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Manga / Drifters

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Got a love like a hurricane.

"This man really is a natural-born warrior. He has the power required of a leader in a time of civil war. The power to drive men towards the battlefield. The power called 'Insanity'."

Drifters is a manga written by Kouta Hirano. 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 Suketaka Yoichi, though others are introduced as the story continues. Their opponents are the Ends who oddly enough are composed of people who weren't evil in their lifetime (Joan of Arc and Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova for example) but nevertheless are cutting a swathe across the fantasy land. An organization of magicians, called the Octobrists (or the Oct), assists the Drifters in fighting against the Ends. And thus the stage is set for one of the oddest wars ever fought.

Drifters began serialization in 2009 in Young King Ours and is still ongoing. It was licensed in English 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. Funimation is the official distributor of the show in North America.

An OVA trailer was released with the last episode of the Hellsing Ultimate OVA. An Animated Adaptation debuted as part of the Fall 2016 anime season as a TV show with 12 episodes.

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.
  • Anti-Hero Team: 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!
  • Army of The Ages: If you take away the fantasy setting, the battle between the Drifters and the Ends is basically this.
  • Arrows on Fire: Often used by the Drifter archers.
    • They were used to burn down an elven village and detonate explosives in a building full of goblin soldiers.
    • They even packed arrows with black powder to make explosive arrows which was used during their assault on Gadolka to free the dwarves.
  • Art Shift: The characters become cartoony when they bicker around in a light hearted scene.
  • Ax-Crazy: Several, particularly Joan of Arc.
  • The Blacksmith: The dwarves were able to make muskets when nobody else in the fantasy land could do it.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: The manga does this to the backstory of the Orte Empire courtesy of Hitler.
  • 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!
    • Joan seems to get angrier than usual when Toyohisa questions her gender. It Makes Sense in Context because Joan of Arc was technically burnt at the stake for cross-dressing
  • Big Ball of Violence: All three main Drifters love to fight. No matter how petty the excuse.
  • 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.
  • Casting Gag:
  • 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 fairy-like dimension the series takes place is a land riddled with war, prejudice, and death largely in part because of the Orte Empire.
  • Death by Gluttony: Nobunaga barely manages to send a message to stop the dwarves from gorging on too much food. He's probably familiar with refeeder syndrome, but the fact the dwarves were starting to kill the horses to eat them didn't help.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The customs of Sengoku-era Japan and its samurai clash multiple times with the cultures of other Drifters and the civilizations in the world, such as when Toyohisa demands that the commander of a conquered castle commit seppuku as an honorable death, then beheading the man when he (justifiably) refuses.
  • 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 his time of ruling can pass 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". It takes on a new context when you remember that Hitler founded this empire.
  • 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.
  • Easy Logistics: Averted. Various supplies and weapons have to be made before the Drifters and their nonhuman allies can make use of them, and even with the dwarves making matchlock muskets they only manage to make 100 in the span of a few weeks when there are at least a thousand troops under the command of the Drifters. During the attack that the Drifters launch to rescue the dwarves, Nobunaga (lightheartedly) laments the loss of so many weapons and armor suits that could have been useful to them, and talks about the usefulness of the crystal ball communicators that the Octobrists use. On the Ends side, this is even further averted, as because the Black King and the Ends are creating a whole civilization out of the less civilized demihumans in their ranks; they have to teach their troops to farm, how to read and write an alphabet, establishing an insignia for the kingdom, creating a religion based off of Vedic and Celtic fire-worship along with other influences, along with creating currency, and fostering a sense of national unity among the nonhumans so that the empire they're building won't collapse when the Black King inevitably dies.
  • Elite Army: The Drifters have to count on having the best possible troops around, along with superior tactics, strategy and logistics, to initially counter Orte and especially the Black King's overwhelming numerical superiority. The most notable units early on are the elven skirmishers/sharpshooters (more mobile and skilled with the bow than any human equivalent, perfect for guerilla and irregular warfare), dwarven warriors (heavy shock troops and combat engineer corps rolled into one)... and Saint Germi's Sacred Band-ish personal guard of buff, shirtless gay men. Who all happen to be disciplined professional soldiers that quickly become crack shots with the first batches of muskets forged.
  • 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.
  • The Empire: The Orte Empire, natch; arrogant, militaristic, expansionist, practices Fantastic Racism on a widespread scale. Unsurprising given that its founder was Adolf Hitler. It doesn't take long though for readers and savvy characters to realize it's well on its way to becoming a Vestigial Empire.
  • End of an Age / Dawn of an Era: Oda has no trouble pondering the full implications of the military uses of magic and the rifle. He's posively giddy about it all.
  • Enemy Civil War: Instigated by Nobunaga by using the elves in disguise as Orte troops in order to make the enemy think that their fellow soldiers have turned traitor.
  • Enslaved Elves: Both the elves and the dwarves were defeated and enslaved by the Orte Empire.
  • Face–Heel Turn: All of the Ends are people who have turned their backs on the world and humanity. In the cases of Joan of Arc and Anastasia Romanova, it's fairly clear that a Break the Cutie was involved. In fact, the common theme among the Ends 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 Joan, 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, hobbits, goblins, orcs, kobolds, dragons, giant birds, catfolk, dogfolk, centaurs, giants, humans with animal ears, and time travelling wizards fighting or allying with samurai, cowboys, WWII fighter pilots, 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.
  • Firearms Are Revolutionary: This is detailed in length by Drifter Oda Nobunaga after seeing the Western gatling gun in action firsthand, and the key to the Drifters' superior firepower. Historically, he is known for being the daimyo who took the first step to unify Japan, and one of the first Japanese military commanders to utilize arquebuses in battles effectively; he even carries one himself. When he sees the gatling gun and colt pistol being used, he goes on tangents about how revolutionary such weapons are on the battlefield and how they render all previous traditional modes of combat obsolete. Even Drifter Hannibal Barca remarked how he'd be able to take down Rome in a day if he had one functioning gatling gun. However, the metallurgy and mechanics to make the weapons are too advanced for the blacksmiths of the setting to recreate. Until the Drifters get the Dwarves to join their ranks.
    Oda Nobunaga: If you have these weapons, you won't need to do what I did. More than that, the battlefield itself will change. Large battalions clustered together will be killed in the blink of an eye. No need for rows of riflemen. They should be dispersed in strategic points. Horseman? Spearman? What for?
  • 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.
  • Godzilla Threshold: As bloodthirsty and dangerous as the Drifters are, there are no other options to win against the Black King.
  • Gorn: There's a whole lot of it. But hey, this was made by the same guy who made Hellsing so it isn't that much of a surprise.
  • 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.
  • The Good King: The Black King, despite his genocidal ambitions towards humanity, is this among his subjects. He cares for his soldiers greatly, walking among them himself to heal their wounds and wishing to know the casualties of a battle instead of dismissing them as inevitable. He even insults the Bronze Dragon, one of the most powerful entities of the world, as being equal to a starving goblin child in terms of importance to him.
  • Historical Domain Character: Every Drifter and End is a figure from the history of Earth summoned by their respective god into the fantasy world. These include, among many others, Oda Nobunaga, Rasputin the Mad Monk, Joan of Arc, Tamon Yamaguchi, Billy the Kid, the famous Onmyōdō practitioner Abe no Seimei, and Adolf Hitler. The Big Bad is also heavily implied to be Jesus.
  • Historical Domain Superperson: Ends get a Super-Empowering upon their arrival to the new world, giving them an edge over Drifters who, being Badass Normals, must use tactics and other factors to even the odds.
  • 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.
    • Oda made salpeter by mixing enemy corpses with soil, grass, poop and urine and then combined it with sulfer and charcoal to make black powder. Which is made into explosives or gunpowder for firearms.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All chapters appear to be named after songs, many of them anime theme songs, including "Burn my Dread", "Ready Steady Go", "My Boyfriend Is a Pilot", "Men Of Destiny".
  • Kick the Dog: Each side and character does it at least once: the Black King causes the Bronze Dragon to contract cancer, then has his army restrain it while cutting the growths off to make currency (with the process apparently agonizingly painful for the dragon). The Orte Empire has done this to the demihumans under their rule for the past forty years. Toyohisa does this after liberating the dwarves, demanding that the defeated Orta commander commit seppuku for surrendering the fortress, then calling him a coward and beheading him when the man understandably refuses.
  • 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.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Played straight just like you would think they would be. Most of them are short and bearded. They are powerful warriors that prefers to cleave their foes in half with their axes, and the most skilled blacksmiths in the fantasy world.
  • 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.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: Toyoshia and Oda state that a big advantage to fire arms is in how little training and knowledge they require. Allowing anyone with only a small amount of practice to kill a fully trained soldier with ease.
  • Slave Liberation: Toyohisa and his companions first freed the elves and helped them start an rebellion against the Orte empire. They also liberated the dwarves along their way to conquer Orte.
  • Sneeze Cut: When Abe mentions they need an 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, exalting that the Black King had come to destroy humanity and screaming "Crusade! Crusade!"
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: What the Drifters do to turn the elves to anti-Orte guerrillas.
  • Translation Convention: When Scipio attempted to communicate Kanno, both of them couldn't understand each other due to different languages. Scipio is talking in Latin with subtitles translated for the viewers, while Kanno is speaking Japanese or whatever language depending on the dub.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: Looking that way at the moment.
  • Vestigial Empire: Orte is in the early stages of this. It has lost much of its power over the years and is fighting several hopeless wars on all sides, and has gotten into this situation due to its constant warring putting a drain on its resources.
  • Voice of the Legion: The Black King speaks with at least two voices, one a booming echo, and another deep and distorted voice.
  • 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.


Video Example(s):


I was wrong to speak of mercy

Toyohisa was willing to spare surrendering Orte soldiers despite all the things he'd seen them do, until he learned the true dept of their dishonor.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (27 votes)

Example of:

Main / RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil

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