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.
A 150-second anime adaptation of Drifters was packaged with the final volume of the Hellsing Ultimate video series in December 2012. The short, produced under the supervision of Ryoji Nakamori, technical director Kazuya Miura, and animation director Masayori Komine, featured the voices of Yūichi Nakamura as Shimazu Toyohisa and Mitsuru Miyamoto as Murasaki, with music composed by Yasushi Ishii.
In the May 2015 issue of Young King OURs, it was announced that a Drifters anime adaptation was in the works. A production site for the anime has been released. It was announced on September 19, 2015 that the anime will be directed by Kenichi Suzuki, produced by NBCUniversal Entertainment Japan, animated by Hoods Drifters Studio, written by Hideyuki Kurata and Yōsuke Kuroda, and will feature character designs by Ryoji Nakamori. Yasushi Ishii and Hayato Matsuo will both compose the music together. The opening theme, “Gospel Of The Throttle 狂奔REMIX ver.”, is performed by Minutes til Midnight, while the ending theme, “Vermillion”, is performed by Maon Kurosaki.
The 12-episode series began airing on October 7, 2016 on Tokyo MX. A specially edited version of the first and second episodes with a runtime of 36 minutes was bundled with the manga’s fifth volume, and released on June 6, 2016. A special limited-pressing Blu-ray box set was released on December 30, 2016. The box set includes all twelve episodes (with added unaired footage), an exclusive box illustrated by Hirano, a 200-page animation sketch collection by chief animation director Ryoji Nakamori, a 52-page booklet, a bonus extras disc, and a two-CD original soundtrack. The bonus extras disc will contain an omake titled “Kokuō-sama Go-Ranshin“, promotional videos, and other materials. Customers who pre-ordered the box set from participating retailers before November 6, 2016 will receive an exclusive illustration card set. Additionally, the box set includes a form for advance ticket sales for an event that will be held on April 2, 2017, at Maihama Amphitheater in Chiba.
In Japan, the anime is exclusively streamed on the AbemaTV service simultaneously as the anime aired on Japanese television, starting on October 7 at 11:00 p.m. The series has been licensed by Funimation for streaming in English-speaking countries and home video and on-demand distribution for the U.S. Additionally, Funimation streamed Drifters in English beginning on November 6, 2016, at 10:00 p.m. ET. As part of Funimation’s partnership with Crunchyroll, Crunchyroll also streamed Drifters as it aired in Japan. Drifters was also broadcast on Aniplus Asia. Funimation released a DVD/Blu-ray combo package for Drifters on October 3, 2017. Universal Pictures UK acquired the series for the United Kingdom and Ireland, and will release it on October 8, 2018. Universal Sony classified the series for release in Australia and New Zealand, and will release it on October 17, 2018.
At the end of the anime’s twelfth episode, a second season was announced with the message “See You Again, Tokyo 20XX”. On October 10, 2017, it was announced the thirteenth and fourteenth episodes, the first two episodes of the second season will be released on December 23, 2017 on Blu-ray discs in regular and limited-edition versions. The limited edition includes an outer case illustrated by manga creator Kouta Hirano, a jacket illustrated by character designer and chief animation director Ryoji Nakamori, a bonus video, a drama CD, a 72-page booklet, and a “mystery disc.” A fifteenth episode was announced to be released with the manga’s 6th volume on November 30.
The opposing force in the unknown world and primary antagonists of the series, the Ends are, like the Drifters, mainly composed of powerful historical figures who died under unorthodox and often violent circumstances. Unlike the Drifters, however, the Ends are revered humans that have forsaken their humanity, and are thus capable of using supernatural powers. Most of the Ends are driven completely by an intense hate for humanity for the various betrayals each suffered back on Earth. They seem to have been brought into the new world by EASY, who is at odds with Murasaki.
- An arrogant and short-tempered young woman with long, black hair, and violet eyes. Apparently at odds with Murasaki, she is responsible for the Ends, an opposing force similar in origin to the Drifters. She primarily uses her laptop to keep tabs on the battles taking place in the other world. In the corridor, she is associated with and accompanied by darkness.
- Black King
- The leader of the Ends. He claims that he once tried to “save” humans, but he has since shifted his agenda towards non-humans after humans “denied” his efforts. His identity has yet to be established, but he is shown to possess healing powers and the ability to multiply any life form he wishes, infinitely producing food or wood. He also has puncture scars in both of his palms. His ultimate goal is to eradicate all humans and create a new civilization of non-humans in a perpetual Dark Age, ensuring that they never advance far enough to become as destructive as humans, creating what the Black King believes will be a utopia. In order to achieve this, the Black King has instructed Rasputin to create a simple alphabet and a syncretic religion to allow the different non-human races to find a common ground.
- Hijikata Toshizō
- The former vice-commander of the Shinsengumi who died fighting in the name of the Tokugawa Bakufu during the Boshin War. Hijikata has the ability to use smoke to manifest ghostly images of members of the Shinsengumi and uses them to cut apart his enemies. He has become Toyohisa’s rival following a battle between the two that ended in a draw.
- Jeanne d’Arc
- The heroine of the Hundred Years’ War between France and England. Jeanne, who was driven insane after being burned at the stake, now desires nothing more than to see the world burn. As an End – with her Christian crosses now upside down – she has manifested the ability to manipulate fire. Surprisingly, she seems to be self-conscious of her (lacking) femininity, though this could be another result of her insanity. After being defeated by Toyohisa, Jeanne is able to flee the scene alive due to Toyohisa’s personal oath to never kill a woman, leading Jeanne to vow revenge.
- Gilles de Rais
- A French nobleman who was once one of Jeanne’s companions-in-arms, but was later executed for multiple cases of alleged murder, sodomy, and heresy. He possessed incredible strength and durability. He continued to accompany Jeanne to battle as a spearman, remaining loyal to her until his death. He was defeated by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, whereafter he disintegrated into salt. An enraged Jeanne swears to avenge Gilles de Rais’s death. He is the first of the Ends to be killed in the series.
- Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova
- The youngest daughter of the last Russian tsar, Nicholas II. Anastasia and her family were shot by a Bolshevik firing squad when Anastasia was seventeen. She has the supernatural ability to create blizzards. Anastasia is depicted as an emotionless woman with little interest in the war between the Ends and Drifters. She apparently has some attachment to Jeanne, as Rasputin noted that she was angered that Jeanne was hurt during her battle against Toyohisa.
- Grigori Rasputin
- A famous Russian mystic who once held a great influence over the Russian Imperial Court because of his ability to supposedly heal the Romanov’s hemophiliac heir, Alexei. He now serves the Black King as a spymaster for his army, and is often seen by Anastasia’s side. Similar to the Octobrists, Rasputin uses magic to possess others via the use of talismans, which he also uses for communication among the Black King’s army.
- Akechi Mitsuhide
- A former general and samurai who served under Nobunaga before his betrayal in 1582, resulting in the latter’s (historical) death during the Honnō-ji incident. He is eager to kill Nobunaga during the war between the Drifters and the Ends.
- Minamoto no Yoshitsune
- A ruthless general of the Minamoto clan and Nasu no Yoichi’s former commander. During the Genpei War, Yoshitsune resorted to dishonorable tactics to achieve victory, something Yoichi despises about him. Likewise, Yoshitsune mocks Yoichi for trying to follow the code of Bushido once they are transported to the new world to fight. His status as a Drifter or End is unknown, and he often remarks that he will go the side that provides him with the most amusement. Yoshitsune is currently aligned with the Black King’s army.