I pride myself on the fact that I genuinely watch hentai with the intention of appreciating its story. Sure, I absolutely will watch the erotic scenes, but I think there is a lot of potential in hentai as a storytelling medium as well. Where other romance anime cower at the first signs of sexuality, hentai has the potential to weave it into its character arcs and narrative. This philosophy does leave me vulnerable for a certain, awkward scenario; what if I think the sex scenes are brilliant, but I hate watching them within the context of the story? That’s basically my issue with Dragon Pink in a nutshell.
Acting as a parody on old school fantasy RPGs, Dragon Pink is about a band of brave adventurers who travel the land to take on quests, delve into dungeons, and acquire the rarest of loot. The group consists of the swordsman Santa, the barbarian Bobo, the Elf witch Pierce, and the titular Pink. Pink, however, is a catgirl in a world that discriminates against Beastmen like her. Her class is literally just “Cat Slave”, as she is technically Santa’s property.
Pink is a very cute character. She is lively and expressive, strong, and I really like the contrast of her bright pink hair with her darker skin tone. She’s very much the main character of this story, yet also its favorite punching bag.
The tone of Dragon Pink leans strongly towards erotic comedy. And as a comedy, its one joke consists of pointing at Pink’s misery, laughing at it, and then making her life even worse. She’s constantly abused, berated, and overworked, she is discriminated against wherever she goes, treated as property rather than a person, and constantly put at risk because her life is just worth so much less. There’s no hope for her situation improving at all—there’s no arc or pay off—just an unending streak of miserable developments.
What strikes me as particularly odd given this premise is that Dragon Pink attempts to cast her allies in a positive light, in spite of effectively being her captors. Pierce and Bobo are frequently shown to be sympathetic towards her, reeling in Santa whenever he pushes things too far. However, they still freely benefit from exploiting Pink when it suits their needs and don’t lift even a finger to help or defend her when it matters most.
Santa is an even more perplexing case. Sometimes he treats Pink as a love interest and appears to care a great deal for her, while at other times he is utterly heartless. Case in point: in episode 1 he goes to great lengths to get her a nice outfit after a racist shop owner refuses to sell anything to her. It’s his one moment of apparent redemption, for which he literally risked his life. In the next episode, he rips the outfit to pieces, strings Pink up, and ogles at her while she is being molested by a slime monster.
Comedy is usually my favorite flavor of hentai, but in the case of Dragon Pink it was just a total mood killer. I don’t mind grimdark hentai like Alien from the Darkness and Gakuen Shinshoku, but something about the combination of cute characters, a bright fantasy setting, and raping enslaved women just didn’t land well for me. It’s hard to enjoy a nice erotic scene when you’re constantly reminded of the cruel circumstances that brought the protagonist there.
Which is a shame, because Dragon Pink has some very good erotica in it. The artstyle and character design are very appealing, and the animation by Pink Pineapple is sublime. Scenes are lengthy enough to feel substantial and also frequent enough that you won’t be left waiting for too long. I also want to commend Dragon Pink on its variety; erotic scenes range from fairly normal, vanilla romance to bizarre fantasy scenarios that delve into all kinds of fetishes. I personally wasn’t that into the torture and gore stuff that features in parts of episode 3, but other than that it was an impressive experience.
For those reasons, I actually recommend going against my usual advice for hentai. Dragon Pink is great if you just skip to the good bits and ignore everything else in-between. It’s not ideal, but if that’s what it takes to enjoy a genuinely good fantasy hentai, then so be it. ignorance is bliss.