Drifters – Preview
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.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: The facial expressions and art style in Drifters’ initial combat scenes started off looking awkward to me. In fact, one of the characters has very strange eyes with swirls in them making him stand out even more than the rest. All these seem to have been done to give the show its own unique style but might feel jarring to those who prefer a more traditional aesthetic.
Tom: It’s a gripping art style that feels both mature and retro at the same time. Characters look intense, as do their attacks against one another. The show is quite bloody, although those afraid of gore should know that there’s very little of that amongst all the heavy blood splatter. In fact, I’d say the show is surprisingly tame, considering it’s subject matter and the brutal portrayal of the battle of Sekigahara in its opening moments.
Linny: The potential problem with watching Drifters is that it might require you to have some familiarity with Japanese and Samurai related history as the show features characters from the past and even makes some jokes that could potentially fly over your head. The episode does offer some facts and trivia about the characters but there were still moments when I was left feeling like I might have missed a joke or subtle reference or two.
Tom: Drifters first few minutes are a bit misleading. While the series most certainly includes high levels of action and bloodshed moving forward, these first few minutes display nothing of Drifters rather awkward comedy that crops up shortly thereafter. Drifters comedy isn’t just a light dusting over the action either, it becomes a significant portion of the episode. It’s quite at odds with the heavy tone and takes some serious getting use to.
Linny: This episode is pure set up and it’s been more interested in introducing its three main characters and letting them interact with each other while showcasing each’s unique personality and quirks. There’s not much of an explanation of exactly what is going on or what to expect going forward other than that there’s potential for a lot more flashy action packed fights in the future.
Tom: Drifters has a very unique set up, but it’s only just touched upon enough for us to get the gist of things with a lot of the greater details saved for later. Cast introductions are similarly bare bones, starting with Shimazu, our rage filled valiant hero who’s so badass he can survive multiple impaling spears to the torso. But even with the focus on Shimazu, his introduction, and his subsequent journey to the main setting of Drifters, he’s pretty one note. The guy is little more than a ball of rage and war cries, ready at any moment to slice his sword through whomever he might consider an adversary. Toyohisa, like the rest of a cast, is a famous Japanese warrior, which I suppose could explain his lack of development as he’s a figure that should be familiar to audiences, like George Washington would be for us. The same goes for Suketaka Yoichi and Oda Nobunaga, although Drifters seems to play fast and lose with these historical giants of legend, Nobunaga nothing like any other portrayal we’ve seen in the last few years, which has been filled with anything from goofball to stoic hero-like interpretations of the man.
Linny: The character of Suketaka Yoichi is purposely played up to appear feminine for the sake of his gender being misidentified, which seems like it could be a potential running gag. And speaking of Oda, the depiction/version in this show might differ vastly from what you are used to in other anime. He’s definitely drawn a lot more gruff and muscled in keeping with the aggressive nature of the show and so the transformation into silly faces during gags feels a bit unsettling.
Tom: Drifters threw me a bit when we jumped from frighteningly serious to peppered with sudden dead pan comedy. I think overall though it works, just those first five or so minutes are really misleading. I’m excited to see where Drifters will go and in what ways it’ll expand it story and exactly how this convergence of historical figures posed for battle will play out.
Linny: The transition from horrifying and brutal war to three men just delivering comedic lines is a sudden shift indeed but given the setting of the show, it’s clear that we will be returning to the action packed fighting soon. While the comedy can be considered a break from the more intense parts of the show, it may annoy some viewers who were hoping for a bloodier and grittier story. Overall though, Drifters definitely has promise as a brutal and bloody action anime, one that might need to pace and deliver its comedy better, but proves entertaining nonetheless.