Anime Review: Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai


Photo by screenshot

Popp, Dai, Gomechan, and Maam fight against the Dark Lord Hadlar and the Demon King Vearn while adventuring throughout the world of Dragon Quest.

By Max Bielawski, editor

Magic, swords, and monsters is what Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai is all about, and along with trademark Akira Toriyama character designs, the 2020 remake of this classic anime from 1991 is sure to be both a nostalgic trip for some, and a fresh experience for others.

Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai is an anime produced by Toei Animation, and is based off the manga of the same name written by Riku Sanjo and illustrated by Koji Inada, which is based off the popular video game franchise Dragon Quest.  The manga was serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump from October 1989 to December 1996.

The main character is Dai, an orphan boy who washed ashore on the island of Dermline, which is inhabited by monsters who formerly served the Dark Lord Hadlar and who, after his defeat by the hero, are released from his evil will and end up peacefully moving to Dermline island. The monsters end up taking in Dai, with the monster magician Brass acting as his adoptive grandfather. Brass’s best friend, the winged golden slime Gomechan, also has a part in this. Having been raised by Brass and Gomechan, Dai dreams of becoming a hero.

The story begins when Avan, an instructor of heroes, visits Dermline to train Dai at the request of the princess Leona, who had been previously saved by Dai. Avan offers to train Dai for a week alongside his other pupil, the mage Popp. Halfway through Dai’s training, they are interrupted by the return of the Dark Lord Hadlar after his revival by the Dark King Vearn. Avan is his target, as he is revealed to be the Hero, and through his confrontation with Hadlar, he is forced to sacrifice himself. 

After that, Dai is confronted by Hadlar, and through that he awakens the hidden power inside him. With his hidden power, he easily defeats Hadlar using Avan Strash, a technique taught by Avan to him while training. This forces Hadlar to retreat, while vowing to defeat the new hero, Dai.

Now, Dai, Popp, and Gomechan set off on an adventure to defeat Hadlar and avenge their master Avan. They meet new characters along the way and face challenges at every point. On their adventure, the group meets up with fellow disciples of Avan, such as Maam.

The anime’s source material is from the Dragon Quest video games, and so many of the monsters and motifs of the video game make their way into the anime, making it full of references for fans of the classic video game series to enjoy.

The plot is simple and basic, yet, similar to a cup of tea, it is better enjoyed with as few extravagant additions as possible. Sometimes a tried and true formula works, and for this show, it does. A massive benefit of this being a 2020 remake is the quality of animation throughout the series. In some moments, CGI is used effortlessly in fast-paced duels.

The battles are technically impressive, and are a treat to watch. The character design is similar to that of Dragon Ball Z, due to the characters being designed by the creator of Dragon Ball Z, Akira Toriyama himself.

The heroes–and even some of the antagonists–go through character growth, making the story more enjoyable overall.

So far, 20 episodes in, this anime has been a blast of the past for me, reminding me of watching cartoons on Saturday mornings. The tone of the show is more joyful than some of the other anime I have previously reviewed; however, it is not shy about dealing with deeper aspects, such as grief and overcoming your fears.

This is an anime for those who enjoy a simple and sweet story and enjoy a predictable formula in a show. While it doesn’t immediately grab your attention, the cute art style and laid back vibe of the characters make up for it. Overall, I would give it a 7.5/10, and I surely do hope that people give it a chance, as I have.

while lacking the depth for a higher score, the anime is great for a quick binge. It is a good show to watch on your couch by yourself or in a watch party with your friends.

Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai is available to stream on Crunchyroll and Hulu, every Friday.

View the trailer for the anime here.