First Impressions – Drifters

drifters-01-1It’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-01-2Drifters 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.

drifters-01-4Lord 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-01-5Drifters 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.

drifters-01-6I 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.

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7 comments

  1. That was an interesting premiere, reminds me a little of the Fate series. As someone who has never read or watched Hellsing Im curious how this will turn out…

  2. Speaking of Hellsing…. the character designs and graphics look like they were taken right from the Hellsing series. Somehow these 2 series are linked (production or staff wise).

  3. Same mangaka behind the source material.

  4. e

    Not bad. On the visual side I like the colour palette – included those striking fountains of blood. They really nailed the reds in general – and painterly backgrounds, they disguised the CG models via camera movements and cuts, the Yoda Ears Elves(?) are sort of funny… and High Ponytail Pretty Boy Archer is indeed rather easy on the eyes ohoh. The dialogue in the second half was good with its mix of melancholy and humour. Because among all the guts and impermanence you still need some pluck to survive and bring food on the table :p .

  5. F

    The jokes really killed the enjoyment of this episode and the bloody part wasn’t that exciting either. It all depends on what kind of actual story is in the background and if it is interesting enough to balance out the aforementioned things. However I have a feeling that this anime will have the same fate that Bungou Stray Dogs had and I will lose interest really quickly.

  6. K

    Sigh….Where are the Basilisks of the world today?…..This wasn’t bad but like another commenter the joke points were a bit jarring for the setting and feel of the show….I like period pieces with swords and sorcery so will stick it out as not much else out there…

  7. N

    Having watched all the Hellsing Ultimate OVA series, and having liked each of them progressively less, I am kinda put off simply by the visual likeness…

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