“New Dragon, Elma! (She’s Finally Appearing, Huh?)”
Kobayashi and Tohru compete in an at home version of Iron Chef to determine who can make the better bento for Kanna’s school field trip. Later a new dragon, Elma, emerges as Tohru’s bitter rival who has come to drag Tohru back to their world. After becoming stuck in the human world, Elma opts to secure a position at Kobayashi’s company which spurs jealousy from Tohru.
As the title reveals, a new dragon, Elma, is introduced this week when she crashes into Kobayashi’s living room. Apparently, Elma and Tohru have a long standing rivalry as dragons from two separate factions. Elma belongs to the Harmony Faction, who favors order and adhering to rules. Tohru hails from the Chaos Faction whose job is to spread chaos, I guess?
Seeking to banish Elma back to the other world, in the most humane way possible (possible pun intended), Tohru’s trick lands Elma in a field far from Kobayashi’s home. Without going into too much detail, Elma inevitably ends up trapped in the human world. Determined to survive, she lands a position with Kobayashi’s company. Apparently, Elma was not required to prove she has the necessary skills to execute the duties required to fill the position. As such, Kobayashi is sort of forced into the role of teaching her the most basic functions (like how to turn on the computer).
Naturally, this leads to Tohru becoming increasing jealous of the time Kobayashi is spending with her rival. I had just mentioned a few reviews back that Tohru’s bouts of jealousy had begun to decline, only to rear its ugly head again. But it doesn’t mean that Tohru isn’t still showing signs of growth. Towards the end of the episode, Tohru confides in Kobayashi that her actions are, in part, due to feeling underappreciated.
Since the start of the series, Tohru has developed significantly. By expressing her need to feel valued, Tohru displays that she is not only able to process what causes her shifts in emotion, but verbalizes the conclusion in a sincere way. While Tohru has always made Kobayashi’s happiness a priority, a more pragmatic side of her emerges. One that realizes she craves more acknowledgment for her efforts and, at the risk of Kobayashi’s disapproval, feels comfortable enough to share her thoughts.
– Tohru and Kobayashi progressively growing as individuals and in their relationship.
– Introduction of a rival to Tohru is an opportunity to add more humor to the series.
– Dynamic of the series is not changing with the addition of new characters. While this isn’t necessarily a ‘bad’ point, that is usually the purpose of adding supporting cast.
Not since the first episode have we seen Tohru’s struggle to become paramount in Kobayashi’s eyes been expressed so strongly. From proving she can prepare bento for Kanna to her intense jealousy over who Kobayashi spends her time with, Tohru is back to ‘classic’ form in this episode.
Seeing Kobayashi suddenly very adamant about making Kanna’s bento seems a little out of line for her character, who otherwise seems to have become content letting Tohru tend to housework. In any case, it allows for an entertaining cooking competition where Fafnir puts on his best Chairman Kaga as he helps Kanna judge the meals.
The segment seems to be aimed more for fun than any kind of real commentary on the characters as the manufactured conflict tries to point out that Kobayashi and Tohru are close enough now to have these kinds of small tussles because they see each other as equals, much to Fafnir’s disgust. Tohru’s otherworldly dessert option, however, creates a literal opening for the character this episode is arguably focused on.
Elma’s arrival expands a little on the lore, but her character doesn’t feel altogether unique yet. Coming to take Tohru back to the other world like Kanna did, but also lacking the power to do it, she proudly boasts that simple human tasks are no problem just like Tohru did in her early scenes. One might forgive her for thinking that way in a world where she apparently doesn’t have to pass a tech interview to work a computer job. Perhaps she’ll come into her own in the coming episodes, but for now her purpose seems geared toward another end.
More than anything, Elma is the catalyst for a more genuine problem between Kobayashi and Tohru. We know from episode 5 how much of a team player Kobayashi is, and her generous attitude doesn’t change simply because her newest co-worker is a dragon. Elma’s acclimation to the human world is difficult without a human (yet) to latch onto and so she increasingly relies on Kobayashi. Naturally, this draws ire from Tohru. None of this goes beneath Kobayashi’s notice as she similarly remarks that Tohru has reverted to her earlier ways, but she doesn’t seem sympathetic either.
It all boils over when Tohru can’t hold back her jealousy any longer, making Kobayashi realize just what kind of problem she’s been ignoring. These last two minutes finally deliver on the character growth that the episode was going for. In the end, Dragon Maid is about a dragon who tries her best to live for a woman who doesn’t understand that kind of devotion to another person. Having the two of them confront this truth about their relationship helps them grow closer yet again.
– The competition segment, while adding little, was fun. Allez cuisine!
– Tohru and Kobayashi’s introspection is emotionally stirring as they try to explain their natures.
– Elma is more of a plot element at this point than she is a character.
This post is part of our seasonal episodic review series. To view all the posts in this series, click the following link: Viewing Party