WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Dragon Goes House-Hunting, Episode 1, “A Hoard of Homes”, now streaming on Funimation.
The fantasy RPG genre is well-worn ground in manga and anime, but rarely does it ever look at the world from the perspective of fantasy creatures, especially as a slice-of-life series. Dragon Goes House-Hunting seeks to fill this void using the angle of real estate, and in Episode 1, it fulfills this niche successfully -- constructing a believable world of fantasy creatures each with their own unique housing needs.
The protagonist of the series is a timid red dragon named Letty who's kicked out of his dragon lair by his father after failing to protect an egg from questing hunters. Letty can’t fly, can’t breathe fire and has bottom-level status on everything so, naturally, he doesn’t fare well in the cutthroat world of dragons. Letty decides to find a house of his own so that he can live safely, but doing so in a world that fears his kind is not an easy task.
Enter real estate guru/architect/elf Dearia. The series introduces him selling a cave to a couple of giant slimes. They have to abandon their previous home after its info was published in a Hero’s magazine, which attracted unwanted adventurers. So when they hear about a new house that has a free two-year contract for a camouflage spell, they are sold immediately.
This is an incredibly grounded introduction to fantasy real estate. Introducing the concept via a common occurrence -- people looking to make huge purchases also taking advantage of a small discount -- but with a fantastical overlay does a neat job of establishing the kind of world we're dealing with. It also introduces a unique problem in the Hero magazines. The idea of a Hero magazine bringing nuisance is a hilarious but realistic fear for the fantasy creatures who just want to live in peace.
The Heroes themselves are hilariously annoying and come with their own theme music. Letty encounters a group of Heroes that outright admit they just want to kill him for clout. Luckily they are also quite incompetent and are easily destroyed by Dearia. But don’t worry, just like an RPG, Heroes in this world don’t really die, so they will be back sooner than later.
The series constantly plays into RPG tropes. For example, Letty says the egg he guards will respawn whenever they refresh maps, he has a card that shows his status and skills just like a game, skill selection screen often pops up to show a character’s moves, Letty is even aware that his body parts can be made into cool-looking gear. All the creatures are aware that they live in an RPG fantasy world, which definitely adds to the meta-humor of this series.
The series also attempts to emulate a documentary, the narration is soft and slow, closer to an NHK nature documentary than typical anime fare. This style makes sense since the series is about exploring the different lifestyles and homes of various creatures, so the teacher-like sound of the narrator is appropriate. And in true documentary fashion, the series is already giving us an idea of how vast this world is. In just one episode, we have seen the homes of slimes, dwarfs, harpies, goblins and even a sahuagin -- it’s truly a world full of whimsy and fun.
But given the inclusion of the two distinct styles, the series can often feel disjointed, especially since the main plot hasn't fully gotten started. Episode 1 tries to cram in too many things at once and the pacing takes a hit. But there is no doubt that the best part of the series is seeing all the fantasy locations and how they mesh with the seemingly mundane event of house-hunting, and this series sure has a lot of offer on this front.