A Dragon Rant Because I Dislike Sisu’s Look

My friend called me a “dragon purist” recently after they had to sit through two different rants from yours truly about how silly the dragon Sisu in that new Disney movie Raya And The Last Dragon looks.

So maybe I am a dragon purist? Like, sorry I don’t want whatever this is.

The dragon from Raya And The Last Dragon.

The body of a greyhound, the horn of a unicorn, the snout of a wolf, and the fur of a main coon cat. This is not a dragon.

While, yes, I prefer that dragons have scales and wings, I totally respect that a lot of dragon designs from Asian cultures are different. I own several dragon things that are of this style. They’re still incredibly beautiful yet fierce. Most importantly, they still look like dragons. See below.

A green chinese dragon. A Japanese Dragon.

Chinese New Year Dragon. The Dragon-Phoenix on treasures of the Nguyen dynasty.

Another reason why I was called a dragon purist is because we were looking at this chart of different dragon types, and I expressed how some of these, like the ones without arms, are poor excuses for dragons.

Dragon type chart

Are we really gonna sit here and say a Wrym is a dragon? That’s a snake.

Anyway, here is a list of the dragons from media I don’t like, based on looks only:

  • Sisu from Raya And The Last Dragon
  • the dragon from The Neverending Story
  • the dragons from Zelda: Skyward Sword

Here’s a list of dragons from media that could be better but could be worse, based on looks only:

  • Toothless from How To Train Your Dragon (sorry, he’s too goofy looking!)
  • the dragon from Spirited Away
  • Mushu from Mulan
  • the dragon from Pete’s Dragon (both versions)

And lastly, here’s a list of dragons from media that I like, based on looks only:

  • Dragon from Shrek
  • the dragons from Harry Potter
  • Smaug from The Hobbit
  • Saphira from Eragon 
  • Spyro
  • the dragons from Game Of Thrones*
  • the dragons from Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

So, to summarize, I am very passionate about this, in case you haven’t noticed, and I’m big time mad that Disney had a chance to have a really cool dragon as a main aspect of the movie, and they chose to make it look so bad. Not to mention that since it’s voiced by Awkwafina (who under other circumstances I don’t have an issue with) the dragon will be Quirky™. I mean, this was concept art Disney showed in 2019, which I like a lot better!
Sisu concept art being presented.

And this is allegedly early concept art from someone who worked on the movie, but I can’t confirm this. Still very cool and fierce.
Raya and the Last Dragon - Sisu Concept Art by Scott Watanabe - Raya and the Last Dragon Photo (43813111) - Fanpop

They actively went worse, and for what? So kids would buy more merch? I don’t know, but I am appalled.

What do you think about Sisu from Raya And The Last Dragon? What dragons in media do you enjoy visually?


* P.S. here is a supercut of just the dragon scenes in Game Of Thrones in case you’re like me and don’t care for the show but want to still see some cool dragons!


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9 thoughts on “A Dragon Rant Because I Dislike Sisu’s Look

  1. The genie in Aladdin could have looked very different. And the most villainous looking one is probably the closest to the original folklore. One does not count on Disney to get things right in terms of original source material, not for *any* of the stories they’ve adapted into movies.

    Speaking of dragons in particular, though, it actually used to be more common for them to be more like snakes, like the Lambton Worm. Not that there wasn’t any variance there, of course, but Tolkien *really* altered how they’re generally perceived as flying and breathing fire and such, as did, ironically, Disney in Sleeping Beauty.

    Heh, I’m guessing Sisu’s concept got altered because they didn’t want her, being a good dragon, to look scary or something like that.

    • Oooh, I forgot about the dragon from Sleeping Beauty.
      I know nothing about genie lore or anything like that, but that’s super interesting and a good comparison.

      • The issue I have with dragons who lack forelegs is amusingly brought up here, just without realising it. If they were called wyverns, I likely wouldn’t be quite so bothered but it’s that they’re called dragons and what that represents. An interestin question to ask here is have you ever wondered why most of the monsters within Monster Hunter are wyverns?

        It’s about the toxicity of male power fantasies, white ones especially. So why did dragons end up with their arms amputated? It’s to distance them from dragons in other media, like D&D, where they can think, talk, and express themselves. This is incredibly important. You see, most dudes want nothing more than to live ina Frank Frazetta fantasy.

        I don’t know if you’re familiar, but if you’re not you can look that up. It draws on the same kind of thing as Alt-Right guys who buy guns and want a bunker because they actually want a zombie apocalypse to occur where they can be the lone hero of their family, blowing up zombies and having lots of sex. It’s a profoundly white, male, right-wing fantasy, as is dragon-slaying, monster hunting, and its ilk.

        Here’s the thing: They need their evil to be a far bigger, more menacing psychopath than they are. If a dragon can reason, and tries to, if they try to utilise mutualist logic, or trade and bargain, then the hunter looks like a psychopathic murder-monkey for killing the dragon regardless. So as I said, in order to fully realise that fantasy, the dragon has to be a much more dangerous psychopath than the hunter.

        They can’t talk, then. They can’t reason. They can’t think. They can’t have hands for gesticulation. In fact, they aren’t allowed any kind of expression beyond just bestial rage. Smaug was a bizarre anomaly as he was something of a halfway house, but he still wasn’t interested in listening. He was very much a violent psychopath who had no interested in what anyone else had to say, he still epitomised that right-wing ideal of the dragon that needs to be slain. So that the hero can rescue and lay the hot chicks.

        That’s the reason why most of these dragons don’t talk, from Game of Thrones to Skyrim. Yes, in the case of Alduin he’s just another Smaug. It’s funny though that even with Paarthurnax, their one, single dragon that defied this rule? The only way to complete that quest was to murder him.

        It was an interesting point that some quest writer at Bethesda had to make about why you’re doing what you’re doing, what your motivations are, and whether you should be doing it but the thing is is that most of the people who’d play something like Skyrim would not have the self-awareness to understand the point being made. They’d just be frustrated by the presence of Paarthurnax, and they were.

        This is why the amputation of dragons makes my skin itch, it’s a very dirty feeling thing to think about as the kinds of people who enjoy this sort of thing are hardly my favourite kinds of humans. I felt this point was driven home for me recently while enjoying the Wings of Fire graphic novels, as the artists is quite excetpional at giving dragons expression through face and hands alike.

        I’ve seen some excuses to support this but none of them really make any sense.

        I mean, there’s a reason that wyverns tend to be more bird-like, it’s because that’s realistic. Whereas amputated dragons don’t tend to move like that, they just writhe around on their bellies like their forelegs are missing and they don’t know what to do about it. It leaves me feelilng unwell. No animal moves like that… except… I saw an amputated dog once…

        Bats don’t move like that either, not when walking or running. I love bats. I worked at a bat sanctuary. I’m very familiar with bats. And here in the UK, I’m just surrounded by birds so I’m very familiar with them too. It’s ludicrous how many birds we have here. Coastal areas are like that.

        The point about them being hexapodal doesn’t make sense either as a.) hexapodal creatures exist, and b.) a wizard did it. I mean, you could say that a naturally occurring morphogenic event within that reality had hybridised creatures resulting in dragons. I feel that the most damning point of all though is that their “realistic” dragons wouldn’t function in reality. They wouldn’t be able to be ambulatory fully, let alone fly.

        The funny thing is is that six-limbed dragons are more realistic because at least those extra limbs would allow them to offset their weight. They still wwouldn’t be able to fly, but still…

        I think it’s all a moot point though as the genre is called “fantasy.” It’s supposed to be about anything one can imagine and only an idiot would constrain it to what we understand of our reality. The point is infinite possibilities, so it really is a moot and utterly ludicrous point. I mean, there you have a mage summoning fireballs and food out of mid-air and your issue is dragons being hexapodal? What about pegasi, then? Should we amputate them too?

        It’s all just cheap excuses to support the Frazetta fantasies they want to be a part of. That’s why I’m not fond of amputated dragons. I mean, yes, wyverns are fine and I dig them but amputated dragons aren’t wyverns; they don’t move like wyverns. Amputated dragons are amputated dragons, devoid of all identity and personality so that psychopathic “heroes” won’t need to feel questioned about killing them in cold blood.

        And I will say again that it is very might a hardcore right-wing fantasy, it’s a very white-washed one. It is kind of obvious why amputated dragons are always paired with misogynistic, white-washed barbarian culture. See GRRM, Skyrim, et al. It actually upsets me just how wrong games like Skyrim get viking culture, turning it into a vapid right-wing fantasy.

        So, yes. I support wyverns, but I do not support amputated dragons. I don’t support any right-wing arsehole fantasies really.

  2. Personally, I don’t mind when dragons have stuff like fur, or lack arms, or embody some non-fire element. It’s all different cultures at the end of the day, and usually even when they look different from the norm, they still have aspects to very clearly show that “Yeah, that’s a dragon alright”

    That said, Sisu doesn’t even remotely look like a dragon. She looks more like some super weird Kelpie (Mythological water spirit often depicted as a sorta scaly horse in media). Given that, and the fact that she looked much closer to a dragon in her 2019 concept you showed, I can definitely see why you’d be upset with it. I can kiiinda see the “Dragon purist” thing to an extent (Which I don’t mean as an insult, to each their own and all), but not with Sisu. Calling Sisu a dragon is really pushing the boundaries of what they are in media, and I think it’s understandable to not agree with that.

    • I totally own the dragon purist title! And I like walls of text, I’m always flattered when someone takes time to comment something long because it means I’ve inspired them to say it!

  3. Sisu looks more like a chimera than a dragon, but a bit too fluffy/cute. I’m not a fan at all 😦
    Toothless always seemed more like a cat than a dragon, as much as I loved the first two movies (we don’t talk about the 3rd!).
    Anyway, if you’re a dragon purist I am too. The word ‘dragon’ conjures up ideas in my mind of how a dragon should look. Sisu fits none of those ideas, and is nothing like the awesome Smaug or Game of Thrones Dragons!

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