Previously on Drifters, “Act 2: Footsteps”
Our three favorite Drifters take a backseat this week giving us a bigger peek behind the curtain. The coming of the Black King, and his Ends, brings us an all-out action episode that pulls the rug from under much of what we were led to believe. The Black King breaches the northern wall forcing the Grand Master to speed up his plans.
Now, About That Rug…
So, remember all that jazz the Grand Master was talking about Drifters being “the end of the world” and they had to figure out what the Drifters were planning? Throw all that out the window. As it turns out, the Octobrist Organization’s mission is to get them all together for the war with the Ends and the Black King. Nevermind he was all in a tizzy after Toyohisa saved the elf village, nothing to see here. Also, Octobrist is actually pretty weak. Their magicians are actually the horribly dressed soldiers we’ve seen pattering about, doing nothing. The castle we’ve seen the Grand Master lounging in isn’t even his, it belongs to Carneades, the kingdom guarding the North Wall that hasn’t fallen in hundreds of years. Besides speaking through crystal balls, Octobrist doesn’t seem to do anything, but we’ll get back to that.
The Cool Kids Table
Thanks to Octobrist being softer than baby wipes, they have to rely on Drifters to fight their battles, and it’s easy to see why. The shadowy figures, that have been posing in dark fields for two episodes, descend up the northern wall with a goblin army, supported by a sky of fire breathing dragons . Hanging back with the Black King are his Ends: legendary Japanese soldier, Hijikata, French martyr and Roman Catholic saint, Joan of Arc (and her protector), along with Russian Grand Ducchess, Anastasia Romanova and her protector, who will most likely turn out to be Rasputin.
It’s an interesting mix, to say the least. Hijikata is the strong silent type, a master swordsman aided by two Japanese ghost swordsmen. Anastasia, wielding ice / blizzard powers, is the reluctant one. She doesn’t enjoy what they are doing, but she lacks the inner toughness to ignore the horror of it. And then there’s our saintly Joan of Arc. Obviously she has to be the psychotic of the trio, and since she was burned at the stake, of course she has pyrokinetic powers to revel in. After they’re dispatched, Kurou Yoshitsune appears.
Neither Drifter, nor End, his existence is a mystery since no one by that name has done anything historical that Google knows. He’s only willing to join whichever side interests him more, and that’s fine with The Black King who lets him roam free.
Once the battle begins, Carneades’s forces barely put up any resistance. Looking like a mash-up of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, it is a brutal affair. Without the dragons, the wall might have held, but once the dragon fire cleared the top of the wall to air drop troops in, it was already over. The Black King’s army is surprisingly organized, even with camouflaged lookouts directing the battle from barely a safe distance away. Octobrist and their Drifters, have no choice but to escape.
Don’t Let The Door Hit Ya
Octobrist has its hands on four Drifters, but they aren’t enough and the fight is too soon. Two are unnamed but were cowboys together in The Wild Bunch, and come with their own horses, wagon, and gatling gun. The other two also know each other, yet they were on opposite sides. Scipio, the Roman general regarded as one of the greatest military minds of all time, who defeated fellow Drifter, Hannibal, who is similarly regarded. Interestingly enough, he’s depicted as a lily-white man, which doesn’t quite fit with a north African of the time, but when his old man bladder causes him to pee himself, I let it go.
Just as the battle starts to get out of control, a magical door opens in the sky for WWII ace pilot, Naoshi Kanno, and his plane. After getting his bearings, he notices the genocide below, giving him flashbacks of horrors and atrocities of war, and igniting his sense of justice, giving us some sweet (but short) airplane on dragon action. Until that point, neither side seemed to know who he would align with, which buys a hair’s worth leeway for the whole “we gotta watch these Drifters” subplot they had going before. That being said, if they’re classified as Drifters, why are you fearing them? They’re already predetermined to be allies, so the dramatics before were still pointless, but, for now, I digress. Naoshi saves the wagon full of Octobrist and Drifters, allowing to escape, however, The Black King sends his trusty, pesky bird after them.
So You’re Saying There’s A Chance!
After a taste of what they’re up against, the Grand Master asks Scipio and Hannibal if they can win. Scipio has no idea, but, with a smile, Hannibal gives them a “non-zero chance” that peps up the Grand Master. Together, they plan to combine with the “Warriors of the Deserted Castle,” Yoichi, Nobunaga, and Toyohisa. The same three who had just found Semu spying on them and learned the truth behind their existence and the Octobrist Organization.
Drifters Act 3
If you can get past the ridiculousness of the Octobrist Organization, it’s not a bad episode, but it’s a tough pill to swallow. The “jk guys, we’re really bffs” switcheroo really hurt my trust in this show. Leaving out the worrying about Drifters being the end of existence would have done wonders, but the writers had to go there. They had to push the misdirect too far, and it really hurt this episode. It was jarring to see them not only palling around with Drifters, but also trying to give them command. It goes against everything previously set up so hard that it’s not a misdirect, it’s a plot hole. For the French, Joan of Arc, official symbol of France and Roman Catholic saint must be just as jarring. Teetering on campy, they did all they could to drive home that Joanie is a sicko. However, I doubt we’ll be seeing any repercussions from any of this since because a) It’s anime, b) The other two Ends were also beloved historical figures, and c) they threw in one of their own Japanese heroes.
All that being said, it still feels weird, but these are the same guys who villainized the Vatican almost to the level of vampire Nazis. In that context, I almost feel stupid for being surprised. Yet I still mourn for the show Drifters was appearing to be. The possibilities of a three-way war between the Black King, Octobrist, with Drifters in the middle would have been interesting, but that’s all been flushed. Instead, we’ll see what these Drifters can do with the inept help of a weak Octobrist Organization against the mysterious Black King and his dark army. I’m not throwing my hands up yet, but they’re going to have to tighten up the writing.