By Tim Minahan, 09 May 2018
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid has more Dragons than the Third Age of Middle Earth. Aside from the titular maid character, Tohru, there are four other draconic characters that enter Kobayashi’s life: Lucoa, Fafnir, Kanna, and Elma. These characters are all inspired by known mythological beings, but possess their own quirks and individual personalities.
Some of the correlations between cartoon and mythos are easily identified solely by name, such as Fafnir being a famous Norse dragon. While others are a bit more difficult to find a direct reference for and rely heavily on hints from the show and lovely tinfoil hats, we are going to don our dragon hunting gear and search for clues to who’s who in the dragon maid crew.
Kanna Kamui is a child by dragons standards, unassuming by all accounts. However, appearances are deceiving, as Kanna Kamui is an Ainu deity of thunder and lightning. In Ainu mythology, Kamuy are divine beings that exist in all parts of reality; similar to the Kami in Shintoism. Kamuy can be named, and they all have specific roles to play in the world. For instance, Kamuy Fuchi is the goddess of the Hearth and Kim-un-kamuy is god of bears and mountains. Kanna’s name is a direct reference to Kanna Kamuy, the god of thunder and lightning. The makes this connection stronger in episode 4, “Kanna Goes to School!”. When Kanna is introduced to her classmates as Kanna Kobayashi, a classmate asks where she’s from and she replies “Ushishir Island.” Ushishir island is an uninhabited volcanic island located in the centre of the Kuril Islands and is a sacred land of the Ainu people as it’s home to the thunder god. This makes Kanna one of two deific characters we know of in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.
The other being Miss Lucoa, otherwise known as Ms. Quetzecoatl.
There’s no secret to what mythology Lucoa hails from, as Tohru plainly tells Kobayashi and the viewer that she’s Quetzacoatl, the Mesoamerican god of the wind, of the planet Venus, of the dawn, of merchants, and of arts, crafts, and knowledge. Lucoa credits herself with creating society, and with a resume like that, it’s no wonder that she feels confident enough to make that claim. As an ex-deity from the early age of man, she has experience with humans and society that her fellow dragons do not have, and acts as a big sister to them as they learn to live amongst humanity. While they do respect Lucoa’s counsel, they also aren’t afraid to tease her as well.
One of the strangest jokes in the show is the story of how Lucoa became an ex-deity. Each setup of the joke, Lucoa is present with alcohol around or at least referenced. Tohru would then take a jab at Lucoa, mentioning how the last time she had a boozy beverage it was poisoned and caused her to do something scandalous with her sister, getting herself kicked from divinity. The joke specifically is a reference to the Codex Chimalpopoca. According to the Codex, Quetzacoatl was convinced by Tezcatlipoca to get drunk on pulque. Intoxicated, Quetzacoatl went rolliking with his sister, Quetzalpetlatl, and they both shirked their religious duties. Quetzacoatl was overcome with shame and ordered the servants to build a stone chest and encased himself in turquoise, setting himself on fire. His ashes and heart rose up to the sky, becoming the morning star. Luckily for Lucoa, that was not her fate in the show.
Out of all the dragons we meet in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, Fafnir is the most grim. Tohru refers to him as “that cursed dragon” more than once. This could be a reference to his true dragon form, which is grotesque and demonic looking with its tentacle wings and monstrous maw. However, the truth is rooted in Norse mythology. Fafnir of legend was not originally a dragon, but was in fact a dwarven prince, son to dwarf king Hreidmar. Odin, Loki, and Hoenir were captured by Hreidmar and his sons. While his sons kept Odin and Hoenir under guard, Loki was made to go fill an otter skin with gold. Loki knew just where to get enough gold for Hreidmar’s demands, as he had a treasure hoard hidden away; the cursed gold of Andvari. Loki had killed Andvari for his wealth as well as the ring, Andvaranaut, but dared not to keep it as the curse Andvari placed on it would spell doom for whomever possessed it. Loki returned with the gold, and Fafnir, consumed by greed for the treasure, killed his father to take it all for himself. He hid away in the forest with his prize, but he grew more greedy until he changed into a dragon, forever obsessed with his riches.
We see all these attributes in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid’s Fafnir. Fafnir is gloomy, ill mannered, and only cares to guard his treasure. He hates humans, viewing them as insects who only want his treasure. It’s not until he starts living with Takiya Makoto, an Otaku who is also a hoarder and Kobayashi’s coworker, that his demeanor softens. In one of the more touching scenes in the show, Fafnir reflects that humans are hits and misses, the misses making themselves apparent immediately, lusting after your treasure, but it takes awhile to know you’ve got a hit. He also picks up a gaming addiction from Takiya, accruing massive amounts of digital loot.
The last dragon to set our sights on is Tohru, the titular dragon maid. Tohru is Kobayashi’s live in maid, friend, pain in her side, and possible lover. Her mythological origin is tougher to place than the rest of the crew, save Elma, as her name has no direct connection to any named deity or dragon in mythology. Be that as it may, Tohru does have an root in human mythology, specifically in Western Europe. This can be surmised by Tohru’s dragon form featuring four legs, a tail, and wings; typical of european dragons. She also has a hate for the Judeo-Christian God. In the Manga, Tohru has no kind things to say about God or Jesus, this is likely due to her trying to pick a fight with the hosts of heaven before being stabbed with a divine sword. This narrative puts her being not only a Western European dragon, but the biblical dragon in the Book of Revelations that starts the War in Heaven. In Revelations, Archangel Michael leads the heavenly host in a war against “the dragon” and its allies. The dragon is usually identified as the devil or a servant of the devil. Tohru’s father being the Emperor of Demise helps buttress this argument, as he knows that Tohru and his chaos faction are the ones to bring an end to humanity. Tohru’s love for Kobayashi and desire to be her maid is presently the only thing keeping back the Doomsday Clock from striking midnight.
It is amazing what story writers can do to incorporate old legends into new forms of media. I definitely expected historical references in a series like Fate/Zero, but not from a slice of life anime.
This theory took us on a journey from Japan to Mesoamerica to Europe and we learned a great deal about ancient myths that some may not have heard of before. Unfortunately there’s no real connection that we could find for Elma other than she’s a sea serpent that’s possibly Greco-Roman. If you have an idea of what mythos Elma is based upon, comment below and let us know, and also let us know what you think of our theory.