Review of Netflix’s Dragon’s Dogma 2020 Anime Series
277 total views, 1 views today
We’ve seen some remarkably successful adaptations of video games recently, such as Netflix’s own Castlevania series and the Sonic the Hedgehog movie — but those are based on relatively linear games. The Dragon’s Dogma game, by contrast, is the polar opposite of that: Capcom’s dark fantasy RPG has a sprawling open world, dynamic combat, and detailed character customization, and it clearly presented challenges for adapting the source material into a straightforward, seven-episode anime. Having a character with a strong drive and powerful motivation is definitely an improvement over the game’s silent, empty vessel, and the animation is well done, but the quest to slay an evil dragon is both underdeveloped and meandering.
Generally speaking, the framework for the plot is the same here as in the game: Ethan (voiced by Greg Chun) is a resurrected warrior who sets out to reclaim his stolen heart from the dragon (voiced by David Lodge, reprising his role from the game) who wiped out his family. Ethan’s backstory and wife, Olivia (voiced by Cristina Vee), are new creations for the show and really don’t get enough screen time. Olivia is one of the best new additions, delivering an emotionally-charged performance that adds much-needed levity during early moments and a key flashback. However, due to the purpose Olivia’s character serves, she’s barely in the show at all.
After the opening, Dragon’s Dogma the anime deviates from the game by naming and theming each of the seven episodes after a specific deadly sin. Most of the time this idea ends up with stories that are a bit on the nose: Naturally, Ethan battles a succubus in the episode titled ‘Lust,’ and ‘Pride’ is, of course, the final battle, featuring an ending that’s dramatically different from the game in mostly worse ways. It’s thankfully nowhere near as convoluted as the weird mashup of twist reveals, but the way it ties up the seven deadly sin allegory is entirely unoriginal and frankly anticlimactic after the spectacle of previous major fights.
Read More: Raised by Wolves Review: Ridley Scott
While I certainly appreciate the effort to establish a narrative framework around the show’s story, it comes off as a bit hamfisted. Seven 25-minute episodes just isn’t enough time to cram in all the legwork for the kind of story the writers are trying to tell here and it feels both rushed in the lack of time spent on plot development and also like a bit of a slog in how it gets bogged down with irrelevant side plots. By honing in on the minor moments along the path to fight the dragon, the anime loses the grand scope of the game’s world and misses out on memorable areas like the Everfall and Witchwood. Most side characters show up for a few minutes before dying and you’re rarely given time to appreciate who they are before being expected to care about their deaths.