Let’s see… Ragna Crimson, what have you got going for you? Dragons? Check. Fantasy? Check. It’s NOT an isekai? Check! Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey BS? BIG Check. Alright! I’m in! This is a recipe that has all of the right things in place for this to be an Anime of the Year contender! Surely, there’s nothing about this show that could be so contrived that I decided to do this First Reaction just to rant, right?
Let’s get this over with…
First Episode Synopsis
In what is becoming a thing these days, we have a double episode to kick us off. Unlike Sousou no Frieren which went all Netflix and aired the first four episodes back to back to back to back, Ragna Crimson just gives us one, single 47-minute-long episode for us to sink our teeth into.
We follow Ragna… a meek and pathetic boy with a typical shonen bowl cut hairstyle that just happens to be white with weird, pupil-less teal eyes and his 12-year-old companion Leo (yes, it’s short for something else but… oh God, her name is Leo.)
Despite being 12, Leo is the number one dragon slayer in the land! She acts like a child most of the time until “Number 2” aka, Sykes, tries to grow a generic prick attitude and she turns completely serious on him. Okay, she wears her ovaries on the outside at times. Nice.
Things are all well and good until the dragons kind of disappear and quests to kill them dry up. Then, just when you thought everything was safe, the dragons attacked the city in force! This is bad for many reasons but the biggest is that Ragna keeps having these reoccurring dreams where Leo dies in the city to a dragon as the city burns. Well, the city is burning so it’s time for the premonition to come true. The big clue here is that there is this old man in his dreams who constantly communicates with him. Sometimes he even appears in his mind while he’s fully awake. Judging from his design, it’s painfully obvious that it’s Ragna from the future.
Well, one of the supreme dragons takes human form and decides to just go and massacre everyone. Ragna tries to El Kabong him with his sword but it shatters instantly. This supreme dragon then flicks him like a gnat into the river so Leo steps in to do battle where she is supposed to die. Well, present Ragna has another conversation with Future Ragna where Future Ragna gives Present Ragna all of his powers and the Dragon Reaper is born! Ragna comes and saves the day, kills the supreme dragon, and alters the future!
Anime Kronika then talks with Future Ragna who, apparently, “DIED WHILE STANDING UP” (yes, that’s how he died), and says that Present Ragna will now die, too in due time but it’ll be cool to watch and see what happens from here on out.
OH WAIT! I completely forgot the most important plot point! How silly of me!
The dragons decided to go to war because the town they swore to protect experienced a robbery… but not just any robbery. Their favorite pastry shop got robbed and was forced to close so their god decided to go to war.
MAYBE – Okay… everything about this first episode from a story standpoint was decent to good until the reason why the dragons went to war…
Seriously? Because the god of their clan woke up and wanted a slice of cake and realized the place he got his fix closed down!?
Honestly… this would have been THE PERFECT reason had this show been a comedy but it’s not. It’s not meant to be a comedy at all. It’s supposed to just be a fantasy series about killing dragons and yet… a DAMN PASTRY SHOP. Leo dying, Ragna merging himself with his sword and learning to become one with its power and transforming into the Dragon Reaper, his years upon years upon years of depression, angst, and regret for not saving Leo…. ALL BECAUSE OF A GODDAMN PASTRY SHOP.
I can forgive the timey wimey BS. I mean, heck… you saw it coming from minute one. Meek and pathetic shonen boy needs to get a power-up to become the hero he’s meant to be. Leo gets into a situation where she needs to be saved and the power-up happens, the day is saved, etc. It’s hero-building 101 in anime and it didn’t get any more by-the-book than this. In fact, you just come to expect something like this to happen in almost every show with a pathetic MC. Can you blame the industry, though? It’s a winning formula that works in Japan even if we here in the US are tired of seeing it. This won’t be the last time you see it, either.
But… to base everything that happened around a pastry shop getting robbed and forced to close? I’m sorry but… how did anyone take that seriously? How did the source material not get canceled after a reason like that? Why is this even an anime?
Since the source material is unknown to me, you could have pulled an anime-only plot device and changed it to literally anything else, and probably would have been better. Here are just some examples…
Dragons are tired of co-existing with humans
Dragons are low on resources because of human expansion
Dragons are just evil
The town they protected had a sacred dragon artifact that was mishandled and destroyed … or…
Said artifact fell into the hands of an evil human and the only choice they had was war because a pact was broken
The dragon clan’s god went insane for some reason…. Shadow magic maybe?
One of their own was accidentally killed and it broke some sort of peace treaty.
ANY OF THOSE WOULD HAVE WORKED but they chose a pastry shop.
If it weren’t for everything else being pretty decent and interesting, this would have been a hard NO but… I’ll stick with it and see where it goes from here. I mean, it can’t get any worse, right?
(Source readers, feel free to let me know if it gets worse).