It is the year 1600 and the country of Japan has been the engulfed in the flames of war and destruction. During an intense skirmish, Toyohisa attempts to hold off the enemy forces to allow for his comrades to escape, putting his life on the line to protect those dear to him. While he is successful in holding off his adversaries, forcing them to retreat, he is unable to save himself, having been skewered by hundreds of enemy weapons. Attempting to return home at all costs, having lost an immense amount of blood, Toyohisa stumbles into an unfamiliar corridor of white walls and an endless sea of doors on either side. Before getting the chance to evaluate the situation, he is cast into one of the many doors and wakes up in a strange and unfamiliar world that he does not understand. A world where all of the most iconic heroes and legends of human history are given a new life as “Drifters”. But in this second life, there can only be more bloodshed.
Being a humongous fan of Mangaka Kouta Hirano’s other work Hellsing, I jumped into Drifters expecting an equally insane and over the top bloodbath with equally intense action scenes and crazy amounts bloodshed.
And boy, did I get it.
Drifters is definitely the most bloody and violent show to come out this season, and as a follow-up to Hellsing Ultimate, it does not disappoint. It is full of just as much savagery and carnage as one would expect.
In terms of visual quality, the series is absolutely fantastic. The artwork is absolutely spectacular and the visual aesthetic is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It has an extremely unique style to it which is a result of both the Manga’s original artwork and the amazing work of the series’ director Kenichi Suzuki, who has previously worked on the first three seasons of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure among other things.
And in all honesty, that was the best thing about this entire opening episode. As a director, Suzuki just knows how to make even the most simplistic of scenes a visual spectacle that can rival even the highest budget Anime films. The camera angles and zooms used during the battle sequences add a lot more depth to what is otherwise an incredibly basic action sequence between the protagonist Toyohisa and an army of enemy soldiers.
The backgrounds are also stunning, with some incredibly beautiful scenery that fits well with the shows overall aesthetic and dark, brooding tone.
Unfortunately, the show suffers from some severe animation issues. While the artwork and directing are some of the best I’ve seen from any show this year, the animation itself is fairly clunky, a lot of still frames are used when there should be fluid movement and there is a high amount of immersion breaking CGI used in crowds, which, as always, looks jarring. However, the use of the shows limited colour palette and the overall directing itself are so damn good that the show does a fantastic job in covering it all up. Despite the clunky animation and horrific CGI sometimes being distracting, I often found myself so enticed by the top quality visual presentation, that I honestly just didn’t care.
Oh, and the sound design is phenomenal. There’s some really impressive stuff that really enhances everything that’s going on, especially that rockin’ soundtrack. I honestly have no complaints on that front.
In terms of story, there’s really not an awful lot to it. After this first episode we don’t really have any kind of grasp on what the heck is going on at all. Currently, the plot is just a massive excuse to have a bunch of historical heroes and legends clash together in a world filled with violence and over the top fight scenes, not unlike that of Fate/Stay Night.
However, unlike Fate/Stay Night, this show is all style and no substance. Drifters is not attempting to be a story driven experience with complex recitals and sleep inducing philosophical debates. It’s not trying to be deep and meaningful nor is it attempting to explore any kind of complex themes or broadcast some deep message to the audience. It’s simply aiming to be a wacky and intense action flick filled with ultraviolence and cool action scenes, just like Hellsing Ultimate was.
And in the end, I’m fine with that. Would I like the show to have more of a plot? Would I like to see the characters become deeper and more complex people than we’ve currently been shown? Sure, but as long as Drifters delivers on its promise of awesome, poser characters and gory, blood-filled murder sprees, I’ll be completely satisfied.
My only real concern is that we have no idea where this series is going in terms of anything. It’s been a whole episode, and we still know next to nothing about anything, other than some historical characters have been sent to another world and there’s some kind of threat that they’re probably going to have to combat. Oh, and there’s violence. Lot’s of violence.
Overall, your enjoyment of Drifters is going to be heavily based on whether or not you can appreciate gore for the sake of gore and how appealing you find the shows overall aesthetic.
If you’re a fan of Hellsing Ultimate and are craving something similar, both in terms of content and visuals, or you just want an intense bloodbath this season, then I highly recommend checking Drifters out.
If on the other hand, you’re looking for something more, then this may not be for you.
But in my opinion, this first episode was pretty good. I’m looking forward to seeing how this one turns out in the end.
So what are your First Impressions of Drifters?