What They Say:
Reiji Ozora was just another loser in junior high… but that was before he met Chibi, a cute and innocent-looking “sleeping dragon” living in a virtual world called D-Zone. Now he is hooked on this virtual-reality game “Dragon Drive” that lets you slip into D-Zone and battle against the other players with their dragons. Find out how Reiji deals with some of the strongest players while his only hope is the weakest dragon with zero assault power!”
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Creeping back up to four episodes for this batch, Dragon Drive doesn’t hit too much in the real plot area but moves forward in its continuing journey of getting the characters to train more and meet more characters along the way but also to start changing some of the relationships. We do get a bit of the larger plot in a few areas, but this set of episodes isn’t really focused on there which isn’t surprising considering we had the tournament end so recently.
In terms of the larger plot, we get to see the fallout from Kouhei having acquired the Dragonite and heading back to Earth where he presents it to his father. His father isn’t all that keen on his return though as there are other things he’s apparently told Kouhei he wanted done so his son’s arrival is only arrogance in his eyes and he gets pretty nailed for it before getting sent back, or at least attempting to send him back before having some trouble. We do get some background material on Kouhei through his interactions with his father and one of the scientists responsible for the Dragon Drive and it’s easier to see how his motivations work but it doesn’t turn him into a sympathetic character, something I was rather pleased to see happen.
Beyond that, the disc has a lot of material that feels like we’ve seen it before but that’s mostly due to the way that Reiji has often gone off already to train with Chibi. This happens again a couple of times in this volume before he comes across everyone else and then goes his way again. Reiji’s training is tied to finding a particular dragon called SinnSaber that could be really useful to have on their side when they have to go up against Kouhei again. Reiji’s trip takes him into some decent fight sequences as he works towards where this dragon may be, but it also goes into an extended episode adventure where he deals with a village that’s being shammed into thinking they’re trapped by a powerful dragon and have to offer up gifts to it in order to maintain the peace.
For the rest of the gang, they go through some interesting times themselves as they try to beef up their group by searching for some new help. While their search doesn’t exactly go all that well and they aren’t coming up with anything, they are surprised when one of Kouhei’s teammates, Ichirou, shows up and says he wants to join their side for when Kouhei comes back. He’s got his own reasons which he doesn’t want to be all that forthcoming with other than he needs to talk to Meguru about it but even after that is said and done he’s sort of aloof about it, which of course only heightens the concerns of the others about whether he’s really trying to join them or not. There’s a lot of bravado on both sides about trust and all but neither are really being up front with their concerns to it simmers for a bit until it erupts into a decent little fight that brings things to a surprising resolution.
The only other thing to this set of episodes that was fun to watch was with Hikaru constantly trying to challenge Reiji to a fight so they can settle what he sees as something that needs to be settled. Reiji really doesn’t care nor have the time or inclination to fight him but Hikaru’s persistence is pretty strong and he seems to run into him constantly. The two do get to face off in a couple of ways but it turns more so that they see how the other fights and that’s only making Hikaru more anxious to take Reiji down since he can visibly see just how much Reiji and Chibi are growing in their strength and abilities. Hikaru is just amusing though in the way he keeps trying to push things so they’ll have their fight.
While Dragon Drive sort of goes into a neutral status with this volume, there are things that are moving the story forward slowly but it’s still got that feel that the series is just too long overall. It’s probably more a merchandising gimmick than anything else to keep introducing more dragons and the like and bring them into the show, but if the series was done in a more traditional twenty-six-episode format I can see things being much more streamlined and the story much tighter. As it is now, it’s still interesting and I love the dragon CG animation, but it just feels like it’s got way too much space to wander about in.