The much-awaited anime series, Dragon’s Blood, based on cash-rich esports Dota 2, is finally out. The YouTube trailer had garnered over 1.9 million views till March 25, the day of its release, which speaks volumes of the excitement the esports adaptation has generated among viewers.
This Netflix original has been made by Studio MIR, which is famous for its work on shows such as ‘The Legend of Korra’ and ‘Voltron: Legendary Defender’. The creator and executive producer of the series is Ashley Edward Miller, who is best known for his work on Thor and X-Men: First Class.
Dragon’s Blood was announced by Valve Corporation (the company that owns the game Dota 2) in February this year. Since then Dota 2 enthusiasts were eagerly waiting for the series to go on air.
The big question, however, on top of the viewers is: Is the anime worth watching and how does it augur for the future of game of Dota 2?
As a big anime fan and as someone who is addicted to the game of Dota 2, Dragon’s Blood is something what I really wanted to watch. At the time of writing this review, I had already watched it twice. I think Dragon’s Blood is a good in itself. As a matter of fact, I am quite excited to know that there will be at least two more seasons to look forward to. How do I know it? Well, Robert Meyer Burnett, the animation director for the series, has publicly revealed (ROBSERVATIONS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NR2TfVVxMZE&t=5668s) that this anime has 24 episodes, while the Book 1 (season 1) only consists of 8 episodes.
The story does not have too many slow sections and has been put together very well, leaving room for imagination and further development. In the past, I have watched many TV shows, anime and movies at 2X speed or even fast-forwarded through the slow parts, but Dragon’s Blood is well paced and does not deserve any fast forwarding.
My only complaint is that it does not reveal the full extent of the Dota universe or even provide an understanding of just how vast it possibly could be. The introduction talks a bit about the universe being a collection of multiple worlds, but that is all. This leaves a fair bit of ambiguity for the viewer to contend with. This also indicates that the makers of the series have not thought of the next step of story development, creating a slight disconnect for the viewers.
Each game of Dota 2 supposedly signifies the final great battle for one iteration of the universe, indicating that the game is the end of the story. If the anime were the only factor in this equation, this would not trouble me. However, looking from the perspective of future developments, I am left confused as to what is more important to the Dota universe, is it the game Dota 2 or is it the anime Dragon’s Blood. Which of these two will drive developments for the franchise in the years to come? As of now, the anime is merely an afterthought to the storyline or lore that is supposed to be a part of the game. And, if it is meant to grow larger, then it is important that this question be answered.
Impact of Dragon’s Blood on Dota 2
When the anime was first announced and it was revealed that it would be done in collaboration with Netflix and Studio MIR, I was very excited as a Dota 2 fan. I believed this experiment (from esports to a Netflix series) could revive the popularity of the game and fix the problem of the declining player count. However, further thinking led me to realize that I was not looking at the possibly big picture; the anime was also a step forward in terms of creating a unique franchise that could have a spot reserved for it in multiple industries. If either the game or the anime were to experience a decline in popularity in the future, the franchise would be in a position where it could revive popularity using the other.
The Valve Corporation has made it abundantly clear that by creating this anime they intend to increase the investment into the franchise and the major announcements they have made in terms of changes in their policies towards several contentious issues for the game of Dota 2. Traditionally, Valve has taken a rather lenient stance towards less-than-savory behavior from players of the game. But on 25th March they announced that many of these actions will no longer be tolerated and they would be more than happy to ban any player who does not behave.
The biggest point was addressed to the category of people known as smurfs (players who make a second account which is lower ranked than their primary account. This is done with the intention of bullying lesser skilled players in the game). The new policy dictates that any player caught smurfing will find their account being banned. In the past such players were set up for easier games so that they would rank up their faster and no longer have the chance to bully others. (https://www.dota2.com/newsentry/2995430596679058277)
Despite the major announcements that indicate several changes in policy as well as the update to tutorials for new players, I don’t think the launch of the anime will help player count recover immediately. (https://steamcharts.com/app/570) Yes, there will be some benefit to the game as a younger generation of gamers who are motivated to the play the game after watching the anime will bring in some much-needed fresh blood into the game community. However, as I mentioned earlier, the big question that needs to be answered internally by Valve Corporation, about what will drive future development for the franchise between the anime and the game needs to be answered first. If this question is not answered, it may lead to clashes in terms of the creative direction that the game and the anime want to take and may lead to stagnation in future developments.
If this decision is made clear for the public as well, it would help create a better connect to the franchise for many and even generate lifelong fans similar to what franchises such as Pokemon have achieved in the past.