What They Say:
Going into war against a dragon takes incredible courage, but even that danger pales in comparison to the hazards of young Nonoko’s job. As a Dragon Dentist, she’s charged with venturing into the jaws of the country’s dragon protector to keep its pearly canines free of plaque, decay, and other debris. One day, Nonoko discovers an unconscious soldier between her dragon’s teeth instead of a cavity, and she finds herself caught up in a series of events that have been foretold to bring disaster to her people! Get ready for an incredible brush with destiny that leads two young people through the mouth of hell and towards certain doom as the creators of the new EVANGELION feature films unleash an epic unlike anything you’ve seen before in THE DRAGON DENTIST!
The audio presentation for this show is pretty solid as we get the original Japanese language track and a newly created English language dub, both of which are in 5.1 form with the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show has some good action sequences to it where there’s some solid panning around to create immersive scenarios but mostly it works the forward soundstage very well with what it wants to do. There are some fun and distinct sounds with the mushi and how they act but also just some neat things with the way this particular world works and then all the larger action in the second episode. The dialogue for this is well handled with some good placement and depth where needed but otherwise, it’s fairly straightforward and comes across clean and clear throughout as we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2017, the transfer for this two-part show is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec for the Blu-ray. Animated by studio Khara, the show has a great look to it where there’s an almost illustration style approach at times when it comes to the scenes within the dragon’s mouth. The detail is really nicely done throughout and the fluidity of the motion because of the style of animation works in its favor a lot. The color design is a bit softer but everything has a clean and solid feeling to it that definitely serves the intention well. The encoding brings all of this together in a really strong way that makes it a thoroughly enjoyable experience from start to finish that should easily please fans of it.
The packaging for this release is nicely done as we get a DVD/BD combo release with both discs held against the interior wall of a standard sized Blu-ray case. The front cover gives us a nice image of Nonoko and other dentists dealing with the mushi attacks though she’s clearly the center of attention here. It works some good colors with a soft purple to the background to add to the hazy aspect nicely. The back cover works more of the red angle with a nice character image of Bell while we also get a few good shots from the show. The premise is well covered in an easy to read white on the red while the rest of the cover breaks down the features, production information, and the technical grid. This release also has a reversible cover that uses the main red key visual from the original promotion as its main cover with Nononko facing off against the teeth of the dragon.
The menu design for this release works from the key visual piece from the original run where we get our lead standing in front of the array of teeth with a heavy red filter on much of it. It’s nicely done with a lot of detail and sense of style to make clear what you’re getting. The navigation is kept to the right with easy access to either episode and submenus for languages and extras. This is all done with the same kind of red and white but with some nice Asian themed latticework to set the period well. The menus are easy to navigate and it works well both as the top level menu and as the pop-up menu during playback.
The only extra included with this release is the minute-long Japanese promo for the show.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the initial original net animation installments as part of the Animator Expo back in 2014, Dragon Dentist got the nod to move forward as something more expansive. Which is what I wanted out of Studio Khara, to do the unusual original projects. Dragon Dentist returned in February 2017 as a two-part TV special that clocks in at just about 90 minutes or so with Kazuya Tsurumaki directing it based on the story from Otaro Maijo – who directed the original – and co-written with Yoji Enokido. It’s a solid set of credits involved and the end result is a very appealing show that quickly had me wishing it had gotten a lengthier form of treatment but also glad that it didn’t so that it could just exist in this space.
The premise is straightforward enough in that we get a world similar to our own but one where for the longest time nations used dragons as status symbols of power. It’s been an age since such creatures were allowed to be used in a state of war but they’re still out there and there are occasionally issues to be had. It’s an interesting backdrop as it feels both old and modern out in the real world elements of it but mixed with a lot of military aspects that keeps it from being pinned down too awful far. The focus on the outside world becomes more pronounced in the back half and things do feel a bit more all over the place there, less defined in a way and less of what I was looking for out of it, but with a strong first half it’s easy to give it a pass.
It’s that first half that delights as we’re introduced to Nonoko, a young woman that’s a dragon dentist, a group of people that live on and inside these monstrously big dragons that circle above the world. The visual design is great with how they operate walking through the mouth like through rows of oversized computers as they take care of them. There are threats to the dragons through their teeth with various kinds of mushi that infect them and the dentists spend their time combatting them through a range of operations on top of standard cleaning and care. It’s a richly designed realm that really warrants a lot more exploration in a kind of slow and careful way to give it the right kind of reverence so that it feels like it’s fully realized.
While we get a good introduction to all of this through Nonoko it’s her discovery of someone new in a military uniform that appears named Bell. This gives us a look at more of how people come here as it’s kind of a gateway between life and death with those here having passed but taking on a critical task. It takes some time for others to accept him because his sudden appearance is a sign of something bad happening in the near future but you know Nonoko is a little smitten by him and she ends up showing him the ropes, which gives us an even greater look at things. But the situation takes its own twist with a long-gestating mushi larva that has now kicked off a new plan to deal with the dragon as part of something bigger. It’s beautifully and creepily executed which launches the show into a lot of action above and below that really does deliver thanks to the design work out of Khara and the quality of the animation.
With it clocking in at just about a normal movie length for the most part I’ve played around the edges more in regard to the story because it is a very fun discovery. I went into it knowing nothing about it (and coming off a couple of dental surgery issues of my own, which made me wary) but the whole things was just far, far, too much fun. I love the design work, character designs, and the color palette for the show – particularly within the mouth of the dragon. It’s a great series of location visuals that are intriguing and haunting combined with a cast of characters and a mythology that could be greatly expanded. Sentai put together a solid presentation for the show and a dub at that but there’s little here beyond it. It’s definitely a show worth owning and sharing as it’s a great concept that avoids most kinds of fanservice and simply runs with a great tale with some neat hooks.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Promo
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 31st, 2017
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.