Are Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S’s Relationships Age-Appropriate?

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S is the successor to the popular Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, and Season 2 has delivered its predecessor's soft atmosphere and warm emotions. The relationships tentatively forged between dragons and humans have only grown stronger as the fun hijinks continue.

This slice of life story is excellent at building complex characters and teaching both dragons and the audience how to appreciate the small pleasures in life. However, there has always been a problematic element with the anime's romantic relationships. Half the cast are underage, ranging from ages 9-16, while Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S doesn't shy away from fan service. The anime has several long-running sexual gags and with the underage characters, which are edging uncomfortably close to pedophilia.

This begins with the anime's most recent (and controversial) addition, Ilulu, a confrontational Chaos dragon who aims to understand how dragons can co-exist. It's a simple enough premise but the issue is that Ilulu plays into the oppai loli category, a lolicon offshoot where a childish face is paired with extremely large breasts. Lolicon has always been an iffy genre in anime and the creator has leaned into it with Ilulu's design.

Dragon Maid S recently created a subplot in which Ilulu wants to have Kobayashi's children. Defining Ilulu with such a sexually charged purpose is questionable as she has the appearance and mannerisms of a teenager. Kobayashi is an adult and, harkening back to Season 1, there was an episode where she ate drugged chocolate and was sexually attracted to Kanna. The author plays these moments off but it begs the question of why it's funny for an adult to be attracted to a minor and vice versa.

Even the youngest couple, Riko and Kanna, is not exempt from the show's "humor". While some can argue Kanna is a dragon with no real age, the fact is she has the mannerisms of a child and relates to other children. The running joke is that Riko is infatuated with Kanna and whenever Kanna touches her, she becomes overwhelmed with physical pleasure. It's fine for children to crush on each other but they've been into sexually charged scenes such as Kanna licking Riko's fingers, the two playing Twister and Kanna pinning Riko to the ground.

It's important to remember the two of them are nine years old and there are more tasteful ways to show Riko's love rather than having a prepubescent character become overwhelmed with pleasure at physical contact. This lends an unnecessary and creepily sexual tone to an innocent relationship between two children.

Shota and Lucoa's relationship has been problematic since Season 1, and Dragon Maid S continues the awkwardness. Shota's name is an obvious reference to shotacon, adult attraction to underage boys. With that uncomfortable thought, Lucoa and Shota's relationship is by far the most explicit and pedophiliac of the show. Lucoa shows up naked at Shota's house and continually offers her body to Shota despite him repeatedly asking her to stop. Shota expresses discomfort with Lucoa's behavior, yet she ignores his clear refusals and tramples his personal boundaries at every turn.

Their relationship is treated humorously but it is uncomfortably edging closer to grooming territory. Shota is only 11 and Lucoa, an adult woman/dragon, spends many of the episodes trying to get him to become more comfortable with her sexual behavior. The power balance is skewed in this dynamic and it's alarming that Dragon Maid S pokes fun at Shota's discomfort with an adult woman who doesn't take no for an answer. This would not be remotely funny if Shota was a young girl and Lucoa was an older man constantly exposing himself.

Episode 6 of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid S recently revealed that dragons don't have the same concept of age, which could be the author's attempt to explain away the more problematic relationships. This isn't a good enough excuse. The dragons understand the concept of human ages as they easily adapt the mannerisms closest to their own age, but this doesn't excuse any of the problematic elements. The camera lovingly frames Ilulu's bouncing breasts while she partakes in childlike behavior. Riko's physical reactions are given top spot. Lucoa ignores Shota's direct refusals. The author could have easily aged the characters up but chose to spotlight their young ages before sexualizing their relationships. Playing off these instances as a joke is dangerous as it normalizes sexualizing young characters as well as justifying romantic relationships between children and adults.

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid is an excellent anime at heart that celebrates differences and offers critiques about Japan's working life. However, the relationships it explores serve as a double-edged sword. All the characters and bonds are well-developed but half the cast is underage while engaging in romantic relationships. Minors should not be sexualized under any circumstances, but Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid takes a frighteningly casual stance toward this and promotes sexualizing underage relationships under the guise of humor.

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