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Anime Review: 'Dragon's Dogma' (2020)

Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.

Official poster art for "Dragon's Dogma".

Official poster art for "Dragon's Dogma".

Quick Info

Director: Shin'ya Sugai
Distributor: Netflix
Runtime: 186 minutes
Released: September 17th, 2020
Availability: Streaming exclusively on Netflix in Japanese, English, Spanish, German and French

Story Summary

A man named Ethan lives in the village of Cassardis and has his life turned upside-down when a dragon attacks his village and kills his wife and unborn child. He awakens to find his heart has been taken from him by the dragon and he sets out with a Pawn that he eventually names “Hannah” on a quest to slay the dragon and avenge his family.

The Story Has a Good Premise, but the Execution Is Awful (Play the Game Instead)

I am not wasting any time saying this, the story is a good one, but the way this is executed is atrocious. This is based on a game that I don’t own but goes on sale very often on Steam. From what I’ve seen of the reviews for the game Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen, fans love the game and it’s highly regarded in the gaming community.

This anime is not the equivalent of the game in the anime community because it’s plain and simply put a very, very bad adaptation of a great game.

The story that has a great premise is ruined by the terrible execution because of poor decision making by the staff on multiple fronts.

Dragon's Dogma | Official Trailer | Netflix

“Dragon’s Dogma” Is Ugly, and It’s Distracting

The 3D animation for Dragon’s Dogma (2020) is so bad. The backgrounds look okay but the 3D animation looks atrocious. Despite being very fluid, the art style just looks awful and ugly.

The 3D looks ugly because it’s trying to imitate 2D animation and more often than not, the result turns out very ugly. Sometimes, it looks pretty good, like the anime Knights of Sidonia (2014), or it can look awful, like the Berserk (2016).

The animation is distractingly bad and it pulls you out of being immersed in the story. The fans of the video game deserved much better than what they got in this anime adaptation.

If you like watching anime and you want to watch an anime with nice animation, Dragon’s Dogma is not that anime. The animation is abysmal and it’s sad because some of the artwork is genuinely good.

One of the few times "Dragon's Dogma" looks decent.

One of the few times "Dragon's Dogma" looks decent.

Audio and Subtitles:

Audio:Subtitles:

Japanese (language track and audio description)

Japanese

English

English

Spanish

Spanish

German

German

The English Dub Voice Acting Is the Only Saving Grace of This Anime

The English dub is surprisingly good even though there are so many bad things that make the anime a chore to watch. I’m happy the English dub cast did a great job because it made watching this anime tolerable.

Erica Mendez did a great job as Hannah, the Pawn. She shows her character's development over the course of the series and she did a good job voicing her character.

Greg Chun is also very good as Ethan, although his primary emotion is anger and rage. He did a great job with all the screaming in this anime and that’s always impressive because it’s very difficult to do angry screams on cue.

Cristina Vee did a great job as Olivia, despite her small role, she had a large impact on the story. She’s a great voice actress and she did an excellent job in this role.

David Lodge also did a great job as The Dragon. He sounded very imposing, if only the dragon wasn’t distractingly ugly, which does detract from his voice work because you’re distracting by the horrible visuals instead of focusing on the voice acting.

The English dub for Dragon’s Dogma (2020) is the saving grace of the anime because everything ranges from horrible to lackluster, and at least this is the part of the anime that is worth experiencing, it’s just too bad that the visuals and music can’t live up to the excellent voice work.

Dragon's Dogma | Opening Credits | Netflix

The Music Was Generic and Forgettable

Tadayoshi Makino was the composer for the anime’s music score and unfortunately, it is all painfully generic fantasy music used for the soundtrack outside of the opening theme that sounded very cool and intense and had cool visuals to accompany it, making it the only memorable aspect of the anime that wasn’t about this anime being an awful video game adaptation.

The worst thing about a soundtrack is not that it sounds “bad”, but that it’s completely forgettable, and unfortunately, Dragon’s Dogma's soundtrack is just plain forgettable, and that’s a shame because everything about this anime had the potential to be amazing, but the execution was so poor that everything fell flat, including the soundtrack.

Parental Warning for Adult Content

Since this is an anime based on an M-rated game I should mention not only is there the typical anime-style violence with blood and gore but there is also adult sexual content and nudity in it. Albeit, the bad CGI makes it more comical than adult but that part isn’t on purpose.

There is sex and nudity so this anime isn’t for kids.

The best-looking image in "Dragon's Dogma", unfortunately, this is as good as it'ts going to get.

The best-looking image in "Dragon's Dogma", unfortunately, this is as good as it'ts going to get.

Reader Poll

Everything Is a Train Wreck, and Not the Fun Kind!

Dragon’s Dogma (2020) is so bad on so many levels, from the art and animation, turning something that has a unique plot into something painfully generic, forgettable music and having too many changes compared to the game.

This isn’t even an anime that can be called so bad it’s good, it’s not even fun to watch to get a kick out of something that is made badly but it’s amusing.

This anime is just so bad it’s a waste of time unless you just have to have anime. This is a very mediocre anime adaptation of a very excellent game.

Quick Summary

What Works:What Doesn't Work:

Based on a popular video game

The adaptation has poor execution

Nice looking background art

Ugly 3D art and animation

Great English dub

Generic soundtrack

Please don’t waste your time with this anime, go buy Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen on the PC instead, or on a console, it’s a better use of your time than sitting through this train wreck unless you are morbidly curious. Please just save your eyeballs and your time and ignore the anime, go play the game, Netflix’s Dragon’s Dogma (2020) is not worth your time or money.

— ReViewMeMedia

My Grade: F

My failing grades are reserved for pieces of media that are bad across the board, and I rarely give them out because I usually find something to like about anything I watch, read or play. Netflix’s Dragon’s Dogma anime fails on so many fronts that it deserves the F rating I’m giving it. And it’s tragic because the game that it’s based on is something I genuinely want to play, and I’ll get around to playing it eventually, but when the anime makes you want to play because the anime is so awful that you know the game is better, that is not the intended effect of watching the anime. You want people to play the original game because the anime was good and not because it as bad, and not even so bad, it’s good.

Everything about this is bad, from the direction and animation to the forgettable generic soundtrack and squandering a great story that came from another medium entirely.

When the final shot of the introduction is the only cool artwork in your entire series and that is very bad. The ugly CGI is distracting and pulls you out of the immersion. The music is generic and forgettable.

The fight scenes are okay, but nothing truly amazing. The CGI is just vomited up onto the screen and looks incredibly bad.

The English dub actors are talented and are the only saving grace, but nobody wants to watch an anime just for English dub or Japanese sub actors.

Please don’t waste your time with this anime, go buy Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen on the PC instead, or on a console, it’s a better use of your time than sitting through this train wreck unless you are morbidly curious. Please just save your eyeballs and your time and ignore the anime, go play the game, Netflix’s Dragon’s Dogma (2020) is not worth your time or money.

My Rating

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