OK, it takes a little while to wrap your head around this series, but once you do, wow, this is a fascinating series. Welcome to “Drifters” (“Dorifutazu”).
It is October 5, 1600 and we are at the decisive Battle of Sekigahara. Shimazu Toyohisa, (guy dead center) is critically wounded during the fight. As he walks from the field, disoriented and bleeding, he finds himself transported to a corridor of doors, where a bespectacled man at a desk, reading a newspaper, waits for him.
This man, Murasaki, sends Toyohisa into the nearest door where he wakes up in another world. There, Toyohisa meets other great warriors like him who have been transported as well, to be part of a group known as “Drifters”.
The land they inhabit is one that exists on another dimensional parallel. Other people he meets include Oda Nobunaga (eyepatch guy) and Nasu no Yoichi (archer to Toyohisa’s right). Together, they are challenged to save this world from the scourge of The Ends. These are people just like they are: famous historical figures, plucked from death’s door, to save this land. But the Ends want to destroy it all. The Drifters are here to save it.
You see an alternative history fantasy where people from all eras of Earth’s history are given one more chance to redeem themselves (and seeing some of the rogues that we come across, that is an apt description.) There is a real fear that this would dissolve into endless fighting, and there is a goodly amount of it. What are key here are the tactics and approaches used to secure victory, even though they do not make sense at the time they are presented.
Plus, the characters are well defined, so the clashes of personalities and wills seem truly organic and not merely thrown in to generate a false friction. I just wonder if their minds are honestly that nimble to grasp how to use the artifacts and approaches of other eras to suit their own purposes. I don’t want to tip my hand too early, as it is fascinating to see how everything unfolds with a focused deliberateness, and how Butch Cassidy would or could deal with Hannibal, especially with the language barrier.
The only annoying drawback is the eyes. We get more than enough close-ups of them, but they are designed in such a way to be highly annoying after a while. Overall art design and approach is very strong. Yes, they do slide into a time-worn anime trope when they express confusion or non-comprehension, but they execute it in such a way that it befits the show.
Having just come off “Berserk (2016)”, this show is not only a welcome relief (even though they have a similar violence content), but one can really appreciate what it takes to be a battlefield commander, regardless of whether it’s maces or magic.
And since we have not reached the grand emotional climax, there is a second season lurking out there, with even more behind the scenes transactions and people getting stabbed in the arras, which is kind of painful, or so I am told. If the writing and the distinct personalities can hold forth, the second season might even top the first season. I can hardly wait.
Oh, the fan service. Yes, you’ll be getting it. There is one character, Olminu (nope, she’s not up there) who is very ‘prominent’. She works for the Octobrists, a group of human magicians that are native to this world, whose duty is to observe and gather the Drifters together to fight the Ends. The Drifters use her magical powers in ways she had not imagined, but she is endlessly embarrassed when Oda intentionally calls her by the wrong name, a favorite being “Boobieinu”. But it is more or less reigned in, so you can really enjoy the show, freed from distractions. Now, as soon as the second Season decides to show up, we’ll really be in business.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Solid presentation and design)
Plot 9 (Keeps getting better and better)
Pacing 8 (The fight scenes are truly choreographed)
Effectiveness 8 (Good, as you just know enough)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 8 (You get a real feel for strategy)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. It’s a good day to die.