Drakes and Joshi
- Episodes : 12
- Genre : Adventure, Fantasy, Slice of Life, Food
- Airing Date : January 2020 – March 2020
- Producers : Polygon Pictures
Kuutei Dragons (Drifting Dragons) Introduction and Story
Kuutei Dragons follows the lives of a crew of dragon hunters known as drakers aboard the airship Quin Zaza and their endless pursuit of a huge variety of strange floating monsters known collectively as dragons. These mysterious and dangerous beasts are the livelihood of the drakers as their huge bodies provide valuable resources for them and townsfolk below including oil, medicinal ingredients, and, perhaps a bit surprisingly, extremely delicious meat when they are hunted and prepared correctly.
Thrust into this world of draking is rookie Takita, a curious young woman still learning the ropes (and harpoons) of the trade from the rest of the crew as they sail the skies chasing dragons, traveling the world, and trying to make the best of hard draker life.
1. Incredible Setting
Airships! Weird dragons! Fantasy! You'd think that with their prevalence in JRPGs that we'd see more airships in anime but in any case, we have one here! Kuutei Dragons’ setting is definitely its strongest point, even if perhaps it isn't utilized as much as it could be. The life aboard the Quin Zaza is detailed in a way that really inspires the spirit of adventure with some touches of realism to make it feel fairly believable.
The creature designs for the dragons are also super unique and strange with a decidedly atypical, alien look to them that really helps the series stand out. These designs work well with the three-dimensional animation used in the series, plus the lovingly rendered dragon-based dishes will likely spark your taste buds’ imagination in a weird but enjoyable way (looking at you giant dragon katsu). The complicated relationship between the drakers and the towns they visit is also interesting, which further adds to the mystery of many of the characters as to why they chose/ended up as drakers in the first place.
2. Fun Characters
Speaking of characters, Kuutei Dragons has a strong cast with several standouts beyond our heroine Takita. Chief among them, the recklessly single-minded (and awesome) dragon-nut Mika, the much more calm and serious sharp-eyed boy Jiro, and the outwardly aloof beauty Vannie, a champion drinker with a guarded sensitive side.
These characters’ interactions and relationships with each other form another core appeal of the series and are overall done fairly well with decent character development of some characters, particularly Takita and Jiro as they learn from others and their experiences. Many minor cast members also frequently get their chance to shine, making it easy to feel comradery with the Quin Zaza crew.
3. Solid Action
While this series isn't all battles and jaw-dropping action, Kuutei Dragons has some pretty exhilarating moments, especially, as you might imagine, in its dragon hunting scenes. Mika, being the bold man-of-action that he is, is often seen flying around on zipline ropes, jumping onto the backs of dragons, and all manner of heady things. He even single-handedly boarded and took out a pirate airship that was trying to attack the Quin Zaza! but other crew members get plenty of cool moments as well like Jiro's heroic stand on the back of the huge dragon in Quon City and the entire ship ramming into it in the nick of time. The show being in 3D also allows for some cool camera work and choreography that helps these action scenes stand out even more!
1. Uncomfortable Closeness to Whaling
This is probably the biggest possible issue people are going to have with Kuutei Dragons: it's eerily similar to real-world whaling which, as you might know already, is one of the peculiarities of Japanese culture that many people aren't very fond of. Not that we think anyone believes having that as a setting for a story is bad in and of itself, heck Moby Dick is a masterpiece, but Kuutei Dragons' issue here is that it doesn't really get into any kind of deep thought into the morality of dragon hunting, which is arguably a bit problematic and definitely seems like a missed opportunity for depth, which segues into our next point.
2. Untapped Potential
Beyond the dragons, there's a lot in Kuttei Dragons that hints at greatness but isn't adequately fleshed out. There's definitely a balance between over-explanation, which would take away some of the mystery, but there's too much in this series left unexplored.
So many characters, like Vannie and Jiro, have these tiny hints as to their past but we have no real development to explain how they ended up as drakers to begin with. Same with Takita for that matter, where is she from and what is her motivation to try for such a grueling, dangerous, and stigmatized job? Why are the townsfolk often so distrustful of them? We think there's a lot more story that could be told here and seriously hope that we get another season to get into it because we think the world and characters deserve it!
3. Some 3DCG Hiccups
This kind of comes with the territory, but while the 3DCG is overall actually pretty impressive and well-done, the character expressions don't always feel as rich or natural as they can be in 2D, which left some scenes feeling a bit flatter and less impactful than they might have been. That being said, Polygon Pictures was able to achieve some great results as well and did better in this respect than a lot of other 3D anime, so we applaud their efforts overall.
As a package, Kuttei Dragons has a lot going for it and can be quite enjoyable but also doesn't quite live up to its potential. In the long run, it might fall flat for some watchers hungry for more of the world's lore and character motivations only to be served yet another glistening dragon dish which, although perhaps appetizing, might not totally satisfy. We'd definitely be interested in seeing where the story goes in a second season but, until then, we hope you enjoyed our review.
Let us know what you think in the comments section below and be sure to stick around Honey's for more of all things anime! P.S. Please excuse our terrible pun catchphrase for this review, it (probably) won't happen again. See ya~