Anime VS Manga – Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

This is a blog series comparing a manga and its relevant anime adaptation, discerning which version is ‘better’. These posts will be spoiler-free comparisons helping to inform people on which version is better—in my opinion of course. 


What’s the important information? Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is an ongoing manga series by Coolkyoushinja that has been running since May 2013 as of September 2018 it has spanned 7 volumes and 2 spin-off manga series’. In Winter 2017 it received an anime adaptation of 13 episodes + 1 OVA.

What’s it about? Kobayashi, a hard working office worker one day finds herself with an unlikely companion, Tohru a giant dragon who at will can transform herself into a human maid. With no other place to stay and indebted to Kobayashi, Tohru becomes her live-in maid—despite having little-to-no knowledge on how to be one. As time passes more and more dragons and mythical beings find themselves wrapped up in Kobayashi’s life, turning her once ordinary life into something decidedly more hectic!

Dragon maintenance.

Which has the better art? Never before has the term ‘art’ felt more subjective than when dealing with Coolkyoushinja’s manga artwork—he has a very particular style that’s immediately recognisable and polarising to say the least. Personally I find is art style to be singular and alluring, to the point where I would gladly buy anything he produces. The anime adaptation is not by any means a faithful recreation of his art style, it is however very pleasing to the eye and captures the spirit of the original at least in terms of character designs. At the end of the day, it’s the manga’s art I’ll always find myself drawn to (pun intended).

That low-key ‘yay~’ gives me life. 

Which has the better comedy? The comedy feels like it was the anime’s priority, which is probably an indicator as to why the show was more successful abroad than in Japan. That’s not to say the manga isn’t funny it just feels a lot more integrated into the narrative and characters. The anime wins this round but only for consistency rather than content.

There’s some things a manga just can’t do….

Which has the better characterisation? Ordinarily the manga would win hands down, as it has often in these comparisons as the written form allows more time for character development but there’s something more readily appealing about the character interactions in the anime that puts it ahead of the manga—some online commenters have said it’s because the anime is more direct with the characters intentions (read: more gay) that the anime comes out on top and that’s kind of a hard thing to dispute!

I think she loves Miss Kobayashi, and so do I!

Which has the better pacing? One of the biggest changes between the anime and the manga is the order in which the chapters are presented, a small change but one that speaks volume of each finished product. The anime positions scenes it thinks are more important toward the end to give the (currently) one season anime a sense of escalation and conclusion. Kobayashi’s confrontation with Tohru’s dragon Emperor father comes at the end of the season in the anime whereas it occurs roughly half way through the second volume of the manga (equivalently episode 7 or 8 if it were a 1:1 adaptation). Personally the manga way of doing things feels more natural as it seems like Tohru’s father would get involved sooner than later, plus on the whole the manga just seems to flow a lot better than the anime.

P.S. That’s not Tohru’s father on the right, that’s Elma.

Which is more perverted? I know what you’re thinking, “why is this even a question?” and “what’s this got to do with the quality of which one is better?” And you’re absolutely right this qualifies as a preference question as opposed to being one that has a winner or a loser at the end of the paragraph. As mentioned above the anime is slightly more ‘gay’ and while there’s nothing perverse about homosexuality (don’t @ me if you think otherwise) if your preference is for something on the ‘yuri’ end of the spectrum then the anime is the better choice, whereas if regular ol’ big-boobed fan service with nothing but hints of something ~else~ is more your thing than the manga delivers that with clear intent.

Standard summoning procedure.

What is specifically better about the anime? It’s kind of cheating to even mention things that make an adaption inherently better because of the medium but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the voice actress Maria Naganawa who voices fan favourite Kanna Kamui—she steals absolutely every scene she’s in and more-or-less makes the series worth watching for her alone. Also another thing that’s weird to say is that the show is as colourful as the manga seems, that is to say Coolkyoushinja’s artwork infers a lot of vibrancy and the colour palette of the anime matches it.

Kanna is to be protected, okay? OKAY?!

What is specifically better about the manga? Its repetitive of me to say but the artwork is such a huge selling point of the manga that it informs almost all my opinions regarding the series. Plus the fact that such an engaging cast of characters is ongoing in the manga whereas the anime is more or less finished means the manga has plenty more to offer while the anime feels unfortunately over.

There’s no denying the detail, also that focus blur, so cool!

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, Anime VS Manga—which version is better? I’ve never been closer to considering a draw then I was with this series. I came to the manga after watching the excellent anime which ranks among my Top 20 Anime of All Time and was nevertheless surprised to feel myself enraptured all over again with this series, just in a different way. My personal preferences leans in favour of the manga, it just pushes all my buttons—that said the anime is the populist choice for a reason as it is remarkably well made and more approachable. You know what, screw it, it’s a tie—watch the anime then read the manga, or vice versa, either way I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Too cute!

More Anime VS Manga Comparisons:

Shomin Sample
Watamote: No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!
Monster Musume


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6 comments

  1. I watched this anime last year because I was bored and had nothing to watch and was really surprised at how much I loved it. I tend to avoid a lot of yuri because of the frequent fetishization (and because I’m a miserable grump who finds romance animes boring), but Dragon Maid is definitely one of the better examples.

    Liked by 1 person

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