Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai Fleshes Out Its Sassy Princess, Leona

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Dragon Quest: Adventure of Dai Episode 1, "DAI and PRINCESS LEONA," now streaming on Crunchyroll and Hulu.

Many shonen anime try to get the ball rolling on their stories as quickly as possible. By Episode 2 of Jujutsu Kaisen, Itadori is already a student of Tokyo Jujutsu High School. By Episode 3 of Eyeshield 21, Sena joins as the running back of the Devil Bats. There's nothing wrong with this approach, but Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai is being a lot more patient with its storytelling. Two episodes in, nothing's been laid out for Dai to leave the island just yet. Instead, it seems the anime is more interesting in building its main characters before jumping straight into its story.

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Episode 2, for instance, begins with Princess Leona of the Papnica Kingdom and her royal guards arriving back at Dermline Island. It turns out a ritual is meant to be performed by members of the royal family at the Earth Cave here on the island, but because of the monster inhabitants, the ritual hasn't been performed in over 50 years. But after the heroic displays shown by Dai, the kingdom wants Leona to go forward with the ritual with Dai acting as a guide and bodyguard for her. Leona does not take Dai seriously as a hero, calling him "tiny and undependable." Even when the royal guards and Brass are discussing the trek to the cave, she's sitting off to the side with her fan, not taking part in the conversation. Dai agrees to help despite her abrasive personality.

Seeing the two pre-teens learn to trust each other in the episode's highlight. When Dai opens up to Leona about his inability to cast spells, she gifts him a knife belonging to her family. It's clear from Dai's reaction he's never owned anything as valuable as this before. However, tragedy soon strikes as a massive evil scorpion ambushes Dai, Leona and the royal guard.

Dai is familiar with the monsters living on the island, but he's never seen this scorpion before. He defeats it by striking between its armor plating with his new knife, but not before Leona is poisoned. Veron, Leona's sage, appears in a stroke of good luck, but instead of attempting to cure Leona of her poison, the sage uses his magic to send the pair flying into the mouth of the earth cave.

Back at the beach, Brass is telling Bishop Temjin about Dai's past when Gomechan returns, rushing to warn Brass about Leona's condition. This has all been a ploy by Temjin to have the princess killed so that he can take control of Papnica Kingdom. Brass calls upon the monsters of the island to help expel the royal guards, but Varon returns with a new weapon -- a robot created by the Dark Lord to kill the hero, called the Killing Machine.

Meanwhile, as Dai carries Leona through the cave, he confesses that if he wasn't such a failure at using magic, he'd be able to cure her, but the princess doesn't blame him. In a flash of anger and determination, a vibrant blue aura cloaks Dai as he's able to break through the cave with Leona with him.

This is when Dai returns to the beach with Leona, where the Killing Machine has taken down Brass and the island monsters with ease. Then as Dai sees his grandfather's life threatened, the blue aura returns and he's able to cast a spell for the first time, unleashing the powerful wind spell, Kaswoosh. This isn't enough to defeat Varon, but it's not to draw his attention away from Brass. At first, the attacks seem weak, but by repeatedly striking the same spot over and over, the armor finally begins to break. Dai is finally able to power down the Killing Machine.

In the end, Brass cures Leona of her poison and the princess rallies the strength to have Temjin arrested for treason. That night, Leona successfully performs the Earth God Ritual, proving herself as a member of the royal family and a future sage. Before Leona and her guards leave for Papnica, we also get a very sweet goodbye between the princess and Dai. When Dai calls her "princess," she gets huffy and demands he refers to her as "Leona." Leona still has an edge to her, but she and Dai are clearly growing closer already.

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