First Look: Dragon Pilot Hisone and Masotan

Alternative title(s): Hisone to Maso-tan
Anime original by BONES
Simulcast Pending – Netflix

Premise

Hisone Amakasu is a somewhat flustered rookie in the Japanese Air Self-Defence Force, who accidentally stumbles upon a dragon hidden on her base.

Zigg’s verdict: Set to Soar

I had high hopes for this show, and they were more than fulfilled, but in an entirely different way than I expected. Rather than the anticipated shonen-y combat adventure, Dragon Pilot is instead a delightfully understated slice of life comedy, full of charm, sly humour, and delightful quirkiness. A lot of this comes from BONES’s incredible animation work, which 100% sells the unique art style and manages to simultaneously be as cute as a button and also satisfy detail hungry mecha enthusiasts when we get around to the flying sequences. There’s also sharp dialogue and some great characterisation, both subtle and hilariously overt. The overall blend of mech action, character-based comedy and bright upbeat tone strongly invokes Mobile Police Patlabor, a flattering comparison if there ever was one. My only concern is the studio’s long history of botching their original work (hey, remember Captain Earth? Nope, me neither) but provided the quality level of this first episode can be maintained, this is looking like an easy highlight of the season.

Marlin’s verdict: Delightfully Weird

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this show other that chibi designs and cute dragons, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only did we get that, but also what is looking to be a sweet story of self-discovery. I’m absolutely enamoured with the art style, which gives a great old-fashioned feel. The stretchy nature of the character gives them a great feeling of dynamism, and the roundness of all the features makes Maso look cute as a button. I’m a little confused as to what the plot is going to be with no clear enemy, but they have plenty of time to play that out. My only problem is, the idea of her piloting Maso from inside seems all kinds of gross and unnecessary. Other than that, I think it’ll be a fun ride.

Gee’s verdict: Fly High!

Dragon Pilot is absolutely lovely. I can’t say it enough, it oozes a charm that pervades every facet of the show. Whether it’s the bouncy animation with a sort of analog feel, the hilariously incongruous nature of the fantastical jet dragons and the utter mundanity they’re treated with, or just the immensely personable vibe of all its characters, Dragon Pilot immediately grabs your attention. In many ways, Dragon Pilot hearkens to the era of 80s sci-fi OVAs like Dominion Tank Police or Patlabor. Like both of those, Dragon Pilot’s premise initially communicates something more hard edged before pulling back the curtain and revealing its much goofier and lighthearted tone. Produced by a crew of very talented but also very inconsistent names, I hope Dragon Pilot can continue to live up to the promises it makes in its premier episode. If it can, Dragon Pilot might be the secret best mecha anime of the season.

Artemis’ verdict: Best of the Bunch

This, right here, is set to be the best new anime of the season by a long shot – and that’s gotta be worth even more coming from someone who doesn’t typically care for military or pilot-themed shows. First off, Amakasu is the kind of female protagonist I constantly dream of for anime but only ends up coming along once a decade or so – her ‘personality quirk’ just equals plain common sense for me, not to mention being a great source of genuinely funny comedy (again, a huge rarity in anime – someone who always says exactly what’s on her mind and is a nice person? The horror). The rest of the cast likewise brings a ton of energy to the show, and the little nods to Evangelion, rather than making me roll my eyes, had me smiling fondly. Because derivative this series most definitely isn’t; in fact, it’s one of the most sparkling, creative, enjoyable titles I’ve seen in a long time. It’s also visually gorgeous, with a very distinctive art style that might take a little getting used to, but which is obviously extremely lovingly drawn and animated. If you had to pick only one title to watch this spring, Dragon Pilot should be it.

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