Dai vs. Hadlar in the ‘DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai’ anime series. | Source: Toei Animation

DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai is a new adaptation based on the hugely popular Japanese original manga of the same name (Story: Riku Sanjo, Art: Koji Inada, Supervisor: Yuji Horii), which was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine from 1989-1996. The series’ new edition of 25 volumes was published this year. The anime series, which debuted in October 2020, has already surpassed 50 episodes to date.

The manga has sold more than 47 million copies and also gained a loyal fanbase. In December 2020, it was announced that the current anime, which features hybrid 2D and 3D animation, will complete the story all the way to the end. The series is simulcast streaming new episodes every week on Crunchyroll in North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Africa, Oceania, the Middle East, and CIS.

As the new adaptation celebrates its 1-year anniversary, the Pop Insider talked to the series’ producer Keisuke Naito about the new adaptation of DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai, why fans will love it, and what’s to come with the series (with no spoilers, we promise!).

The Pop Insider: Before we get started, let’s talk a little bit about the DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai series that’s airing now. Can you give me a brief overview of the series?

Keisuke Naito: It is a popular series that was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump about 30 years ago, and was also made into an anime. It is a fantasy work in which a brave Hero named Dai goes on an adventure with his friends to fight the Dark Lord with swords and magic for the sake of world peace.

PI: What do you think are the qualities of DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai that makes it so beloved? Why will today’s fans love this new adaptation?

KN: It’s a classic story of a quest to defeat an evil dark lord, but the characters — both friend and foe — are very lively and appealing. It appeals to the friendship with companions, love between parents and children, and desperately trying to survive through these things. Although it is 30 years old, the underlying values are beautiful and universal, and I think that is why it has been loved for so many years.

‘DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai’ characters Dai with Gomechan, Maam, and Popp | Source: Toei Animation

PI: The new adaptation of DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai will be completing the story all the way through. What can fans look forward to (without any spoilers!)?

RELATED: Original Dragon Quest Trilogy Heads to the Nintendo Switch

KN: For those who are new to the series, I would like them to witness the wonderful story till the end, and for those who are familiar with the original work, I hope they will pay attention to the action scenes that the animation expresses. The action has been intense for the past year, and from now on, the battles with even more powerful enemies will become more intense. Please look forward to the unique battle action of the anime.

PI: Aside from seeing the storyline all the way to the end, what about this adaptation is fresh and new compared to the first adaptation — or even to the original manga?

KN: Compared to 30 years ago, I think the technology of visual expression has improved in terms of CG and filming for animation. We aim to create visual expressions that can be accepted in this day and age, so I would be happy if the visual expressions are genuinely fresh and new to the audience.

PI: The DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai manga has been adapted into an animated series and now an upcoming mobile game. How does the story provide such great content for multiple mediums?

KN: This anime project was originally designed to be a media mix of mobile games, console games, new serials, and so on. The generation that was exposed to this work in the past are now parents, and we wanted to connect with their children across generations. The project was launched with this in mind.

Watch ‘DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai’ weekly on Crunchyroll! | Source: Toei Animation

PI: The current adaption of DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai mixes 2D and 3D animation. How does this make for a better viewing experience for audiences?

KN: One of the features of the work is the battle action using swords and magic. In particular, the flashy effects of magic and swordplay can be expressed in a way that would be difficult to do with drawings alone. In addition, crowds of monsters and actions with a large number of people can be done together with CG to create rich images.

PI: Oct. 3 was the one-year anniversary of the series premiere! Over the last few years, what parts of the series have met your expectations or exceeded them greatly?

KN: First of all, we were able to surpass the episodes of the original story that had ended in the middle of the first anime adaptation, and we put a lot of resources into the father-son confrontation with Baran, which we positioned as the peak of the first year in terms of the series structure, and I believe that the images exceeded our expectations.

Dai vs. Baran in ‘DRAGON QUEST: Adventure of Dai’ | Source: Toei Animation

PI: Was there anything unexpected that came up during this first year that caused you to revamp your original plans for the series?

KN: As this is a series that will continue on as we create, we have been going through a trial and error process in terms of visual expression, examining the strengths and weaknesses of both CG and drawing. We are also changing our approach to the shooting process. The scenario work was actually done soon after the start of the broadcast, so there are no changes to the story.

PI: What are you looking forward to the most about future episodes and production?

KN: If I had to pick a personal favorite, I’d say I look forward to Hadlar’s “journey” and how he will live his life through that. But most of all, I’m going to keep going so that I can see the adventures of Dai and his friends through to the end!

You can watch new episodes of DRAGON QUEST The Adventure of Dai every week on Crunchyroll!