It’s been kind of a crazy night, what with the Cubs opening the playoffs with one of the tensest games I can remember and the American presidential campaign being exploded in truly spectacular fashion. But it’s also the absolute epicenter of anime preview season for the fall, and those don’t stop even for 108 years of baseball or 230 years of political history. Anime (for now at least) is like time and tide.
Drifters was another one of my sleeper picks for the fall (well, I really only have two), though some have argued that it’s not quite stealthy enough to be a sleeper. I suppose it depends on how you define the term, but it’s not a manga I was familiar with and it’s not from what I would call an elite studio, and it’s not blessed with an all-star staff of legendary names (though many established veterans. It’s in 10th place in the reader poll, and I reserve the right to call it whatever I want. And tonight, I’d call it a pretty interesting prospect.
Lord knows, the Sengoku warlord thing has been done to death, in seemingly every iteration you could imagine – hell, Oda Nobunaga alone has easily had a half-dozen alternate-universe anime about him in the last couple of years alone (he turns up in Drifters as a main character, too). This show starts off as what looks like a fairly straight-ahead take on the famous Battle of Sekigahara (itself a popular animanga subject) and Shimazu Toyohisa (Nakamura Yuuichi), who in real-life died protecting his uncle’s retreat after their rout at the hands of the Tokugawa forces. And indeed, he’s about to do that here when, gravely wounded, he mysteriously wakes up in a white corridor to see a bespectacled cigarette-smoking man, waiting for him.
Drifters is pretty cagey about telling us what the dealio is here, but it’s clear that dying warriors are being plucked from across time, and not just Japanese ones either. Why? Who knows – but Toyohisa wakes up on what seems like an alien world, where his arrival alarms two local boys who promptly drag him to an abandoned castle. There he’s stitched up by the Minamoto samurai Nasu no Yoichi (Saiga Mitsuki) – who as far as I know was, um, a man – and the aforementioned Oda Nobunaga ( Uchida Naoya). This scene plays out rather differently than one might expect – there’s quite a bit of comedy, for starters, and decent at that.
I liked Drifters, on the whole. It’s a nice-looking show, with an old-school cast who deliver good, old-school performances, and the dialogue is a cut above the norm for series like this. The premise could be generic, or it might prove interesting – too early to tell, but the characters are brought to life well enough to add a layer of interest either way. It’s too early to say for sure but I’m certainly on-board for the moment.