「俺軍 暁の出撃」 (Ore-gun akatsuki no shutsugeki)
“Army of Ours—Sortie at Dawn”
Have to hand it to Drifters, the show seemingly knows nothing about slowing down. After last week’s village massacre, we are now treated to an alternate battle of Minas Tirith, complete with
nazguls dragons, orcs, and calls for an end to mankind. Makes it all the more funny amid the fire and devastation that this city is actually a great wall and our Ming Carneades defenders are basically Saracens. All in all another glorious and over the top rampage this week. Basically a bloody song of ice and fire.
At its core though, this episode was all about the characters. A new slew of rapturous personalities entered the playing field, with the Ends finally introduced. We have Hijikata Toshizou, Shinsengumi vice-commander killed in the name of the Tokugawa, a thoroughly insane Jeanne d’Arc, and a cold, gloomy Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova, daughter of Russia’s last Tsar. The Ends retain the high strung, badass personalities, but what’s striking about them is their magic. Toshizou apparently can summon ghosts to do his bidding, while Jeanne is endowed with some fitting pyrotechnics. Anastasia likewise has a thing for blizzards, because it just wouldn’t be Russian otherwise. These powers are an interesting difference from the Drifters, who (so far) lack any magical prowess and get by on sheer talent and fortitude alone.
Although you could hazard a guess pointless sacrifice or murder determines an End from a Drifter, the pilot Naoshi Kanno puts an end (heh) to that hypothesis. If anything, both Drifters and Ends likely enter this world the same (if through different people), and through their choices determine which camp they fall into. Thus Kanno, who turns on the Ends’ dragons because they vividly remind him of American firebombing runs, Toyohisa who defends the elves against coldblooded murder, and Minamoto no Yoshitsune who supposedly sticks with the group entertaining him the most. Drifters’ conflict is therefore not one of good vs. evil, but an attritional slugfest dependent on recruiting the majority of our real life transplants—it’s who can sway the best and brightest of our morally grey cast onto their side. This basal theme provides Drifters a thin, but strong layer of depth underneath that gung-ho, adventurist story, giving the mind something to chew on while the eyes feast on the scenery. It’s the sort of thing I was hoping Drifters would steer into (rather than purely staying with the pulpy action), making me very excited for what things lie in store later in the show.
Of course I cannot get away from this theme without touching on the Black King. Personally I’m betting he’s Jesus. Not only is the guy cloaked in white, but there are some distinctive wounds on his hands, and he has a thing for onions (staple food in the Levant). Furthermore there’s that dragonfly staff, which very likely is a reference to resurrection and redemption (think Albrecht Duerer’s The Holy Family with the Dragonfly). Considering Hirano’s penchant for twisted Christian references (a la Hellsing), such a use of Jesus wouldn’t be all that surprising. Obviously this isn’t enough to truly identify the Black King, but I can think of little else such hints point towards. Without a doubt though this guy right here is the true baddie of the show and one we will be seeing more of very soon. It’s going to be a riot once the Drifters finally meet him and the rest of the Ends. Consider this show picked up for coverage.
Good to note that Scipio Africanus led the forces of the Roman Republic, not the Roman Empire. That empire was conceived some ~200 years after him.
Cannot be the only one who thought of GATE when Kanno made his appearance. Would be really interesting if technology vs. magic becomes another theme of Drifters.