This is only a preliminary review, as just two volumes have been released in English at the time of writing, but 'Drifting Dragons' is my favorite new manga released in 2017.
It's too early to make a judgement call on the story, as so far it's been largely episodic and it's a bit early to tell if Drifting Dragons will stay on that path or it's just setting up the story world before diving into a major, central narrative. The story world itself is quite creative, a fantastical version of the 19th century where airship crews hunt dragons in the same way Nantucket sailors used to
hunt whales. Although, I can't understand why the manga seems intent on going into so much detail on 'How To Cook Your Dragon'- cooking directions in something realistic like 'Sweetness & Lightning' I can understand, but what's the point of a recipe whose main ingredient is a fictional creature?
This has been the top selling point for 'Drifting Dragons'. The illustrations seem like something out of a Ghibili film: incredibly detailed fantasy settings and outfits with characters just 'cartoony' enough to make it fun. It gives this series a distinct visual identity and sometimes I'm left simply looking at the page, soaking it all in and thoroughly impressed. I'd put 'Drifting Dragons' up there with 'Vinland Saga' and 'A Bride's Story' in terms of sheer aesthetic appeal.
Like Story, it's a bit early to give a definitive score on this section. This manga has a ensemble cast, although junior crew member Takita has gotten the most time in the spotlight so far (as the newbie she makes a good point of view character, since as the veteran 'Drakers' explain the trade to her we the audience also learn). Thus far the other major characters haven't had time to expand beyond their initial characterization, but I'm willing to wait a bit longer since they're entertaining and it looks like the story is still in its set-up phase.
Beautiful art and an intriguing world make this series something fans of fantasy adventure should definitely look into, and if a good solid story develops we could have something special here for the whole manga community.