While forming the rear guard for his uncle’s escape, Toyohisa Shimazu manages to mortally wound I Naomasa, but is critically wounded himself in the process. While trying to limp back home, he finds himself transported from the field to a hallway lined with doors. There a mysterious man sends him spiraling into another world. Dragged into the forest by two young elves, Toyohisa is patched up from two others from the Land of the Rising sun that turn out to be Yoichi Suketaka Nasu and Oda Nobunaga. From there, Toyohisa and his fellow historical figures, named “drifters” must save (or conquer) their new world.
While it has the same art style and, some could say, a similar sort of story, as Kouta Hirano’s previous work, Hellsing, Drifters sets itself apart with an intriguing tale that takes historical characters that many know from a basic education and brings them to life. While so few anime series make history come alive in such a way, these anime recommendations make the effort.
For Fans of Historical Figures Fighting
With the promise of granting any wish, the Holy Grail has sparked three wars in the past, each too brutal to leave a winner. Despite this, the Einzbern family has been confidently preparing for the fourth war. To ensure their victory, they have hired the hated Magus Killer, Kiritsugu Emiya, to fight and solidify their victory.
If you find a thrill in watching historical or mythical figures fighting each other, then like Drifters, the Fate series is the quintessential anime for that. In each anime you get the same sense of the personality of that figure, even if they aren’t even close to their real life or story versions.
Nobunaga the Fool
Two planets were once bound together by a chain called the Dragon Stream. However, once the chain broke, they were only joined by war. When Jeanne Kaguya d’Arc and Leonardo da Vinci travel to the eastern planet looking for the Savior-King, they become entangled in a military battle, only to be saved by the carefree and silly Nobunaga the Fool.
Nobunaga the Fool might seem like an odd pick here, but while it does feature mechs and a story that only sprinkles in historical names to its sci-fi setting, like in Drifters, you get to know a little bit more about a historical figure that seems kind of larger than life. While Drifters focuses on Nobunaga’s ambition through his personality, in Nobunaga the Fool, you get to understand why him trying to conquer Japan was so important in a historical sense. It is just told in a different way.
During the Sengoku Period of Japan, powerful warlords fight in politics and on the battlefield in hopes of uniting their country. These are their stories.
This is a natural choice. When you think of the fantastic battles in Drifters, you get the reminiscence of Samurai Kings. You have the similar historical characters that are given personalities and have their stories told while going through moments in history. You don’t get the same history in Drifters, but you do get more grounded battles. They get highly flashy when they battle it out in Samurai Kings.
Bungou Stray Dogs
The orphanage that Atsushi Nakajima has been living at has been recently plagued by a tiger that only he can see. Blaming him for the incident, they kick him out. Now homeless, he wanders the streets until he meets the eccentric Osamu Dazai and saves him from drowning. As it turns out, Dazai is a supernatural detective and agrees to help him solve the mystery.
Most people don’t realize it, but Bungou Stray Dogs is actually about famous Japanese authors that are given supernatural powers that fuel their detective agency. So like the historical figures in Drifters, you get to know these authors and become strangely familiar with their works even if you haven’t ever read them.
For Fans of Battling in an Unfamiliar World
Kei Kurono is an apathetic young man that, while waiting for his train, runs into a childhood friend. When a homeless man falls onto a track, his friend coaxes him into helping save his life. Unfortunately, the train comes in and they both die. However, they both wake up in a strange room with other recently deceased and a big black ball that tells them to kill aliens to gain their freedom.
Naturally, the most obvious similarity between Gantz and Drifters is that it takes people at the time of their death and puts them somewhere else where they need to fight. In Gantz, the setting is still just Tokyo, but it does change to a more fantasy setting in Drifters. Both series also have their fair share of blood, but Gantz has more boobs and perverted situations.
Gate: Thus the SDF Fought
When a gate to another world opens in Ginza, Tokyo is attacked from beyond by a military armed with limited weaponry. To secure their safety, the SDF is dispatched on a mission to explore the other world. It is here that they find a world of complicated politics, dragons, and magic. How will it all stack up against their modern weaponry?
While in Drifters the characters are forced into a new environment, in Gate they choose to go. However, both series feature a similar new world with its feudal hierarchies, mythical creatures, and the presence of magic. However, Gate is a little bit more oriented towards comedy and it has its harem times. So if you wished Gate had more blood and less boob, Drifters is a great alternative.
Now and Then, Here and There
Shu is a typical Japanese boy, but when he sees a mysterious girl atop a smokestack, he follows her and is pulled into a strange desert world. It is here that Shu is forced to discover a world filled with the tragedies of war. Genocide, torture, hunger, and thirst are abound, but Shu is determined to try and save the girl that he saw.
While Now and Then features older animation, it is one of the most brutal anime stories ever told about war. In Drifters, it tells a brutal story about war in the sense that it has more blood, but it doesn’t get those same impacting moments. Drifters also has more light comedy where Now and Then is serious almost all the time.
For Fans of Anti-Heroes
Gutts has been a mercenary for as long as he can remember, caring for nothing but moving to the next battle, but one fateful battle puts him at odds with the Band of the Hawk. Their charismatic, idealist leader Griffith soon makes him join by force, but his bond he forms with the Band of the Hawk may very well mean the end of the world.
While you need to watch the 1997 version of Berserk to understand the 2016 version of Berserk, the recent new season and Drifters have a lot in common. The main characters attract followers without really trying, they spend their time battling powerful enemies at overwhelming odds, and they feature a good bit of brutality.
Fuu is a clumsy waitress working at a teahouse. After accidentally spilling tea on another samurai, she calls in the wild-fighting Mugen to set them right. However, when he picks a fight with the unwilling ronin Jin, it ends with them both on the execution block. After saving their lives, Fuu decides to hire them both to help her find a samurai that smells of sunflowers.
Like Samurai Champloo, Drifters also feature samurai from a feudal area and a lot of the story is about the journey. In each anime series, you follow the characters as they try to unravel each new area and the storylines that happen within.
Darker Than Black
After the appearance of the Heaven and Hell Gates, then rose the Contractors, individuals that gave up their humanity for supernatural powers. In Section 4 of Japan around the Hell Gate, Chief Misaki finds herself constantly at odds with a Contractor named Hei, a man who takes missions from the ruthless underground Syndicate that slowly peel away the layers covering a threat to all Contractors.
Both Toyohisa in Drifters and Hei in Darker Than Black are the ultimate anti-heroes, thrust into roles they don’t really want. Like Toyohisa, Hei in Darker Than Black eventually unravels the mystery that has been going on around them.
Do you have any good anime recommendations for Drifters? Tell us about them in the comments section below!