Content Considerations: parents kicking their children out of home
What’s it about? When a young dragon fails in his dragonly duties and does not live up to the fearsome expectations of dragonkind, his family kicks him out. Left all alone in a world full of people that want to slay him and harvest his horns and tail, our protagonist is lost and defenseless… until he seeks out the elf Dearia, who specialises in fantasy real estate. Can they team up to find the perfect nest?
In a market so saturated with Generic European Fantasy Adventures that it’s practically dripping, it’s nice to see new series that really try to go niche and plumb the depths of more mundane, less-explored aspects of these settings. In this case, I’m very much looking forward to seeing the ins and outs of the fantasy real estate market. We get a glimpse of it in the premiere as Dearia tours a pair of slimes through a nice, cozy cave, complete with a snazzy little brochure and conversations about the magic energy of the place (the “vibe” of a property is always important, after all).
Before we really get to the heart of the show’s premise, however, we have to get through the inciting incident that leaves our dragon hero needing a house. And yes, it’s silly. Yes, it’s fantasy. Yes, it’s all a big gag about how we expect dragons to be fierce and formidable, but this one’s a goofus and thus a disappointment. But I’ve put that content consideration there for a reason. Some early parts of this premiere have a genuinely distressing undercurrent, especially if the promo material has not prepared you for the fact that the protagonist is a baby dragon (at best, the equivalent of a teenager). I understand it’s all in good fun and in service of a show about the fantasy housing market, but there was still something upsetting about seeing our young monster-hero getting attacked, and openly weeping and calling out for help from the mother and father who had abandoned him.
Something about the narrative of a child being denied housing, and placed in danger by parents who perceive them as failures to their expectations, hits a bit close too home as a member of the queer community (and having known people who have gone through this exact situation). I’m definitely not saying this tale of a feeble dragon is some sort of allegory, but if you’re sensitive to this topic do keep that in mind—it might make the first half of the episode significantly less light-hearted.
Thankfully, the power balance begins to shift as the episode continues, and our nameless baby dragon finally finds his way to creatures who want to help rather than harvest him—and finally runs into some characters more pathetic than he is, in the form of a troupe of human Heroes. There’s something fun about the Generic Fantasy Swordsmen that we’d normally be asked to empathize and idolize being reframed as the villains, especially when their leader’s macho posturing gets immediately mocked.
The thing that makes this show stand out, alongside it’s very domestic priorities, will be its focus on the monsters. The scene with the slimes also positions humans as the bad guys, since the squishy couple was forced to move when their old cave got swarmed with dungeon-crawling treasure-hunters. At this stage, I’m here for any twist on the formula, and a peek into the daily lives of the fantasy creatures that would usually just exist to be killed for EXP is proving interesting enough so far.
Yes, this is one of those fantasy worlds that inexplicably runs on video game logic. Our dragon protagonist even shows us his (not very impressive) stats card, and says “I don’t have the Fly action unlocked” instead of just “I don’t know how to fly.” I know this is a trope that frustrates a lot of people, particularly as it’s often used as a quick go-to in place of more detailed worldbuilding or a thought-out magic system. This is a comedy, so if it keeps the game references light and tongue-in-cheek it will hopefully carry just fine.
Dragon Goes House Hunting is setting itself up to be a goofy look at the day-to-day realities of life in a fantasy world. The conventions and setting are familiar, but I feel like at this stage that’s the point: it’s here to play on tropes you know, whether as one-off gags or (perhaps) a deeper look at the power imbalance between the humans who are usually the heroes and the monsters that they seek to slay. If nothing else, that rough beginning certainly got me rooting for the dragon hero, and I’m looking forward to seeing him achieve his goals and find somewhere safe and kind to call his own.