Huzzah! It is safe to say Toei Animation has hit the best episode yet of Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai. After ending on a slight cliffhanger, with Dai’s tutor Avan using the ancient spell “Puff” to turn himself into a dragon to test Dai. The show is a 2020 remake of the 90’s anime, based on the manga of the same name. All of which are spin-offs of the popular video game franchise.
The first half of this episode concludes Dai’s training arc with Avan. For as bumbling as he appears, Avan’s powerful magic hints that there is more to him than meets the eye. Turning himself into a dragon requires Dai to think his way through the battle. Up until this point, Dai has mostly relied on his tenacity and brute force, so it was nice to see his character progress in this way. The fight was well structured and bodes well for future battles involving Dai. With him still learning magic, hopefully, a more strategic component will be present in his battles.
Dragon Quest Episode 4’s title reveals that our heroes will encounter The Dark Lord Hadlar. They certainly do, and quite the battle by Dragon Quest standards occurs. This fight was a lovely moment to spotlight Avan as a character. It is difficult to say much without spoilers, but so far he might be the most dynamic. He cares for his students. Dai also showcases his bravery, while also not being ridiculously overpowered for the main character. This is all balanced out nicely by Popp, who is comically the straight man. He may be cowardly, but it is frankly logical to hide from The Dark Lord.
Hadlar makes a good villain. He is designed to be clearly intimidating compared to the other characters on screen. His power is fearsome, and because the scale the plot reveal later on in the episode really lays down the stakes of the show. This episode really feels like the plot has been established, and the previous three were prologue. That’s good, because this show needed an adrenaline shot, and it seems like Hadlar’s appearance might just be that. The ending note of the episode is also promising in terms of upping the emotional stakes of future episodes, but only time will tell.
The animation is so well done in this episode. Gone are the awkward cuts from 2D to CG in the middle of a fight. Everything is smooth and bright. The fights are also great to look at, the animation does a good job of conveying the level of power (or power difference) in each attack, and the show doesn’t skimp on runtime. There is a lot of action in 20 minutes and Dragon Quest Episode 4 is all the better for it.
Overall, Dragon Quest Episode 4 is the best so far. Fantastic animated fight scenes and a welcomed dose of heightened stakes push the show off of its plateau and into an upward trajectory for all the characters involved. Avan is a fantastic presence in this episode, and ideally we will get to see more of him.
Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai is streaming now on Crunchyroll and Hulu.
Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai Episode 4 - "The Dark Lord Hadlar's Return"
Dragon Quest Episode 4 is the best so far. Fantastic animated fight scenes and a welcomed dose of heightened stakes push the show off of its plateau and into an upward trajectory for all the characters involved. Avan is a fantastic presence in this episode, and ideally we will get to see more of him.