In modern-day Japan, only the direct descendants of samurais are allowed to carry swords. In the city, rumors have been spreading of Shiroyasha, a mysterious swordsman who has been attacking other swordsmen, attracting many skilled swordsmen to the city. On his way home, Ibuki witnesses a fight that involved one of his classmate, Kokonoe, who is the strongest swordsman at his school. Intrigued by his swordsmanship and skill, Ibuki intends to find out more about this mysterious student...
So, I'm not your typical Shoujo reader. I am in the precise target demographic for Shounen work and usually, although not intentionally, also stick to Shounen. However, picking this series up not knowing that it was in fact Shoujo was quite the fortunate error for me and I'm about to make the case that this can be a very good series for people who like Shoujo usually as well as people who don't.
First of all, let me talk about the art really quickly: It is pretty smooth with not a lot of rough edges and it is very detailed. I really liked the attention to
detail, from hair to shadows to creases in the clothing. It might not be everyone's style because of its smoothness, but I personally really enjoyed it.
The storyline is pretty average. Twists, revelation and plot devices in general are executed nicely and the plot is easy to follow while not boring, but there is nothing special about it, no huge surprises, no innovative, original ideas; it is just a pretty standard, but good to read story.
However, the story is not really the main point of the series anyway. The characters are. And they also are the towering strength of it.
The main characters as well as almost all important side characters get detailed and personal introductions through flashback chapters and inner monologue. Motivations, emotions and already existing relationships between characters are made really clear and are very nicely conveyed which means that relating to almost all the characters is really easy. Furthermore, all the important characters go through significant developments during the series, even though it is not that long overall, which are, again, really nicely conveyed. Overall, the series' characters are what really draws the reader in and gets them immersed in the alternate timeline the series sets up. Following these characters through their personal developments makes for most of the enjoyment of the manga and I personally did in fact really enjoy it.
And this is where my overall recommendation ties in: No matter what genre(s) or style(s) you usually prefer, this series is for you if you like well-written, relatable characters and following said characters through personal developments. The plot is good enough to not be offputting (although there is a hefty change of tone near the end that to me felt a little uncalled for), but the characters are the main point.
I hope you found this review helpful in deciding whether Samurai Drive is for you. Personally, I think it is a lot less popular than it should be because it is actually very good overall, although it might not be for everyone.