Since Dragon Quest Your Story just arrived on Netflix around two weeks ago, it seemed like the perfect time to post an appreciation of one of my favorite characters from any Dragon Quest game–a bit of an unsung hero who's always putting his needs before others, and always willing to help out his friends and save the world. In case the title didn't give it away already, I'm talking about Dragon Quest V‘s Sancho, the loyal servant to Pankraz (and eventually our Hero).
***By the way, before you keep reading, there are going to be story spoilers for Dragon Quest V and a few from the movie. So, consider yourself warned!***
Sancho (who, I'm assuming, was inspired by the loyal companion with the same name in Cervantes's Don Quixote) begins the game as your father's most loyal servant and friend. He's a bit of a worrier–kind of a nervous wreck most of the time, actually–and he helps Pankraz raise you as a young boy. And in keeping with the likely Cervantes inspiration, Sancho also speaks with a heavy Spanish accent. Almost immediately, he's a lovable and dependable guy whose entire life is dedicated to helping you and your father.
Sancho Can Do It All…Almost
Besides being a reliable friend, Sancho is a bit of renaissance man. In early scenes, we see him cooking and helping Pankraz look after our young Hero. Sancho goes about town and gets supplies. He takes care of the house while you and Pankraz are gone. He even makes a pretty handy fighter later in the game. Oh, and he will watch your children for almost a decade while you and your wife are turned to stone. See? All around great guy. Renaissance man.
And while we're talking about how reliable he is, just look at the backpack! That thing is huge! It's reinforced with wooden slats and rope, because it's splitting at the seems! It's full of food so you, your monsters, and your children can eat. It's got weapons, it's got medicinal herbs, and who knows what kind of other goodies. But Sancho isn't content with just being your pack mule. He also carries his own weapon and shield for when you need him in battle. What a stand up guy.
A Friend in Need
Yes, Sancho is always there to lend a hand. But he's also super important to the story. He takes care of your home after Pankraz is murdered and you're sold into slavery for ten years. Because of him, you have a home to come back to. Once you meet back up with him, he follows you along–happy to serve you as he once did your father. When things get tough, does Sancho leave? Heck no! He gives you a pep talk or sings your praises, so then you can get on with saving the world!
Then, when you and your bride are turned to stone, when the world is consumed by darkness, and when children are literally stolen from their front lawns by monsters, what does good ole Sancho do? He raises your kids for you. But that's not good enough, no. He raises them, teaches them all sorts of cool stuff, AND helps them find a way to cure you.
He does ALL of this, and somehow never manages to show up on a single cover of Dragon Quest V.
Taken for Granted
Yes, Sancho gets taken for granted quite a bit. Besides missing out on the covers, he often takes a backseat to other characters. Pankraz is your dad, and his death is a heartbreaking moment that propels you along to your destiny. Bianca, Nera, and (in the later versions) Debora are all choices for your bride, and are perpetually caught up in “who do you marry?” debates in the fandom. There's your kids, but one is the Chosen One and the other is STILL YOUR KID, so they obviously take precedence over the loyal man who raised you. Then there's the monsters, which you can recruit into your party. It was a big selling point for Dragon Quest V back in the day, and it's a beloved mechanic even now. All of this, by the way, means Sancho often falls by the wayside.
And it's not just us players who take him for granted. Even in the story, he's taken for granted by almost everyone. Sure, he gets a “thank you” once or twice, but that's about it.