There are, essentially, three types of anime: fun-loving, semi-violent, and ultra-violent. Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh occupy that first space, meant primarily for an audience of children. That second group of anime shows, including Naruto and One Piece, often rise to immense popularity because they’re widely marketable to all age groups. Let’s say those are roughly PG-13.
That third group incapsulates anime so vile, disgusting, bloody, and gore-soaked that they feel like Quentin Tarantino’s animated fever dreams. Anime like Gantz and Attack on Titan are very clearly not meant for all-ages audiences, as the sheer amount of blood the two series spray all over can become sickening at times. And yet, many audiences love them. The latest anime to make it into this class of bloody anime is Kouta Hirano’s Drifters. It is absolutely unbridled in its brutality.
Heads are chopped off, bodies are sliced in half, people are set on fire, and all of those images are tied together with sounds of agony and despair. In the second episode of the anime, the main character bashes an army general’s face with the sheath of his sword. As the general’s teeth and blood fly out of his crushed face, the dark colors and outlines contrasted by the light of the fire that blazes in the background is a beautiful sight to see. One thinks, “Yeah, so, this guy is being beaten within an inch of his life, but look how gorgeous the art of it is.”
We couldn’t expect anything less from Drifters creator, Kouta Hirano. His other very popular anime, Hellsing, is equally violent and holds a spot among some of the bloodiest anime ever created. The use of otherworldly creatures gives the creator free reign to make the deaths as gruesome as he sees fit.
Although Drifters uses mainly historical figures to create the story, Hirano gives these otherworldly characteristics to the characters which gives them the ability to kill without us even blinking an eye. In addition, he throws in the samurai and warrior motif, which we often associate with large amounts of blood, thanks to other popular gore anime like Berserk and Shigurui.
The violence in Drifters brings a sense of authenticity to the show. It’s not akin to watching, say, Blood-C, when the viewer asks, “Damn, when will the blood end?” The blood serves an important purpose and a place within the story, sort of like Elfen Lied or Deadman Wonderland (Where blood is literally the weapon people use to kill each other). Without the violence, the story does not hold the same weight and simply falls flat, sort of like the American version of Dragon Ball Z. Drifters is just the right amount of violent and should be watched in its complete, unfiltered form.