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Review: Drifting Dragons Season 1 On Netflix Has More Drama Than Dragons

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BY June 26, 2020
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Almost any fictional content becomes better with the inclusion of dragons. Story about a boy and his pet, but with a dragon is how we got How To Train Your Dragon. Then there are the complex emotions of a pre-teen girl represented by her actually turning into a dragon in Dino Girl Gauko. Well, she turns into a dinosaur, but potato—po-tah-to. Similarly, Netflix’s brand new anime series Drifting Dragons also has a great premise. It’s a show about a world with dragons and the people who hunt them. It’s a straightforward tale about the lives of an airship full of dragon hunters, told through the eyes of its newest crew member. Check out my Drifting Dragons anime recap. 

Drifting Dragons Anime Takes An Extraordinary Idea To Tell An Everyday Story

Drifting Dragons anime recap manga.

The show is a manga series developed into an anime. Our Drifting Dragons anime recap begins on an airship in the sky named the Quin Zaza. The ship is but one ship running a business of hunting dragons. They scour the skies in search of any dragon, big or small, to hunt, kill, and then harvest its body for various purposes. The world we’re introduced to is one where much of trade happens through dragons. A dragon can be for everything from its meat for food and clothing, to even it’s fat for various oils. The economic trade of many small villages and port cities are reliant on dragons. The whole thing is similar to that of fishing towns and fishing boats. But dragon hunting here is ‘draking’. 

The series opens in the middle of a hunt as the Zaza’s newest crew member Takita (Cassandra Lee Morris) is getting her bearings. She also provides the show’s narration from beginning to end. Takita is just a young girl trying to figure out her place in the world. She hopes that joining a draking ship will help her in this endeavor. But she’s ill-prepared to handle all the complexities that come with it. 

The New Anime Series Relies On Dramatic Story And Cast Of Interesting Characters

Takita Image via Netflix.

Going into Drifting Dragons I had high hopes for an action-adventure series, with possibly some fantasy elements. I was terribly wrong, but pleasantly surprised by it. The one big constant I continue to learn when it comes to the anime medium, is that the content varies as much as any other medium of storytelling. At its core, Drifting Dragons takes a look at the loneliness of living in the skies, as well as its serene beauty. The crew of the Zaza feature an eclectic group of characters, with different reasons for being on board. We get glimpses into those reasons, but never in an obvious way, betraying any sort of formulaic storytelling. I personally wish they offered more background for many of the characters, but your mileage may vary. 

Besides Takita, we’re also introduced to the badass dragon hunter Mika (Billy Kametz). Mika is originally show as a reckless draker who leaps into the sky to kill a dragon with no regard for his life. However, he is quickly humanized as someone who is basically always hungry for dragon meat. Most of his character’s motivation and story arc stems from his hunger. It’s actually quite funny. Then there’s Jiro (Johnny Kong Bosch), a young newcomer like Takita, but one who has something to prove. The leading cast also includes Vanabelle (Colleen O’Shaughnessey), another young girl with, a mysterious past. The rest of the cast includes the boisterous chef, the grumpy acting-Captain, the kindhearted Captain, and a crew of other lovable misfits. 

Netflix’s Drifting Dragons Anime Does A Lot With Very Little to Recap

Drifting Dragons anime recap dragons. Image via Netflix.

The whole story of Drifting Dragons is really about these characters. The episodic series is less focused on the dragons and more on the internal conflicts between, and amongst the crew themselves. Takita’s story arc is the best, as it traverses through her experiencing all aspects of being a draker. She ends up having to deal with the ultimate obstacle of coming face to face with a dragon during a hunt, and surviving. Season 1 ends with Takita having a newfound respect for dragons and drakers alike, having found her home among the skies. It’s sweet and an entirely different kind of coming-of-age story. One with dragons. Which, obviously, makes it better. I’m hoping that season 2 will explore more of the backgrounds of the others on the ship. 

We got little backstory into Jiro and his father, who was also a draker. Although there seems to be some resentment or trauma involved in that relationship. Vanabelle clearly has issues, as it’s always hinted at there being something wrong. She is shown as someone who drinks a lot, and never opens up to anyone but Takita. The way she carries herself also implies some dark past. Then there’s the maverick Mika. An episode at a port town reveals that Mika’s dragon hunting training comes from members of an ancient tribe of dragon hunters. But we never dig deep into that incredibly cool past. 

Drifting Dragons Animation Style Is Gorgeous 

Drifting Dragons anime recap crew. Image via Netflix.

This Drifting Dragons anime recap would be incomplete without mentioning the actual battles with the dragons. While many episodes of season 1 focus on character development and establishing the world, when things get down and dirty with the dragons, it’s quite a sight. The animation style is the classic 2-dimensional animation, unlike the CGI anime style like the recent Ghost In The Shell anime that felt jarring. The classic anime style allows for breathtaking scenery and aerial shots of the ship in the sky. It also makes for stunning visuals when you actually see a massive dragon tearing through a town. 

While at the same time, the animation is subtle enough to make the character moments stand out and become immersed in the story. The most memorable aspect of Drifting Dragons has to be its background score. The intense music that always signals dragon-related excitement on the ship is insanely catchy. The music belies a sense of hopeful tension and has an immediate effect on your ability to engage with the show. Drifting Dragons is a great little anime with subtle storytelling and a great premise, making it one of 2020’s most interesting anime

Drifting Dragons season 1 is currently streaming on Netflix. 

What did you think of the Drifting Dragons anime recap? Let us know in the comments below. 

Featured Image via Netflix. 

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Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.

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