupid as "Dragon Half".
This is an anime of the dreaded "comedy" genre. I'm not a fan of the comedy found in anime in general, and "Dragon Half" represents the worst of this kind of comedy, containing just about every anime comedy cliche under the sun. Over the top? Check. Nonsensical? Yep. Super deformity? Hell yes. The whole thing is a big joke, and not a very funny one at that. Basically, there are a couple of hilarious moments, and the rest just
bored me to the point of tears. Making witless noises such as "Piri piri fumi fumi" (I'm sure you'll forgive me if I don't get these incredibly profound lyrics exactly right) over a mix of Beethoven songs in an attempt to pass it off as a funny ending theme isn't clever. It's retarded. And that's exactly what this show is.
I watched this in dub, and unusually enough, the dub actually fits the anime quite well. Having said that, even if it did suck, I can't imagine watching it in sub will be much of an improvement. Shows like these can't be saved by having good voices - they're far, far beyond redemption.
On top of the random nonsense contained in the anime, it has no ending, just a beginning, because it was planned for more than two episodes - I'm knocking off major points for that. Although I guess I should be thankful that this didn't go on for any longer. If it did, my sanity would probably be beyond redemption as well.
Unless you're a fan of the most silly type of anime comedy imaginable, avoid "Dragon Half" like you would avoid a dragon that's bent on eating your brains for lunch, because that's the effect this anime will have on you.
Note: this is a review of the R1 DVD released by ADV films. That includes the English dub and Extras. Enjoy ;)
"Dragon Half" is a little OVA, that does a lot more then I ever thought it could. It's not the deepest most profound anime, and it's not the most exciting thing to watch either. But it's got some wild and crazy characters, and it's laugh out loud funny. Sure it's a little stupid, and a bit shallow. But it's a cute show, and hey I LOVE the dub.
Plot/Story - 7
This little OVA series takes place in your standard "sword and sorcery" fantasy realm,
and although it's not original, it gives the series a bit of an edge. It's a great setting for a comedy in my opinion. Also it does have a bit of a twist, like for example some non-coventional stuff will apear from time to time. Anyway this anime is about Mink and her friends trying to get tickets to this concert. Yes they have concerts ther ein this fantaysy world, and the guy Mink wants to see is some famouse idol, who sings all around the land, and fihghts bad guys, and does everything else. He's quite the hot shot, and "big thing" going at this time. Mink's a huge fan. The King of this land has it out for her, however, and wants nothing more then for Mink to be dead! He wants to marry her mother, and will do whatever it takes. For some reason he thinks if he does away with Mink, it will make this much easier on him. Her mother is a dragon by the way, and she's still married to her father, a knight who slays dragons. Yeah a match made in heaven...or hell :P. Anyway the King and his men try to capture/kill Mink, Mink doesn't seem to notice much and wants to go to the convert, her friends join her, hijinks ensue. It's a very simple story, but one that works. Later Mink ends up in this huge tournament/fight against some of her enemies, and that's where you will really start laughing your but off! The story is interesting, and never boring, thats for sure. Crazy things keep happening, at yet the story still moves along. And the ending is also quite fun. The show is very light hearted, goofy, and stupid at times, yet never too dumb. It may not be a smart show, but the way it does everything makes you feel dumber then the show is. This is a plus in my book. Also when everything is over, you get to see Mink with her top off. Not sure if this is good or bad, but you do. As Matt Greenfield so blunty puts it (in his commentary track) "And there's the fanservice. The reword for watching it to the end ;) ". Boobies and humor. Yes this show has it all folks.
Usually when/if I review a comedy I'll try and describe the type of humor (slapstick, dialogue based, character based, parody, satire, puns, nonsensical, etc), but trying to pin down the type of humor in "Dragon Half", is like trying to pin down a tiger. It won't be easy, it's crazy, and you will probally fail trying. So I'll just say that "Dragon Half" is incredbly fast paced, and very very funny. To try and get you to understand what type of humor this is perhaps this will help. Greg Ayres once called it "Excel Saga...before we had Excel Saga". So yeah...think about that one. I think that works quite nicely. This show outright paradies many different fantasy tropes in anime. It makes fun of a lot of things, and it also makes fun of its self. It doesn't "reference" any shows in perticular (that I noticed), but it makes fun of common fantasy themes. It's also completly random, and makes no sense. Yeah there's a story, and it ends. But nothing you will watch will make any sense at all. This show is incredbly surreal. Laugh as things that make no sense happen in weird ways! I know I did! Much of the humor is slapstick, but not in an anoying way. There is some great wordplay once in awhile (and I must compliment ADV Films for the great script), and off the wall stuff happening constantly, and the dub really makes everything 10 times funnyer. You can tell ADV had fun dubbing this one. Anyway yeah the type of humor in this changes with the mood, although it tends to stay clearly on the "stupid" side of the humor equation. So yeah no real witty remarks, or intelligent satire. Just plain, dumb, (but FUNNY) jokes. And it's not even high brow stuff. It's not offensive, but this isn't "Jokes with Einstein" either. Oh and although all the characters are stupid, even they laugh at Damaramu for being an idiot. He's one of the "bad guys" out to get Mink for the King. And you should too, because he's pretty stupid, yet funny. He keeps saying his own name when he talks, not because it makes him sound tough. But because if he didn't he'd forget his own name. Yeah dumb as a herde of snails, running right into a pile of salt.
Art/Animation - 6
This is an OVA, and so I judged it as one. Despite being an OVA, it seemed to have gotten a rather poor budget. It has aged quite a bit by today's standards. Comedy seems to never get the big budgets, but boy did they save on this one. It's not bad or anything, but the animation is rather average. It does it's job, with all the crazy and random things happening, but it is nothing to write home about either. The art is nice looking, although rather plane and undetailed, even for 93. It has some cute character designs that I really liked. And the color palette is very nice, incredbly bright, full of like, and cheery. A little TOO colorful at times, but I liked it. The backgrounds are rather average and plane looking.
Also I must bring up the fact that the characters are constantly changing from super deformed (aka Chibi form) to regular anime form throughout the show. They do a good job at this, although they didn't blow me away either. It was a great choice however, and I admire the effert. It works with the crazy pace of the show, and the just so bizarre and outlandish nature of it all.
Sound (Music & Dub) - 9
The background themes, when played are quite good. Light hearted, poppy, and very cute. But where this series shines is in it's AMAZING ending theme. "Watashi no Tamagoyaki" is a crazy pop song verson/remix of a famouse Beethoven song. Yeah they don't mess around here. On top of that you have the meaningless, nonsenical lyrics such as " Pappara funi-Funi Papparu hoe-hoe" song with such effert, feeling, and enthusiasm that you can't help but love it. It's so in your face, it's so cute, it's so fluffy, yet it all sounds very nice. This si the type of song you will get stuck in your head, and never be able to sleep. Yet you won't care because the song is so catchy.
Dragon Half was dubbed in 2002 by ADV Films, in their Houston studio (Amusement Park Media, although its been known as a lot of things over the years. They keep changing the damn name I have no idea what they called this studio back in 2002. Anyway I rank it as one of, if not THE top ADR studio in North America). This is an anime ADV released sub-only YEARS before hand, and was known in some circles as "un-dubble" just because of how fast paced it was, and how much is going on. According to the commentary track, this was dubbed around Christmas, so they could have the largest talent pool possible (many actors who moved away come back for the Holidays). Also they seemed to have wanted Jessica Calvello to play the lead, and by this time she had already moved to New York City. Greenfeild (the ADR Director) said they could have dubbed this whenever, but he waited until it could have a great dub, as best as they could do. And I must say I am truly glad they waited to dub this. As this is one of the funniest dubs out there. First the casting of Jessica Calvello as Mink...dead on! I love her in this role. She's perfect in every way. Not that Mink is a very difficult charcter to "get", but I really can't picture anyone else playing her. Also Amanda Winn Lee as Vina, the main bad girl and the King's Daughter, was another brilliant casting. She is truly funny in this. Like I fell off my stea with some of the stuff she says. Hilary Haag as Pia, one of Mink's friend, was another great choice. She fits these "little, tiny and silly" characters quite well.
As far as the performances go, Not sure what I can say really. This isn't a Shakespeare play, it's a lowbrow comedy, off the wall anime, with lots and lots of crazy dialogue. But as far as comedies go, I dare you to find a better acted one out there. This show's dub is just great, truly top grade! I just love how insane everyone is. The main cast, the small roles, the one line guys, everyone does a great, no wonderful job. And as I already said, Jessica Calvello is amazing in this. You can tell she had a lot of fun with it. No one out there could do what she did with this one here. Also shout out to Tiffany Grant, who plays a small, but important character from the second episode. She gives Dug Fin, this small magical critter, such a cute, yet mean spirited voice, that you just gata love it. Everything she says will have you rollying on the floor laughing. Aaron Krohn as the idol Mink wants to see, Dick Saucer, is so OVER THE TOP, you will smile. You will just totally get this guy, every bit of him. He did a great job as Kaji in Eva, and you can tell this was no fluke. He's a real fit for these types of characters in my opinion. In fact you can tell a lot of thought went into the casting of this show. And Greenfield's mark is all over this one. I expect the best from him, and I got nothing less then that. One of the best ADR directors in the biz.
Enjoyment - 9
This is very subjective, as if this humor style doesn't work with you, you probally won't like this show very much. But I can't help but to love it. I laughed, I laughed,I kept laughing, I laughed some more. It's really a fun, enjoyable, and cute little OVA. I'm glad it didn't overstay it's welcome, as two episodes is more then enough. Anymore and the jokes would get stale, it wouldn't be able to keep up with it's fast paced nature, and the characters could get anoying. But as this is it's perfect. In fact all of the characters are likeable and cool, even the truly stupid ones. That takes some good writing, because sadly many times the truly DUMB characters get anoying fast. Not so here. Now the show is kind of hallow, shallow, and devoid of anything more then joke after joke really. But I feel the crazy characters get me though that. They're not really deep, or very well developed, but their likeable, and you enjoy watching them.
Commentaries can sometimes be the most boring thing ever, or the best extra feature on the DVD. Luckily for us, the latter is true for this one. Matt Greenfeild the ADR director, and one of the head honchos at then-ADV Films (now Section 23) is main voice you will be hearing. And he actually talks in debth about the this very shallow show, and explaisn the dubbing process. His wife, and voice actor Tiffany Grant (who has an important role in this) joins him. And he tried to talk matter-of-factly about the show, but he really can't because it's so funny. Ok maybe because I'm a nerd, and fan of Greenfeild, or perhaps because this commentary track is truly funny, either way I found I really enjoyed this.One of the better commentaries out there by far. Not only is it interesting and informative, but it's also very funny. It's like if your up for more laughs after watching the show, put this on to kill another hour. Now it's not as good as his commentary on "Puni Puni Poemy" but it's still very good. (In the commentary for "Puni Puni Poemy" he tries to talk about the show, but CAN'T because the entire cast is there with him, and everyone is constantly saying something laugh out loud funny. This constant struggle between Greenfeild trying to talk in debth about another very shallow show, and everyone just goofing on the show is really an undrescrible listen. It's one of my favorites! Very enjoyable. In fact funny/more interesting then the show its self, at least for that OVA). So in short, give the commentary a listen if your a dub fan. It's one of the better ones out there.
This is a very shallow, and stupid show. But it's also very very funny. It's humor is hard to pin down, and you never know what it's ganna do next. The fantasy setting is a plus, and the characters while, 2 dimensional, are very likeable (even the bad guys and stupid dudes). The dub is one of the best for a comedy, and you will be on the floor with this one. The show may be a little too crazy and fast paced for some, but it's weird nature is something I couldn't help but love. Also Beethoven ending theme for the win! And boobies. First they try and hide them, but then they show all. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it's boobies.
Yeah...watch this crazy show. It's well worth the price of the DVD.
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