This was a fantastic week, as Dragon Quest Episode 11 upends the ideal image our heroes had of their deceased mentor, Avan. Hyunckel’s presence creates a depth to the plot the show has not yet seen. The anime from Toei Animation is based on the popular manga of the same name and is a remake of the original 90s production. Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai is a spin-off story of the popular game franchise.
Dai, Popp, and Maam are confronted by Hyunckel, a former pupil of Avan who is now a leader of the Demon Lord’s Army. The three are horrified at this concept. Due to Hyunckel’s knowledge of Avan’s techniques, the three are quickly immobilized. Maam does make a clever showing though, showing she clearly knows her way around a fight. Most of the episode is a flashback to Hyunckel’s childhood to illustrate his motivations. It turns out that as a baby, one of the top soldiers in the Dark Army, an undead skeleton, found him in the rubble of a town they destroyed and brought him back. Hyunckel was raised by the monsters in the Dark Army, allowing the audience to see another side of them through his memories. Their actions are evil, but the show takes on another angle when it makes them more than just the standard fantasy monster.
When Avan defeated Hadlar and his army, he killed Hyunckel’s adoptive father and family. Avan doesn’t realize this and assumes that the young boy was being held prisoner. Hyunckel spent his childhood learning under Avan with the sole intent to kill him one day. This flashback shows a less flattering side of the beloved mentor. Of course, Avan is still fundamentally good, but he is humanized here. He becomes less of the ideal hero, instead shown as a well-meaning person who makes mistakes. While not negating anything he imparted to Dai, or the show’s overall message of heroism, it does provide depth to an otherwise standard set of heroic morals.
The ending of Dragon Quest Episode 11 is a jaw-dropper as well, with an event anime-only viewers will likely not see coming. At this point, the villains of this show are more intriguing than the heroes, but hopefully it pushes them forward. Popp has been given the most development of all the characters. Maam is still relatively new, and has had her moments. Dai, however, still is relatively flat. He has certainly shown growth, but nothing that particularly challenges his beliefs. Even when Brass was being used against him, that could be written off as pure good versus evil. Hyunckel throws all of that into question.
The animation nails the action sequences once again. Dai, Popp, and Maam have very different fighting styles, and the show has made a point of illustrating this in their movements and choices. Hyunkel’s dynamic armor creates an intimidating silhouette, especially in wide frame shots. There is high contrast in the use of color as well. Hyunckel’s presence literally darkens everything, with the exception of reds or deep purples. This is even more significant than other antagonists like Crocodine. Crocodine is brightly colored as a character and uses colorful wind magic, which matches his loud personality and individual view of honor. Hyunckel is literally colored by his hatred for Avan’s justice.
Overall, Dragon Quest Episode 11 turns the heroes’ values on their head with a flashback that challenges the show’s own pillar. It is good storytelling, and the characters are going to be better for it. The ending is a shocker, and this reviewer cannot wait to see how everyone recovers.
Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai is streaming now on Crunchyroll and Hulu.
- Rating - 9/109/10
Dragon Quest Episode 11 turns the heroes’ values on their head with a flashback that challenges the show’s own pillar. It is good storytelling, and the characters are going to be better for it. The ending is a shocker, and this reviewer cannot wait to see how everyone recovers.