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[Drifting Dragons]
AKA: 空挺ドラゴンズ ; Kutei Doragonzu
Genre: Fantasy
Length: Television series, 12 episodes, 24 minutes each
Distributor: Currently available streaming on Netflix.
Content Rating: TV-14 (Violence, mature themes.)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Last Exile
Notes: Based on manga by Taku Kuwabara, published by Kodansha.
Rating:

Drifting Dragons

Synopsis

Takita is a young woman who is learning to be a Draker (dragon hunter) on board the draking ship Quin Zaza.


Review

Cross the airborne steampunk of Last Exile with Moby Dick (sans Captain Ahab), and you've got this show.

The show might be an interesting window on the Japanese attitude toward whaling- since Japan's one of the few nations that still does it. For "draking" is obviously "sky whaling"- the motivation, the equipment, and even the ultimate uses of the dragons killed (for meat, oil, etc.) are either identical, or closely equivalent.

Takita herself is sometimes ambivalent about it: while most of the time she's eager and willing to do her duty, she gets more conflicted (and sentimental) with a baby dragon. (Baby dragons, in this show, look very strange.)

The most gung-ho dragon hunter, named Mika, certainly has no such appreciation of nuance; he's obsessed with hunting dragons, and even MORE so with EATING them. He's the show's action-hero type, which makes him the main lead I suppose. (The show spends quite a bit of time presenting dragon cookery and dragon cuisine, which would not seem a particularly productive, much less practical, use of screen time; honestly, I would NOT expect a movie called How To Cook Your Dragon would be a big hit.) Mika is the central character in one utterly ridiculous segment in which he, unarmed, subdues several armed men.

I like Giraud, a much more subtle guy, much better. He's a very serious, quiet, but intense sort, not an over-the-top cartoon like Mika. We gather that he's virginal; his shipmates try to arrange a first sexual experience for him, which may not exactly completely achieve its objective but DOES result in a fling between him and a "townie" girl named Katja. (The drakers basically barter the dragons they catch in exchange for supplies from the towns. The Quin Zaza has a full-time accountant, a Mr. Lee, who is forever complaining that their losses are exceeding their profits.)

There's also a blonde woman named Vannabelle (usually abridged to "Vannie".) She's a another quiet one, a brooding girl who's uneasy about her role in life for some reason and who'd apparently like to open up to either Mika or Giraud, but somehow never quite gets the chance. I would really have liked to hear what she had to say about her past, and exactly what her reservations are about the life she's living as a draker; I just wish the show had given her a decent chance to do so. Perhaps if there's another season...

There are two other women on board: the chief engineer (whose name I never DID catch); and a short-haired, bespectacled young woman named Capella, who seems to be the co-pilot/navigator. But the remainder of the crew is all male: there's the "temporary" Captain, named Crocco (why it's "temporary" is another issue for a later date I suppose); and Gibbs, who seems to be a boss of some sort (I thought for a while he was the captain, but it became clear Crocco was.) There are several others that recur pretty frequently as well.

The dragons are a varied lot. We're told that the drakers DON'T know all the types there are, and some are equipped by nature with formidable defensive weapons. I suppose this is a good time to mention the computer animation. The dragons and the ship itself are obviously CG, but that’s OK; but it’s still somehow distracting (in other words, calling attention to itself) with the human characters, which ALMOST look hand-drawn, but not QUITE, and as is always the case they don't move with the same fluidity as conventional hand-drawn animation.

I was nearly as puzzled about how the Quin Zaza stayed aloft as I was about how the dragons did it. It's a dirigible, which would seem to indicate that it's not lofted by hot air, but by either hydrogen or helium; since the ship does NOT explode when they take it through a thunderstorm, I think hydrogen's out too. Helium seems the answer, but given the technological level of the civilization we see, where are they getting the helium?

The cast is mostly engaging enough, but the people who get the MOST screen time are sometimes ones I'd be fine with seeing LESS of (and vice-versa.) The show has such wrong priorities in what it dwells on: I wasn't as hungry for dragon recipes as I was for some backstories, or even basic information, on its more cryptic (and thus intriguing) characters.Allen Moody

Recommended Audience: The dragons get skewered a lot (and they DO bleed.) There's no real fanservice. Netflix rates it TV-14, but the reasons given include things like smoking and substance abuse (only alcohol, as far as I can tell.) Still, TV-14 is not unreasonable.



Version(s) Viewed: Netflix video stream
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Drifting Dragons © 2020 Polygon Pictures
 
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