Drifters and the Art of War

Drifters has mastered writing war. Spoilers ahead.

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This past season I’ve been talking about Yuri!!! on Ice and little else, so I thought it was time to showcase another brilliant anime to come out of Fall 2016. While Drifters isn’t perfect by any means, it has one thing down impeccably – writing war and all the effort and strategy that goes into it. So I’ve decided to break down the aspects of war that Drifters includes in its final battle – many of which don’t appear in other works at all – and why they’re both important and interesting. Oh, and some spoilers ahead.

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Drifters Promo Art

Preparation and Technology

“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” The biggest mistake any leader can make before a battle (or war) is to not be prepared. Hitler’s army that invaded Russia can tell you that much. A lack of the proper tank technology means that they struggled through Russia’s mud in the summer and through the snow in the winter, which ultimately contributed to his ultimate defeat on that front.

Luckily Nobunaga knows the importance of preparation as well. Drifters not only goes into the use of guns in the battle for the capital, but goes deep into the steps that are necessary to create the guns. Hirano shows us the steps that contribute to creating black powder and the need for the dwarfs to create the gun’s barrel and parts.  This creates expectancy within us, which means the emotional payoff of the battle is all the greater.

Strategy

is more than offense vs defense. Although the natural power of guns within the Drifters world is important, Nobunaga recognizes their true potential – combining the sudden loud noises and smoke against soldiers who had never even heard of a gun. He sees the fires that the Black King’s soldiers are setting and realizes that they are – in poor decision – surrounding themselves with it and uses that to his advantage.

This attention to detail not only in the environment, but in the heavy significance of the battle itself, is cool. It also shows that strategy is not a one-time decision that singlehandedly decides the outcome of the battle. It’s a combination of a variety of aspects that will lead to victory or defeat. This is also better as a viewer because few straightfoward battles are engaging. It’s only when the characters start thinking that we start thinking as well, which only adds to our interest.

horriblesubs_drifters_-_01_720p-mkv_snapshot_06-39_2016-10-08_13-42-52-thumbnail-750x540-100
A gun amid the spears goes to show just how important they are in this world.

Rhetoric

Despite being one of the most important aspects of any battle, this is the one that most often goes ignored, often relegating any pre-battle speech to the simple line of “FIRE!”

Yet when the Count of Saint Germain’s soldiers lined up for their first shots, Nobunaga reminded then that they were creating history, being the first army to use guns in a battle. Even when the enemy was approaching, he kept telling them “Wait,” even if he could have gotten by with just saying nothing. This not only allows for the enemy to get closer, thus becoming bigger targets, but also creates a sense of expectancy and determination within the soldiers as well as within us. The difference is that while we get to look on in mere anticipation, the soldiers become more pressured and begin to understand the importance of the role they are playing, which will motivate to preform better in the long term.

To those who may still have doubts about the importance of rhetoric, I implore you to listen to a piece another one of Hirano’s works, The Major’s speech from Hellsing Ultimate. Despite the horrific accounts of war The Major gives, in the end, we, too, almost want to go out and fight. Such is the power of rhetoric.

Significance

One thing you may have noticed me highlighting throughout this post is the significance of various things and events. No battle is fought in a bubble. Each war fought is about more than just “I want this land.” There’s always a greater significance to it.

The elves and dwarfs are fighting for freedom from their long oppression. The Orte empire is fighting to honor their country and the leader who created it. The Ends are fighting to destroy humanity as we know it in order to give orcs a chance to be the ruling species.

Even on an individual level, Hijikata Toshizo is fighting against Shimazu Toyohisa in order to take revenge of sorts on the ancestor of the clan who defeated him years later.

Though it manifests in different ways, each group or person is fighting for one form of pride or another. This means a lot more to each group than something like money or land, and means a lot more to us at the same time. That’s power of a war’s significance.

Conclusion

Honestly, I wish more stories would take a few pages out of Drifters’ book. It makes the idea of war so much more interesting than other works tend to portray. Well, whether they do or not, at least I can have the reassurance that season 2 of Drifters will be just as amazing as the first.

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