In many faiths around the world, it is believed when someone dies, they can go to either some version of Heaven or Hell. But in the anime Drifters, based on the manga by Hirano Kouta, if you are a famous person from history, you are pulled into this fantasy world at war and you’re either a Drifter who wishes to bring the world to balance, or an End who wishes to rule the world with a dark and iron fist.
Not only will you meet other figures from throughout many periods in history, you are going to encounter other mystical creatures such as elves, dwarves, and dragons. However, the inclusion of these famous warriors, leaders, and politicians bring a new front in this world of magic that can turn the tide. So for today’s list, we will cover the top historical characters from Drifters.
10. Count of St. Germain
Kicking off at number 10 is the Count of Saint Germain, based on a 17th century European noble. He is one of the oldest Drifters in the group and a leader of the Orte Empire, which was founded by Adolf Hitler and served as his right-hand man. Despite serving the most despicable human being in history, he atoned for his sins by allying with the Drifters and helped officially dissolve the Orte Empire.
Due to his wealth and influence, he manages to help out heroes gain land and expand their armies. Sometimes, diplomacy is necessary and who better than the man who helped end the war between the British and the French? Like his real-life counterpart, he is quite the eccentric with his mannerisms but gets the job done.
9. Joan of Arc
At number 9 is Joan of Arc whom at 17, became one of France’s greatest soldiers during the 100 year war. Upon her revival in the world of Drifters, she joins the Ends and gains the power of fire to reference her real-life death. Unlike some of her other peers who maintain a good portion of their sanity, the circumstances and the methods of her real-life execution have driven her to a mental instability to the point she is now a pyromaniac. Upon her introduction in the battlefield of Drifters, she does give our heroes, and Shimazu, a very hard time but upon defeating her, he refuses to kill her because she is a woman and that it is against his principles.
Due to the context of Joan of Arc’s real-life history, she takes Shimazu’s well intended advice to live life as a normal woman very personally and vows revenge. Of all the characters in this series that are non-Japanese, Joan of Arc has a very unique portrayal that reflects very distinctly with the historical version, and how her Christian values can conflict with her present state of mind and her role in this crazy world.
Last, her interactions with Shimazu demonstrates simple culture differences between their countries and times, and how some conflicts can be caused by those differences and how they can be solved by understanding them.
8. Hannibal Barca
From the ancient Carthaginian empire is one of its greatest conquerors, Hannibal Barca. Ironically, he was brought to this world along with his Roman rival, Scipio Africanus, whose bickering serves as comic relief. After being separated from his life rival, Hannibal progressively becomes senile and has obsessions over strawberries.
Due to Hannibal demonstrating genius tactics when the time is right, he has earned the respect of Oda Nobunaga and sometimes even interprets his dementia symptoms as a hidden message for tactics. So sometimes, you really need to listen to your elders even if they’re not mentally present, they still got tricks up their sleeves and Hannibal is your man when it counts.
7. Grigori Rasputin
At lucky seven is The Black King’s right hand man, Grigori Rasputin, who you can say is the number two man of The Ends. Maybe after he died, he shaved his trademark beard but like the myths of his lifetime, he practices the dark arts.
Due to the magic he gains by joining the Ends, he can send ghostly spies and spiritual projections of himself where needed. He is also very persuasive due to his intimidating presence. Also similar to the real Rasputin, he maintains his close relationship with Anastasia, who has come into the world in a catatonic like state.
6. Minamoto no Yoshitsune
At number six is one of Japan’s legendary commanders, Minamoto no Yoshitsune, who also happens to be Yoichi’s former master. In Japanese history, he is considered a legend for his exploits. However, in this world of mystery, he has yet to officially choose a side in the anime series despite his interactions with the Black King. Whenever he reunites with his old protégée, Nasu no Yoichi, their reunions do not seem to be pleasant.
Due to Yoshitsune’s place in history, whichever side he chooses, is likely to strongly change the tide of the war. Like Nobunaga, he is a masterful tactician and will use brutality whenever necessary. When the time comes, we will see if the war could go the way of the Drifters or the Ends. So his contribution to either side is very necessary for victory which is why is placed on this list.
5. Abe no Seimei
At number 4 is Abe no Seimei, one of the figures from Japanese history who was transported from the earliest parts of the nation’s history. During his real lifetime, he was a famous onmyoji, something that is a mix of an alchemist, astrologer, philosopher, and priest. If anything, people in Japan call him their version of Merlin the Magician. Due to his position in Japanese history, upon his introduction, the main Japanese cast fell at owe to his presence.
Though he died in his eighties, he is restored to his youth and creates the Octobrist Organization, an occult-like group also dedicated to defeating the Ends who uses his magic to help our heroes. Thanks to the great contributions of the Octobrist Organization and how the Drifters such as Oda and Shimazu use their magic for offensive advantages, his place is cemented on this list.
4. Hijikata Toshizo
Some of you may be familiar with this legendary captain of the Shinsengumi throughout anime and pop culture as a whole. A version of the character has also been portrayed in other popular anime such as Gintama, Peace Maker Kurogane, and Aoshi from Rurouni Kenshin takes large inspiration from him. As for his role in Drifters, he is an Ends, who fights for the Black King. Due to him being an Ends, he has the ability to summon the spirits of the Shinsengumi and use them in battle.
Due to his ancestors being at war with the Shimazu clan, he starts a rivalry with Shimazu. A majority of their rivalry is not motivated by the Drifters vs. Ends conflict, but instead as two honorable warriors. Like Shimazu, he is a great swordsman and his introduction into the series in the last episode of the first season ends in a draw.
3. Nasu no Yoichi
Though the real life Yoichi lived to the age of 64, this version of the famous archer passed away at the age of 19 and exhibits a more androgynous design. Due to being dead for 400 years by the lifetimes of Oda and Shimazu, he is considered a legend to them. However, Oda already has suspicious of him considering that the Yoichi he interacts with is different from the legends.
With Oda as the brains and Shimazu as the front lines general, Yoichi plays the role of a sniper along with the elves who are naturally master archers. If you plan to run from battle, don’t expect to get out alive if you catch the eye of Yoichi who will shoot an arrow through you. While Shimazu and Oda are hot heads in their own ways, Yoichi is the levelheaded one and maintains the calm of the trio and also lives his own path of the Bushido.
2. Shimazu Toyohisa
Coming in at a very close second is Shimazu Toyohisa, the character who drives this series. Shimazu is a very proud warrior who follows the code of Bushido to a fault. He refuses to kill women and when he sees people unjustly oppressed, he encourages the people to kill those that have tormented them to claim what is theirs. Upon coming into this strange world after his historical death at The Battle of Sekigahara, he easily comes to terms with his situation and instantly finds his place with what he needs to do. In addition to his skills with a sword, he is very charismatic and knows how to inspire an army. While Nobunaga, his partner in crime, would like a throne, Shimazu’s place is on the battlefield seeking the greatest thrills of his life.
1. Oda Nobunaga
At number one, we have the legendary fool himself, Oda Nobunaga. Though Shimazu and Yoichi may be the heart and brawn of the team, Oda is the brains (and sometimes laughs) of the operation. Since Oda and Shimazu are a generation apart from each other from the same time period, they tend to have a strange relationship in which they can contextualize their positions in relation to their histories which makes for great comedy.
Like his real-life counterpart, he was a strategy genius that made of use of rifles, and valued individuals based on their abilities and skills as opposed to their positions. Not only that, he has excellent negotiation skills which he utilizes when necessary. In addition, he makes effective utilization of the communication orbs of the Octobrist Organization to the point that its members never considered using their tools in the way he has.
And some honorable mentions go to Scipio Africanus, the Wild Bunch Gang, Kanno Naoshi, Akechi Mitsuhide and Anastasia. So for all we know, maybe Abraham Lincoln may show up in future episodes and/or chapters of this series. What can he bring to the world of Drifters? But seeing various figures from history coming together for this unusual battle brings audiences some unorthodox storytelling but some insane action sequences. We will admit this list was rather difficult to make and put in order. We can agree to disagree so if you got any ideas of whom you think the top 10 historical Drifters characters are, share your ideas in the comments!