Each season there are great anime that fly under the radar. There can be many reasons why. Maybe the manga was obscure. Maybe the subject matter didn’t sound interesting. Or maybe given the flood of anime produced each season we just never get around to watching ever single anime that may peak our interest. Not every anime is an Attack on Titan that can just storm the anime and Netflix world.
Drifters falls into this category. It was a bloody, fun romp from the makers of Hellsing and Hellsing Ultimate. You pretty much know what you are getting if you have seen either of those two shows. I caught the first season in the Winter 2016 on Funimation. It was actually a surprise hit for me. The anime year overall had been pretty lackluster with me mostly shunning new shows in favor of sequel seasons. Admittedly even those disappointed a bit.
However what I was not expecting was a series that satisfied my need for gore and violence with humor. I’ll admit it’s not for everyone. However if you are tired of bland shonen battle anime and want something a little more mature this is for you. From the first episode we are introduced to a weird world of heroes from all over history fighting on a new world.
So the series starts off as a pretty standard battle anime. We are dropped right from the first scene onto a battlefield with two armies from the feudal era Japan going at it. Then the show veers to a hard right and rips a dying warrior from the battlefield to a new world. There is no context or explanation and the character is just as baffled as we are.
This new world is a more of a classic fantasy world with elves and such and it looks absurd to these warriors. Plus they don’t have any references to draw from to give it context. I doubt a feudal samurai like Toyohisa ever thought of elves. Japan really wasn’t trading with the West yet either so it’s not like he could just hear it from a foreigner.
You would think the mystery element would dial down your enjoyment but it actually enhances it. Every episode a little bit more of the world is revealed to you. You never get enough for a full picture, but the more you watch the better idea you have. It’s actually fun because even the heroes remark on how strange and bizarre the new world they inhabit are.
Of the Wild Bunch (it’s seriously how they are referred) he is my favorite. He pretty much steals the show from the moment you see him. He is the latest in a long line of long haired anime men that have very feminine features. His hair is just luxurious though. Until he spoke I honestly thought he was a woman just based on his looks.
He is actually quite funny and is the first of the “ancient” heroes we are introduced to. Nobunaga might be more famous, but to Toyohisa and Nobunaga, Yoichi is a living legend. He is also kind of a prick. It’s really funny. He died young in the anime. He’s 19 while the others are decades older than him.
I should also note that first three are from Japan. It’s pretty interesting that they never refer to it as that though unlike other anime. In their eras Japan was not united so it’s only natural each refer to it more by their regions than anything else.
We actually get to meet many figures from many different eras. Not all of them are Eastern either. Some of them have heard of each other. Some of them have not. Some work for various factions in the new world, others just seek to destroy stuff. It’s not a simple black and white even though at times it may seem that way.
They all speak different languages as well. It’s brought up many times when a few meet each other. One of the best examples I can think of is that Scipio Africanus (He defeated Hannibal and conquered Cathage if you didn’t know) interacted with a pilot from WW2 Japan. They can’t understand each other so they shout in their native languages at each other. The pilot doesn’t know Latin. However he can make out one word from all Scipio’s rants, Roma. The pilot immediately head butts him after he hears it thinking he was a cowardly Italian. He had no idea he was basically in a fistfight with one of Rome’s legendary conquerors.
One of the big themes of the show is the impact these drifters have on the new world they are in. Drifters are sent here by extra dimensional forces it seems in some sort of twisted struggle between them. However given they are from various time periods they have a profound impact on the new world.
Some use their expertise to carve out new identities for them. At least one famous dictator came and united a human kingdom and created an empire. A saint in life came and just started burning everything down. It’s all very unique and interesting. You’ll be watching episodes waiting for new Drifters to be introduced so you can find out who they are and how they will act. I sure was.
It’s definitely worth a watch. All 12 episodes are out now too, so you can binge them all on Funimation. If you loved Hellsing you are pretty much guaranteed to love this. Sure it doesn’t have a lot of the supernatural stuff Hellsing did. It’s pretty much a fantasy version of Hellsing. Plus the intro is awesome.