A particular strength of Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid’s writing is its ability to balance slice-of-life with epic storylines of planetary destruction. The characters similarly balance two sides – we see their humanity (dragonity?), their curiosity, their cute idiosyncrasies and we also get to see them under real duress. Everyone has a dark past that makes them who they are but that doesn’t mean they’re consumed by it. Chapter 80, Tohru and Menu, is a brilliant example of this delicate balance. How long has passed since Kobayashi, a mere human, defeated Kimun Kamui, Kanna’s deity-like father? It’s unclear but everything’s back to normal so that we can once again explore Tohru’s everyday maid antics.
The chapter begins with Iruru and Kanna complaining about Tohru’s cooking. Bit unexpected because earlier chapters have shown Tohru to be a great (if not sometimes extravagant) cook. There was even a whole episode in the anime where Tohru and Kobayashi played masterchef against one another where Tohru went so far with her cooking, she lost through being *too* good. Either way, Tohru wants to diversify her menu so that the odd ball family of four can eat different dishes.
Iruru, a teenage, just wants meat. Kanna, a child, asks for only dessert. She also asks for bugs cooked in soy sauce but Kobayashi, a run of the mill human adult, says that’s too far for her “even though [she] defeated Kanna’s father”. The only other thing Kobayashi has refused to eat is Tohru’s tail which makes Tohru just a liiiitle insulted.
So Tohru goes to ask the rest of the supporting cast for ideas. Lucoa only makes side dishes, Elma only snacks and Fafnir, the gamer otaku, survives entirely on a diet of cup noodles to power him through all night raids. This is a very welcome return to normality from all that fighting just a few chapters ago where most characters were spared from death only by a deus ex machina.
Eventually Tohru gets the idea to ask her parents for a recipe. She figures this out when she bumps into Georgie, sister of Kanna’s close friend (and possibly gay girlfriend) Saitama. Georgie is an interesting character because she’s chosen to be the ‘ultimate maid’ even though she’s only just entered high school, she calls both her mom and Saitama her masters and only takes off her maid outfit for school. There’s a lot to be unpacked here…but that’s for another time.
Tohru does in fact go to ask her dad for a recipe and the meeting is about as unexpected as you’d imagine considering Tohru’s dad is also essentially a god of death. One high intensity, over dramatic reunion later, Tohru returns to earth with a new recipe which excites everyone until she cooks it so much, everyone gets sick of it thereby returning us straight to square one.
It’s through chapters like this where we get to explore all the characters differences that this series really shines. Even though they get along, the hilarity that ensues in the differences between humans and dragons drives the series on. Coupled with always well done art work that isn’t too detailed but not entirely moe is what makes Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid one of my favourite series.