Manga: Drifters

Drifters is a manga written by Hirano Kouta (of Hellsing fame). It tells the story of the world's famous (or infamous, depending on how/what you know about them) historical figures yanked from their own times (usually on the date they were meant to die) and brought to a fantasy-like dimension to wage war against one another, for reasons yet to be revealed.

The heroes of the story are called Drifters, mainly composed of Shimazu Toyohisa, Oda Nobunaga and Nasu no Yoichi, though others are introduced as the story continues. Their opponents are the Offscourings (or Ends in the official North American translation), which oddly enough are composed of people who weren't evil in their lifetime (Jeanne d'Arc and Anastasia Nikolaevna for example) but nevertheless are cutting a swathe across the fantasy land. An organization of magicians, called the Octobrists (or Octs), assists the Drifters in fighting against the Ends. And thus the stage is set for one of the oddest wars ever fought.

Drifters has been licensed outside of Japan after its Japanese debut with Shonen Gahosha officially publishing it with 3 volumes available for sale. It was picked up by Dark Horse Comics (who also published Hellsing) and available for purchase in North America. It's also available in France, Germany, Italy and in Taiwan. Similar to Japan, three volumes are also officially available for sale in the respective markets mentioned.

A OVA Trailer was released with the last episode of the Hellsing Ultimate OVA. There's now word that it might get an animated adaptation.

All tropes applicable to characters must be moved to the characters page.


Drifters provides the following tropes:

  • And Zoidberg: According to Oda, the provinces south of Japan's center can be summed up as "countryside", "final frontier", "land of no man and no law", "land of the dead", "nearly another country", "devilish lands of no man"... and Shimazu.
  • Ax-Crazy: Several, particularly Jeanne d'Arc.
  • Badass Grandpa: Hannibal (no, not that one or that one, the original Hannibal of Carthage).
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy
  • Berserk Button: Do not let Toyohisa, who is a pretty insane Blood Knight with a penchant for decapitation to begin with, find you doing something dishonorable, such as raping prisoners. He will exterminate everyone involved without a second thought.
    Toyohisa: [upon seeing the men of the castle raping the female elf prisoners] No! No! No! I was wrong! The vermin of this castle aren't worth shit! We shall slash them to pieces! We shall hack them down until they become dust! No soldier in this castle is to remain alive!
    • Don't try to diss the Shimazus, as Nobunaga and Yoichi know all too well.
    Nobunaga: "Oh yes! From way down in Kyushu? Down in the sticks?"
    Toyohisa: "I'll kill you!"
    Yoichi: " I've heard of the Shimazu clan. They were around even in my time."
    [Toyohisa faces Yoichi]
    Yoichi: "I remember they lived all the way in Kyushu. Nothing but a bunch of bumpkins. Ha! Ha!"
    • Jeanne seems to get angrier than usual when Toyohisa questions her gender.
  • Big Ball of Violence: All three main Drifters love to fight. No matter how petty the excuse.
  • Bi the Way: Drifters makes mention of Oda Nobunaga's historical lover, Mori Ranmaru — namely that Nobunaga's a bit frustrated by his absence.
  • Brick Joke: When Shimazu called the elves brats and it is revealed in later chapters they are both older than him by at least 5 years.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Oda and Yoshitsune both show this behavior in their tactics. Yoichi also considers this a bad habit of his since he learned it from Yoshitsune.
    Yoshitsune: Unfair? Way of the Warrior? What's the meaning of "unfair"? Do you think there is fairness in the battlefield? Yoichi, you are just too naive.
  • Crapsack World: The protagonists of this story include one of the most feared Samurai of all time, a bloodthirsty maniac with a penchant for collecting the heads of fallen foes, and an archer who gives both of them a run for their money in terms of bloodlust and body count. And they're the heroes!
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: The true goal of the Black King is extremely similar to the Law Alignment in Shin Megami Tensei: as humans are too smart and chaotic to be conquered forever, he intends to annihilate them and ensure the rise of the other races into a perpetual Dark Age with all technology and advances strictly monitored, where he can rule forever without fear of change.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: When the elves capture the dwarves' factories and release them, upon a lintel you can see the words: "Only labor leads us to liberation".
  • Dragon Rider: Quite a few monsters are shown riding dragons.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: How the Drifters and Elves get into the Governor's fortress.
    • Later on, some Octobrists use the same tactic to see how the nonhumans' city is progressing.
  • Due to the Dead: The Drifters decapitate their fallen enemies, and while they use their bodies as part of their war effort, their heads are washed and cleaned, following their epoch's funeral rites.
  • Elves Versus Dwarves: Apparently there is some prejudice on the part of the elves against the dwarves. Shara tells the Drifters that elves hates them because the dwarves didn't come to the elves' aid after being attacked by the Orte Empire military. Of course, Toyohisa won't have any of that.
  • End of an Age / Dawn of an Era: Oda has trouble pondering the full implications of the military uses of magic and the rifle. He's posively giddy about it all.
  • Enslaved Elves: Both the elves and the dwarves were defeated and enslaved by the Orte Empire.
  • Face-Heel Turn: All of the Offscourings are people who have turned their backs on the world and humanity. In the cases of Jeanne d'Arc and Anastasia Romanov, it's fairly clear that a Break the Cutie was involved. In fact, the common theme among the Offscourers seems to be that they were murdered. Combine this with the Black King's healing powers and his line about trying to save humanity, and it's possible that the Big Bad might be Jesus.
    • In chapters 20 and 33 it's shown he has a scar like from a nail on his palm, and shortly after he multiplies a bit of wheat into immense piles of seeds.
    • In the case of Jeanne, getting burned at the stake will do that to ya.
      • Likewise with poor Anastasia, screaming in vain after being murdered with her family.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Orte Empire towards elves and dwarves, which is not really surprising, seeing as it was apparently created by HITLER.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Eventually averted by Nobunaga, who makes it a point to start the creation of gunpowder pits and acquiring smiths good enough to replicate rifle technology, and is awed by the sheer potential of the Wild Bunch's gatling gun and revolvers.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: So far we have elves, dwarves, goblins, orcs, kobolds, dragons, giant birds, and time traveling wizards fighting or allying with samurai, cowboys, WWII fighter pilots and admirals and punic war heroes.
  • The Federation: The Gu Binnen Trade Federation. Oda's plan is for a Multiracial Federation with Toyohisa as the military commander.
  • Giant Flyer: The Bronze Dragon is huge when compared to the smaller dragons. The other Five Great Dragons are likely as big as her. There's also the large flying birds ridden by the Gu Binnen Trade Federation.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: While the Black King and his armies are genocidal monsters (literally), they're doing it because they believe humanity is the greatest source of evil in the world. The monsters have even started their own primitive civilization, which is implied to have never happened before. The Drifters, on the other hand, want to save humanity, but want to do so by conquering it country by country.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Pretty every human character in Drifters except for the magicians and the Big Bad.
    • Even the Big Bad could be, as he is heavily implied to be Jesus, though one theory suggests he may be Baldwin IV "The Leprous" of Jerusalem
    • And the leader of the Octobrist Organization turns out to be Abe no Seimei, the famous onmyouji.
  • Historical In-Joke: As most of the characters are historical figures, there are many of these kind of jokes that show up.
  • Hot-Blooded: Most of the Drifters are this in one way or another.
  • Human Resources Well, Draconic resources. The nonhumans under the Black King's command are tearing the cancerous metallic growths from the Bronze Dragon and using them as the basis of their currency. The visiting Octobrists also learn the human slaves are eventually used as food. While slavery is still a concern in other countries, none has sunk to these depths.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The chapters appear to be named after anime theme songs, including "Burn my Dread", "Ready Steady Go", "My Boyfriend Is a Pilot", "Men Of Destiny".
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: We've gotten, so far, one new major character per chapter on average.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Hijikata Toshizo does this to his enemies as an Offscouring by unleashing the Shinsengumi at them.
  • Morton's Fork: If Verlina cannot be taken by the Black King's forces, they intend to ravage it to slow down the advance of the Drifters' army. If the Drifters fail to hold Verlina, Nobunaga has decreed they ravage it to distract the Black King. Either way, looks like Verlina's screwed.
  • Mythology Gag: Surprisingly enough, with the real world. When Hitler appeared as a Drifter (or End), he started firing up humans in a local beer hall (sound familiar) and eventually led a march that led to the creation of the Orte Empire. In other words, the Orte Empire was created through a successful Beer Hall Putsch. And for some reason, in spite of succeeding, Hitler still commits suicide.
    • Oda compares Saint Germi to a man who "made a bomb out of a tea kettle" - his old enemy Matsunaga Hisahide. He's promptly surprised when it turns out Saint Germi reveals he knows about Matsunaga, and refuses to be compared to him.
    • Oda comments how good it feels to seal a building full of enemies as it goes up in flames. He should know, having done the same with the Buddhist temples of Mount Hiei and the Nagashima fortress. He also comments Mitsuhide must have also felt such an elation himself, when battling Nobunaga at Honnouji.
  • Oh, Crap: The Count, when he hears the Drifters are not only mass-producing gunpowder, but are moving in to free the Dwarves to expand their federation and gain skilled laborers to produce firearms, as he realizes Orte is well and truly doomed.
  • Portal Network: Presumably, all of the doors in Murasaki's hallway go to a different place and time.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Toyohisa will show no mercy to any of his enemies if he found out they do this. When he finds out that the Orte soldiers have been doing this to the Elven women he wants every soldier in the castle dead.
  • Rousing Speech: Devised by Oda, delivered by Toyohisa to the elves to feed on their frustrations that their female relatives were abducted and forced to work as serfs. It worked to get them riled up.
  • Sneeze Cut: When Abe mentions they need a alchemist to make primer, the next scene cuts to St. Germi sneezing.
  • Super-Deformed: Whenever something funny/awkward happens, exactly like in Hellsing.
  • Talking Animal: A bird was shown giving a Rousing Speech to the Black Kings army in a early chapter.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: What the Drifters to turn them to anti-Orte guerrillas.
  • Vestigial Empire: Orte has lost much of its power over the years and is fighting several hopeless wars on all sides.
  • Watching Troy Burn: Played with. The elves' town, the only place they've ever known, ends up destroyed, but it was part of their own tactics.
  • Weird Currency: Bronze pieces forged from the tumorous growths of the Bronze Dragon.
  • Wham Shot: After the Octobrists discover how the nonhuman city's going, they're discovered by Yoshitsune, who effortlessly kills one. The survivor, furious, spits she's seen all she had to. Yoshitsune, grinning ear to ear, tells her she hasn't. Moments later, we see just how vast the Black King's army really is.
  • White Man's Burden: Scipio invokes this by thinking how shameful it is that Naoshi Kanno doesn't speak Latin when they meet up in the forests, and decides to "enlighten" him by invoking the name of Rome. Kanno, understanding Scipio is an Italian, initially is pleased that he's found another person from the Axis powers... until he remembers Badoglio has just switched over to the Allies.
  • World of Badass: If you didn't guess this already, you're probably not familiar with Mr. Hirano's other work.