Dragon Half is a little OVA from the early 1990’s, that does a lot more then I ever thought it could. It’s not the deepest most profound anime, and it’s not the most exciting thing to watch either. But it’s got some wild and crazy characters, and it’s laugh out loud funny. Sure it’s a little stupid, and a bit shallow. But it’s a cute show, and hey I LOVE the dub. It’s one of my favorite comedies, although I love a lot of anime comedies. Still this is one of the better ones that I’ve seen.
Plot/Story – 7/10
This little OVA series takes place in your standard “sword and sorcery” fantasy realm, and although it’s not original, it gives the series a bit of an edge. It’s a great setting for a comedy in my opinion. Also it does have a bit of a twist, like for example some non-coventional stuff will apear from time to time. Anyway this anime is about Mink and her friends trying to get tickets to this concert. Yes they have concerts ther ein this fantaysy world, and the guy Mink wants to see is some famouse idol, who sings all around the land, and fihghts bad guys, and does everything else. He’s quite the hot shot, and “big thing” going at this time. Mink’s a huge fan. The King of this land has it out for her, however, and wants nothing more then for Mink to be dead! He wants to marry her mother, and will do whatever it takes. For some reason he thinks if he does away with Mink, it will make this much easier on him. Her mother is a dragon by the way, and she’s still married to her father, a knight who slays dragons. Yeah a match made in heaven…or hell :P. Anyway the King and his men try to capture/kill Mink, Mink doesn’t seem to notice much and wants to go to the convert, her friends join her, hijinks ensue. It’s a very simple story, but one that works. Later Mink ends up in this huge tournament/fight against some of her enemies, and that’s where you will really start laughing your but off! The story is interesting, and never boring, thats for sure. Crazy things keep happening, at yet the story still moves along. And the ending is also quite fun. The show is very light hearted, goofy, and stupid at times, yet never too dumb. It may not be a smart show, but the way it does everything makes you feel dumber then the show is. This is a plus in my book. Also when everything is over, you get to see Mink with her top off. Not sure if this is good or bad, but you do. As Matt Greenfield so blunty puts it (in his commentary track) “And there’s the fanservice. The reword for watching it to the end 😉 “. Boobies and humor. Yes this show has it all folks.
Usually when/if I review a comedy I’ll try and describe the type of humor (slapstick, dialogue based, character based, parody, satire, puns, nonsensical, etc), but trying to pin down the type of humor in “Dragon Half”, is like trying to pin down a tiger. It won’t be easy, it’s crazy, and you will probally fail trying. So I’ll just say that “Dragon Half” is incredbly fast paced, and very very funny. To try and get you to understand what type of humor this is perhaps this will help. Greg Ayres once called it “Excel Saga…before we had Excel Saga”. So yeah…think about that one. I think that works quite nicely. This show outright paradies many different fantasy tropes in anime. It makes fun of a lot of things, and it also makes fun of its self. It doesn’t “reference” any shows in perticular (that I noticed), but it makes fun of common fantasy themes. It’s also completly random, and makes no sense. Yeah there’s a story, and it ends. But nothing you will watch will make any sense at all. This show is incredbly surreal. Laugh as things that make no sense happen in weird ways! I know I did! Much of the humor is slapstick, but not in an anoying way. There is some great wordplay once in awhile (and I must compliment ADV Films for the great script), and off the wall stuff happening constantly, and the dub really makes everything 10 times funnyer. You can tell ADV had fun dubbing this one. Anyway yeah the type of humor in this changes with the mood, although it tends to stay clearly on the “stupid” side of the humor equation. So yeah no real witty remarks, or intelligent satire. Just plain, dumb, (but FUNNY) jokes. And it’s not even high brow stuff. It’s not offensive, but this isn’t “Jokes with Einstein” either. Oh and although all the characters are stupid, even they laugh at Damaramu for being an idiot. He’s one of the “bad guys” out to get Mink for the King. And you should too, because he’s pretty stupid, yet funny. He keeps saying his own name when he talks, not because it makes him sound tough. But because if he didn’t he’d forget his own name. Yeah dumb as a herde of snails, running right into a pile of salt.
Art/Animation – 6/10
This is an OVA, and so I judged it as one. Despite being an OVA, it seemed to have gotten a rather poor budget. It has aged quite a bit by today’s standards. Comedy seems to never get the big budgets, but boy did they save on this one. It’s not bad or anything, but the animation is rather average. It does it’s job, with all the crazy and random things happening, but it is nothing to write home about either. The art is nice looking, although rather plane and undetailed, even for 93. It has some cute character designs that I really liked. And the color palette is very nice, incredbly bright, full of life, and cheery. A little TOO colorful at times, but I liked it. The backgrounds are rather average and plane looking.
Also I must bring up the fact that the characters are constantly changing from super deformed (aka Chibi form) to regular anime form throughout the show. They do a good job at this, although they didn’t blow me away either. It was a great choice however, and I admire the effert. It works with the crazy pace of the show, and the just so bizarre and outlandish nature of it all.
Sound (Music & Dub) – 9
The background themes, when played are quite good. Light hearted, poppy, and very cute. But where this series shines is in it’s AMAZING ending theme. “Watashi no Tamagoyaki” is a crazy pop song verson/remix of a famouse Beethoven song. Yeah they don’t mess around here. On top of that you have the meaningless, nonsenical lyrics such as ” Pappara funi-Funi Papparu hoe-hoe” song with such effert, feeling, and enthusiasm that you can’t help but love it. It’s so in your face, it’s so cute, it’s so fluffy, yet it all sounds very nice. This si the type of song you will get stuck in your head, and never be able to sleep. Yet you won’t care because the song is so catchy.
Dragon Half was dubbed in 2002 by ADV Films, in their Houston studio (Amusement Park Media, although its been known as a lot of things over the years. They keep changing the damn name I have no idea what they called this studio back in 2002). This is an anime ADV released sub-only(on VHS) YEARS before hand, and was known in some circles as “un-dubable” because of how fast paced it was, and how much is going on. According to the commentary track, this was dubbed around Christmas, so they could have the largest talent pool possible (many actors who moved away come back for the Holidays). Also they seemed to have wanted Jessica Calvello to play the lead, and by this time she had already moved to New York City. Greenfeild (the ADR Director) said they could have dubbed this whenever, but he waited until it could have a great dub, as best as they could do. And I must say I am truly glad they waited to dub this. As this is one of the funniest dubs out there. First the casting of Jessica Calvello as Mink…dead on! I love her in this role. She’s perfect in every way. Not that Mink is a very difficult charcter to “get”, but I really can’t picture anyone else playing her. Also Amanda Winn Lee as Vina, the main bad girl and the King’s Daughter, was another brilliant casting. She is truly funny in this. Like I fell off my stea with some of the stuff she says. Hilary Haag as Pia, one of Mink’s friend, was another great choice. She fits these “little, tiny and silly” characters quite well.
As far as the performances go, Not sure what I can say really. This isn’t some deep, dark, dramatic anime or something, it’s a lowbrow comedy, off the wall anime, with lots and lots of crazy dialogue. But as far as comedies go, I dare you to find a better acted one out there. This show’s dub is just great, truly top grade! I just love how insane everyone is. The main cast, the small roles, the one line guys, everyone does a great, no wonderful job. And as I already said, Jessica Calvello is amazing in this. You can tell she had a lot of fun with it. No one out there could do what she did with this one here. Also shout out to Tiffany Grant, who plays a small, but important character from the second episode. She gives Dug Fin, this small magical critter, such a cute, yet mean spirited voice, that you just gata love it. Everything she says will have you rollying on the floor laughing. Aaron Krohn as the idol Mink wants to see, Dick Saucer, is so OVER THE TOP, you will smile. You will just totally get this guy, every bit of him. He did a great job as Kaji in Eva, and you can tell this was no fluke. He’s a real fit for these types of characters in my opinion. In fact you can tell a lot of thought went into the casting of this show. And Greenfield’s mark is all over this one. I expect the best from him, and I got nothing less then that. One of the best ADR directors in the biz.
Enjoyment – 9/10
This is very subjective, as if this humor style doesn’t work with you, you probally won’t like this show very much. But I can’t help but to love it. I laughed, I laughed,I kept laughing, I laughed some more. It’s really a fun, enjoyable, and cute little OVA. I’m glad it didn’t overstay it’s welcome, as two episodes is more then enough. Anymore and the jokes would get stale, it wouldn’t be able to keep up with it’s fast paced nature, and the characters could get anoying. But as this is it’s perfect. In fact all of the characters are likeable and cool, even the truly stupid ones. That takes some good writing, because sadly many times the truly DUMB characters get anoying fast. Not so here. Now the show is kind of hallow, shallow, and devoid of anything more then joke after joke really. But I feel the crazy characters get me though that. They’re not really deep, or very well developed, but their likeable, and you enjoy watching them.
Extras: Full of Win
Commentaries can sometimes be the most boring thing ever, or the best extra feature on the DVD. Luckily for us, the latter is true for this one. Matt Greenfeild the ADR director, and one of the head honchos at then-ADV Films (now Section 23) is main voice you will be hearing. And he actually talks in debth about the this very shallow show, and explaisn the dubbing process. His wife, and voice actor Tiffany Grant (who has an important role in this) joins him. And he tried to talk matter-of-factly about the show, but he really can’t because it’s so funny. Ok maybe because I’m a nerd, and fan of Greenfeild, or perhaps because this commentary track is truly funny, either way I found I really enjoyed this.One of the better commentaries out there by far. Not only is it interesting and informative, but it’s also very funny. It’s like if your up for more laughs after watching the show, put this on to kill another hour. Now it’s not as good as his commentary on “Puni Puni Poemy” but it’s still very good. (In the commentary for “Puni Puni Poemy” he tries to talk about the show, but CAN’T because the entire cast is there with him, and everyone is constantly saying something laugh out loud funny. This constant struggle between Greenfeild trying to talk in debth about another very shallow show, and everyone just goofing on the show is really an undrescrible listen. It’s one of my favorites! Very enjoyable. In fact funny/more interesting then the show its self, at least for that OVA). So in short, give the commentary a listen if your a dub fan. It’s one of the better ones out there.
Final Vertic: 8/10
This is a very shallow, and stupid show. But it’s also very very funny. It’s humor is hard to pin down, and you never know what it’s ganna do next. The fantasy setting is a plus, and the characters while, 2 dimensional, are very likeable (even the bad guys and stupid dudes). The dub is one of the best for a comedy, and you will be on the floor with this one. The show may be a little too crazy and fast paced for some, but it’s weird nature is something I couldn’t help but love. Also Beethoven ending theme for the win! And boobies. First they try and hide them, but then they show all. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but there’s boobies.
Yeah…watch this crazy show. It’s well worth the price of the DVD.