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Comparing the Use of Dragons in Anime and Gaming Posted Jun 23, 2019

Across many popular game genres, dragons are commonplace. In many great anime series, dragons also play a prominent role, often as a key character. Both filled with exciting storylines and often monster interactions, many games and anime series boast at least one dragon. But despite dragons seeming like quite a singular category of creature, game and anime designers continue to use different forms of dragons. So, why does the use of dragons vary so much?

Dragons spanning mythologies all over the world

Comparing the Use of Dragons in Anime and Gaming
Source: Pixabay

In the ancient world, mythological creatures would tend to vary from region to region, but one of the very few creatures which are prominent across mythology on a global scale are dragons. Likely spawned from the innate human fear of reptiles, particularly snakes, dragons spread from the mythology of Western Europe to the far east of Asia to the extent that finding a skeleton wouldn’t be overly surprising.

It is because of their presence in mythologies across the globe that makes the dragon such a recognizable beast. Often associated as a creature of great power or wisdom, designers love to flaunt with the image and abilities of dragons to create unique gaming experiences. While there are many hybrids, most animators choose an image of either the more Asian-inspired serpentine dragon, the four-legged dragon of European myth, or the two-legged wyvern.

How the type of dragon impacts its power

From anime series to video games, dragons are almost always among the most powerful beings. However, with a few different types of dragons to choose from, there is some confusion as to which type of dragon is the most powerful.

In the classic anime series and game series Pokémon, dragon-looking and dragon type Pokémon are among the most revered of all. When you watch the Pokémon anime series, it’s clear that the European-looking Charizard is one of the most powerful and important Pokémon around. But in the third generation, it became clear that the Asian mythological influence took over, with the Asian-serpentine Rayquaza becoming one of the most powerful so far.

But it’s not just Japanese animators who deem the Asian-serpentine dragon to be the mightiest of them all. When you play Dragon’s Myth slot game by Austrian-based developers Rabcat, you can see that they rank their dragons in the order of wyvern as the least valuable, then their lumpy European dragon, then their three-headed hybrid hydra dragon, before the gigantic serpentine dragon as their most valuable symbol.

Another of the great monster-oriented anime series, Digimon, prides dragons among its roster of creatures. In Digimon, Azulongmon, Megidramon, Goldramon, and Magnadramon comprise a mega-level group known as the Four Great Dragons, with Megidramon appearing in a very dark scene if you watched Digimon’s third anime season. Based on the myth of Four Dragon Kings, all four of these deified Digimon are Asian and serpentine in appearance, greatly outranking the likes of the very European-looking Coredramon, Devidramon, Reptiledramon, and AeroVeedramon.

With a great deal of anime coming out of Japan, it’s understandable why the more powerful representations of dragons would be aesthetically more serpentine. That said, Capcom took a different approach in Monster Hunter: World. The Japanese game company wanted to sell Monster Hunter: World in the west, which may have influenced their ranking of the dragons in the game. While wyverns like the Rathlos, Rathian, and Legiana are formidable beasts to kill or capture, the mightiest dragon-like beasts are the devil-horned, European-form Black Diablos and Nergigante.

As anime and game designers are artists, they’ll always be keen to draw from different types of dragons, but for the most part, even though all dragons are made powerful, it seems as though the Asian serpentine form is the most revered of them all.

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