「みつめて新選組 〜熱血九州男児の唄〜」 (Mitsumete Shinsengumi 〜 nekketsu Kyuushuu danji no uta 〜)
“Staring at Shinsengumi ~The Song of the Fervid Kyuushuu Man~”

Going out as it roared on it, Drifters ends this season with yet more blood, violence, and a hefty amount of over the top fighting. As expected the Battle for Verlina was wrapped up, although the pleasant surprise had to be the focus on Toyohisa as we received one hell of a struggle between him and Hijikata. This I think was Drifters’ best fight, showing just how awesome this show can be when it pulls out all the stops. We got sword bashing (with broken swords), crazy spirits, and one wickedly amusing slugfest. The intriguing bit for me, however, is how historical the fight was in a sense. Hijikata’s rage against Toyohisa and Shimazu? That wasn’t because Hijikata is insane, there’s a basis behind it. Hijitaka in real life was the vice commander of the Shinsengumi, basically a private militia supportive of the Tokugawa Shongunate. Toyohisa’s clan was one of the feudal states which rose in rebellion against and defeated the Tokugawa, heralding the Meiji Restoration (i.e. modern Japan). One of the casualties from that rebellion was Hijikata. Seeing this feud play out anachronistically via Toyohisa was hilarious, especially when Hijikata’s anger is what ultimately defeated him. The best part though is that we are guaranteed a round two between them.

It wasn’t all manly fighting, however, we also received a healthy dose of tactical slaughter. I swear it never gets tiring seeing Nobunaga scheming a way around his opponent, especially with faces like these. Might also help I guessed right in how Hannibal played a role in determining Nobunaga’s tactics for a second time. Each Drifter is increasingly synergizing with one another, producing (beyond some funny interactions) a strong foundation where no one character really dominates. Every victory is due to the actions of several, with this one primarily accomplished Nobunaga; Toyohisa simply served to stall Hijikata. I especially liked too how Toyohisa came out and fully admitted he would fail without Nobunaga’s support. I’ve always had the thought that Toyohisa may eventually turn on Nobunaga given Nobunaga’s attempts at turning him into a king, but now it’s clear that’s wrong: both men are two sides of the same coin, and truly need each other. Yoichi is just going to have to play third wheel to this little bubbling bromance.

While the Drifters have won the day, it certainly doesn’t mean things are getting any easier. The Black King is completely uncaring his force was beaten, satisfied in crippling Orte and learning the power of the Drifters. Furthermore is the reveal that Mitsuhide has now joined with the Black King, inviting one hell of a showdown with Nobunaga. Drifters, as so succinctly put during the show, is ending just as the true battle is about to begin. Normally this would suck terribly given the usual lack of sequel announcement, but thankfully not this time. Oh no boys and girls, Drifters is returning for a second season, and one not likely far off either. We haven’t seen the last of this series just yet.

Final Impressions

Drifters is one show which would be hard for me to ever say I hated. This was a series offering everything lauded in action shows: it was over the top, it was bloody, and it was never once scared to double down on any of it. Much like Hellsing the art I’d argue is what helped carry Drifters along, propelled by a dark, red palette, and some amazing, pulpy character designs. The faces (particularly Nobunaga’s) always bore a sinister edge while smirking, a visual taste of the carnage and chaos yet to come.

What really drew me hard into Drifters, however, was the intellectual meat on the bones. Hellsing was wicked fun for its characters and setting, but it never featured some of the discussions which Drifters brought up repeatedly. Everything from technological advancements to theories on leadership and the nature of man popped up in some capacity, and—most surprisingly—were actively discussed! For history (and political science) freaks like me this was like a hit of cocaine, a story delving into the things rarely pointed out (let alone fleshed out) in similar series. Although arguable whether the large cast of historical characters is what made Drifters’ premise work, there’s no question it did so with flying colours.

Drifters of course was not without its problems, however; comedy was the noticeable Achilles heel here. Anyone familiar with Hellsing or the creator Hirano knows all about the hit or miss jokes, but it can be hard remembering just how bad it can get sometimes. Although it improved over time, a lot of the humour here just never worked, serving only to detract from the story rather than enhance it. If you need an example explaining why comedy should be kept separate from serious material, look no farther than this. While some of the jokes did work at times (like this one), it’s arguable that many could have been culled to yield a better, tighter story.

Provided one is capable of overlooking the questionable jokes though, Drifters is one series I’d recommend in a heartbeat. As a “trapped in another world” style show it was certainly nothing ground breaking, but Drifters offered enough in terms of action and material to produce an incredibly fun series which never slowed down or noticeably stumble. This is one show easily binge watchable, and one series which should not be easily dismissed just because of its premise. When Drifters’ second season finally decides to roll around, you can be guaranteed I’ll be here covering it, it’s just too much fun to pass up.


  1. Fan of Hellsing Ultimate/OVA so natural I’d check this show out. I’ll keep my Ep. 12 comments short and focus on final impressions. I will say that I found Ep. 12 possibly the best episode and credit to the show for a strong finish. The open end is fine – especially with a deserved second season on the way.

    Final Impressions: Agree in large part with the review. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of very over-the-top (“OTT”) stuff, but for some reason it works, for the most part, with both Hellsing and Drifters. I do think the artistic style has a good part to do with that. For Hellsing, it also helped that well, you do have vampires and such running around (OTT beings if you will). But there are limits. Some of that I can overlook (e.g. Hellsing’s infinite gun magazines. Yeah, they reload at times, but not nearly enough *looks at Alucard*), other times… For example, Toyohisa standing in front of the blunderbuss shot was ridiculous even for this show. Alucard – fine. Vampire, enough said. Ain’t the case with Toyohisa. Dude should be DEAD. Also, not sure how that works on ghosts/spirits, but whatever I guess. Still, overall the OTT stylings worked well/well-enough for me with Drifters.

    Being able to cherry pick from history could and should result in some good characters, and that was the case here. It also allows for “personal antagonists” (e.g. as Mitsuhide will be for Nobunga). That adds a layer to the conflict. Clearly Toyohisa & Nobunaga are the stars which is fine. I quite liked Toyohisa as the straightforward (but not stupid) warrior (or samurai if you prefer) type. Nobunaga, as befitting of RL, was more complex and deliciously devious at times, but a few times I thought he crossed a bit too far into “all-knowing”. So I liked in Ep. 12 where he did lose his way. I don’t have any complaints for the vast majority of the characters though single cour and focus on the two leads did limit depth more than I’d like. Well, there’s a second season for that I suppose though adding more characters is going to limit time allocation again.

    As the review notes, this series is very much good and bad (subjective of course). The battles and tactics are highpoints, but the mangaka’s “comedy” (again subjective as comedy is) being a low point. Sometimes very low. I’ll be honest, I never liked Count Germi and his shtick. To the extent I could – SKIP! I also didn’t like what happened with Hannibal, turning him into a senile old man “comic” relief. Yeah, he would give Nobunaga some clue when Nobunaga got stuck, but bleh. What happened to him devalued his character IMO. While I’m at it, Nobunaga’s boob-something or other name for Olmine got real old real fast. Superficially, one might see a parallel with Alucard and Seras in Hellsing, but ultimately Alucard recognized Seras (calling her by name), and before that one could tell Alucard did care for her (and there was a reason beyond just being mean for the whole thing). Here, it just makes Nobunaga look a bit dickish IMO. Yeah, maybe it’s “realistic” given his society/place in time, but certainly by the end she proved her worth = should have had the same resolution as Alucard & Seras. Meh, suspect that ain’t going away next season.

    Hellsing “comedy” was very hit/miss for me. Drifters “comedy” was almost ALL miss. I got a few chuckles (literally a few) over the season, but that was it. So along with being kind of disruptive/not funny, it also wasted time IMO. The overall pacing was good, but I can’t say it was efficient. See above about wanting more depth for non-Toyohisa/Nobunaga characters – Drifters or Ends. Same goes for the Octobrist. We got a smattering of detail (i.e. their function), but not much. How long has this whole drifter/end thing been going on? Just more world-building/details in general would have been nice.

    So… what’s the deal with Easy and Murasaki (people who send drifters & ends)? Who, or maybe WHAT, are they? Why them in that role. HOW are drifters/ends chosen? Are there any limitations – not just people, but things? I’m STILL trying to figure out how the f**k IJN CV Hiryuu got transported over. Ain’t through one of those doors. The Ends all seem to have some sort of magic power, but other than the Octobrist leader, the Drifters don’t. Why (other than give the Drifters a disadvantage to overcome)?

    So questions remain, but the fact I’m interested enough to want answers is a good thing. The show was both good and bad – certainly wish some things were different, but for me it still nets out “good”. I think it deserved a second season and I plan to watch it. Heck, might even check out the source material. 😉

    1. There won’t be a second season for a few years. They adapted two thirds of the material available, and it’s a monthly series. There literally won’t be enough material to do 12 more episodes by this time next year. I think they should just do yearly OVAs personally.

  2. “Seeing this feud play out anachronistically via Toyohisa was hilarious, especially when Hijikata’s anger is what ultimately defeated him.”
    Indeed, Hijikata’s personal vendetta got the better of him. I do wonder how it feels to be Nobunaga, to have an “idiot” to be your leader.

    Notably Hijikata’s powers are something but that is some fragile “Edo Tensei,” for those soldiers to fall apart from some debris. Anyway, it’s my first time I seen a fist fight between Samurai; you would expect it to be consistently a sword fight but it later turns into a bloody brawl. To top it off, Hijikata’s rather fancy clothes still remain in fine condition; anime logic, the clothes of bad guys always remain “clean.”

    When I first saw this, I honestly didn’t know if Hannibal actually lost it or not. From the perspective of an average normal person, it looked like Hannibal needs to be in an intensive care unit.

    Anyway, this anime has been short overall. I was hoping 24 episodes but I guess that will be in another time. I am curious who the Black King is.
    Show Spoiler ▼

      1. oh, but because of this secret here, i do not thing Drifters will get an hit in the western market… Show Spoiler ▼

        . Is he acting like a brat that feel betrayed from his father?

  3. @Pancakes: “Hellsing was wicked fun for its characters and setting, but it never featured some of the discussions which Drifters brought up repeatedly.”

    I think you short change Hellsing. That’s not to discredit Drifters, but as for technology, OK we got gunpowder talk and IDK… Here’s a gattling gun/revolver (see how firearms evolve)? That’s not a negative by any means, but was there really that much “tech” discussion in the show (did I miss/forget something) beyond the above? Hellsing absolutely had its gun porn (Jackel, Sera’s 30mm cannon, etc.). Apart from misc. gun porn though, Hellsing’s setting meant there really isn’t a need for much tech talk/scientific advancement as with Drifters. MG42 still works quite well, etc.

    In different ways, but BOTH shows IMO dealt with “the nature of man”/”being human”. That was a BIG part of Hellsing – both Alucard and the Major talked about that. Being a “man” vs. a “monster” was a major theme (no pun intended) in Hellsing. Hellsing didn’t go into leadership much (little bit with that one Lt, and Anderson questions orders.) so fair enough on that. But IMO in large part that’s driven by characters and setting. Catholics – follow your religious leaders/faith. Nazi vampires – enough said. There’s also a difference in leadership style. Major – anyone and everyone is a disposable chess piece in his grand plan. In that regard the Black King is much different from the Major (though so far the Major is a much better villain IMO. One my favorites in anime).

    To me a noticeable difference is the emphasis/focus on strategy vs. tactics. By no means all or nothing for either, but Hellsing IMO is much more long term (50 years!) of strategy whereas Drifters is more tactics/individual battle centric. That spurs their individual narratives. At the end, when you realize the extent of the Major’s planning, it’s one of the best parts of that series IMO. Hellsing just lets the audience put the pieces together more than Drifters.

    Another difference IMO is that Drifters spoon feeds the audience more. That can be good or unnecessary depending upon opinion, but it’s noticeable at times. In Ep. 12 the Count is there to ask questions so Nobunaga can give the viewer exposition about the tactics. FWIW, I’m not against that, though in some cases it was unnecessary (e.g. when Nobunaga goes on and on about wireless communication advantage in battle by using the palantírs orbs. That’s pretty obvious IMO, but I gave it a pass because for him it would be amazing and a big deal).

    Again, this is NOT in any way to discount what Drifters did because I think it was one of the strengths of the show. Here’s a cast of characters who act smart on both sides. Tactics matter. However, as noted, I think you short change Hellsing Ultimate.

    1. Admittedly I only remember the generalities of Hellsing, but what I was referring to wasn’t the gun porn itself as much as the gun impact. Hellsing was firmly rooted in the modern world, but Drifters placed a few musket lovers in a fantasy ~12th Century and had them go to town. It’s not the technicalities as much as the drastic changes the muskets give, especially in terms of combat and psychology which (arguably) was only touched upon by the end of the season. Hellsing never had this clash of technologies aspect, which is where my differentiation talk heralds from.

      Barring that you’re completely right daikama. Part of what made me fall in love with Hellsing was the Major and his planning (particularly that fantastic speech). It was the thinking aspect, particularly regarding the Major’s motivations and worldview which made the series for me. I definitely agree we got spoon fed a lot here in comparison to Hellsing, but that also ignores a couple of themes where Drifters certainly did not, such as in leadership styles. Overall I wasn’t trying to shortchange Hellsing (far from it!), but likely my damned memory let me down when trying to highlight the differences between both series. I really consider both Drifters and Hellsing as thematic equals tackling slightly different themes, but in a very similar manner.

  4. I guess Mitsuhide and Nobunaga will have to settle the scores once and for all…
    loved Hannibal’s sound advice disguised as madness – gather them all in one place and squish looks like recipe for Cannae Crushed Romans 😛
    Hijikata’s feud with Satsuma clan was played with for all its historical value.
    And poor Olminu can but despear at her defesive wall charms being consistently put to offensive – and bloody – use. Apart from being reduced to pair of walking boobs, she just can’t get a break, even if her palantirs make the excellent tactical flexibnility of ther small drifter’s army possible.

      1. yes, it was . But now what kind of, i do not know. an “real” Air carrier or some little “support” one (to delivery only the Planes or only to starting them). But both have enough air fuel here for him, if he knows or the tanks are still functional

        and if this captain are Isoroku Yamamoto, then some tactical strategy mind add the group. But witch side.. it’s up to the Director

    1. Admiral – and he was Tamon Yamaguchi, KIA at Midway, not Yamamoto – took command of some local pirates/traders alliance and used his knowledge of air tactics for the local eagle or griffin riders. He lacked trained pilots to fly any possible remaining Zero’s or other aircraft, but this will change when our fighter ace eventually meets him. The carrier also is a treasure trove of WW2 era machineguns etc. , just imagine what use Nobunaga will do when someone allows him to combine machineguns and barbwire…

      1. well, if this old Air Carrier of him has enough Fuel and ammunition supply, this flight ace can perhaps be an flight instructor for this “steel air dragons that spite fire/bullets”. But here it should be both as instructors. the Admiral for the basics theoretical and the pilot for the real deal..

        Perhaps a screenshot of some “training plane” on the carrier (do not need to be animated) to give the viewer the “ahh, there it is. the flight school plane”.. of course as long the budget allow it

        there is so much potential.. but i feel like the original manga-ka get a feeling that “they” are about to steal his child from his hands… (the producer should keep that in mind)

    1. Won’t be 2020, as mentioned the XX is simply a placeholder. Given the fickleness of popularity I’m expecting late 2018 at the latest. That should be enough time for Hirano to produce enough material, even if just a general overview of where he anticipates the plot going.

      1. That’s actually the scenario I had in mind. It’s clear they have a plan in mind already for the upcoming story (otherwise we wouldn’t see the sequel announcement this early), but likely want to see how far Hirano gets in the manga before producing the adaptation for marketing purposes.

  5. What a kick ass final episode to a kick ass show. A few awkward jokes aside, this show was like a blessing, both with the high adrenaline combat and the cunning savagery of Nobunaga’s tactics. Having different philosophies play out and clash with one another was also it’s strong point. Definitely up there as one of my favorite shows this year.


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