REVIEW: ‘Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai,’ Episode 9 – “A Single Shard of Courage”

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Dragon Quest Episode 9

I’ve been pretty neutral on this show, but this week Dragon Quest Episode 9 had me cheering. It had everything: satisfying action, strong character moments, a fantastic score, and great pacing. The anime follows Dai becoming a hero in his quest to defeat The Dark King. Along the way, he is accompanied by Popp and Maam, all three former students of the legendary hero, Avan. The anime is Toei Animation’s remake of the 90’s production which was based on the hugely popular manga of the same name. The story itself is a spin-off of the video game franchise.

Things aren’t looking good for Dai and Maam after last week. Crocodine has the upper hand, and Zaboera has Brass under his control. Popp sees the large explosion from the inn. Still too scared to help his friends, and knowing full well he does not have enough power to put up much of a fight, he runs into the mage from the “fake” hero group. Interestingly enough, it is this mage that teaches Popp a lesson of courage. He runs to help his friends, declaring that he couldn’t live with himself if they died after he abandoned them. What ensues is a fantastic battle between Popp and Crocodine, not in terms of traditional action, but in how it showcases emotion and Popp’s strategic thinking.

Dragon Quest Episode 9’s strength is in its execution of a relatively predictable character arc. From his confrontation with Maam last episode, it isn’t surprising that Popp was going to have a change of heart and help his companions. However, Dragon Quest consistently excels as a show that delivers a fine-tuned presentation of the standard shonen tropes.

Popp’s voice actor Toshiyuki Toyonaga deserves extra praise in this episode. It is his emotional performance that wins Popp over as a great character this week. Popp is terrified; he is crying and near-death but still doesn’t give up. The weakness on full display is what makes Popp truly brave in this moment. His character arc also creates a more dynamic look into Crocodine as they fight. It gives viewers a look into his values and gives him more depth than just being a one-note antagonist.

The animation in Dragon Quest Episode 9 also serves this emotion well with its animation. The show isn’t particularly violent or gory, making it accessible for younger audiences. However, it also doesn’t pretend that Popp is superhuman. The weight of Crocodine’s blows is clearly shown through the animation with Popp convulsing on the ground after being hit. No blood is shown, but it is clear that he has broken bones. It is the little details in these moments that make this week such a standout. The music is incredibly on point as well.

Dragon Quest Episode 9 has a relatively formulaic character arc, but that doesn’t matter when the execution is stellar. The show did an excellent job of making Popp learn and grow as a character, and all the tiny details (like a great vocal performance from Toyonaga) add up to a thrill. This week will have viewers cheering in their seats.

Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai is streaming now on Crunchyroll and Hulu.


Dragon Quest Episode 9
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    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL;DR

Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai Episode 9 has a relatively formulaic character arc, but that doesn’t matter when the execution is stellar. The show did an excellent job of making Popp learn and grow as a character, and all the tiny details (like a great vocal performance from Toyonaga) add up to a thrill. This week will have viewers cheering in their seats.