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Dragon Half (1993) – DVD Review

Dragon Half DVD cover art


Written by Shinya Sadamitsu, based upon the original manga by Ryuusuke Mita
Directed by Shinya Sadamitsu
Character Designs by Masahiro Koyama


  • Episode commentary track
  • Clean closing

Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:

  • Unusually high levels of teenage angst
  • Jubblies perilously close to being exposed
  • Scary dragons!
  • Even scarier dragonslayers who sing!
  • Minor bad language
  • Fire-based spouse abuse

Released by: ADV
Region: 1
Rating: 15+
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Get it.

[ad#longpost]Dragon Half asks the question: what would happen if a dragon and a dragonslayer knight had a child together? Of course, since this is anime, the answers are wackier than you might suspect. Our Hero, Mink, is the result of that forbidden and unusual union of knight and dragon, making her life rather difficult, but she also has something of a crush on another dragonslayer/pop singer, not to mention a rival for his affections—the naturally quite wicked and unpleasant Princess Vena. So in addition to the normal challenges of being a teenager with a crush, she also has to cope with breathing fire, having wings, horns, and a tail, and being supernaturally strong. There are upsides and downsides to everything, it seems.

Not one to accept a cliché, Mink decides to prevent the “brave” dragonslayer from living happily ever after with the “lovely” princess in this case, and takes off in search of a magical solution to her genetic problems. Along with a band of friends who are often less help than they should be, she meets with various adventures and the requisite Mortal Peril. Other conflicts include the king’s desires for her draconic mother and a subsequent attempt on her father’s life, being forced into entering a Martial Arts Tournament to win enough money to buy tickets to her beloved’s concert and to pay for her the travel necessary to find her magical cure, and a giant battle with the lord of demons.

The art is standard 90s anime. The digital transfer is not as crisp as it could be, alas, but presents few problems and looks pretty good. There is a lot of rather heavy-handed use of “super-deformed” chibi-version characters, so if that kind of silliness bothers you, be forewarned. If, on the other hand, chibi-ized characters and art are to your taste, you’ll be in hog heaven here. With regard to the character designs, however, female viewers will be compelled to ask the age-old question: “why, exactly, would a warrior choose to wear a shirt that exposes the bottom half of her jubblies?” She is wearing tiny armored cones on her actual breasts, as well as armored boots, but everything between her knees and her nipples, in addition to her head and arms, is pretty much exposed. Luckily, half-dragon skin seems to be a bit tougher than mere human skin.

Dragon Half

The audio is good, with strong performances by both Japanese and English casts. If you generally skip one or the other due to a bias of your own, throw caution to the wind this time, and try out the “other side” just to see. You might surprise yourself and expand your future anime-viewing possibilities. The show is very loud and makes extensive use of sound effects, music, and dialogue.

The Essential Anime version of the release has some nice features, including a very entertaining and even somewhat informative commentary track on the second episode by a couple of English voice actors and the ADR director, Matt Greenfield (who happens to be married to one of the voice actors featured here, Tiffany Grant). It was a lot of the usual “we loved this project!” sort of commentary, but there was some actual info thrown in, too, including which of the funny bits were ad-libbed. The other main feature is a clean closing, which is a nice look at all the characters and has enjoyable music.

Dragon Half

The plot sounds absolutely ridiculous, and really it is, but the execution leaves lots of room for comedy and goofy goodness. Dragon Half is a classic of the anime genre, and not simply because it was an early release on these shores. If you like the slapstick silliness of shows like Excel Saga or even Ranma 1/2, then you should enjoy this show immensely. Just don’t ask too many questions, and you’ll laugh despite yourself. Anime fans should all watch this show just for the genre education, and many an otaku will be compelled to own and cherish it.

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