Many associate Dragon Quest with the video game franchise, but in fact, the lore has expanded into multiple different forms of media. In this case, Toei Animation is giving a fresh coat of paint to this remake of an anime from the 90s, that was adapted from the manga of the same name by Riku Sanjo and Koji Inada with Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai. Slimes and nostalgia abound in this first episode, even for those who aren’t familiar with the original (myself included).
Dai was shipwrecked as a baby onto an island inhabited only by monsters. There, he was raised by the monsters who had been freed from The Dark Lord, Hadlar’s control after his downfall to a hero. Dai longs to be a hero in his own right, although elderly monster Brass insists he trains as a mage. When Dai meets other humans claiming to be heroes for the first time in his life, and his slime friend is put in jeopardy, his world expands.
The series is drenched in nostalgia, viewers don’t even have to be familiar with the original to recognize the distinctive 90’s anime art style. Fans of Pokemon and Digimon will be at home with Dai and his monster companions. The animation is stellar. While there are a few CG monster moments that don’t blend as well with the 2D animation, overall the fluidity in the action shows Toei isn’t holding back.
Where this show struggles is with the plot. It is very simple. It hits all of the tropes and beats of the genre and doesn’t bring much new to the table. It is a remake, but unless it executes this classic RPG fantasy story flawlessly in the next few weeks, the plot could bore viewers fast. It is certainly fun to watch, that can’t be denied. But it doesn’t require much thinking from the viewer. The plot of the first episode was incredibly predictable.
As a main character, Dai is similar to the plot. There are no negatives, but nothing specifically noteworthy. He IS the shonen main character. He wants to be a hero, he is energetic, reckless, and ultimately believes in the power of friendship. Hopefully, as Dai’s world expands, so will his depth beyond that of a self-insert protagonist.
On the other hand, Brass is great. The audience has yet to be given a reason as to why he is the only monster who can use magic and talk, but that hardly was a distraction when he stole the show every time he was on screen. Brass is the crotchety monster grandpa on the island. His familial relationship with Dai is sweet to watch, and hopefully will not be limited to the premiere episode as Dai embarks on his journey. Also, slimes are cute. Honestly, watch this show for the variety of well-animated cute slimes alone.
For a premiere episode, this does its job. Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai Episode 1 knows its audience. Lovely, fluid animation and adorable slimes abound this RPG nostalgia trip. The first episode’s plot was predictable and simplistic, but the execution was well-refined. This is great for anyone who wants a trip back to the 90s this fall.
Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai Episode 1 is streaming now on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.