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Drifters – Act 4: Active Heart

Previously on Drifters, “Army of Ours – Sortie at Dawn”

In “Active Heart” the world building was appreciated yet Drifters, like the original Hellsing series, can’t help itself with cramming in goofy comedic bits to keep the energy up. In moderation, that’s fine, however in an episode like this, where it decides to take the scenic route with the plot, the bits are a killer. Luckily, Nobunaga does the heavy lifting this week when the big three get on the same page with the elves and the Black King makes his next move. Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up.


Just Here To Pick Up A Check

Toyohisa’s crew make up for lost time by taking up at least 80% of the episode, so we barely get a glimpse at what else is going on in the world worlds. Easy makes a grab-a-drink-and-you-miss-it appearance, slightly longer than Kurou Yoshitsune popping up to repeat himself. Sadly, my second favorite character to this point, Naoshi Kanno the pilot, is only around long enough to make a rough landing and face off with a group of glowing eyes from the forest.  He’s the lone Drifter separated from everyone, but, as you can see above, he’s not going out like a punk. Kanno needs more screen time, period. I’m holding out hope he’ll get more love down the line, but I digress. Moving along…

Black And Proud

At the north wall, the Black King and his forces have finished mopping up and are licking their wounds. Another puzzle piece falls into place when Rasputin gives his report, not for what he says, but for his standing. When we were introduced to the Ends, the king was only addressed his top four. Anastasia and Joan’s partners turn out to be Ends too, just not on the others’ level. As for the king’s army, the only major damage came to his dragons, but it doesn’t matter. He sees his force as brothers and begins healing the wounded one by one.

Now that he has a victory under his belt, he spreads the word to build up his numbers. In the meantime, the Ends are sent after the Drifters who escaped, blotting out the moon with his eye in the sky, but we need to talk about his little speech.

Between this scene and some back story from Semu, the mystery of BK’s identity, and its importance, are ratcheted up this week. Ends, and their king, are just like Drifters yet “inhuman and evil.” They are big balls of pure hate who aim to destroy humanity, as Semu correctly hypothesizes, due to the way they went out in our world. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, Anastasia was gunned down after watching her family be executed, and Hijikata died in the final losing battle for the government he fought for. As for the king, he was “going to save humanity” but was rejected and, of course, killed. A loftier goal than anyone else on either side, which makes him high profile among already important historical figures. Add to that his healing powers, the way the wounded flocked to him as a savior, the staging of Rasputin bearing witness, and how they made a point to show indentions in the center of his hands and that list drops to one. Factoring in how the Vatican was portrayed in their previous show, I think our big bad is Jesus.


The Man With The Plan

Meanwhile, Toyohisa, Yoichi, and Nobunaga are finally filled in on what is really going on. Octobrist are essentially just a group of magicians that are counting on kings and feudal lords to turn over their military command to the Drifters, which Nobunaga rightfully calls stupid. They aren’t going to yield power to strangers, and that type of government had already been defeated in China before his time anyway. He wants the Drifters to rule but chooses Toyohisa as the leader because he sat in the position of power in front of the village. A fact Yoichi knew, yet is news to Toyohisa.

Even though their scenes are in a minefield of mind numbing silly jokes, Nobu still shines through. Gleefully maneuvering his way to land and power, he saves what could have been a complete disaster. A quarter of this episode was characters over acting and drawing the plot out. Yet that’s the double edged sword with Nobunaga since this seems to be a trait of his character.


Every time Drifters launches into one of these sequences, it always centers around him.  He’s the one guy that was in every one, whether he started it or not. It’s not endearing, it’s annoying. Otherwise, Nobunaga is our shining star. Scheming and plotting like the Grinch in between terrorizing Semu, he’s the only reason this plot didn’t fall flat. To be fair, he did manage to get me to chuckle a few times, but he has a weird thing going on with Semu. The “four-eyed boobs” and “boobienu” were fine, but the boob grab was a bit much.

Make Your Next Move Your Best Move

The first few strings Nobunaga pulled from the background have already begun to pay off in the elf village. With dead knights’ blood on their hands, and a decimated crop thanks to Nobu’s fire, they have no choice but to stand up to the ruling human kingdom from the east, Orte. 40 years ago, Orte defeated the demihumans, enslaved them, and has been slowly grinding them out of existence. With his plans falling into place, Nobunaga’s devilish grin becomes an all out cackle when he learns elves are not only a proud people, but also have long life expectancies. It’s all too easy to take command for the Drifters with the help of Grand Master’s language charms from Semu, but when Toyohisa is forced to make a speech by Nobunaga, he does shame them some first. Toyo stops a beat to call out Nobu for being a manipulator, which he admits leading Toyohisa to shut it down. He’s no one’s puppet.

The first order of business now is to deal with the 200 troops of Orte due in three days. The elves aren’t fighters yet, so Nobunaga challenges not on Toyohisa, but his bloodline for a plan. Three days later, the troops arrive to an empty village. Already worried about rumors of a few Drifters, the troop is spooked. In the trees, Toyohisa and the elves wait for nightfall to strike.

Drifters S1E4
  • 6.5/10
    Plot – 6.5/10
  • 7/10
    Dialogue – 7/10
  • 8/10
    Animation – 8/10


This was some tough sledding. Info dump episodes rarely are that great but it was a struggle to stick with this one at times. At this point, I’m starting to root for the Black King. At least he knows how to get his points across at a good clip. The talk with Semu and the elves could have been knocked out in a few minutes, especially since we all  knew it was coming two episodes ago. As much as I enjoyed Kanno, the Black King scene, and Nobunaga (when not acting like a spaz), the pace, and their cheap attempts to mask it, really brought this one down. There’s a load of potential in Drifters, if only they’d stop dicking around and get to the point. There’s no good reason we didn’t get the village fight this episode. Hell, there wasn’t even any action this week. I won’t knock a show for not shoehorning it in (hence the change in scoring this week), but you better step your writing game up, which they didn’t. At only 12 episodes, there’s no time for filler or missteps. And if my theory is right, I’m gonna need as much Dark Jesus time as possible.

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About Stephen Smith (72 Articles)
Stephen Smith is an old military brat who claims Houston, TX as his hometown. Growing up on a steady diet of anime, comic books, and video games, he has always kept his nerd light shining bright. Now, as a married father of 4, he passes on the tradition to his kids, while trying to not be too much of an adult in his bid for world domination.
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