With recent trends striking the internet every other day, another trend of making live-action movies/series and animated shows based on lucrative role-playing videogames (RPGs) now has surfaced in the recent present. Dragon’s Dogma is the latest addition to the already splendid list.
Dragon’s Dogma comes with the affluent background of Role-Playing Games (RPGs), with the successful RPG of the same name which was released in 2012 and received mostly positive reviews from the gamers. Dragon’s Dogma, however, fell a little short to the superiority of other games serving as its competition when it released; the RPGs like The Witcher 3, Divinity: Original Sin, and the entirety of Souls Series. If one is to follow the popular opinion about the anime adaptation of the 2012 game, it’s not likely to appear anywhere in one’s favourites chart. Nevertheless, we will try to provide the readers with the truest to its type of analytical review for this seven-episode anime based on the RPG.
The story kicks off the same way as its origin game does, but starts taking off giant leaps from the very second episode of the series. The seven episodes are designed in such a way to be titled after seven deadly sins. Henceforth, to follow the pattern of planning the show around the seven deadly sins, episodes had to be designed as standalone carrying different stories revolving around the titular sin. The narrative adopted by the show makers is well within its suit for deserving the praise, a little more than what it has garnered. Even though coming up with the fresh narrative and expanded storyline, creators have miserably lacked in filling the roles of the set of characters. The story progresses in an archetypical manner of the lead protagonists, a boy accompanied by a girl, who later on births affectionate feelings for the boy along the journey.
The story begins with Ethan, same as the game, the resurrected warrior who is in his pursuit of fighting a dragon and claiming his stolen heart back from him who wiped out his entire family. Olivia, Ethan’s deceased wife, is specifically created to make the story more adaptive for anime and provide Ethan with a source to derive out his emotions from. Olivia primarily serves as a backstory for Ethan’s misery, shown in flashbacks only. As an outcome of this, however good it was to create Olivia, she doesn’t appear much on the screens. But after the brief introduction to Ethan’s life and his character, viewers are given with a scattered story revolving around seven deadly sins. The idea behind formulating the story to signify the biblical sins is said to be the show’s only motive of delivering the message – ‘Human is the worst, most selfish, and despicable creature of all’ to the audience. It wouldn’t be entirely wrong to say, Dragon’s Dogma is just another take at delivering the same typical story with the same typical execution and hence presents nothing fresh to its viewers.
Some of the episodes can be said to be actually productive around the plot of seven sins, like ‘Sloth’ and ‘Pride’, but most of them felt like just fillers and plain clichés of displaying typical adventures of hero and his companion in their quest to the dragon. Several side characters are filled into the story, just to assist Ethan and Hannah along their journey and nothing else. In ‘Envy’, the third episode, Ethan and Hannah encounter someone who’d beg them to save his wife from the goblins. Abruptly enough, the same guy tries to kill his own wife and then himself later on in the episode for his wife, after being saved, grows an appreciative liking for Ethan. The sins aren’t performed by any of the monsters, but the humans themselves. Thus, human are nothing but pathetic creatures, which, in the end, would go off any limits to fulfil their own selfish desires. ‘Gluttony’ is another failed attempt of designing an interactive episode on this overused plot.
Besides, producers’ efforts of cramming the entire story of Dragon’s Dogma, the adventures of Ethan and Hannah, their quests and combats into a seven-episode saga just comes out as futile as you could expect. On the bright side though, producers and creators have been courageous enough to take the risks of breaking bonds with the game and explore beyond its reach to develop something new and not stay beholden by the thin story of the game to produce an entire animated show out of it. Dragon’s Dogma, the game itself was highly criticized by the gamers for the lack of solid story and character development. So the creators had to work on one leg to create something strong for the key characters of Ethan and Hannah. It can be said, by the looks of it, they have done a pretty good job.
Secondly, we can just thank them for not creating any romantic/sexual sceneries involving Ethan and Hannah, for the god’s sake, it would have been both inappropriate and gruesome for the audience to watch. While on the sides of Hannah and Ethan’s cute relationship, there are loads and loads of preposterous sexual nudity but gory backgrounds filled with the blood of both humans and monsters. This, though added to the dark fantasy element of the show, in some of the episodes it did come across too much to handle.
The animation looks brilliant in some of the fight sequences, especially against the enemies like Cyclops, Griffin, Hydra and Lich, where the ferocity of Ethan is at a full display and is enhanced even more with the striking animations. Coming near to the end of his adventure, Ethan is a little changed person with some of the traits of Hannah’s character that he picked or just couldn’t resist to taking on in him along their journey of seven 25 minutes episodes.
The prime lacking show has is the very limited runtime, had the producers expanded the story throughout 15-20 episodes with some meaningful storylines, this anime adaptation could’ve been appreciated much more than it has. Over the confused, meandering story crammed in just 7 episodes, the animation and little character development and combat scenes cover-up for making Dragon’s Dogma an enjoyable watch. It manages to capture the thrill of the visually rich game and the dark fantasy and metaphorical elements of the anime. Dragon’s Dogma isn’t any close to the best anime adaptations of the games but it sure has shown intent of a nice effort at that. Plus, it has room for improvement in future seasons, if any.