3 Reasons To Skip: Dragon Pilot

#1 Adult drama made childish

Hisone Amakasu is a fairly boring woman who has a fairly boring job. She is little more than clerk in the offices of Japan’s Self Defense Force, until she is one day mysteriously transferred without her consent. She is to join up with a division she’s never heard of in an abandoned corner of the airbase. There, in an old hangar, she discovers—and is promptly eaten by—a giant dragon.

Turns out her new job is to become a “dragon pilot”. A secret unit of the JSDF reserved for its most elite members, who fly around inside dragons.

PHOTO: Hisone with a helmet on staring at her dragon.

A lot of the early show focuses mainly on character development & comedy, as the various pilots and support staff learn to cooperate and overcome problems both with each other and internally. I typically enjoy these kinds of series that focus on adult characters in the workplace, especially when it promises to feature character development. I hate it when media presents it as if you somehow, magically, become your most perfect self the moment you hit 24.

However, a lot of the drama in Dragon Pilot felt immature to me, literally as if middle school story arcs were rewritten to fit a workplace setting. This is most obvious in Nao Kaizaki, a woman who still acts like a stereotype delinquent. Interesting things could have been done with the concept of a woman who bullies her co-workers, but her arc falls completely flat due to poor writing. Like what even is she hoping to accomplish in episode 2?

Photo: Nao, looking dejected, is lectured by a superior officer for messing with other people's unforms.

Similar issues plague the rest of the show. Anytime I was starting to get into it a little, one or more of the characters would overreact to the story or their development would fly off in a direction I didn’t feel anything for.

#2 Completely misusing the dragons

So how exactly does a dragon pilot operate? Well, you get eaten by a literal dragon and then control it by fiddling around in its guts. Oh, but don’t worry, you don’t actually need to do any dragon stuff with it, like breathing fire or kidnap princesses, because the dragon will just transform into a regular fighter jet. It’s kinda like a “meat mech”, except it’s not a mech but a regular aircraft.

This concept doesn’t pitch well, does it?

Photo: Hisone squirming around in the moist guts of her dragon.

The dragons do look cute, but end feeling like an excuse to pander to vore fetishists in what is otherwise an anime about mostly normal aviation stuff. And even those vore scenes the anime doesn’t dare to stick with, as Hisone and her companions soon get sci-fi hologram overlays that obscure all the icky guts they’re supposed to be sitting in. If you’re into vore yourself or were just interested in seeing an anime contextualize it into a mainstream story, then prepare to be mostly disappointed here.

I do believe the dragons are important for the narrative, so just turning them into regular jets would be overkill. However, I was constantly thinking how much more practical it would have been to just have the pilots actually mounted on the dragons, instead of this half-assed science fiction-hybrid solution we got now.

#3 Comedy is its only forte

Dragon Pilot ended up being a 5/10 show for me. I admire its cute character designs and it’s a pretty good comedy show, so I didn’t entirely hate it. What bothers me is that Dragon Pilot has the DNA and talent to do more, but just doesn’t.

Photo: A mechanic discusses serious matters with Hisone while is clinging to her dragon's comically-oversized nose.

Action, for example. The anime was produced by shounen powerhouse studio Bones, but it features little in the way of excitement. The animation is fairly mediocre all-around and the flat directing work means that scenes that should be thrilling fail to even register as action-packed moments. The entire final battle I just sat through with stone-faced disinterest; it didn’t spark any kind of hype or enthusiasm in me.

Romance doesn’t end up working in the show’s favor either. Hisone’s romance is fairly straightforward, up until it’s complicated by literal high school drama at the tail end of the series. The drama is entirely uninspired and doesn’t play to any of the series’ themes or strengths; rendering it mostly ineffective.

There is also the romance between the badass pilot El and the base’s resident womanizer. While more creative than the Hisone’s romance, this ends up being a plot thread that contributes nothing side from perplexed disappointment.

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3 thoughts on “3 Reasons To Skip: Dragon Pilot

  1. That anime does look mediocre. Why just have the dragons turn into jets and that’s it? That fetishized aspects of the dragons eating their pilots is just…BLEH! [shudders]. Yeah…I’ll definitely pass on that one.

  2. I feel like this review is not entirely honest.
    First of all, where did you get the vore aspect from??? Really exposing your own fetish there. Hell, many shots of the pilots inside the dragons ARE oversexualized, but not in that way. The “eating” part is at no point portrayed as anything but gross.
    > The entire final battle I just sat through with stone-faced disinterest; it didn’t spark any kind of hype or enthusiasm in me.
    There was no final battle. There were no battles in the entire show at all. Did you watch the final episode, even?
    Really, something one could criticize more is the incredible amount of sexists in this anime, Haruto being pretty much the only non-pervert male character.

    1. Your comment got flagged for spam, sorry about that.

      “battle” was perhaps not the right choice of words here. I was more referring to the final action scenes in general. I’ll consider rephrasing that to avoid confusion, though it has been years since I’ve seen the show now so I don’t want to tinker with this old review too much. My memories of Dragon Pilot are hazy.

      As for vore as a fetish, I am indifferent to it. Trying to shame me is rude and not going to work, I am fairly open about all things sexual on this site. As it pertains to Dragon Pilot, you are correct in saying that it is framed as gross. I just wish it actually committed to that angle, instead of doing this whole elaborate excuse where a normal jet interior is projected inside the dragons. I felt that was a waste of potential to do something actually interesting and a betrayal to people who did come to the show for the promise of vore.

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