Drifters cover released in Japan
|Genre||Action, Science Fantasy|
|Written by||Kouta Hirano|
|Published by||Shōnen Gahosha|
|English publisher||Dark Horse Comics|
|Magazine||Young King OURs|
|Original run||April 30, 2009 – ongoing|
Drifters (ドリフターズ Dorifutazu ) is a fantasy, alternate history Japanese manga 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 worlds from total destruction.
Shimazu Toyohisa, while involved at the Battle of Sekigahara, manages to mortally wound Ii Naomasa, but is critically wounded 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 into 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 war 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 dragons, which they use to destroy everything in their wake. At the start of the series, the Ends' army has control of the northern part of the continent, and are currently 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, attempt to bring together the many individual Drifters to save their world from the brutal Ends.
- Murasaki (紫)
- Voiced by: Mitsuru Miyamoto
- A Caucasian, bespectacled man who constantly wears a suit. He is apparently the one responsible for the appearance of the Drifters, using them as a means to right the wrong of the Ends' conquest of the magical world. He is often 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 (島津 豊久)
Voiced by: Yūichi Nakamura
- The protagonist. Historically he died in 1600. When he first arrived in the world, he was critically injured, only to be brought to the hideout of Nobunaga and Yoichi by some young "elves". Of the three Drifters in the group, Toyohisa is the most willing to help the elves, first by attacking the humans massacring them and then by convincing them to kill the leader of those humans. He uses a long sword and is seen carrying a short sword as well. He's also shown carrying a what appears to be a sawed off Tanegashima, which he only uses when his swords are infeasible.
- Oda Nobunaga (織田 信長)
- A famous warlord who conquered most of Japan during Sengoku period. Historically he is known for being the daimyo who took the first step of unification of the Japan, and the first Japanese military commander to utilize arquebuses in battles. Perhaps because of this, as a Drifter he uses an arquebus in battle. He died twenty years before Toyohisa (1582). As a Drifter, he has only aged six months since arriving in the new world.
- Nasu no Yoichi (那須 与一)
- A very effeminate man of nineteen. Although he died many years before Nobunaga and Toyohisa, Yoichi is the youngest in the group. His historical death date is unclear, yet some records indicate that he either died on 1189, 1190, or 1232, at up to 64 years old. Historically he is known as a powerful warrior who served Minamoto no Yoshitsune during the Genpei War, and he also appears in The Tale of the Heike. However, Nobunaga notes that Yoichi is very different from historical accounts. Yoichi acts as the group's archer, killing fleeing enemies.
- A famous Carthiginian military commander, who died in either 183 or 181 BC. Now a Drifter and elderly, he is seen arguing with Scipio Africanus over the latter's "plagiarism" of Cannae at the Battle of Zama. After nearly being killed by the Black King's army, Hannibal insists that victory is still possible.
- Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus
- Hannibal's Roman adversary during the Second Punic War, who is believed to have died around 183 BC. 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, saying he is worth a million men, because though a million men would not budge Rome, Hannibal nearly tore it down.
- The Wild Bunch
- Transported from the Wild West, the outlaws now fight against the Black King and his armies. They carry a large amount of firearms including machine guns and pistols. Two members of the bunch are Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.
- Naoshi Kanno (菅野 直)
- During a battle with the Black King, with the Drifters' side under attack by dragons, World War II fighter pilot Naoshi Kanno is transported into the world in his plane. He decides to attack the dragons when their attacks remind him of the US bombing of Tokyo. He is addressed as Sugano Nao in the Dark Horse translation, although this can be a mistake.
- Tamon Yamaguchi (山口 多聞)
- An admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. He is first mentioned in Chapter 19 directing the destruction of Orte Empire ships via flying griffin forces.
- A young woman with long, black hair. Apparently at odds with Murasaki, she is responsible for the Ends, an opposing force similar in origin to the Drifters. In the corridor she is associated with and accompanied by darkness.
The Black King
- The Black King is the leader of the Ends. He claims that he once tried to "save" humans but he has since shifted his agenda towards nonhumans 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. In Chapter 33, the Black King has instructed Rasputin to create a simple alphabet and a syncretic religion to allow the different races of the nonhumans to find a common ground.
Hijikata Toshizō (土方 歳三)
- 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 in order to manifest ghostly images of members of the Shinsengumi and uses them to cut apart his enemies.
Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc)
- The heroine of the Hundred Years' War between France and England. Joan, who was driven insane after being burned at the stake, now desires nothing more than to see the world burn. As an Ends- 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. In Chapter 24, Joan is defeated by Toyohisa in battle; however, she is able to flee the scene alive due to Toyohisa's personal vow to never kill a woman.
- A French nobleman who was once one of Joan's companions-in-arms, but was later executed for multiple cases of alleged murder, sodomy, and heresy. He wields an incredible strength and continued to accompany Joan to battle even in death until he was defeated by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, whereafter he disintegrated into salt.
Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova (Анастасия Николаевна Романова)
- 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. Now she has the supernatural ability to create blizzards. She apparently has some attachment to Joan.
Grigori Rasputin (Григорий Ефимович Распутин)
- 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.
Orte Empire 
- The infamous Führer and Chancellor of Nazi Germany. Revealed in Chapter 35 to be a Drifter, Hitler ended up appearing in the current world fifty years before the current storyline and inspiring the local humans through speeches at a tavern to rise up and form the Orte Empire. He mysteriously committed suicide soon after; however, his followers continued to revere him as the "Father" of their country long after his death.
- A homosexual nobleman and Drifter who owns a quarter of the Empire and was Hitler's closest ally in its formation. It is said that the Empire could not have existed without his "betrayal", and as such he is free to live as he pleases without criticism from any of his peers. Despite this position however, he is not loyal to the Empire and knows that its demise is near; as such, he plans to reach out to the elves and the Drifters that accompany them. As a side note, in spite of the fact he is well over fifty years old, as the Orte Empire was formed fifty years before the current storyline, Saint-Germi appears as a youthful drag queen with an effeminate personality. In Chapter 35, it is revealed that he is a Drifter and has knowledge the modern era (due to the fact that he is aware of the existence of firearms and gunpowder), as well as some knowledge with Japanese history.
- A former tax collector of the elvish colonies. He now works for the elves as a servant.
- A knight of the Orte Empire who was killed by the elves.
- An aide to Count Saint-Germi.
- An aide to Count Saint-Germi.
The Octobrist Organization 
- Abe no Seimei (安倍 晴明)
- Abe no Seimei is a legendary Japanese magician who devoted his life to the extermination of the Ends soon after he first appeared in the new world as a Drifter. He now serves as one of the heads of the Octobrist Organization, an anti-Ends society.
- Olminu (Sem)
- A young magician of the Octobrists. She was charged with watching Toyohisa's group of Drifters. She seems to be quite incompetent at reconnaissance, and is terrified of the Drifters she must follow. After she is discovered and kidnapped by Toyohisa's group, she tells them the story of the Drifters and Ends. She is often used as comic relief, shown in a generally incompetent, powerless and cowardly way, and is a frequent target of sexual harassment by Nobunaga (Who calls her names such as "Olminipples") but can be helpful. Olminu can also serve as an spectator to the story, with the narrative enlightening plot elements trough her perception.
- Ham is an assistant to Abe no Seimei.
- Marsha is one of the elf brothers that discovers Toyohisa.
- Mark is one of the elf brothers that discovers Toyohisa.
- Shara, a brother of Marsha and Mark, is an elf that starts an elvish rebellion against the Orte Empire after his father is killed.
Minamoto no Yoshitsune (源 義経)
- While he fights for the Ends, Minamoto is allowed by the Black King to fight when he wants to and against whom. Although he was Yoichi's leader in the past, it is unknown what their dynamic will be like in this world.
- Bronze Dragon
- One of the six Great Dragons that govern the winged dragons. Although she objects to the employment of her subjects as the personal "pets" of the Black King, she is soon tortured into subservience as well.
- A spy for the Oct.
- Many heroes and great warriors from different eras and cultures seem to have been brought to this new world by Murasaki, where they are meant to fight the Ends. A common element to the Drifters is that although they are driven by violence, victory, and conquest, they are not cruel; they love to fight and win, but do not care about hurting innocents.
- The opposing force in this world, 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 humans that have forsaken their humanity, and are thus capable of using supernatural powers. Now, Ends are driven completely by an intense hate for humanity. They seem to have been brought into the new world by Easy, who is at odds with Murasaki.
- The Octobrist Organization
- A group of humans, known as magicians, native to the world whose duty is to observe and gather Drifters together to fight the Ends. Unlike many humans in this world, Octobrists do not subjugate the demihumans. It is led by Abe no Seimei who is a Drifter against the Ends. Known as Oct in the Dark Horse translation.
- Orte Empire
- The Orte Empire is a country that was established by Hitler. It expanded through the conquest of neighboring territories and continues to adhere to Hitler's principles, which involves the persecution of non-human races. Its capital is Verlina.
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, and in Taiwan by Tong Li Comics.
|No.||Japan release date||Japan ISBN||North America release date||North America ISBN|
|1||July 7, 2010||ISBN 978-4-08-877725-2||August 24, 2011||ISBN 978-1595827692|
|2||October 13, 2011||ISBN 978-4785937140||July 25, 2012||ISBN 978-1595829337|
|3||March 18, 2013||ISBN 978-4785950439||—||—|
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.
No further plans for future animated productions of the Drifters manga have been announced.
Drifters has been nominated twice for the annual Manga Taishō Awards, once in the year 2011 and again in the year 2012. The manga was also received well by BAMFAS, saying that the "action paces itself throughout the volume, making sure to include only enough to keep readers moving quickly through the event until the next transition hits."
- "Hellsing Creator Hirano's New Manga Will Be Drifters". Anime News Network. 2009-03-30. Retrieved 2009-06-28.
- "アワーズ連載" (in Japanese). Shonen Gahosa. Retrieved 2011-03-25.
- "Dark Horse Adds Bloodline Battlefront, Drifters, Shinjuku Azul". Anime News Network. 2010-10-08. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- "Drifters" (in French). Éditions Tonkam. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
- "DRIFTERS 1 bei PaniniComics.de" (in German). Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- "Drifters n.1" (in Italian). Retrieved 2012-04-19.
- "《漂流武士》平野耕太｜書目資料清單｜東立出版社" (in Chinese). Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- "Amazon.co.jp： ドリフターズ 1巻 (ヤングキングコミックス): 平野 耕太: 本" (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
- "Drifters Vol. 1 TPB at TFAW.com". Things From Another World, Inc. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
- "Amazon.co.jp： ドリフターズ 2巻 (ヤングキングコミックス): 平野 耕太: 本" (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
- "Drifters Vol. 2 TPB at TFAW.com". Things From Another World, Inc. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
- "Drifters Anime Short Included in Last Hellsing Ultimate Volume". Anime News Network. 2012-12-26. Retrieved 2012-11-27.
- "15 titles nominated for 5th Manga Taisho Awards". Anime News Network. 2012-01-16. Retrieved 2012-11-27.
- Vee (2011-12-14). "Review – Drifters Volume 1". BAMFAS. Retrieved 2012-11-25.