Drifters – Mid Season Review
Note: Due to injury, Linny will be taking a diminished roll through the Mid Season reviews. She will return for the full reviews at the end of the season.
Original Air Dates: October 7th, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: Shimazu Toyohisa, a famous samurai who fought in the historic battle of Sekigahara, finds himself transported to another world mere moments before his death. There he is saved by Nasu Suketaka Yoichi and the famed Oda Nobunaga himself, both of whom who should already be dead. From then on, Shimazu becomes a part of a group known as “Drifters” forced to battle against other legendary warriors in the ultimate death game.
Mid Season (6 episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Drifters has a unique style in everything it does. From the grim animation with thick lines and bizarre eyes to the way it tells its story. It’s brutal, especially in its depiction of melee combat, with limbs and heads flying at a moments notice. Squimish viewers shouldn’t be too worried as the series rarely animates the carnage past thick splatters of blood and flying limbs. No guts or severe gore to be found within these first six episodes.
Drifters story is told through multiple POVs, meaning the cast grows quite significantly from that first episode with at least eight important characters to follow, although much of our time is spent with Nobunaga, Yoichi, and Toyohisa. These three historical figures take up the majority of screen time and are each enjoyable in their over the top presentation which sits at odds with other, more traditional, interpretations of these historical figures. That said, comedy in this series is rather forced, overused, with jokes constantly harped on and beaten into the ground. It doesn’t help that much of the humor either requires an understanding of the character’s historical past, or is so outright painfully obvious anime humor that more discerning audiences may find it too obscene or painfully common. One such example is Nobunaga’s inability to remember Olminu’s, a helpful magic user, name so instead refers to her as Olmboobs, or other similar variations purely because she has large breasts. Yes, indeed, that is the depth of which you can expect of Drifters’ humor.
With how many characters Drifters plays around with, it’s a wonder how much screen time or importance any of them will feature. We’re half way through the series run and it feels like many of these characters will hardly play a role before the season’s finished, only bound to make it an extra shame if no second season gets announced. Perhaps more frustrating is the series handling of its female characters.
The show was bound to be male heavy, as few women were allowed on the battlefield throughout history and even fewer managed to make a name for themselves. That said, the few female warriors who do feature in Drifters are inherently evil. And when the most prominent female character exists for little more than boob jokes at her own expense, it feels frustrating that female characters feel so underutilized. Adding insult to injury is yet another cross dressing, stereotypical villain that comes into play mid-season, along with cross dressing minions to boot. For anyone comfortable with these older stereotypes within anime there won’t be much of a problem, but for anyone tired of these more offensive archetypes Drifters feels displaced in time, a series meant for the 80s, or perhaps even 90s, but not for the more ‘progressive’ landscape of more modern anime.
But amongst all this trouble Drifters still has an oppressively dark and violent tone that suits the series and gives it its appeal. The show nails the morbid atmosphere of the battlefield, utilizing some of the more grim battle tactics forgotten to history, giving everything a unique and morbid feel. Whether you appreciate this depends on how well you can stomach the comedy and potentially offensive use of female and cross dressing characters.