Drifters – Episode 1 – “Fight Song”

Well, looks like I’m gonna be doing one of these weekly review things for Surreal Resolution. The show I’m going to be covering for the next 12 or so weeks is, if you couldn’t tell from the title, is Drifters, an anime adaptation of the manga series of the same name written by Hirano Kouta, the mangaka of Hellsing. With all that out of the way, let’s take a look into the first episode of Drifters, “Fight Song.”

The first episode of the series opens up on a grand-scale battle between two armies, and one of the soldiers, Shimazu, starts wrecking havoc on the battlefield and brutally murders the people on the other side, as is to be expected from the guy who created Hellsing. Later on, the soldiers from the other side try to kill Shimazu for what he did during the battle, more bloody madness ensues as he wipes out more soldier people, and he comes into contact with the head of the army, Naomasa. And after taking MULTIPLE STAB WOUNDS TO THE CHEST, Shimazu still manages to survive that and kills the men as he’s being stabbed. Seriously, how many layers of plot armor is this guy wearing? Anyway, the soldiers retreat, and Shimazu is left there angry about how he was unable to kill Naomasa. He decides to head back home afterwards, and he somehow ends up in this white office space with a man behind a desk, who ends up sending Shimazu into another dimension. When he ends up in the other dimension, two boys come across his body, wondering what they’re supposed to do with him because they notice that he looks different than most of the people in this universe. One of the boys says that since Shimazu is a “Drifter”, they should take him to the deserted castle to take care of him. Once they get to the deserted castle, they encounter a group of these Drifters, who end up driving the boys off, since no non-Drifters are allowed in that area or something like that. After the boys leave, the Drifters take Shimazu in and nurse him back health. After waking up from a nightmare in a bed, Shimazu is then greeted by one of the Drifters, who Shimazu then proceeds to attack in confusion. After avoiding his attack, he introduces himself as Nobunaga, but Shimazu refuses to believe him since the Nobunaga in his universe has been dead for a long time. Before any of them could get into any real combat, another one of the Drifters breaks up the fight for some really jarring comedy. Yeah, we’ll be getting to that when it comes to the review. Anyways, the other Drifter says his name is Yoichi, another dead warrior from Shimazu’s universe. The two Drifters then explain that they were in a similar situation to Shimazu, confirming that this universe is supposed to be the afterlife for ancient Japanese warriors. Some more bad comedy ensues, and the episode ends with the mysterious enemy group planning to attack the Drifters.

Plot armor, dammit!

Long before I decided to take on the task of reviewing this show, I watched the adaptation of Kouta’s other work, Hellsing Ultimate, and it was a decent show. It wasn’t the best thing ever and it certainly has its flaws, but it’s a fun time if you’re looking for some bloody good mindless entertainment. As for Drifters, I feel like I can pretty much say the same thing. It has a pretty interesting setup and some really cool action scenes, but it has some major flaws, a lot of which are shared with its older brother. The most glaring of which is the god-awful whiplash comedy, which is when out of place comedic moments pop up in otherwise serious scenes to ruin whatever tension or emotion the scene might’ve had. This was something Hellsing had a huge problem with, and one of the reasons why I can’t really give the show anything higher than a 6. Too bad the mangaka never learned from his mistakes, because boy is it rampant in the second half. I didn’t laugh once during the comedy bits, and I was instead cringing  over why Kouta still thought that this was a good idea. I’m not saying it’s impossible to transition from comedy to drama (see: Gurren Lagann, Mawaru Penguindrum), but you really have to be careful to make sure it’s not jarring, and unfortunately, Drifters doesn’t pull that off.

Before anyone asks, yes, Yoichi is a man.

Overall, I’d say it’s too early to judge if this show will be good or awful, but aside from the cringeworthy comedy, the series has me interested in its premise, blending both historical and fantasy elements, and hopefully it offers some more cool action scenes like Hellsing Ultimate did. It’s not the thing I’ll be looking forward to the most every Friday (that honor still goes to Diamond is Unbreakable), but I hope it’ll at least provide a fun romp from start to finish.

Drifters is available to watch on Crunchyroll every Friday at 10:30 AM EST

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