DOTA: Dragon’s Blood is a Netflix original anime based on the video game series by Valve. The show was developed by Studio Mir, which you may know for their work on The Legend of Korra, and Voltron: Legendary Defender which was a Netflix original as well so there is an established relationship there.
I need to come clean that I have never played the games this series is based on. With the amount of lore and background info, I was told to expect from DOTA I was a little concerned this show would make no sense. Luckily, the show doesn’t really stumble in this regard. There were sometimes I would have to rewind a bit to try and process certain things. Apparently, Selemene and Mene are two different goddesses? That was really the only thing I got lost on.
Do you like dragons? Good news if you do, they are in this a lot. The bigger dragons we are all used to are called Eldwurms and they are a sort-of antagonist as well. Now if you like good dragons then you will probably be disappointed. They don’t play a huge role other than the dragon Slyrak who has a huge role.
At the end of the first episode, one of our main characters, Davion a dragonknight slays Slyrak. When he does though, their blood mixes, and they become one in a sense. This leads to some really interesting character struggle with Davion and one of his fellow dragonknights because they have sworn to kill all dragons. How he handles this and the ways he looks to resolve it is a pretty big part of the first season.
Another big part of the season is Davion’s relationship with the Princess of the Moon Mirana. They start the series as strangers and by the end, they are separated but their relationship is stronger. Yes, romance fans there is some actual romantic development in this so enjoy. That’s just one aspect of their relationship though, seeing how much they begin to trust and rely on each other was organic and well done.
Rounding out the rest of the party is Mirana’s mount, a giant tiger named Sagan. Then there is best girl Marci who you can’t help but love. She’s a mute with seemingly super strength since she can carry Davion easily, and broke a man’s hand pretty easily. Marci doesn’t say much but she steals a lot of the scenes she’s featured in.
We aren’t just following this party though, what sets this whole story in motion is the theft of special flowers called Lotuses of Mene. The character that stole them was an elf named Fymryn, Mirana chased after her to return the flowers back. Fymryn has the powers of a priestess of Mene which lets her teleport and go invisible, so she thinks it was her destiny to steal the flowers. We spend quite a bit of time with Fymryn and her friends. Eventually, tragedy strikes, and she is saved by the Invoker, a pretty powerful elf in his own right.
DOTA: Dragon’s Blood definitely has interesting characters and I wanted to see what would happen with them next. Their relationships and motivations all felt real. Mirana’s motivations could have been fleshed out a little more but it’s pretty clear there will be a second season so maybe that was their plan. I also would have liked to know more about Marci, her past and why she was so devoted to Mirana would have been cool things to see but again maybe they have future plans for that.
Studio Mir did an awesome job with the animation here. The fight scenes were really well done, you could feel the impact of punches and weapons alike. I’ll also take a moment here to say this is definitely an adult show. Blood, gore, and viscera are spilled in equal measure. Sure, not all of it is human but let’s just say Dragon’s Blood is an apt subtitle. The characters are all beautifully drawn, I really love their art style dating back to Voltron, there’s just something unique about it. The only negative thing I really saw was a scene where Marci did a spit-take and there was literally no sound. I don’t know if they were just going all-in with her being mute or what but it was pretty bad.
Time to talk voice actors, and we got some good ones but like Pacific Rim: The Black, Netflix went with more standard actors than your typical anime voice actors. Really the only anime voice actors from are Yuri Lowenthal who you might recognize as Simon in Gurren Lagann, and Kari Wahlgren who is best known as Saber in the Fate franchise. They both do really great jobs though Kari’s character Luna doesn’t get all that much screentime. Yuri voices Davion and I will be honest it was a bit jarring at first, but after one episode I got used to it. There is one cool thing they did with two of the VA’s, as I said earlier Davion merges with Slyrak who is voiced by Tony Todd. When Davion transforms into his dragon form and speaks they fuse both of the voice actor’s voices together. I thought that was really cool.
We then have actress Lara Pulver voicing Mirana and I thought she did a really good job. Troy Baker as the Invoker was awesome, Troy always delivers, and nothing new here. His character Kaden didn’t get a ton of screentime but Anson Mount did the role well. I think the weird speech pattern of Kaden was on purpose and added to the character. The last one I want to mention is Freya Tingley as Fymryn, this was her first voice role that I could find and she did an excellent job. I really felt for Fymryn and Freya’s delivery of the lines was a large part of that.
The biggest negative I have is the cliffhanger endings, I get it I really do. Cliffhanger endings have been around forever and aren’t going anywhere but that doesn’t mean I have to like them. Especially, since a lot of the plot threads are left dangling which is pretty unsatisfying. This show is definitely the epitome of “Enjoy the journey, not the destination”. Netflix is doing really well with their anime though and I cannot wait to see where this goes. I might even start playing the games, I was really drawn into this universe.