Otaku USA Magazine
Kick off the Year of the Dragon with These Draconic Anime Friends

Let's start the Year of the Dragon off right!

People born in the Year of the Dragon (of which 2024 is one) are said to be strong, fearless, energetic, and born leaders. But what constitutes the personality of a dragon — like a literal one — in anime is much broader. For example, Dragon Ball‘s wish-granting Shenron is wise and neutrally-aligned, while One Piece‘s Kaido is an aggressive and merciless warrior.

What’s interesting, though, is that there seems to be a bumper crop of surprisingly friendly dragons in anime — like this trio. While each is still dangerous in their own way (they’re literally dragons), we’d much rather ring in the new year with these draconic pals.



Haku, Spirited Away

2001 Studio Ghibli hit Spirited Away is home to one of anime’s most iconic dragons: the river spirit Haku. In terms of our Year of the Dragon personality grab bag, he flies a bit closer to several of the typical “Dragon” traits. In particular, he’s strong and fearless when it comes to protecting Chihiro, a fellow victim of the with Yubaba. However, he’s also changeable, going from strict to empathic as necessary to get things done.

With the advantage of 20+ years of hindsight, we all know that Haku is a trustworthy friend. In the context of the film, however, his loyalties were (understandably) debatable. Fortunately for Chihiro, he turned out to be one of her truest friends in her fight to rescue her parents and get home.



Masotan, Hisone and Masotan

What’s the perfect ride for the Year of the Dragon? How about a literal dragon? DRAGON PILOT: Hisone & Masotan imagines a world where the Japanese Air Force employs the use of OTFs (Organic Transformed Flyers) manned by a crack team of D-Pilots. New recruit Hisone Amakasu finds herself chosen by one of these OTFs — and discovers that they are, in fact, armored dragons.

Masotan and his fellow OTFs get their adorable looks thanks to character designer Toshinao Aoki, known for his work on the Pokémon TCG. This lovable dragon-aircraft forms a bond with the awkward but well-meaning Hisone. And, provided you’ve got enough of his favorite snack (flip phones) on hand, he’ll be a loyal friend.



Tohru, Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid

As if we were going to get through a Year of the Dragon post without mentioning Tohru! The title character of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is an honest-to-goodness large-sized dragon who falls in love with 25-year-old programmer Kobayashi after the office worker saves her life. Due to Kobayashi’s fascination with maids, Tohru has chosen an appropriate alternate form.

Tohru shows her love for Kobayashi in some seriously odd ways (and we don’t just mean the maid thing — that’s tame by comparison). She’ll offer the object of her affection home-cooked meals… usually made from slices of her regenerating tail. While she’s not the only dragon in the show by far, she is certainly one of the most iconic dragons (and maids) in recent anime.

Start the Year of the Dragon off right by carrying these anime vibes forward from 2023!

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. She is a contributor to the celebrated Black Archive line, with many other books, short stories, and critical works to her name.