Previously in Drifters, “Act 11: The Adventure of Pistol Daimyo ~ Bullet Counting Song ~”
Much like the ever expanding length of these episode titles, the finale crams in everything they can throw at us in 20 minutes, moving at a pace I wish they had worked at with some of the earlier episodes. That may sound harsh for an episode that I loved, but it’s a huge part of why this is the best episode in the series. The battle for the capital sees Nobunaga and the gang in a chess battle with Hijikata that turns out to be more personal than either side knew.
You Think You’re Slick?
Picking up with the Toyohisa and dwarves’ charge, Hijikata calls for his troops to fall back. Already reeling from the muskets, Toyo and his squad savagely tearing through the goblins calls for a change of plans. He orders his troops to split up into smaller groups, setting random fires on their way to the capital, while he takes on Toyohisa and his shock troopers solo. Under normal circumstances, the plan would have worked without a hitch, but this isn’t his show and Drifters aren’t your normal enemies. Yoichi plays his part, but this has always been the Toyohisa and Nobunaga show and, along with the plot resolutions, this finale also serves as a showcase for how these three have bonded.
In the beginning, our three didn’t have any true clashes yet the difference in styles and abilities did. However, in this battle, along with their respective units, they manage to work like a well oiled machine that has been doing it for ages. When Hijikata’s goblins retreat, only the three of them have any inkling that things aren’t what they seem. Toyohisa at ground level doesn’t celebrate, only reports like Yoichi, while Nobunaga is already trying to figure out Hijikata’s next move, realizing the game changing fact that his opponent must already know about gun tactics. Luckily, Hannibal makes the senile save with his unorthodox way of showing the solution, giving Nobunaga a plan, but Toyohisa is way ahead of him.
Achievement: Polite Samurai Bars Unlimited
On the streets, Toyohisa keeps it just between him and Hijikata since he’s an End. Once Hijikata gets an eyeful of Toyohisa’s crest, the Shimazu Cross, the true battle is already over. Toyohisa had died in a battle to overthrow the Tokugawa but his descendants, over 300 years later, succeeded. Hijikata was one of the last to go down with the ship, fighting well past the writing was on the wall, giving his life and honor for the Tokugawa. The instant hate only plays right into Toyohisa’s hands since he’s only the bait. Blinded by hate, Hijikata realizes too late that it’s 3 on 1 in the commander’s department, and with his soldiers still following his orders with no deviation, Nobunaga and Yoichi are able to pick off that the troops are still headed to the capital. No words were needed between Toyo and the others, he led and they followed. More importantly, Toyohisa put his life in Nobunaga’s hands and trusted a man (he’s known for a month at the most) would win.
Hijikata is completely fooled, thanks in part to Toyohisa’s master level trolling job. Starting with boasting about his descendants, Toyo takes digs at Hijikata every chance he can get, paying a steep price. Hijikata is able to summon his Shinsengumi ancestor’s ghosts to fight, leaving Toyohisa to face enemies that can cut him but he can only dissipate for a few seconds. Toyohisa takes some bad cuts before dodging and trolling his way into the best sword fight Drifters has pulled off yet, reminiscent of Samurai Champloo in pace and style. By the time Toyo loses his sword, I was more bummed out that it was over than him being in danger. The Shinsengumi ghosts shank party is only halted by the exploding capital building.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Back at the capitol building, the goblins find it empty, save for the oil barrels that are soon hit by fire arrows. Olminu’s charms and the musketeers block the doors and windows, walling in the cooking goblins. Where Nobunaga is delighted with what they’ve done, the musketeers are shaken by the power they now hold and Olminu again struggles with the way her charms were used. They may be at war, but they are dealing with power and commanders the likes they’ve never dreamed of. Going forward, especially for Olminu, they may not all be ready to deal with what is to come.
Toyohisa is the living embodiment of his clan’s philosophy, “Even if we die, we don’t die.” Not seeing himself as some great general allows him to lay his life down for the greater good. The very kind of thinking that brought down the Tokugawa and burns Hijikata to the core. Before the ghosts can finish the job, a dwarf fires their super shotgun (filled with metal shop trash) at Toyo, who stands in the middle of the blast with unflinching defiance, scattering the ghost. A brutal hand to hand fight ensues, backed by some shitty Melrose Place rejected soft rock, before Black King has to put his telepathic foot down and order Hijikata back. They already won by crippling the capital and the rest can written off as a test. After hurling polite samurai trash talk, Toyohisa collapses.
Meanwhile, back at the north wall, Mitsuhide, the man who betrayed and murdered Nobunaga agrees to join forces with Black King Jesus.
“Staring at Shinsengumi ~ The Song of the Fervid Kyushu Man ~” was almost everything this show can be. I expected a good episode and was thrilled to find greatness. The action was great but the interaction between the Drifters, plus the use of history to ignite instant heat between the sides, pushed SAS~TSOTFKM~ to a new level (it is the only episode to 9 rating) . And before I forget, shout out the other people out there googling the historic points of these episodes. I see you trending these terms and jumping down the same black holes, but I digress.
Moving forward, after the montage of all the characters, including the Grand Master who’s STILL riding in that damn buggy, we got a season 2 announcement for “20XX” which must mean the future is still foggy. I’d recommend this show, with forewarning of the rough patches, but a second season isn’t a slam dunk, so one can only hope.