Drifters, to be honest, was the anime that I was looking forward to the most this season. Not only because it is the second series created by Kouta Hirano (Hellsing/Hellsing Ultimate), but I have also previously read the first three manga volumes and was impressed by what I read. What the series does well is incorporate many different historical figures from different time periods and pits them against one another. Historical figures that make an appearance include Joan of Arc, Oda Nobunaga and Rasputin, just to name a few. Figures who you would usually consider “good” may be considered “evil” and vice versa, but their reasoning is left to the audience to decide whether their actions are justifiable or not. Now that the anime has been released will it live up to expectations or fizzle away into the afterlife?
Drifters is told from the perspective of Shimazu Toyohisa, a samurai who fought at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Despite being defeated by the Eastern Army Toyohisa stands his ground and fights off Tokugawa’s men in an effort to save his father, Yoshihiro. Toyohisa is able to mortally wound Ii Naomasa, one of the generals of the Eastern Army, but is mortally wounded himself in the process. While walking away from the battlefield Toyohisa suddenly finds himself in a white corridor filled with lots of doors. In front of him is a strange man with glasses. Suddenly Toyohisa finds himself being transported into one of these doors and wakes up in a strange world. Once he comes to he meets two other famous Japanese warriors: Oda Nobunaga and Nasu Yoichi Suketaka. Together they are known as “Drifters”.
Hirano’s trademark art style and storytelling is ever present in Drifters. As the story begins we are taken on an adrenaline rush filled with violence and bloodshed. The story is dark, as you would expect, and the lighting and dark backgrounds add to this aesthetic. The Battle of Sekigahara is one of the most thrilling scenes in the first episode and perfectly foreshadows what is to come later. There are also small bits of humour here and there, but most of the time the show is serious. What I also enjoyed were the nods to various historical events, such as Nobunaga’s death at the hands of his general, Akechi Mitsuhide.
Overall, I feel the first episode set up the world of Drifters and introduced us to the exciting events to come nicely. The manga series is currently ongoing and I am not sure how many episodes the anime is going to have, but I hope this will not be reduced to a 12 episode anime as it won’t give the series justice to explore and analyse the different characters involved. There is an interesting theory regarding who the antagonist may be, but I’ll leave that for you to figure out. If you were a fan of Hellsing (especially Ultimate) then I would recommend watching, if not reading, this series. You’re in for one hell of a good time.