A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dragon Pilot is an English-dubbed anime series that centers on a young woman in the air force who, despite being a rookie, is chosen to pilot an OTF (Organic Transformed Flyer, or dragon). Despite the uber-cute look of the show, there are some references better suited to mature teens and adults -- mainly in the form of some sleazy male characters who make suggestive comments to the girls on base. Be aware of some potential gross-out moments as well, since the way these characters "pilot" the dragons is by being swallowed by them -- the pilots are puked back up later -- so we see inside their gooey, gut-filled bodies. It's not scary, though -- mostly it's played for laughs. Some sensitive viewers may get choked up at the ending, which explores themes of sacrifice and loss.
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What's the story?
DRAGON PILOT tells the story of Hisone Amakasu (voiced in English by Christine Marie Cabanos), an awkward young military trainee who is constantly putting her foot in her mouth. She soon discovers that joining the military isn't the escape from others she'd hoped it would be, as the true nature of the air force is revealed to her: For years, dragons have been disguised in sophisticated metallic armor to conceal their true identities from the world at large, and Hisone is destined to pilot one of these OTFs (Organic Transformed Flyers). She struggles with her role as the "chosen one" -- and at times, the jealousy it inspires in others who wish to be in her shoes -- but rises to the occasion when she learns of the end goal of the OTF program: to save Japan from being destroyed by an ancient monster.
Is it any good?
The "magical girl/chosen one" concept is one you see a lot in anime -- and dragons are certainly having a moment in TV and film -- but this story has a charm and sweetness all its own. Hisone is a supremely likable protagonist, imperfect and yearning to find her place in the world, like so many of us. The other D-Pilots (Dragon Pilots) in the OTF program are perfect foils for her, each having their own fun quirks. It's especially gratifying that the writers don't draw out the initial rivalry between Hisone and her co-worker Nai Kaizaki (Sarah Anne Williams) for too long -- the ultimate theme being that we are better together. Dragon Pilot may not be groundbreaking anime, but it's genuinely funny and heartfelt, with snappy dialogue and engaging characters that make it compulsively watchable.
Talk to your kids about ...
When Hisone first arrives on base, she comes into conflict with the brash and competitive Nai. How do their experiences learning to pilot dragons, and about the air force's real mission, help to ultimately bond them? How does this demonstrate teamwork?
Hisone has to make some hard decisions about her fate toward the end of Dragon Pilot, even disobeying her superiors to do what she thinks is right. How does this demonstrate integrity?
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