Dota: Dragon’s Blood is Netflix’s latest anime series about dragons. Lots of dragons. And as the name implies: lots of blood too.
Warning: Spoilers for Dota: Dragon’s Blood, which will premier on March 25, 2021. If you want to watch this anime series, avert your eyes from the bloodshed until you’ve done so.
But first, some context. Dota: Dragon’s Blood is Netflix’s latest dark fantasy anime series. As the name suggests, the anime is based off of the Dota (Defense of the Ancients) series of strategy games by Valve. Specifically, Dragon’s Blood is based off of the 2013 Dota 2 game. In fact, the whole anime was developed as a cooperative effort between Netflix and Valve, with Studio Mir providing the animation. Studio Mir has worked on numerous animated series including The Legend of Korra, Voltron: Legendary Defender, and Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts. Odds are, they know what they’re doing. And indeed, that’s what they show here.
Dota: Dragon’s Blood: Plot Summary
The plot of Dota: Dragon’s Blood kind of reminds me of a Tales game. The first book of this anime series seems to be all about gathering the members of the main party. We have Davion the boisterous and cheerful dragon-slaying Dragon Knight who practically lives the ideals of the Windrunners. We have Mirana the dry-witted and sarcastic princess who deeply cares about her people. There’s also her adorably badass cute mute servant/bodyguard Marci, who’s also a bit of a silent snarker. Those two have a giant white fluffy kitty thing named Sagan, which may or may not be related to the astronomer. He’s not really a character though; more like their mount. Finally, we have Fymryn the adorably idealistic elf girl who, by the end of the anime, is not so idealistic and is in dire needs of hugs. Seriously, I got Kaladin Stormblessed flashbacks from watching her story.
It takes a while for all the main party members of Dota: Dragon’s Blood to gather together. In fact, they don’t even all meet until the third to last episode. Even in Tales game terms, that’s quite a long time for all the main party members to gather. And at the end of the series, they split back up once more. Then again, this is only the first book. Maybe we’ll get to see the party reunite in the second book. Just, don’t take too long about it, Netflix, okay?
Dota: Dragon’s Blood: The Good
I honestly cannot praise Dota: Dragon’s Blood enough. The best I can compare it to is if it was Avatar: The Last Airbender, but for adults. There’s so much drama, tragedy, betrayal, and all the other things that keep you riveted to your seats. And yet, there’s enough humor (and genuinely good humor at that) so that you aren’t bogged down by the darkness. There’s a saying in-show about how the brightest light casts the darkest shadows. Well, logically, it means the reverse is true as well. The darkest shadows create the brightest lights, and I feel Dragon’s Blood does balance out the light and dark very well indeed.
Combined with some very likable characters, and I consider Dota: Dragon’s Blood to be a success story. I will definitely eagerly await the second book.
Dota: Dragon’s Blood: The Bad
With so many good things about Dota: Dragon’s Blood, it’s really hard to find anything bad to say about the anime. I feel like I’m really nitpicking to find anything wrong about it. I guess if there was one thing I’d nitpick, it’s the animation for the final battle. Most of the combatants were clearly CGI. Compared to the earlier hand-drawn animated characters, the CGI was noticeable and threw me off. I get that the CGI made it much easier on the animators given the sheer number of combatants, but it’s just a personal pet peeve of mine. It’s not even all that serious.
Another thing I’d nitpick about Dota: Dragon’s Blood is the cliffhanger ending. I know you want to set up a sequel hook to keep audiences coming back for more, but wow. I mean, it’s not as bad as some other shows. Looking at you, Darker than Black. I’d say it’s about as bad as a typical RWBY episode. Which is okay, as far as cliffhangers are concerned. I guess what I’m trying to say is: don’t overdo it with the ending of the second book, Netflix, okay?
Dota: Dragon’s Blood is a great dark fantasy anime series. It’s a dark, bloody, and tragic adventure with just enough comedy and light-heartedness that you don’t feel swamped. It’s like watching a Tales game, really. If you want to watch it, check it out on Netflix on March 25, 2021. Even if you’re not a fan of Dota, you won’t be disappointed.