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 the 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 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. So far, Word of God suggests that no further OVAs are considered.

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

Drifters provides the following tropes:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade
  • Anti-Human Alliance
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Nobunaga after he finds someone suspicious spying on the Drifters. This is a CMOF too.
    Nobunaga: "You know me. The one they call the devil. My hobbies are burning everything down and killing everyone. Then sipping toasts from the skulls of the vanquished. Great fan of power through the sword. Loved to dance "Atsumori"."
  • Ax-Crazy: Several, particularly Jeanne d'Arc.
  • Badass Grandpa: Hannibal (no, not that one or that one, the original Hannibal of Carthage).
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Oda is more than willing to get his hands dirty to ensure they win. But he will not accept Toyohisa getting his hands dirty.
  • Beat the Curse Out of Him: Toyohisa does some form of this to Jeanne d'Arc by throwing her into a well while pounding her, as seen when her pyrokinetic powers fade and her madness subsides somewhat. Unusual in that Toyohisa had absolutely no wish to do that (he had honestly no way of knowing that would happen), and that he left her alone after that, because he believes there is no honor in killing a woman.
  • 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.
  • The Berserker: Toyohisa
  • 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.
  • Blood Knight: Toyohisa. Nobunaga outright thanks Rasputin for giving them the excuse they needed to start a war against the Black King, and smiles insanely as he sees a building full of enemies go up in flames, as he fondly reminisces how good it feels.
  • Break the Haughty: The Black King easily did this to the Bronze Dragon.
  • Break Them by Talking: Saint Germi attempts to do this to Toyohisa, asking whether he'd like to hear what happened to the Shimazu. Toyohisa shuts him up by detailedly describing, in painful accuracy, taking all factors of the battle he left into account, why he knows his family's dead.
  • 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.
  • Body Horror: The Black King is not above forcing the Bronze Dragon into his alliance.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Enforced by Oda, who clocks Toyohisa out to prevent him from shouting out the "execute" command on a group of soldiers. He sighs in relief, smiles, and then proceeds to gleefully issue the same command. As he explains to the recovering Toyohisa, it is he who will "shoulder" the "burden" of being the Card-Carrying Villain of the group. Toyohisa is understandably both skeptical and pissed.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: Murasaki is either this, or a Sufficiently Advanced version; he sends people from death to other worlds through queues and paperwork.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Kanno Naoishi's entrance.
    • Although in the North American translation, he does not say this.
  • 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.
  • Cool Old Guy: Oda Nobunaga.
  • Cool Plane: Kanno's Kawanishi N1KJ-2 Shiden-Kai! Apart from being an Imperial Japanese Navy fighter plane that is obviously not the venerable Zero, it is a super-performing flying tank in this world. Even better, the shells from its four 20mm auto-cannons can pierce through dragon scales, for crying out loud! Unfortunately, the plane is useless with no fuel available.
  • 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!
  • Dark Messiah: Black King is the messiah of monsters and fully intends on making the world belong to them after the extermination of humanity. He's began plans for a single unified religion, plans for a single unified language and alphabet that is to be shared amongst them all, and has taught them how to farm.
  • Defector from Decadence: The Count of Saint-Germi.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Implied with the Count of Saint Germi, as upon his approach a local employee frantically screams for the male elves to hide, while saying women can stay. His two subordinates are very disappointed that there aren't any naked male Elves around as well.
  • Dirty Old Man: Why did Oda Nobunaga just grab Olmine's breast while he was yelling at her? Shits and giggles?
  • 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.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Yoichi, also counts as Unsettling Gender-Reveal as Toyohisa and Nobunaga (and most likely the readers) don't realize it till Yoichi says so.
  • 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.
  • Emotionless Girl: Anastasia
  • 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.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Oda scraps his initial plan of creating a new Empire with Toyohisa at its head when he realizes Toyohisa not only does not want the post, the nonhumans won't help destroy Orte just to let a new human-centric empire rise in its place. Instead, he plots to construct a Multiracial Federation with Toyohisa as its military commander. He also realizes with some bitterness that if he had been smarter and more caring with his subordinates, he probably wouldn't have been backstabbed as much during his reign.
  • Expy: The Count of Saint Germi looks and acts a lot like pre-takeover Kefka Palazzo.
    • Not to mention he's heading the same way, given he's way smarter than the Orte generals and realizes they're going to lose.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Oda and Hannibal.
    • Oda's eyepatch begins covering his right eye. Then in chapter 11, when they jump on Olmine, we see his eyepatch on his left eye. A few chapters afterwards the eyepatch returns to his right eye. Conclusion: Oda Nobunaga doesn't actually need an eyepatch, he just wears one for the badassery bonus.
  • 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.
  • Fantastic Slurs: Some Elves call humans "short ears".
  • 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.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Implied with Easy, as her door has her name spelled E.A.S.Y., with a partly obscured title, beginning with Eternal.
  • Gatling Good: The Wild Bunch has a big advantage against non-magical monsters due to their BFG.
  • Genre Savvy: Toyohisa surprisingly realizes that the Drifters propping themselves up as rulers is likely to end really badly (particularly since the Orte Empire they are overthrowing is, like them, human and it's unlikely that the Elves are going to be happy exchanging one set of human rulers for another).
  • 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.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Both Scipio and Hannibal. Hannibal, in particular, is senile and decrepit, a condition that only worsens without Scipio to banter and argue with... which does not stop him from being the occasional flashes of military insight.
  • The Gunslinger: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
  • Healing Hands: The Black King han heal effortlessly. Too much life, though, and his powers transform the healed flesh into cancer.
  • Heroic BSOD: Hannibal gets a major one after losing contact with Scipio.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Hannibal of Carthage and Scipio Africanus.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Implacable Man: Gilles de Rais.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Yoichi
  • Join or Die: The Black King's choice to the Bronze Dragon who he will no longer allow to sit on the sidelines.
  • Kick the Dog: Aram, who has been given permission to cut the elves' population in half. Not that he gets very far.
  • Kill All Humans: One of the Black Kings many goals.
  • Large Ham
  • Lethal Harmless Powers: The Black King's healing abilities.
  • 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.
  • Mundane Luxury: Nobunaga is, maybe unsurprisingly, familiar with refeeding syndrome, and urges the people serving food to the dwarves not to allow them to gorge themselves too full lest they inadvertently kill themselves by eating too much.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Olminu is unsurprisingly horrified by the many creative ways the Drifters have used her wall-creating ofuda for, such as walling enemies to pelter them with bombs and sealing exit doors to an exploding building.
  • 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.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: Gilles de Rais finds this out the hard way when Butch shoots him to pieces.
  • Never Found the Body: Jeanne.
  • Off with His Head!: Toyohisa's favorite pastime is collecting heads in battle. If he finds a commander isn't worthy he'll personally behead them even if they surrender.
  • 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.
  • Older Than They Look: "I'm 106 years old."
    • Abe no Seimei is 83 years old.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Originally all Offscourings wanted to destroy everything else in the world thanks to what they had suffered through in the old world. The Black Kings arrival changed everything.
  • Onmyodo: Abe no Seimei and the Octobrist Organization's magic.
  • Our Dragons Are Different
  • Pet the Dog: Toyohisa tells an elf not to kill an unarmed soldier.
  • Portal Network: Presumably, all of the doors in Murasaki's hallway go to a different place and time.
  • Playing with Fire: Jeanne d'Arc.
  • 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.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Played with in Chapter 13, with Nobunaga hinting that he may see Toyohisa as a replacement for his lost son. He gets shot down pretty quickly by Toyohisa. And promptly ribs him about being a replacement for his father instead. This pushes one of Toyohisa's many Berserk Buttons, leading to an improptu Big Ball of Violence Yoichi joins in for absolutely no reason.
  • La Résistance: The Drifters inspire one among the elves.
  • 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.
  • Samurai
  • Sheath Strike: Aram is on the receiving end of a brutal beatdown with Toyohisa's sheath.
  • Skyward Scream: The Count, upon a particularly bad Oh, Crap moment, yells at the sky for Murasaki.
  • Slasher Smile: Nobunaga has an impressive one. He invites Rasputin, whose plans are slowly crashing around him, to join him in one.
  • Sneeze Cut: When Abe mentions they need a alchemist to make primer, the next scene cuts to St. Germi sneezing.
  • Sociopathic Hero: I WANT YOUR HEAD!
    • Abe no Seimei, too. Maybe even crossing with Knight Templar when he thinks all Offscourings must die, no matter how tragic their pasts.
    • Really, one could pretty much place every Drifter under this category. In any other story, they would be the bad guys. However, the Offscouring are much worse.
  • Sudden Name Change: Naoshi Kanno is Sugano Nao in the North American translation. No word from Dark Horse if this is a mistake from translation or if it's due to something else.
  • Super-Deformed: Whenever something funny/awkward happens, exactly like in Hellsing.
  • Take Over the World: Currently Oda Nobunaga's plan to fight the Black King is to take over the countries that haven't already been conquered by him.
  • Talking Animal: A bird was shown giving a Rousing Speech to the Black Kings army in a early chapter.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Oda Nobunaga, of course.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers
  • Vestigial Empire: Orte has lost much of its power over the years and is fighting several hopeless wars on all sides.
  • Visionary Villain: The Black King seems strangely interested in enlightening the inhuman races, giving them culture and basic technology, for the day he's no longer with them.
  • 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.
  • White Man's Burden: Scipio invokes this by thinking how shameful it is that Naoshi Kanno doesn't speak Latin, 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.
  • Would Hurt a Child: A bit of an understatement for Gilles De Rais, who in Real Life was a child serial killer.
  • You Will Be Spared: Mills, the single officer in the fortress who did not participate in the rapes is left alive, conveniently for Oda to spirit him away to explain the Orte Empire's bureaucracy and to serve as manager for the conquered resources. He's not particularly happy about this, mostly because the Drifters now use him as a paperwork sink. Having his virginity routinely mocked does not help his mood.