Finding Dragon Dentist in the Crunchyroll archives was a real surprise…
Having become attached to ID: INVADED since the preview, it makes sense that I would be on board for Otaro Maijo’s other work…I thought it was only on HiDive in my region, but lo and behold, I found it on Crunchyroll.
I was around and following simulcasts in 2017, so I dunno how the announcement of this particular set of specials being on Crunchyroll evaded me…I guess there’s just too much anime out there for one person to memorise the local and/or English licensing of, after all.
According to the research I did surrounding ID: INVADED, Maijo is a mystery writer at heart and in that sense, ID: INVADED is his common wheelhouse and Dragon Dentist is the abberation, even though comparing the two works thematically or genre-wise is like comparing apples and oranges. I mention this because I got the feeling that Dragon Dentist was a work of a writer who didn’t get outside their wheelhouse much in that we get an insular character focus, as opposed to the more standard world-building focus you’d expect to get with a work where dragons roam the skies and a whole way of living has sprung up around them (think the UFO wars from Eizouken – I mean that sort of thing and that way of thinking), although I couldn’t really put the pieces together until I had such knowledge. Then again, basically every English-language source that talks about Maijo is either talking about ID: INVADED, Dragon Dentist and/or his obscurity when it comes to his work being translated, so hey, I’m not alone!
Much like ID: INVADED, Dragon Dentist is a marriage of concepts that don’t seem like they should work at first – the dragon is a large ecosystem by itself that brings people back to life, but also threatens people with its cavities, bug-like creatures which the dentist has to fight. It’s a cycle of life and death unto itself and, with the war plot in the background, the special never lets you forget it. Speaking of the war, although it shapes the story, it’s never really elaborated on, because the two characters we focus on – Nonoko and Bell (yes, like the DanMachi character!) – mostly remember their time in the dragon and work to defend it, in spite of Bell’s amnesia (which does get resolved within the specials’ length, thank goodness). Similarly, although the dragon is part of the title and possibly acts as the draw for some viewers, the specials have got a very human focus and not much of an attempt is made to understand the creature, again owing to the fact the characters we focus on can’t (or don’t) comprehend it…or maybe just time constraints. Furthermore, the pacing seems to favour the back half of the specials, which is kind of annoying when you realise – like I was saying earlier – each special is a double-length episode, so essentially 4 standard episodes’ worth of content.
Sidebar 2: Also like ID: INVADED, Dragon Dentist‘s got a bit of a wordplay thing going on, although it’s not half as bad. Mushiba (literally “bug tooth”) is the word used for cavities/tooth decay, hence their bug-like appearance.
(Similarly, haisha = “tooth doctor”, using the same kanji for “tooth” from mushiba, although that’s not wordplay – that’s just how the word is constructed.)
There’s a painterly look to this that reminds me of Totoro, what with the chevron logo, old-timey feel and supernatural focus. Apparently there’s CGI, but I don’t remember noticing it much outside the virus-like mushi, so…good work, staff.
To be honest, I don’t know if there would be enough plot for a full-length series if this could be made into one. If you splice the episodes, you could get a movie, though…
So how did you like the Dragon Dentist specials? Would you like a proper series of this, based on what you’ve heard of it or seen with the original Animator Expo short/these specials?
I know Scott and Ospreyshire (of Iridium Eye Reviews) covered Dragon Dentist a while back, so if you’d like a second opinion, head there.