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GENRE: Anime ORIGINAL AIR DATES: April 13 - June 29, 2018
// review by FlagrantWeeaboo

At least it doesn't "drag on".

DRAGON PILOT: Hisone & Masotan has all the credentials required to be surely brilliant. It features the art of Toshinao Aoki and even comes right out of Studio BONES, a beloved anime studio responsible for Full Metal Alchemist and countless other great shows. I think that's what makes Dragon Pilot particularly disappointing, as even with a solid premise and some truly gorgeous visuals it seems to be completely unsure of what it wants to be. At times, it's dull as a dishrag.

Well, on one hand, it's a story about how dragons have been concealed from the public eye for generations, disguised as planes. Cool! On the other hand, it's a tale about rituals and princesses and such otherworldly nonsense being told in a conventional modern setting. To me, that feels kind of off. I get what it's going for but it just seems out of place, though that may be the message the show itself is trying to convey. There is a place for tradition in the moderns day, but one can't run their entire life around it.

When I started watching Dragon Pilot, I got the premise almost immediately. Dragons hidden in plain sight, nicknamed "Organic Transformed Fliers", piloted by special aviators called D-Pi (Dragon Pilots). As a concept, fantastic! We follow new cadet, Amakasu (codename Hisone), who is chosen by the dragon to be its pilot. We get to see Hisone bond with her dragon Masotan, and it's delightful. All the time these two are together, sparks fly and it's simply excellent viewing. Wholesome, even.

This all takes place on a believable military airbase, with a cast of interesting characters including drill instructor Kakiyasu (with her own sad history) and suit-maker Hiroki. Yes, suits play a big part in Dragon Pilot. D-Pi need suits that can withstand the gastric juices from the dragon's insides, seeing as they have to be swallowed by their dragon in order to fly it. From the cockpit of the stomach, as it were.

The cast of characters are a joy to meet and generally speaking the show is hard to put down, especially at first. However, the first sign things are going awry comes with mention of 'white lovers', rituals and sacrifices. Dragon Pilot does little to explain what exactly is going on in each episode, perhaps intentional seeing as we're learning everything about this ritual through Amakasu, but that doesn't make it any less confusing.

The original title, Sexy Dragon Vore Fantasy, was rejected.

The show has a fair bit of questionable sexual content. I'm not too bothered about it in my own home, but on commute or sitting in the local church eating Christmas dinner, it's not the kind of show I can have playing on my phone. While there's little nudity, there are some rather gratuitous references to sex and some really tight uniforms, not to mention Hisone often being covered in the slimy bile of Masotan whenever she's "ejected" from its stomach. And of course, the obvious vore fetishism angle. (One particular scene has the swallowed Hisone's suit dissolving to reveal her thighs - huh.) I think the 12 rating on Netflix is very conservative, though I'm sure others would disagree.

The soundtrack, opening, and closing themes and everything sound design is top notch. The English dub is of excellent quality and accurate dub the likes we've come to expect from the Netflix Originals line. The show's presentation is soft pastel colours and gorgeous clean linework. Character designs courtesy of Aoki are cute, with bonus points for once again including a delinquent lady in the form of Nao, my personal favourite in the show's cast of characters.

I have a tough time recommending DRAGON PILOT: Hisone & Masotan mainly because it's not a very good story. You can have gorgeous presentation values and fantastic character design but if the story doesn't have meat then why stick with it? If anything runs in Dragon Pilot's favour then it's that the show is a short, single run series with a confined story and concrete ending. I have faith that the manga adaptation of Dragon Pilot (penned by Aoki) will go into greater depth with characters where the show couldn't within its constraints.

If you're looking for a shorter series to watch in-between other shows, Dragon Pilot serves that role beautifully.

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