Full Series Review: Drifters

Updated on January 1, 2018
RachaelLefler profile image

I've studied anime, manga, and Japan for over a decade. My favorite anime/manga are sci-fi and seinen (mature).

Drifters is an anime about historical warriors, called 'drifters', who are transported to a fantasy kingdom by a shadowy organization that keeps tabs on their activities. It's not clear who this organization is or why exactly they bring the Drifters into this world. It seems to have something to do with the way that being from different cultures and having knowledge of battlefield tactics helps Drifters bring innovation to this fantasy kingdom, called Orte.

Two main characters, Shimazu Toyohisa and Nasu no Yoichi, are pulled from Japanese battlefields from different time periods, and they team up with none other than Oda Nobunaga. Nobunaga, for those who don't know, is a legendary figure in Japanese history. He was merciless, but had the skill for battle leadership and tactical innovation necessary to unite all of Japan, ending the chaotic Warring States period and ushering in the stability of the Tokugawa Period.

Nobunaga soon begins a plan for the country they find themselves in. He wants to end the oppression of the elves and dwarves, and build an army to combat the Ends, who are basically super-powered evil Drifters. The most dangerous of them is Joan of Arc, who has fire-based powers because she was executed by burning. She looks like a man, but the medieval Japanese heroes refuse to kill her when they find out that she is a woman.

The main plot centers around Oda Nobunaga figuring out how to make guns (like he did in Japan in real life) and how to use the magic of this fantasy world advantageously in battle tactics. It's heavy on epic fantasy battles, so great for a Game of Thrones fan.

Source Material:
Manga by Kouta Hirano
Hoods Drifters Studio
Action, Seinen, Science Fantasy, Alternate History
Additional Material:
2 OVA Episodes


I think the goodness of this show comes from its manga author, Kouta Hirano, most famous for writing Hellsing. This is a good show to pick up if you're a fan of Hellsing. I'd recommend it for people who like violent, dark and edgy style fantasy shows, like Game of Thrones. Oda Nobunaga brings the whole thing to life, because he's so thrilled by the chance to conquer a new land. He quickly gets used to the differences between the kingdom of Orte and Japan. He's the character that really carries this for me. The main character is kind of a blood-stained 'red oni', paired with 'blue oni' character Yoishi. The villains are interesting enough, as are many of the side characters, but the main attraction in this story is Nobunaga.

The fact that it's based on a manga works both for it and against it. For it, because I feel that the art and storytelling is more masterful because it's made by an awesome manga author. But how this works against it is, if the manga is more awesome, and the anime doesn't end very conclusively, why even bother with the anime at all? It's a good anime, but the ending leaves a lot of loose threads (maybe they'll make more of it later and that will get fixed). The Octobrist organization, which monitors the activities of Drifters and opposes Ends, is set up as highly important, but the ending doesn't reveal anything about them of consequence. And one scary-looking girl from the Octobrist organization is shown many times, but neither does anything that is obvious/relevant nor interacts directly with any other main characters. So they're set up as this cool dark, shady organization, but there's no payoff. Note that this review is as of Dec. 2017. There are only 12 anime episodes right now. They'll probably make a second season.

Other than those issues, the anime is pretty cool, like I said, with cool battles, interesting tactics, and many cool 1-on-1 combat scenes. History nerds will get a kick out of seeing various historical figures in action.

Rating for "Drifters": 7/10


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