First Impressions(?) – Hisone to Maso-tan

Note: This is an updated version of my original thoughts that I included in my post, Anime Boston 2018 – Day 2.

I love Studio Bones so I got pretty interested in Hisone to Maso-tan because it’s an original property that’s getting animated by them. The premise also looked a little promising. Basically, Hisone to Maso-tan centers around a group of air force pilots (who are all women because shut up, it’s a CGDCT anime) training dragons (or OTF as they’re called) who apparently have been used by the Japanese military as aircraft.

It’s a pretty weird anime for sure. The first moment I didn’t expect was that dragons actually eat their pilots so that they can be piloted. I’m dead serious. You see the main character, Hisone, use the internal organs of her new pet dragon, Masotan, as the cockpit. It’s weird. The risk of getting digested is acknowledged though one has to wonder what compelled the military to research this. Frankly, it sounds like building normal aircraft would be easier to produce and use than living, unpredictable dragons. There’s also the fact that apparently the fancy helmet the pilot wears is what brings up the piloting program. I’m not sure how it can transform the internals of a dragon into a holographic and transparent cockpit but maybe it’s best that I just chalk it up to techno mumble jumble.

Even more surreal is that the armor on the dragons do transform and turn them into faux aircraft. For the record, everyone at the AB panel room lost it at that scene. It wasn’t shown in promotional materials so the assumption was that the dragons just don the armor like it’s cosplay. I guess it does make sense that the dragon could disguise itself but it was still a strange sight to see.

Writing is maybe where I have the most concern right now. Mari Okada is a capable screenwriter but she has had her fair share of missteps and I worry that Hisone to Maso-tan could end up as one of them. Something about the dialogue in this premiere seems too blunt and expository. All the information about dragons is pretty much just lectured to Hisone and while some character attributes are acted out, it is mostly stated by the characters themselves. The dialogue is a little justified when it comes to Hisone since she has a habit of saying exactly what’s on her mind. It’s still a bit grating but it’s context at least.

Time will tell how the scripts fare but in the meantime, I’m not worried about the visual department. Bones is one of the best studios out there and Hisone to Maso-tan looks pretty pleasing. It’s a moe driven aesthetic for sure; even the dragons air on the side of cute with Masotan even sporting some tsundere glares on his face. Actually, there’s a good balance between making the dragons look cute and still conveying their towering presence to the viewer thanks to some smart direction.

I enjoyed this episode. I don’t know if it completely sold me but there were a handful of things to like. If the writing irons out a bit more, I think this show has a chance at becoming a mainstay for Spring 2018.

Other Thoughts:

  • I like that Masotan gets a fake cockpit piece but that’s not where Hisone pilots him.
  • Was Yuki Kaji’s character seriously using a vape in one scene?
  • I got tired of the characters saying “OTF”. Just call them dragons, guys!
  • Sadly no OP or ED shown. It was like that during the AB premiere and I was hoping the TV broadcast would add it in. Guess we’ll have to wait for the next episode…
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