Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Manga Review: Drifters

I remember in the early days of my Otaku-dom the bright lure of anime and manga surpassed all; it didn’t matter what the story was, what the art was, what it was about – all I cared about was that it was anime, it was from Japan and it was a new and shiny toy for me to obsess over.

Well, that was then. Now, I like to think of myself as an ex-otaku BUT someone who still appreciates pop-culture and entertainment. When I look at manga and anime now, I look for something that makes it unusual. The art style, or a story that has never been told before OR a twist on old classics (Madoka pulled that off nicely).

Drifters is one of those unusual manga that I have come across.

I liked the art. It was bold, it was weird, it had badass warriors on it so I started reading it. It doesn’t disappoint.

You have to know a little something about Japanese history to really get the story. Our protag is Shimazu Toyohisa – a 16th century samurai of great fame.

The story opens with the infamous ambush that killed him in reality but in Drifters this is used as a plot device as he is magically (?) moved to another world.

At least, I think that’s what happened. I honestly read this as he died and was moved to an underworld or something (its been a long time since I’ve read the manga, I’d have to go back and make sure that’s what happened.)

As he awakes he finds himself and several other powerful, infamous warriors have been transported to this strange new world to be part of a group called ‘Drifters’.

They are plopped straight into a battle with humans, elves, dwarves and other fantastical creatures. The humans, elves ect. are losing a battle against ‘Ends’ who are nasty and kill everything and everyone with the aim to take over the world.

Our three warrior protagonists are:

Toyohisa

Who is a virtuous, honorable man and is the most willing to help the people around him. Historically he was a seriously powerful figure in Japanese history and in Drifters he is the Hero.

Nobunaga

Another character who existed historically, Nobunaga was a famous warlord known for being one hell of a strategist and first brought guns into battle (around the 16th century). In Drifters he’s a lecherous bastard who only occasionally helps out; mostly when there is a profit to be made.

Yoichi

Nasu no Yoichi was another actual historic figure but he is very different in Drifters. In the manga he a very effeminate, playful skillful archer. He and Toyohisa get along better than Nobunaga and Yoichi.

The world of Drifters is a like a crazy patchwork quilt of famous historical people (warriors, mostly) a magic RPG game and political story all mashed together for one strange ride.

Definitely not for children - there are some graphic elements to the manga including rape and graphic violence, so be warned. But if political military maneuvers, awesome battles, magic and elves and general weirdness are your thing then you may enjoy Drifters.

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