Winter 2020 Week 4 Roundup: the crew of the Quin Zaza charm in Kuutei Dragons

Because of Netflix’s frustrating arrangement with timely releases, Kuutei Dragons is yet another show that I had to postpone for a little while. However, with subtitles pouring out of the woodworks, the show is finally in a state watchable. So, in week 4, how is it?

By the third episode, the crew of the steampunk-styled dragon hunting airship, the Quin Zaza, have been rather thoroughly depicted. Takita is the spunky redheaded newbie that these sorts of shows normally bag as a protagonist, but I’ve been continually surprised how the show just gets on with it. In fact, the only time Kuutei Dragons takes a moment out to indirectly talk to the audience is in its bizarre cooking scenes. This show’s more of a ‘day in the life’ type, then, with the crew going overboard (literally and figuratively!) to murder gigantic flying dragons for their various meats and oils, or simply milling about the ship and evading poverty to the infectious bops of soundtrack.

Being such a key aspect of the show, it’s important then that the dragons are well developed. And indeed they are, looking much more sinister than the lizard-with-wings design that is all too popular. There’s quite a range, too, such as dragons with plant-like mouths that open out four ways; dragons ranging from similar in size to the Quin Zaza to that of a dove; dragons who thrash about dangerously to those attacking the crew with sound waves – and, such varied colours. The excellent CGI brings a sense of scale to these monsters, too, and contorts them into such terrifying yet elegant beasts. With the Quin Zaza’s resident dragon nerd and murderer extrordinair, Mika, we also learn that there is a specific smell and identity to these dragons, and the show is enriched from their presence.

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It sounds simple, but the ship has been thought out, thoroughly designed, and each crew given small cliques, hobbies and dreams, and all this pays off to create a deeply immersing experience. The aforementioned Mika is rarely offscreen, owing to his ballsy attempts to kill dragons by riding headfirst at them in excitingly choreographed sequences, but he’s also a connoisseur of dragon meat (and Takita is constantly catching him stealing little bits of their kills to make food!). Jirou is another newbie on the ship, whose father was a draker and has thus inherited both his dream and skills. Vannie is the aloof drunk, who has more second thoughts regarding draking than one might think. There are smaller characters like the cap-over-eyes Niko, the large but oddly cute Gaga, the slavedriving but often inept boss Gibbs, the accountant, Lee, who cannot take his eyes off of their debt, the onboard chef Yoshi… Kuutei Dragons takes every bit of background characterisation to build this world of dragon hunters into one of imaginative wonder.

Seeing as the entire show is already released, it shan’t be long before the full review is up. With anime this charming about, what excuse do I have to put it off?

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