If you enjoy ridiculously large breasts for the sake of watching them jiggle, then FUNimation's latest series will tickle your pickle. Dragonaut is a 2007 series that came from the production staff at Gonzo, and it embraces the concept of fan service to a ludicrous degree. Every female in the show has proportions that would make walking upright a challenge and even more perplexing is how all the boobage stays locked within their clothing. Now, normally I don't mind liberties taken in this regard, but in this particular case it stands out as a crutch to draw pubescent male viewers. The show that's built around the breasts just isn't strong enough to support them.
Dragonaut takes place far into the future where space travel is relatively easy and humanity has a colony on the moon. The series focuses on a kid named Jin Kamishina, who lost his family in an accident that took place during a flight to the moon. The trip was supposed to be routine, but when an extraterrestrial being from space crashes into the ship during takeoff, it's destroyed. Jin is the only survivor and the accident left him all alone. What's worse is his father was the pilot and is publically blamed for the accident and death of everyone aside from Jin. So, not only is he alone, but he's ridiculed as well. Nice, huh?
One night Jin has the unfortunate happenstance to come across a monster in a dark alleyway. This instigates a run for his life as the beast charges after him, but just when it seems like he's going to fall to his death, he's rescued by a busty, beautiful girl named Toa. As it turns out, Toa is actually a Dragon in disguise and she's something that's referred to as the Album as well. She Resonated with Jin during the destruction of the ship he was riding two years ago when she crashed to Earth after a long ride from Thanatos (which was responsible for the destruction of Pluto). While she protects Jin on numerous occasions from Communicator Dragons who Actualize for battle, she's also pursued by the ISDA.
Confused yet? I know I was, and in all frankness, I still am to some degree. Dragonaut has its own extensive lingo that it throws at you with virtually no explanation whatsoever. The revelation to some of the terminology or meaning doesn't even come until later on in the series, so you'll spend the greater part of this release feeling bewildered and stupid as the anime basically forgets about you as it does its own thing.
The characters in Dragonaut also bring the show down in some ways. Nearly every personality in the series is one-dimensional or enigmatic. Neither really works out that well in terms of integrating them into the story or making you care about them. For instance, Jin is whiny and useless, Gio is brooding and mysterious, Toa seems to be friendly but is aloof at the same time, and the support cast feels shoehorned in to fill a quota. The diverse focus doesn't allow anyone to really grow, and the only character you'll remotely feel anything for is Jin. And trust me when I tell you that's not much of a statement.
As far as the actual story in Dragonaut things look up in some regards. The big mysterious tale about aliens from outer space coming to destroy the Earth is fairly layered and nicely drawn out. The involvement of humanity and the creation of Dragons of their own definitely adds some interesting elements to the series. Unfortunately the show panders to the audience and focuses too much on the relationship between Jin and Toa, and the subsequent boobs that flail about around them.
The bottom line is Dragonaut will entertain some and bore others. Categorize me on the list of those who were bored. The show has a lot of promise and maybe it will go somewhere with its second half, but this first half just felt shallow and ill-planned. If you just want to watch cheesy looking CGI dragons fighting in the air while staring at boobs, this show may be for you. If you want more then, well, maybe it's not. Either way you can probably get by just fine with a rental.
Dragonaut is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and has been enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show maintains a very vibrant, colorful look with clean lines and some downright sharp resolution. The animation isn't exactly the best that we've seen from Gonzo, but it's not "bad" by any stretch of the imagination. As far as the technical quality of the show there's very little in terms of grain to be found here, and compression artifacts aren't really a problem (there are some in space, but it's not too distracting). Aliasing is probably the most prevalent flaw that crops up in this transfer, but even that's not too pervasive.
Japanese 2.0 stereo and English 5.1 surround are what FUNimation has put on this set for audio mixes. The quality of both tracks is very good with the English selection offering a little more "oomph" with regards to explosions and whatnot. The sense of immersion isn't the strongest and it definitely won't rock your bass, but the difference between the two tracks is noticeable. As far as the dub quality is concerned I found that the Japanese track was decidedly better. The English cast just didn't have much of a spark and many lines come across as emotionless and deadpan.
Dragonaut comes with clean animations and trailers for bonus features. There's also an audio commentary for the tenth episode, which helps to set up the second leg of the show. It's an interesting enough commentary and worth checking out once you've watched this collection.
It's not the best show in the world, though it's not the worst either. Dragonaut finds its home somewhere in the middle really. This is a collection of ideas mashed together with sci-fi trappings and an obnoxious amount of cleavage. At some points the show demonstrates glimmers of excellence, but the other 70% of the show is far too comfortable being mid-ranged, average entertainment. Ultimately this show is a rental whether the concept sounds interesting to you or not, though I do hold out hope that the second set will change my opinion of the show as a whole.