Drifters is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Kouta Hirano. The manga started serialization in Shōnen Gahosha’s magazine, Young King Ours, on April 30, 2009. It centers on various historical figures summoned to an unknown world where their skills and techniques are needed by magicians in order to save their world from total destruction. An anime television adaptation aired between October 7, 2016 and December 23, 2016. A second season of the anime series has been announced.
Drifters is serialized in the Shōnen Gahosha Young King Ours magazine and sold under the same publisher in Japan. It is licensed in North America by Dark Horse Comics, in France by Éditions Tonkam, in Germany by Panini Comics, in Italy by J-POP, in Taiwan by Tong Li Comics and in Poland by Japonica Polonica Fantastica.
Shimazu Toyohisa, while involved at the Battle of Sekigahara, manages to mortally wound Ii Naomasa, but is critically injured in the process. As he walks from the field wounded and bleeding, Toyohisa finds himself transported to a corridor of doors, where a bespectacled man at a desk waits for him. This man, Murasaki, sends Toyohisa through the nearest door where he wakes up in another world. There, Toyohisa meets other great warriors like him who have been transported as well, to be part of a group known as “Drifters”.
This world contains both native humans and a number of fantastical races, including elves, dwarves, and hobbits. However, the world is at war, with the humans waging a losing conflict against another group of great warriors, the “Ends”, who wish to take over the world and kill all of the Drifters. Under the Ends’ command are many terrible creatures, including giants and dragons, which they use to destroy everything in their path. At the start of the series, the Ends’ army has control of the northern part of the continent, and are trying to invade the south through a pivotal fortress at the northernmost tip of a nation called Carneades. Meanwhile, the “Octobrist Organization”, a group of human magicians native to this world, attempts to bring together the many individual Drifters to save their world from the brutal Ends.
- A mysterious and calm bespectacled man who is responsible for the appearance of the Drifters, using them as a means to right the wrong of the Ends’ conquest of the unknown world. He is seen sitting in the middle of the door corridor, smoking, and reading a newspaper that gives news of the events relating to the Drifters. In the corridor, he is associated with and accompanied by light.
- Shimazu Toyohisa
- The leader of the Drifters. Historically, he died in 1600 during the Battle of Sekigahara. When he first arrived in the new world, he was critically injured, only to be brought to Nobunaga and Yoichi’s hideout by the young elves, Marsha and Mark. Although impulsive and reckless, Toyohisa possesses a fearless, determined, and chivalrous spirit, assisting the elves and dwarves by liberating them from the Orte Empire. Born and raised in a war-torn era, Toyohisa has a keen sense for battle and tactics, though he remains unaware of these talents himself. Toyohisa primarily uses a nodachi in battle, though he is seen carrying a wakizashi. He also carries a Tanegashima on the back of his waist, which he only uses when his swords are infeasible to use against his enemies.
- Oda Nobunaga
- A famous warlord who conquered most of Japan during Sengoku period. He is known for being the daimyō who took the first step of unification of the Japan, and the first Japanese military commander to utilize arquebuses in battles, using one as his main weapon in battle as a Drifter. Historically, he died during the Honnō-ji incident, the mutiny conducted by Akechi Mitsuhide. As a Drifter, he has only aged six months since arriving in the new world. Nobunaga is highly ambitious and cunning, desiring to establish a multiracial federation in the new world with Toyohisa as their leader. Nobunaga acts as the group’s military strategist.
- Nasu no Yoichi
- A very effeminate man of nineteen. His full name is Nasu Suketaka Yoichi, though he is simply known as Nasu no Yoichi. Although he lived hundreds of years before Nobunaga and Toyohisa, Yoichi is the youngest in the group. Born as the youngest of eleven siblings, Yoichi is a powerful warrior and military commander who served Minamoto no Yoshitsune during the Genpei War. Yoichi’s exploits were recorded throughout Japanese history, including in The Tale of the Heike, though Nobunaga notes that Yoichi acts very differently from these historical accounts. During the Genpei War, he was forced to commit several dishonorable acts by Yoshitsune, despite having a strong belief of Bushido. Now as a Drifter, Yoichi resolves to maintain his honorable nature, and he is the most level-headed of the trio. Yoichi acts as the group’s archer, killing fleeing enemies.
- Hannibal Barca
- A famous Carthiginian military commander. Now a Drifter and elderly, he is first seen arguing with Scipio Africanus over the latter’s “plagiarism” of Cannae at the Battle of Zama. Despite nearly being killed by the Black King’s army, Hannibal still insists that victory is still possible. After being separated from Scipio, Hannibal becomes depressed and senile, but he is still able to articulate battle tactics to his fellow Drifters via indirect means. He acts as Nobunaga’s military advisor since being left in Toyohisa’s group’s care.
- Scipio Africanus
- Hannibal’s Roman adversary during the Second Punic War. As a Drifter, he is as old as Hannibal, who he is seen constantly arguing with, claiming that “a winner takes all” since he won at Zama. Nevertheless, Scipio respects Hannibal greatly. Originally traveling with Hannibal and the Wild Bunch gang, he was accidentally separated from them and is currently in the company of Naoshi Kanno and Tamon Yamaguchi.
- Butch Cassidy
- Leader of the Wild Bunch gang. He, along with Sundance Kid, was transported from Bolivia, and is now fighting against the Black King and his armies. Unlike his partner, Butch has a hot-blooded and wild personality. He favors the use of firearms, particularly a pair of pistols, in battle.
- Sundance Kid
- A member of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch. He, along with Butch, was transported from Bolivia, and is now fighting against the Black King and his armies. Unlike his leader, Kid possesses a calm and collected personality. Kid favors the use of firearms in battle, such as shotguns and a Gatling gun.
- Naoshi Kanno
- During a battle with the Black King, with the Drifters’ side under attack by dragons, Japanese World War II fighter pilot Naoshi Kanno is transported into the world in his plane. When the dragons’ attacks trigger memories of the bombing of Tokyo, he attacks the dragons in anger. His plane later crashed and he soon found himself worshiped as a god by a tribe of anthropomorphic dogs, only to be found by Scipio, who decides to use his status to unite the various anthropomorphic animal tribes under him to bolster the Drifters’ army. He does not initially trust Butch or Sundance Kid, as they are American, but Butch manages to convince him that they are Bolivian instead. He is addressed as Sugano Nao in the Dark Horse translation, an alternate reading of his name.
- Tamon Yamaguchi
- An admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. Tamon arrived in the new world along with the aircraft carrier Hiryū, and has since formed an uneasy alliance with the leaders of Gu-Binnen, a merchant guild, assisting them against the war with the Orte Empire by leading the guild’s griffin naval forces.