When I first heard of Drifters, I was a tad disappointed it was not an anime based on Tokyo Drift. But I forgot that when I learned that it was an anime adapted from a manga by Hellsing creator Kouta Hirano.
Drifters: Japanese Drift
The series itself reminds me a little bit of the Fate series, heroes from history fight in a grand battle. In the case of Drifters, Shimazu Toyohisa (A real guy) impales himself on many spears during the Battle of Sekigahara in the year 1600 to kill the enemy general. Instead of dying, he finds himself transported to a long hallway with doors on its sides. A single man sitting at a desk forces him through one of the doors.
He awakes in a cliche fantasy world, of Elves, dwarves, hobbits and dragons, known as a Drifter. Dragged to safety by elves he meets Oda Nobunaga and Nasu no Yoichi, both historical figures from Japan. Neither of them knows why they are here, all they know is that they all came to this world through the same corridor.
Hirano’s art style
If you’ve seen Hellsing Ultimate, then you’ll recognise the familiar art style and writing. The main character even looks like a Japanese themed Alucard, complete down to the colour of his clothes. Characters have a habit of having most of their face shadowed, and only a single eye glowing. When the eyes aren’t glowing, the detail on them is stunning, along with the gloves.
Half the time, the art style is dark, edgy and violent. With his katana, Shimazu cuts samurai in half, causing blood and their bisected torsos to come flying at the screen in true Hirano fashion.
But this is Hirano, and as anyone who watched Hellsing Ultimate knows, the art style can go from this:
… In a heartbeat. And then back to people bisected in big showers of ultra-violence. After a while, you get used to it, and it becomes common place in Hirano’s style.
The studio behind the series is Hoods Drifters Studio (Yes, they made a studio just for this anime) of Hoods Entertainment. Kenechi Suzuki is directing Drifters, with Kuroda Yousuke and Kurata Hideyuki working on the script. Nakamori Ryouji is providing the character designs.
The soundtrack, by Yota Tsuruoka, fills the first episode with a mix of traditional Japanese music, jazzy beats akin to the original Hellsing for battle scenes, and tense sounds for when the show gets serious. The music didn’t leave a huge impression on me, but I hope it improves in later episodes.
Impressions from the first episode of Drifters
I glad I picked this as the anime I was going to review this season. I am a person who likes narrative driven intellectual anime, like 91 Days and Cowboy Bebop. But I’m also a person who loves Hirano’s art style. It can go from ultra-violence to childish humour, with the characters super deformed in a second.
As a final note, if you’re a Japanese history buff, I’m sure you’ll love Drifters. The characters talk about a lot of events that go way over my head. But I’m sure you’ll also love Drifters if you’re just looking for a good, ultra-violent anime to get you through the week.
In conclusion, this was me at the end of the first episode of Drifters: