"Ravioli, ravioli, don't lewd the dragon loli." Easier said than done when the anime is basically doing it for you already.
I must admit that I have been rather critical of Kyoto Animation in the last few years. Such a talented studio who used to work wonders back in the day with titles such as Clannad, Haruhi, Lucky Star and K-On, but over the course of the last four years or so I have been rather disappointed with their series, with shows such as Kyoukai no Kanata and Musaigen no Phantom World really failing to live up to their previous standards. But Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon actually feels like KyoAni finally returning to their roots, and for the first time in several years, it made me remember why I used to love this studio so much back in the day.
The anime starts with the typical adult office worker Kobayashi suddenly receiving a surprise visit one day... from a dragon. A dragon who then transforms into a human girl in a maid outfit and proclaims that she wants to live with her and work for her as her personal maid. As it turns out, Kobayashi had actually proposed the idea herself during some drunken escapade in the mountains earlier, and thus awkwardly finds herself having to invite the girl in. And thus begins Kobayashi's hectic everyday life of cohabitating with a dragon maid: Tooru.
It is a very simple series at heart but it works. It's reminiscent of KyoAni's wacky moe comedies of the past, and most of its success stems from the overblown characters and the stellar production value. Tooru is one big bundle of endless energy, in stark contrast to Kobayashi's deadpan and cool-headed personality. She is largely unfamiliar with how human society works as she came here through a portal from a different world, and as a result she sometimes suggests some ludicrous things such as haphazardly slaughtering people, and it is up to Kobayashi to keep her in check. Tooru is also rather openly affectionate with Kobayashi and repeatedly claims that she loves her, though Kobayashi mostly seems to see it as a child looking for parental affection rather than anything romantic for the most part.
If the entire series had solely revolved around Kobayashi and Tooru though, it would likely have become stale and repetitive before long, but fortunately that is not the case. There are numerous other characters, most of them other dragons, who are introduced one at a time as the anime progresses. The first of these, and also the only other one who would have to be considered as one of the show's main characters, is Kanna Kamui: proud owner of the sexiest piece of loli ass in a very long time (not to mention her thicc thighs). In all seriousness though, everything about her just screams moe, and in my mind she is the real star of this anime. Her looks, her personality and behaviour, even her husky and emotionless voice; all of it is unbearably cute. I think she is right up there with the likes of Kafuu Chino and Tsutsukakushi Tsukiko as far as pure moe overdose levels go. Kanna's role in the story is as a young dragon who follows Tooru to the human world and eventually ends up living with Kobayashi as well. She acts like the child of the strange household and also starts attending a local elementary school due to wanting to experience everyday life in human society in a way befitting someone of her age. What her exact age actually is we are never informed of, but she is supposedly still over 600 years old in human years, so she is presumably of legal age enough to do whatever degenerate things you lolicons want to do to her. On top of being irresistibly adorable though, I think Kanna also brings out the best side of Kobayashi. As the story goes on, you can gradually see Kobayashi becoming more and more of a mother figure to Kanna with the way she treats her, through acts such as taking time off work in order to be able to visit Kanna's school's sports festival and trying to sneak in presents in her Christmas stocking just like how she believes Santa would do it. It brings a genuinely heartwarming touch to what is otherwise a relatively non-serious anime, but it all blends together really well.
Regarding the supporting cast there is also Kobayashi's fellow coworker and otaku Takiya, as well as three other dragons in the form of the reclusive and mysterious Fafnir, the diligent but naïve Elma, and the easygoing and voluptuous Quetzalcoatl, more commonly known as Lucoa. Takiya and Fafnir have a sort of otaku bromance going on, which serves as a pretty nice contrast from the craziness going on whenever Tooru is around, and Elma functions well as the one dragon who can actually interact with Kobayashi on somewhat normal terms due to her personality and occupation. Lucoa however is the one character in this show which I honestly find rather useless. For one she is a typical fanservice character with gravity-defying breasts bigger than her head, but the way she utilizes them is kind of disturbing too. She does not move in with Kobayashi but rather lives in the house of a local child, and the way she interacts with him is basically through ignorant sexual harassment, which feels rather creepy to watch considering their milf and shota characteristics (the kid's name is literally Shouta I might add). Even outside that household though, the only thing Lucoa ever seems to do is jiggle her enormous knockers and nothing else. Her entire persona can be summarized by her tits. The show would really be better off without her.
So Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon is definitely not without its fair share of fanservice, however discounting Lucoa, the other stuff in that department that the anime has to offer is honestly more of a plus than a hindrance I think. Takiya and Fafnir may have a very close friendship past a certain point in the story, but it feels legitimately believable and honest rather than a pair of boys who just got shipped together for the hell of it or anything put into a sexual context. While I am sure the fujoshi crowd will have no problem overcoming that barrier, at least in the context of the show itself, their relationship only comes across as two people who became close friends due to a common interest of hobbies, in this case anime and video games. There are also numerous segments starring Kanna and her human school friend Riko, where it is made quite clear that the latter has a pretty huge infatuation with her dragon classmate. What exactly the nature of those feelings are is debatable considering Riko's young age, but either way there are many scenes of the two of them snuggling together and Riko being super excited about it as a result. It is kind of like a running gag throughout the show where Riko gets so excited over Kanna that she almost gets an ahegao as a result, which I guess is at least somewhat original instead of the more stereotypical nosebleed reaction. Kanna also does some rather surprising things to Riko in return sometimes such as spontaneously licking her on the cheek, but this feels more like an animalistic behavior caused by her non-human nature as she does not seem to mean it to be anything more than a friendly gesture, though of course Riko probably does not interpret it as such. Some people might find it a bit weird seeing two lolis being so physically affectionate with each other, but considering how clingy girls can be amongst friends combined with the facts that Kanna is a dragon and that Riko is highly exaggerated like most anime characters, it still feels believable to me. And also given how incredibly cute Kanna is as a character, it is not like I can blame Riko if she really does have some deeper feelings for her.
In terms of production value, the anime is undeniably top notch. The fact that the art and animation is stellar should be a given since it is KyoAni we are talking about, and there is not a whole lot to say about it other than that it looks like KyoAni shows normally do: in other words fantastic. Since this is a throwback to their moe shows of old though, it is perhaps a bit more colorful than normal in order to fit the light-hearted nature of the show. The music department is also great: the OP and ED are both super catchy tunes and it also has some surprisingly good insert songs throughout the episodes themselves as well with a rather tranquil and artistic feel-good atmosphere to them, and the voice acting is all-round solid as well. There really is not much to complain about in these aspects of the series.
All-in-all though, what you have is a well-directed and thoroughly entertaining anime which--while simplistic in nature--is very much aware of its own limitations and unapologetically embraces its own strengths. It shifts quickly between being over-the-top absurdity and relaxing yet heartwarming slice of life shenanigans, but the transitions are smooth and natural, and it is just as enjoyable in both ways. Yes, there are some things that could have been done better, and no, it is not the single best moe comedy ever made, but it is quite well above average at the very least, and definitely something well worth your time checking out.
Diverse and likeable characters
Top tier moe, especially Kanna
Oftentimes quite heartwarming
Superb production value
Simple, light-hearted fun like the KyoAni of old
Although entertaining, it is not exactly hilarious either
Lucoa is useless