Follow TV Tropes


Manga / Drifting Dragons

Go To

"Return to the clouds, and ride upon fair winds once more..."

Drifting Dragons (空挺ドラゴンズ , Kuutei Dragons), is a manga written and drawn by Taku Kuwabara, which began serialization in good! Afternoon in 2016. An anime adaptation by Polygon Pictures aired in the Winter 2020 season, followed by international distribution from Netflix on April 30, 2020.

The airship Queen Zaza is one of the last of its kind. With no port to call home, she drifts through the skies, chasing shadows in the clouds, in search of a most lucrative prey: dragons. A single dragon, caught and butchered, can fill the bank accounts (and more importantly, the stomachs) of the Queen Zaza's crew. A single missed catch could mean financial ruin and dry, flavorless rations.


Drifting Dragons provides examples of:

  • Adapted Out: Ascella's animal companion Sako and cliffside town were removed from the anime, reduced down to just her and her grandmother in a caravan/wagon.
  • Adventure Duo: Mika and Vannie are undeniably the best hunters on board and are even better when working as a pair. If Mika wasn't Oblivious to Love he might realize she's been holding a candle for him since they met.
  • All-CGI Cartoon: The adaption by Polygon Pictures.
  • All Myths Are True: The ship-destroying dragon being hunted by Brno, which turns out to also be Quetzalcoatl, a legendary dragon. To explain: that dragon has a similar shape to Quetzalcoatl, and when it believes to have found a mate (induced when Brno burns ambergris in front of it), it changes color for its mating. Brno and Vannie reach the conclusion that it's likely that this form of this dragon was mistaken by a single, mythical dragon when it was during mating season, which would be a rare sight.
  • Advertisement:
  • Always a Bigger Fish: The first volume has the crew facing off against the mother of a smaller dragon they recently caught. A later story has the crew encounter a group of migrating dragons that school together like sardines, these, in turn, attract a host of larger dragons which feed on them, which are prey for even larger dragons (which are prey for even larger dragons).
  • Animal Nemesis: Cujo has developed an obsession with the dragon that took his leg.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Notable for its aversion: both Takita and Vannie get some pretty serious scars from injuries sustained over the series.
  • Big Eater: Most of the crew, but particularly Mika.
  • Boring, but Practical: When their more exotic tools fail them, drakers break out good old-fashioned harpoons.
  • Brick Joke: The crew eventually find out exactly how much the small dragon they ate in chapter 2 was worth.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Gaga's artistic abilities come in handy more than once.
  • Cool Airship: The Queen Zaza is hard-used, but it has its charm.
    • Captain Brno's Oboro Casca is a cross between a research ship and luxury yacht, filled to the brim with dragon artifacts.
  • Covers Always Lie: The Volume One cover (pictured above) features a fairly traditional looking dragon. Nothing of the sort appears in the series itself.
  • Drinking Contest: Vannie challenges a man at a tavern who won't take no for an answer to a drinking contest, with the loser to buy everyone present drinks. She wins.
  • Dying Town: Quon, a town built into some sort of crater, is one of the few ports left that serves drakers.
  • End of an Era: The Draking profession is dying out and the Queen Zaza is one of the last private ships in the business. However useful drake oil is, it's losing out to petroleum fuels, mirroring the end of whaling in our own world.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: While stranded, Takita meets with a village of Ambiguously Brown people who seem to represent Middle-Eastern people in the setting's world, as their culinary is Middle Eastern (when preparing a feast, their dishes include kibbeh, pita bread, falafel, hummus, etc).
  • Fantasy World Map: The map of the world shown in Chapter 19[1] appears to be based on what scientists estimate Mars would look like with oceans[2]. Large features like Hellas Planitia and Valles Marineris line up roughly, in location if not in shape. Some regions even share the same names as their Martian counterparts. A map shown in chapter 1 shows locations like the Cydonia islands in the Arabia sea, and lakes Cassini and Tikonravev in a region called Sabaea. These locations line up perfectly with Cydonia Mensae in Arabia Terra, and the Cassini/Tikonravev Craters in Terra Sabaea.
  • Flower Mouth: Some dragons have more than one set of jaws. The effect is unsettling.
  • Food Porn: The meals the crew makes out of dragon meat are rendered with exquisite detail, including recipes.
  • Gaslamp Fantasy
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: Brno, born into wealth, has held a life-long passion for the study of dragons.
  • Homage:
    • Due to the subject matter, Hayao Miyazaki's influence can be felt everywhere.
    • The entire arc involving Cujo, Mika's former draking partner, is one to Moby-Dick, accompanying an old draker that is obsessed with the dragon that took its leg. This is furthered by the similarities between draking and real-life whaling.
  • Irony: The crew decides that the miniature dragon that sneaks onto the ship is too small to be worth anything, so they kill it and eat it. It was actually intended to be an imperial pet and as such was worth enough that had they kept it alive it could have fetched enough money for the entire crew to live in luxury for the rest of their lives.
  • Lamprey Mouth
  • Mildly Military: Draking crews wear uniforms as a way to reinforce the discipline and teamwork needed to hunt dragons. Given the weapons training, every draker learns as part of the trade, they also make handy militia troops in a pinch.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Naturally, many of the dragons are very toothy.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The Queen Zaza has almost no railings on its outer decks and none at all on the foredeck where the crew stands while hunting dragons. They have belt hooks, but those are only used as zip-lines for Mika to ride the harpoon line down to a dragon so he can finish it off with a lance. Crew members are nearly thrown overboard on a regular basis.
  • The Nose Knows: Mika's sense of smell is almost supernaturally good, able to pick up the scent of dragons in a wide radius of the open sky.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Whatever you think dragons should look like, Drifting Dragons thinks different. The titular dragons have more in common with deep-sea life, most particularly whales and octopuses with body shapes based on sea slugs. They're covered in tentacles and slime, their heads are full of oil, and their skin can change its color and pattern at will. Oh, and instead of fire, they use heat rays.
    • The larger specimens edge into Eldritch Abomination territory. For example, Cujo and a young Mika are ensnared by a dragon which is literally the eye of the storm.
  • Perpetual Poverty: The Queen Zaza is always just scraping by money-wise. Between repairs, paying the sailors, and the fact their ship can only hunt medium and small dragons, their inflow and outflow of money are almost the exact same. After being hit hard by a bigger ship, the damage to it becomes so big they're about to close shop until a series of lucky breaks, including Vannie forcing Brno to help them and, with his help, taking down a dragon that had a bounty on its head, makes it so that they're able to stay in business, though the costs end up putting them just a little bit above their prior situation and essentially changing nothing.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The baby dragon Takita briefly accompanies, which looks a little bit like a jellyfish with teeth.
  • Sky Pirates: At one point the Queen Zaza is attacked by sky pirates. Mika fights them off singlehanded, and steals all their food as payment for the trouble they caused.
  • Terrible Artist: After a superb (and racy) drawing of Vannie is found in one of the ship's cabins, the occupants are asked to draw portraits of another crew member. Jiro's and Hiro's attempts fall firmly into this trope, leaving Gaga as the clear perpetrator.
  • The Sky Is an Ocean: And dragons are whales, subject to their own "whaling" industry.
  • Slasher Smile: Whenever Mika catches the scent of a dragon.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Many names have alternate spellings depending on which version of the comic you read. For example, Giraud in the unofficial scans and Crunchyroll translation became Jiro for the physical Kodansha release.
  • Steampunk: Straddling the line with Diesel Punk, as befits its End of an Era setting.
  • Supernaturally Delicious and Nutritious: Dragons are apparently the most delicious meat in existence and nearly all parts of their body can be used in cooking.
  • Team Chef: Yoshi, the ship's cook.
  • Those Magnificent Flying Machines: In addition to the numerous airships that populate the setting, Giraud flies a small gyrocopter, which he uses to go on scouting missions.
  • Wild Hair: Takita comments early on that the nature of their work keeps them from picking up basic hygiene products, like shampoo.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: Airships appear to be the principal means of transportation in the setting.