“At the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Toyohisa Shimazu is the rearguard for his retreating troops, and is critically wounded when he suddenly finds himself in a modern, gleaming white hallway. Faced with only a stoic man named Murasaki and hundreds of doors on both sides, Toyohisa is pulled into the nearest door and into a world completely unlike his own.
The strange land is populated by all manner of fantastical creatures, as well as warriors from different eras of Toyohisa’s world who were thought to be dead. Quickly befriending the infamous warlord Nobunaga Oda and the ancient archer Yoichi Suketaka Nasu, Toyohisa learns of the political unrest tearing through the continent. Furthermore, they have been summoned as “Drifters” to fight against the “Ends,” people who are responsible for the creation of the Orte Empire and are trying to annihilate the Drifters. As the Ends grow more powerful, so does the Empire’s persecution of elves and other demihumans. It is up to Toyohisa and his group of unconventional heroes to battle in a brand-new world war to help the Empire’s subjects, while protecting the land to claim for themselves and challenging the Ends.” – MAL Synopsis
Drifters is so much fun. An anime that takes a lot of ideas that I’m personally fond of and mashes them all together. Throw a bunch of historical figures from different eras into a fantasy world and have the fighting to the death. Sign me up for that any day of the week. This show honestly reminds me of Fate in that sense. But whereas Fate focuses on more mythological figures. Drifters pulls directly from history.
The premise of this show is really cool. Seeing all these historical figures navigate this foreign world is cool. Our main cast is comprised of three very different figures from Japanese history and their interactions are all great. There’s an overall plot here with the Drifters summoned by the mysterious figure Murasaki versus the Ends who are summoned by Easy. These seemingly all-powerful beings are very interesting. But their involvement is still a mystery by the end of this season. The main thing I loved about this story was seeing these warriors, soldiers, generals, philosophers, etc. use their expertise in various battles. Seeing the tactics that Nobunaga and Toyohisa use is awesome. Some of the tactics are their own, while some of them learned from their enemies in the past life.
There’s a lot of moving parts and factions in this show. Thankfully it stats focused on the main cast while every once in a while showing the others. This show handled its plethora of characters very well. The comedy was very hit or miss for me. I would like to say it hit more than it missed but overall it was probably like 50/50. This anime knows how to hold its tone and switch its tone, which I greatly appreciate. The funny moments feel natural and they let the serious moments breathe when they need to. The biggest gripe I have with the story is that there’s only one season. This story has so many plot threads and mysteries (it introduces even more in like the last minute of the last episode) that it could never fit in just 12 episodes. But so far it’s been almost 5 years with no season 2. Fingers crossed it comes out soon.
The main cast is great. We’re lunged into this world from the perspective of Toyohisa after dying in battle when trying to hold off the enemy. Toyohisa is great. A very strong-willed warrior, while he is very headfirst, the tactics that he employs and the code that he lives by are nothing short of inspiring (if not even scary). I enjoy characters that have a strong code and resolution that they abide by. Toyohisa and his clan lived by their own code and definition of what made someone a true samurai. And that varies from the other clans in Japan. So it was cool to see how he operated, the tactics that he used, and his belief system.
Oda Nobunaga, the most famous of the main cast, is a tactical genius. His relationship with Toyohisa is compelling as he sees him as his real son he had in his life. Funnily enough, Toyohisa almost instantly points this out when it becomes apparent and immediately shuts it down. Things like that made me love all these characters and their interactions. Nobunaga is always in the back of all the battles scheming and giving orders. His tactical genius is always on full display and the scenes where we hear his inner dialogue are very intriguing.
Yoichi is the last of the main Drifters in the cast. Not going to lie, I was confused as to whether he was a girl or not for the first few episodes (which I feel is probably not that uncommon). Regardless of that, as I’ve said about the other main cast, I loved Yoichi. He’s hilarious. He cracks a lot of jokes and they hit most of the time. His comedic moments with Nobunaga are very funny. Maybe out of the main cast (idk I think Oda might still be one) I was the most interested in his background and how he lived. Despite him always cracking jokes, he can get very menacing and serious. Some of those moments are still played for laughs, but it’s a part of his character that got me thinking. He also will randomly say, either out loud or in his inner monologue, something that will give just a little bit of insight into his personal feelings and last life. Like most of these characters, this show did such a good job drawing towards these characters that I want to take the time and learn about them myself.
The rest of the cast is cool. The other Drifters are interesting in their own way. And the Ends are very cool. At a glance the ends are historical figures who were wronged during death in some way, leading them to curse the world. The way they died seemingly has something to do with the powers they have. For example, Joan De’Arc is a fire bender. It’s a really cool concept. They’re led by the ominous all-powerful Black King. His identity has me very intrigued and I hope we get a new season soon that reveals or hints at it more.
I like how this show is animated. It reminds me of early Wit Studios Attack on Titan, but way more refined. The action scenes are great and the way a lot of scenes are framed is just amazing. The use of shadows to convey the seriousness in someone’s eye, among other stylistic choices, really made this show memorable. Also the sound, man the sound. I’m not even talking about the soundtrack, although the intro is a banger. I’m talking about the gunshots, the swords clashing, armor moving, fists and knees making contact while fighting. All of these miscellaneous sounds can sometimes be taken for granted, but this show made me appreciate them. The weight of them made it feel real and impactful. In a violent show like this, it heightens the experience.
I love Drifters. My only problem major problem is that I want more. This show is an amalgamation of so many of the things that a 14-year-old me (and even a 20-year-old) loved in anime form. The characters, the action, the animation, the premise. It’s a perfect mix for a show that can ultimately be described as awesome. The comedy could’ve been better, but that is subjective. Drifters does so many things right, that any shortcomings it may have can be forgiven. The wait for season 2 couldn’t be more agonizing but I know it will be well worth it to see a continuation of this great anime. Also, don’t forget to watch the OVA. It aired later than the series but contains episodes 13 and 14 of season one!
Drifters – 9/10