If you've spent enough time familiarizing yourself with the anime community, you'll come to realize that we're a demanding bunch. That should go without saying, given just how much anime tend to diverge from most mainstream trends. Because of this, we're always on the lookout for the next best thing. Constantly asking for something innovative. Captivating. Unique. Competent. Something to not only entertain but also to satisfy on some intellectual level. In a way, we're spoiled, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. We push for more because we've seen the medium deliver time and time again. Anime isn't afraid of addressing social taboos, nor
does it shy away from concepts that most other mediums won't dare to touch. It's a format that isn't afraid of stepping on a few toes (also, it helps that Japan is batshit insane). So we make demands. We ask for further development. We lobby for anime's continuous growth because we care about the medium... and yet... despite this progressive attitude... every season without fail, we support and exalt the titles that stand as the antithesis of all of the requirements we beckon for.
We could always point the finger at the industry, holding them accountable for the type of shows we get, but that's just pointing out the symptom and not addressing the actual problem. The anime industry is a business, and like any other business, it provides a consumer need. If consumers show an invested interest in schlock entertainment, then guess what? Schlock entertainment is what they'll offer on a silver platter. Ladies and gentlemen, at the risk of sounding like a condescending prick, I write this intro, not for some personal agenda but for us as a community. If we want better, we must first discard inferior goods. Nipping the bud of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress's popularity isn't something you passively acknowledge while twiddling your thumbs, it's a matter of civil duty at this point. If you want change, supporting another cheap Attack on Titan substitute is not the answer. But you know what would be a step in the right direction? Gathering up your pitchforks with me as we burn this title at the stake.
Watching Kabaneri is like watching a 5-car pile-up on a busy intersection. It's devastating, but hard to look away from. With each plume of smoke breathes a new fiery furnace of stupor; divulging deeper into new unforeseen territories of shit writing. Where other shows simply crash and burn, Kabaneri decides to push forward with a broken axle and the power of irrationality to combust its engine. It's a wondrous, smoldering pile of fecal matter on wheels. A beautiful travesty captured in frame by uninspired creators, seeing just how close they could pass their hand over the surface of unoriginality without being scorched by the heat. And trust me when I say that Wit Studio got their hands pretty fucking close. Had they gotten any closer, we'd be naming this 'Shingeki no Kabaneri: Schlock Edition'. To say they're cashing in on an existing fanbase would be an understatement. These motherfuckers took the cash-cow home, milked it dry, then butchered it for any remaining morsels that they could scrape together. Kabaneri isn't just below average, it's the residual excrement that resides at the bottom of the barrel.
The only thing more overwrought than my need to articulate ways of calling this show shit is the actual execution of the show itself. This anime is bad, I cannot for the life of me stress that point enough. There isn't a mountain high enough to utter this phrase to unexpected viewers. So instead, let's trudge through the latest member of the dung heap, as we explore the hidden depths of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress.
Set during the time of 'unexplored settings' in the lands of 'who cares about proper world building', we're introduced to our protagonist SeaweedWig-kun (also known as Ikoma), as he grunts around mad at everyone and everything around him, working as a steam smith for his town. In a world overran by kabane (humanoid super zombies), SeaweedWig-kun and the rest of society find themselves residing inside giant walled-in cities to protect themselves from annihilation. With the assistance of steam propelled weapons they—... wait, what am I doing? Silly me, just recite Shingeki No Kyojin's synopsis and call it a day. After all, this is Wit Studio's 3rd repackaging of the same setup.
In my Owari no Seraph review, I created a template to help viewers identify shows with this typical premise. For the sake of saving ourselves time and me not paraphrasing what I've explained in the past, I'll just insert that here as well:
One day humanity is suddenly attacked by a group of [insert name of threat here] and is brought to the brink of annihilation. Over [insert amount of years] later and it seems like there's no coming back from this almost divine punishment. But with the discovery of [insert name of weapons or power here], they were able to fight back. We follow our protagonist [insert name here] as he and his comrades use [insert name of weapon or power] to fight the [insert name of threat here] and reclaim humanity in this post-apocalyptic world and slowly discover the crazy mystery of their sudden appearance that might be closer to home than everyone thinks.
Kabaneri joins its cousins God Eater, Black Bullet, Knights of Sidonia, Owari No Seraph and others as the new iteration of this tired trend. With the same director, musical composer, theme song performers, script writers, sound director, color designer, and much more being brought back from their work on Attack on Titan, the intent of Wit studio couldn't be more obvious. I could drill this point home further if need be, but every show deserves to be evaluated independently (even if there's very little worth evaluating). And while Kabaneri isn't winning any anime awards in innovation anytime soon, there are a few distinctions made that separate it from the rest. For one, it's heavy use of steampunk.
While the steampunk in Kabaneri is treated with as much relevance as a script for a porno, it was still a distinction that many were initially drawn to. It gave it an identity outside of its overused setup. As pointed out by fellow colleague themegamancave, the involvement of massive trains made to accommodate and sustain people while they travel from city to city, had aspects that were reminiscent of the movie Snowpiercer. This may have given off an impression that the show was possibly going to be more than its doppelgangers (no matter how brief that hope was). With zombies, huge trains, steampunk and an industrial-like setting, Kabaneri could have been an entertaining romp, had it been entrusted in the hands of more capable creators. Even the protagonist, as rambunctious as he was at times, still demonstrated some qualities, that if smoothed out, could have made for a compelling lead.
But that's as far as the show got, by the end of episode one the writing was already on the wall. The show was going to be a trainwreck. Many may not have seen it, but for those that did, we buckled up, grabbed a tub of popcorn and waited for the title to eventually derail. Thankfully, we didn't have to wait long, as Kabaneri started off stumbling, only to further lose its footing on its quick descend downwards (which I would discuss in detail in my spoiler section).
In typical fashion for this type of show, SeaweedWig-kun's homeland is invaded by the kabane after a freak accident causes a part of the wall to be knocked down. Accompanying us on our trainwreck to hell, we're introduced to Mumei, or as I like to call her, Bipolar-chan. While the citizens run around in a panic with the kabane slowly picking them off, SeaweedWig-kun and Bipolar-chan takes matters into their own hands. Bipolar-chan, a 12-year-old terminator, made quick work of the kabane fodder while giving us glances of her prepubescent pantsu. And while this is going on, our protagonist SeaweedWig-kun concocts a plan to ambush a zombie with a weapon he made with what remaining time he didn't dedicate to yelling at people. After the dust settles from all the chaos, our remaining citizens find themselves aboard Thomas the Tank Engine as they leave behind the charred remains of what they called home. And so our adventure begins.
With caked on color gradients, a grandiose soundtrack by Sawano, and nice action set pieces, it isn't hard to see why initial impressions would cause mass hysteria for more Kabaneri. But little did people know, what they were getting was a ticking time bomb, just waiting for the slightest nudge to explode. Even elements that seemed to be a strong attribute at 1st couldn't keep up the façade for long. Take the art and animation for example. Because of the polish look the show draped over everything, many viewers often fail to notice the fact that several scenes throughout each episode were actually still shots, with no more than a shaky-cam effect to mask it. And outside the moments that fight scenes broke out, the actual fluidity of the animation was no higher than the usual standards demonstrated by other studios. Kabaneri was a mess only held together by duct tape. And when it started bursting from the seams, episodes like 9 began to happen. And what little makeup it had to distract from the truth that was there all along, it was no longer enough to fool even the most gullible of individuals.
These slight of hand tricks weren't limited to later episodes either. The degree to which the audience notice these shortcomings depended entirely on their initial investment. And seeing how my invested level was lower than dirt, Kabaneri was an eyesore from the moment SeaweedWig-kun had bright ideas about how the body's circulatory system works.
But even a trainwreck like Kabaneri had some positive qualities. As previously mentioned, the soundtrack by Sawano did wonders for the show. It helped shape the mood and tone of the show's universe. Swelling up whenever the action came to a boiling point or simmering down during quiet moments; whatever the occasion, Sawano had all ends covered. It made the experience far more enjoyable than it would have been had a less talented composer been given the job.
On a side note, there was a minor character with a widely inconsistent vernacular. I'm not sure if the voice actor wanted to be British, American or Australian. It's like trying to get Arnold Schwarzenegger to trick someone into believing he's a part of the British Intelligence. The random hammy phrases uttered by this individual got me to chuckle every time. Outside of that, the rest of the cast did fine. But ultimately the biggest highlight from the auditory department was that of Sawano. A man that unfortunately had to sully his hands once again with a project undeserving of his talents.
And speaking about creators that elevated Kabaneri from the shit pile, Tetsurō Araki directorial work once again shines through. No matter the project he takes on, his flare for the dramatic is never underplayed. The man knows how to get the most from the material he's given. Whether he's directing the Spiderman view shots of the 3D maneuver gear in Attack on Titan, or defying physics with the matrix boobs on High School of the Dead; Araki goes all out every time. He's to anime what Zach Synder is to film. Whether you view that as an insult or not isn't of concern, the fact is he never stops delivering his signature flare, no matter the quality of show he's working with.
But this is where the praise comes to an end, as our trainwreck makes its final pit stop. For those of you who've seen the show and had a hard time spotting plot inconsistencies or contrive narrative decisions, don't worry, because I'm feeling extra generous today. Join me in the spoiler section as I break down this idiotic title by each episode. And for those of you who haven't seen Kabaneri yet, scroll down past the "end of spoilers" indication to avoid having this 'masterpiece' ruined to you.
Kabaneri showed cracks in its foundation from the very beginning. This breakdown will cover them all.
The show thinks the body circulatory system works by bullshit logic, with the main character choking himself to stop a virus. There're two kinds of choking: one that restricts blood flow to the brain, denying oxygen intake, and the other is strangulation, which cuts off your air intake altogether by closing your windpipe. Restricting your blood flow or air intake doesn't stop blood from going to your brain, it restricts it. It's like going from a gush of water to a slow trickle. So choking yourself isn't going to prevent a virus from spreading to your brain, all that would do is leave you unconscious and eventually cause death when there's no one around to help resuscitate you. This still doesn't even address the fact that he slit his wrist, which, if you don't know, could cause you to bleed to death. There's a reason it's a common method of committing suicide. So our protagonist committed two acts back to back that would usually lead to death, yet survives both, all for an end goal that logically makes no sense whatsoever.
Even if we put aside how illogical this solution is, and suspend our disbelief to buy into it, the fact remains that our protagonist never informs anyone of this accomplishment. If temporarily cutting off circulation to your brain and infected area is all that it takes to combat this virus, why would he not inform the other citizens about this after he had gained their trust, instead of having them kill themselves with pocket bombs? When you take this into consideration, our protagonist is essentially responsible for the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands of people. For someone who tries his hardest to protect others, he sure does a piss poor job at doing it.
Mumei single-handily wipes out dozens of Kabane with ease. This may not seem like a big deal until you realize what it does for the stakes of the show. If these monsters are made out to be such an imposing force to humanity, only to have them be taken out with little effort by a 12-year-old girl, what does that do to the stakes? Yes, the Kabaneri inclusion spices up the story but is also removes any sense of tension when you have an one-man army on your side.
After saving the lives of everyone, the Kabaneri are scrutinized by the people. This isn't the actions of sensible adults, this is the writers turning an entire population into imbeciles. No matter the time period or cultural upbringing, using weapons to extend survival has always been intrinsic to mankind. Taking precaution to keep them locked up? Sure. But to outright discard them right after seeing their effectiveness in combat? Now that's plain lunacy. To top it off, these buffoonish adults gather in a mob to threaten the Kabaneri, despite seeing their physical prowess against kabane; beasts they could barely take out as a group. This is also where Bipolar-chan began to show her wishy-washy personality; switching from one archetype to another at the drop of a hat.
A kabane has the ability to wield a samurai sword with as much proficiency as a trained warrior. At this point, red flags should be going off in your head. This is insanely stupid, I shouldn't have to explain why this is a huge problem.
Mumei's flip flopping characteristics become increasingly worse. She's always been bipolar before this episode, but this is the point where the writers show that they don't know how to write a mentally disturbed character, from one that simply flip flops between different personality traits. She goes from tsundere, to yandere, to kuudere, to dandere, back to tsundere again. This is terrible characterization. The last time I've seen a character this inconsistent was Slaine Troyard from Aldnoah.Zero.
LOL The Black Smoke. Do I need to say more? At this point, those red flags in your head should be set ablaze. This is where the show nosedives at 100mph.
Impoverished, with little food to feed their people, yet they have enough resources to waste on a celebration? This desperate attempt to add levity only backfires. To top it off they light fireworks... FIREWORKS! That's how you attract hoards of kabane to your location. The show temporarily forgot that it was a zombie survival story and does something far too stupid to be excused. Also, this is where Biba makes his first appearance lol And God knows what that means.
It's the introduction of Biba and the relinquishment of any integrity Kabaneri may have been holding on to. Not only does he collect Kabane like he's a pokemon master, but he's also a genocidal lunatic with little in the way of proper reasoning for any of his actions. Where other antagonists take an inch, Biba takes a mile, and then some. Also, Bipolar-chan's gullible personality is poorly excused with the actions taken by Biba to get her to the mental state she's in.
As far as I'm concerned, the show jumped the shark with the colony kabane monster, but this serves as the most noticeable case of it going off the rails completely. The Kabaneri are now pokemon, with Hyper Beams, agility, and double team. This, my friends, is what schlock action looks like. This is also the moment that many people gave up on the show. There's literally no defense possible to excuse this. The show has 0 value at this point.
This doesn't even touch upon the fact that Biba killed thousands of innocent people for what amounts to him being butthurt.
Mumei is still a flip flopping idiot, Biba is still demonstrating Saturday morning cartoon levels of villainy, and in what was suppose to be an emotional sacrifice, where Ikoma's friend Takumi jumps in front of a bullet to protect him, losing his life in the process, turns out to be just another failed attempt by the show. You see, there's just one problem with this "emotional" scene, he didn't need protecting, to begin with. We've seen Ikoma have chunks of flesh ripped from him by hoards of kabane on several occasions, as well as other life-threatening injuries. The kabaneri are known to have amazing regenerative abilities. So had Ikoma been shot, it wouldn't have mattered all that much. This makes Takumi's sacrifice pointless and only there to add emotional weight for a moment that didn't have any. And after hitting a conveniently placed lever that opens up the train's walls (seriously, what function does this even serve?), Ikoma falls into the river after Bipolar-chan stabs him, in what is the most overused fake death scene in any storytelling medium.
Ikoma turns into Rambo and staples a gun to his arm (because reasons) and takes a drug to go super saiyan, which has the side effect of depleting his life and killing him (remember this); while Biba devises a plan that operates entirely on plot convenience. It required his father to kill him using a weapon that he himself had devised as a trap, with a convenient formula that instantly infuses your blood with Kabane's, a substance that we never saw before (which makes no sense given the prior cases of kabane transformations we've seen).
The show couldn't keep its promise and at least deliver Ikoma as a sacrifice for Mumei's life. Instead, it chose the pussy way out, by keeping him alive (despite what they said just one episode prior to him taking the drug). Ikoma temporarily became a Jedi and used the force to send a train flying off the tracks. They also try to humanize Biba at the last minute with perhaps the dumbest revelation up to this point. Remember, this is a guy that committed multiple genocides because he's a little butthurt, so seeing the show try to add humanity to him at the very last minute is not only unwarranted but plain stupid. And the way he goes about receiving this forced "redemption" opens up another can of worms, in perhaps the show's stupidest mistake up to this point. If Biba cured the Kabaneris with the formula that the scientist had, doesn't it stand to reason that the same cure could work if you're bitten by one? This revelation not only ruins what little semblance of urgency the show had, it effectively erased all the danger of every encounter up to this point. It also negates the struggle that Kabaneris faced with not being completely human. It's astonishing just how many dumb things the show does in the last few minutes of airing. This isn't even accounting for the numerous stupid moments littered throughout the episode. The show went full-retard, there's no other way to describe what happened.
So with all this said, when I see people say the show was good then got bad after a Kabaneri spammed a 'Grand Rey Cero', I'm honestly perplexed, because, from my account of every episode up to that point, the show has always been bad.
***end of spoiler***
Whenever a title receives widespread popularity, a slew of variations and rehashes of that project tend to follow. Like in the case of The Matrix, which effectively started a trend of high-concept dystopian action movies like Equilibrium, Ultraviolet, and Minority Report. The anime community has no shortage of this event happening either, with the two biggest recent examples being Sword Art Online and Attack on Titan. Titles that saw with it a huge incentive for the anime industry to pump out MMO augmented reality shows and the next humanity monster survival tale.
The only time these trendsetting tidal waves subside is when the audiences no longer express interest for that product. Kabaneri wouldn't be the last unless we as an audience say enough is enough. And while they're anime viewers who simply love the idea of more Attack on Titan, remember that this will only lead to negative backlash later on. If you consume the same product every day, sooner or later you're going to get sick of the taste. Over-saturation is what kills interest, and as long as you give these half-baked shows a monetary gain, studio heads would see no incentive to stop.
Kabaneri is entertaining in the way watching a dumpster fire could be seen as fun.
Thankfully the only casualty of this trainwreck was the integrity of Wit Studio's staff, and perhaps the brain cells of those that actually thought this had a chance of being good. I really hated this show at first, it was doing illogical things but not to the point of alerting other viewers. So while I sat there uninterested, others saw something "good" or at the very least, entertaining. But then the show got increasingly worse, eventually getting to the point where even casual viewers couldn't possibly ignore it anymore. And as it quickly decreases in quality, my enjoyment quickly shot up as a result.
Kabaneri's writing is impressively bad, like worthy of a Razzie bad. I'm all for dumb fun, but what I don't advocate however is confusing "so bad it's good" titles with actual "good" ones. And while I enjoyed making fun of this show, laughing at each new idiotic plot thread, it is by no means a good title. It's a confused, contrived mess that made for great B-movie entertainment. So while this dumpster fire occasionally whizzed out fireworks for my amusement, I can't promise the same results for everyone else.
Kabanaeri is the malignant tumor slowly eating away at the anime community's set standards of what constitutes as a "good" title. Each new layer is like a slow descent into madness; deciphering your way through the muddled maze of abysmal writing and "so bad it's good" narrative decisions that even experienced viewers would be baffled by. Very few shows left me dumbfounded with its stupidity in the way Kabaneri did. I suffered many convulsions trying to process the sheer level of absurdity that each new episode brought, and just as I thought it was done with its surprises, it manages to pull another rabbit out of its (ass)hat. Unintelligible, uninspired and gasping for air, this anime is on the verge of being comatose. Pulling the plug is the only humane solution left. It reached the apex of nonsensical writing, and there's no cure potent enough to save it from dying of stupidity. This is truly the representation of "schlock" in its unadulterated form.
If you happen to be someone who has a steady job within the anime industry, what is the best possible way to earn some decent $$$ when making an original anime? Is it to try and come up with the best and most original setting that comes to mind? To create characters with seemingly limitless potential? A thought-provoking story? If you think it's any of the above, you may as well be delusional. Wit Studio has it all figured out. Sadly, after milking the dried up and shriveled old cow that is Attack on Titan for a solid three years now, I think they may
have forgotten how to make an actual original anime. Here, I'll paint you a somewhat-clearer picture of the feeling I got upon reading the series' synopsis. Imagine arriving to school with a brand new pair of shoes, right? So as you're walking down the hallway, your shoes are suddenly stepped on by some snot-nosed kid wearing a monster energy T-shirt and a hat turned sideways. That's right, the feeling of true despair.
So humans are at the brink of extinction again, blah blah blah. Only this time, our enemies are much less intimidating than ever before. They are just these mindless glowing zombies that raid trains once in a while and occasionally manage to get into the fortress. Oh, but don't get the fortress confused with the great walls from AoT as they are two totally separate entities and do not resemble each other a single bit. So seeing as regular humans are always as useless as one can be in these types of series, we are introduced to Kabaneri, the humans who got bitten by the glowing zombies and received superpowers because of it. Our main superhero is our boy Ikoma, who is out on a quest of revenge against the Kabane, accompanied by our loli heroine Mumei. These two form an invincible bond and so their journey begins.
Attack on Titan was one of the first anime that got me back into the medium and I still faintly remember the dread I felt while watching the first few episodes. That feeling is completely gone this time around which can probably be entirely accounted for by the lackluster execution, more or less. To say that the Kabane's designs are lacking would be an understatement but we also have these people who can kill a hundred of them within the span of a minute which makes the threat feel that much more nonexistent. Then the setting apparently takes place during an industrial revolution yet they don't put any emphasis on this point what so ever. This could have been a great way to delve deeper into the world and give more depth to the setting if it were utilized properly. I'm not going to settle down for those fucking trains being the only reason this takes places in an industrial revolution. The potential is there but unfortunately it is left untouched.
There were also minor inconsistencies within some of the writing. Like why the hell do they have the people who are bitten be locked up for 3 days straight when with every single on-screen instance we've had of a human turning into a Kabane when bitten has happened within a time period of 5 minutes max? This show is too stupid for its own good. Speaking of stupid, the drama between the humans and the Kabaneri never disappoints. Despite the Kabaneri protecting the humans for the entirety of the series, if they happen to do a single, usually insignificant thing that the public deems as questionable, they are to be locked up and shunned immediately."You spilled a cup of coffee? Looks like you're no different from a Kabane after all, damn wench!"
The main cast just honestly really impressed me. Our protagonist was a guy who got bit by a Kabane, went through some kinky bondage porn and emerged a Kabaneri. He is as original as one can be, making an oath to himself that he will exterminate all of the zombies after a death of a certain family member. This backstory got me really emotional. It is something that we have never once seen before and is very original. Design-wise, he is sort of what I would picture Harry Potter's edgier twin brother to look like. Having such a strong resemblance to that character may be a good or a bad thing depending on preference. Who knows. It has been a good few years since I've last seen the Harry Potter films so I couldn't really say. We literally know not a single thing about his background and past apart from the fact that his sister, who we also knew nothing about, had died. Such a tragic tale this is.
Our heroine is an awfully cocky and narcissistic brute of a 12 year old girl. She is a strong and agile fighter who helps our protagonist along the way as well as guide him when he is initially bit and turns suicidal. She seems to make a lot of decisions that are considered questionable by the other characters for some reason, like killing a pregnant woman who was about to give birth to a Kabane. This is somehow questioned and deemed not to be acceptable despite the soldiers casually putting every single bitten person to death on a daily basis. Is it morally right or not? Make up your mind already. Her backstory is neither here nor there but is definitely better than Ikoma's as we do get some flashbacks that tell us bits and pieces of her upbringing and how she became the way she is. Despite being extremely obnoxious, she is easily the most developed character in the entire show as by the time the show reaches its climax her personality would have already done a 180 and if she were not so damn stupid, I may have actually of been able to sympathize with her situation.
The antagonist of the series (who we shall refer to as Jimmy because spoilers) is so poorly-written that he almost manages to make the rest of the cast look good while on screen. Jimmy's motivations are extremely incoherent and shallow as well as just plain stupid. He developed daddy issues because his papi used to randomly assault him with a knife when he was 8 years old, as he apparently "feared" him. Hence, his primary objective is to end his father's reign because of the previously mentioned and for the fact that he for some reason let the Kabane destroy one of the cities which little Jimmy was defending at the time. I don't know why or how his father would benefit from doing so but apparently he does. And you know what they say - The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Even after getting his revenge he still goes out of his way to wreak havoc upon the innocent civilians who've got not a single thing to do with this by releasing the Kabane upon them. Ahh so much shock factor ahh such good villain.
When it is necessary, Jimmy also enjoys pulling out the Plot Convenience Serum out of his pocket and injecting it into other characters in order to turn them into mindless drones. This of course has one hell of an influence on the overarching plot as you can imagine since you have people who hate his guts one episode turning into his slaves the next. This was obviously just an extremely lazy way of making the plot progress further in the way the writers wanted it to. What's a good anime without plot convenience anyway? Funny thing is, if the characters had any semblance of a brain inside their thick skulls, Jimmy would have no chance to even get near the fortress to begin with, much less get inside. No side characters stuck out as literally all of them are either useless or obnoxious and on special occasions maybe even both.
I have somewhat of an educated guess that Wit Studio may have made a tiny winy ounce of cash with the production of a show a few years back, as well as one more recently. So naturally, it may be worth considering that by now they can put in a pretty decent budget, and so they did. The animation is buttery smooth and the art is very appealing. The choreography is very impressive and engaging whenever the fights aren't entirely one-sided. They used some weird shading technique on the character designs which I think worked well for the most part. The blood and gore looked very fluid and liquid-y. As for sound, I've got no clue. I put IceJJFish and Anton Maiden songs in the background in order to ease the pain, sorry. Opening and ending are pretty nifty though.
Just dreadful in all honestly. Every single individual factor of the show managed to hinder my enjoyment in one way or another. Be it the subpar and messy plot, the gigantic amount of plotholes riddled throughout, the horrid characterization and character development, unparalleled edge, horrible antagonist, shitty worldbuilding, rushed ending.. The list could go on. To make the long story short, it was not enjoyable. That being said, I imagine most people will actually find something here, be it the over the top execution, well-done action choreography or simply poking fun at how bad it is. I myself am not an action junkie so the choreography, while impressive, didn't leave an everlasting impression of sorts and unfortunately I wasn't able to get a kick out of how bad it was either, rather it just left me with the impression that it was trying too hard. It really is the worst thing when an awful show takes itself too seriously. Where is Mitsumune when you need him?
A true trainwreck till the very end. Kabaneri wasn't even a disappointment, it was exactly what I expected from the synopsis. The production studio was unable to keep consistency within its mediocre 12-episode runtime as shown clearly by the spiraling transition of quality the further the series progressed. I want to say that it would have worked better if it were 24 episodes long but I really can't, judging from how poorly they handled a measly 12. I'm really inclined to believe that this was just a cheap cash grab by Wit Studio since they know far too well that they can get a decent amount of income just by having the show have Attack on Titan vibes, and boy, does it have that. Hell, I'm pretty sure I could sum up both of the first episodes using the exact same sentence. Now, a moment of appreciation for Wit Studio... Thank you. And so the second season of AoT is delayed yet again. Satisfied?
A society in the middle of an industrial revolution. Gigantic steampunk-iron fortresses protecting its citizens. Zombies that terrorizes the lands, where large tank-like trains are the only means of transport and communication with the different fortifications. Such is the setting of Koutesujou no Kabaneri: mankind's struggle to survive the everluring doors of death and despair. Zombies threatening mankind is nothing new, yet is arguably oddly entertaining - when it is done right that is. What could have been a simple story about humankind's struggle for survival, sadly turned out into a petty revenge story: despite its flaws, an enjoyable first part, but with a very
lackluster second part. That being said, it has some great visuals and spectacular action scenes.
The story of Koutesujou no Kabaneri revolves mainly around Ikoma who works as an engineer in the train station, while making his very own gun to eradicate the zombies. Incidently, a train enters the station with an infected man, and thus, mankind's main fear became true: infections happening left and right within the fortress itself. This proves for the protagonist a big chance to test his very own weapon, and thus the survival story begins. A thing to note is that action is quite predominant in the series, where story and characterization basically take a back seat, although changes a bit in the second half. It is often well-coordinated, with here and there some causes of the fights itself rather lackluster. This also means that there are quite some gory sequences, full with blood, which may be a no-go for some.
At first sight it can be quite engaging, the protagonist not finding justice in indiscriminately killing the turned human: a confrontation of what defines a human being, yet naturally comes down to kill or be killed. This of course causes ruckus within society itself, in which the population displays the cowardly nature of mankind when pressured or under fear. Now there should be rules to avoid such occurrences (infected entering the city), yet the logic used by the script writers is bland and plain non-sensical at times to say the least. A lot of the rules applied have no real logic behind them, for example thorough body inspections, when the infection is nearly instantaneous, making this particular one mute. There are many more examples within the anime, where some can be overlooked up to a certain extend; this is to say, up to the first half of the story.
What is important to note, is that the anime is initially a simple story of survival with its obvious flaws, but overlookable, as it was not trying to be anything more than that. However, with the introduction of a character, Amatori Biba, the whole anime takes a significant dip in overall quality. In fact, the whole anime essentially turns into a petty revenge story, being the above mentioned character the main "villain", but to this later. There are also special powers in the anime, as well as beings: for instance, kabaneri are half-human, half kabane. This gives a plausible solution of why a small group of people being able to withstand the hordes of zombies. There are different types of zombies to spice the things up a bit, but were minimal, up to a certain point in the anime where it simply became superfluous with various increasingly overpowered ones. The main problem with this is that the anime was still trying to make it as "realistic" as possible, but with such elements thrown into it, it simply lost any credibility it had left.
Concerning the cast of characters in Koutesujou no Kabaneri, although varied, they share the archetypes common in the genre. There is also a problem when it comes to the characterization of its cast: it is introduced too late for it to take a big effect, which incidentally is introduced mid-way up to the end of the anime. Possibly by that time viewers won't have had any reason to consolidate with the characters as nothing of crucial importance or aspect was known about them. On the one hand there is Ikoma, a young simple-minded smith who wants to create a powerful weapon to counter the kabane with more ease. He has different views on how to treat the infected: yet also shares an aversion to the kabane. His very reason on why he desires to wipe out the kabane is very basic. Despite being the protagonist of the series, he undergoes little character development, even to the point of losing his very identity - which was rather lackluster to say the least, as its implementation was badly executed, feeling out of place.
On the other hand there is Mumei, an initially young girl who is quiet and arrogant, but essentially scared with no people to rely on other than what she considers her "big brother", Biba. As the series progresses, she slowly opens up a bit, just to be "brainwashed" - which in turn leaves the character development she experienced mute. Then there is one of the main reasons the anime took another huge dip in quality, the villain Biba. Although initially presented as an interesting character in charge of cleansing zombies, as well as being implied as an important character to develop the cast, it takes a turn to the worse as his main goal becomes apparent. The very motive behind it is severely lacking and uninspired - what is worse, his very character is terribly basic: just an emotionless and ruthless man, pursuing blindly his objective, while sacrificing everything in the process.
An additional problem with the introduction of the above mentioned character is the implementation of the revenge plan: a handful, or rather a stream of unlikely events just continuously happen in the rest of the series, which is where any remaining logic the series had flied out the window to accommodate it. This could be naturally due to its short airing time, yet it should have been done in a more graceful manner. As for the other characters, there is nobody else of importance to mention or care for, as hardly any fleshing out or characterization was done.
~Animation and sound~
On the bright side, the art style of Koutesujou no Kabaneri was surely refreshing and very well done, having some fantastic detail in both the design of its characters as well as the backgrounds. It is true that in some ocassions the background detail of characters where basic, even when only two were present. It is somewhat out of the norm, but is surely one I'd like to see more in the future. The animation itself was another great aspect, with fluid combat scenes and motions of the characters: fast and graceful slashes, blood, the lightning, you name it. CG is used in the anime, in particular that of the train, but as a whole was easily overlookable.
Concerning the soundtrack of the show, while mostly it is befitting of the atmosphere with the use of classical instruments, drums, guitar, there are numerous instances where there were inappropriate ones that felt out of place. The same could be said about the voice actors, while mostly it was performed in a satisfying manner, quite some characters constantly had an angry tone, to the point of being annoying - such as the protagonist. It emanates the feeling as if the character only possesed one single emotion. As for the opening and ending of the series, although visually very pleasing, it had no memorable music attached to it.
Despite having somewhat enjoyed the first half of series, Koutesujou no Kabaneri was as a whole disappointing: it should have just stuck to a simple survival story about humanity instead of what the second half introduced. This transition made the numerous issues the series had just more apparent, in addition to adding new ones. Now it must be said that the action scenes were an enjoyable watch, but were hindered by the laughable logic behind the events tied to them, as well as the characters. So do I recommend this anime? Is it the second Attack on Titan? Not really, unless viewers are able to easily dismiss the issues as inconsequential, and enjoy the mindless action there is, as the story won't be the main interest.
This is one of the worst anime that has been gaining too much hype this season.
Overall - 5
The anime has a mildly interesting storyline spoiled by generic characters. As far as the episodes that have come out, the anime has no purpose whatsoever other than fulfilling its quota of okayish action sequences with moderate amounts of gore and no horror whatsoever. The only reason you should watch this anime is if you were fooled into watching it by the amount of hype that built up to its release or you are simply into shitty action anime with retarded characters.
Story - 3
A generic dystopian future
where humans are fighting "kabane", which are sorta like titan zombies. I say fighting but it's more like getting slaughtered till a mechanic and a ninja girl come together and kick some moderate ass. People travel around in trains which connect stations and most of the actions revolve around these train being attacked. The plot is driven by the stupidity of the characters and there is no major plot whatsoever. There are serious logical inconsistencies so if you want to enjoy the anime, I'd suggest lobotomy and removing the frontal lobe of your brain.
Character - 2
While designing the characters I guess the writers were as short sighted as Ikoma (wears glasses) himself. I have visceral hate towards the anime to the extent that I make sure to tell everyone what a piece of shit this is, and I believe most of it stems from my disgust with the characters in this anime. The only characters I find good are the children in the story and Ikoma's friends.
Ikoma is a enthusiastic mechanic with shitty hair and weird metal arm who hates the adults for their narrow mindedness towards sh*t in general, especially victims of Kabane attacks. Every episode has him spouting generic motivational bullsh*t and taking illogical decisions that everyone agrees to because, well they are fu**ing retarded.
Mumei is a arrogant, self-righteous prick who is wearing rouge permanently and maybe thats why her facial expressions come before the dialogues. I mean even before Ikoma vomits his "why she is worth saving" speech, her eyes and mouth open with the cheeks becoming redder than the usual rouge...ugh...hate her.
Ayame is the "damsel in distress", who has little contribution to the story. Actually scratch that, she doesn't matter to the story.
Animation,Sound - 8
Enjoyment - 1
Kill me now
Honestly, I'm done. I have no hope for this anime.
Why are people comparing this anime to shingeki no kyojin? I mean, this anime by itself is already very good. I dont really understand why people are starting to rate Koutetsujou no Kabaneri lower now that they've watched the last episode. Overall, the last episode wasnt even that bad. IN FACT, it kind of gives way to saying the the story isnt really finished yet, which then leads to a hint that there could even be a second season. If people want to rate this anime, they should at least try not to be as biased as possible. Anyways, Hiroyuki Sawano, as usual, created an
amazing set of OST (original soundtrack). The art was quite good, making it look more realistic. The characters are quite unique, although there is a slight sense of cliche with some of the personalities like Ikoma's for example. The anime really was enjoyable. Even though the ending seems to be kind of rushed, the overall thing was quite good, and it isnt exactly as bad as what some people say. As for the story, i think that the pace was going at a satisfying pace (excluding the ending). The plot really made it unique since it has been a long time since a good post-apocalyptic anime came out after HOTD and SNK.
What an amazing, exciting, and shockingly original anime! Well rounded and done extremely well, I highly recommend Koutetsujou no Kabaneri for anyone who is a fan of zombies and thrillers.
As I said, this was a very original anime, especially the story. We don't see many zombie anime's, and the ones we do see tend to be slice-of-life or, oddly, romantic. I can only think of 1 or 2 other zombie anime, and neither one even came close to this. Exciting and adrenaline-pumping action, you really feel invested in the story and the characters.
Weirdly, this anime has a sort
of throwback type of art, reminiscent of anime in the 90's and early 2000's. But what can I say... It works. The art is unique but beautiful, and each character is unique and easy to remember. I loved the designs and the outfits of the female characters in particular.
The music is perfectly fitted to the intense action sequences as well as the more tender moments, and can even be creepy and scifi-sounding at all the right parts. The seiyuu's did a great job creating memorable characters as well.
I fell in love with Mumei in the last scene of the first episode (it's an epic moment, so I won't spoil it for you). Ikoma is also a character you really root for (although I wasn't particularly fond of his hair). You grow to love some of the side characters as well - all of them are really well done.
I really recommend binge-watching this anime. It is so intense and full of adrenaline pumping moments that keep you on the edge of your seat, and so if you stop watching after each episode it's sort of like jumping off the ride right before you get to the best part.
I highly recommend Koutetsujou no Kabaneri. In a world full of boring, same-same anime's with cliched overused plot devices and silly tropes, Kabaneri is wholly original and thrilling.
I just really hope there will be a second season that will explain some of our lingering questions (like the origin of the Kabane!!)
Koutetsujou no Kabaneri was the show that I was the most excited for this anime season. Sure, it seemed like a lot of the ideas were borrowed from Wit studio's other anime, the widely known and critically acclaimed Attack on Titan, but I was willing to overlook that and view Kabaneri as its own, separate anime. I was initially impressed by the first two episodes, however the hype train slowly ran out of steam as the anime progressed. It was truly heading down the right track, but the anime simply derailed itself when it failed to expand its plot beyond generic characters fighting mindless zombies.
This unfortunately resulted in Kabaneri being nothing more then a decent anime, when it had the potential to be something great.
The weakest part of the show. Kabaneri is a typical zombie apocalypse show, so it's not entirely original. However I've yet to see a zombie show heavily involving trains, so that's new, although it may be a bit of a comically stupid idea. I also noticed a decent amount of plot holes used as an excuse to have the kabane (the name of the zombies) attack. Sometimes they just randomly appeared without anyone noticing their loud moaning or bulking masses in random places to randomly attack random people. Other times the kabane just simply broke through the giant walls protecting the cities and the armored trains that humanity probably spent many a year constructing like they were made out of paper. The amount of plot holes was honestly quite pathetic, maybe even more so then Kabaneri's supporting cast, and that's really saying something. Also, the anime rarely explored any plot points other than those revolving around surviving the kabane, which I felt left this anime with a lack of depth.
This anime has pretty adequate visuals all around. The characters are designed beautifully and there aren't many inconsistencies with the art. My biggest problem is that the majority of the scenery is the inside of a train, which resulted in some very dull backgrounds. It turns out that the grey interior of a train makes for incredibly bland scenery.
The opening theme is done by Egoist and the ending by Aimer, two great artists in my opinion, so Kabaneri is obviously going to get high marks in this category. While neither song is the best by either performer, they are still very good and enjoyable to listen to. Also the soundtrack was composed by Hiroyuki Sawano, the man who developed the background tracks for widely known anime like Attack on Titan and Guilty Crown. In my opinion he is a musical genius who has composed many superb pieces, and the soundtrack that he created for this anime is no exception.
Mumei singlehandedly saves this category. She's a total badass who can also be very adorable. Mumei has her cute moments that bring a smile to my face. She also has her epic moments, like when she singlehandedly eliminates a large group of kabane, and is disappointed that she couldn't do it in under 100 seconds. Mumei also has depth and experiences conflict throughout the show that helps her to develop as a person, though her gradual transformation admittedly isn't always believable. Sadly, she's the only character in this anime who's like this, and the rest are as dull as the zombies that they fight. The other protagonist, Ikoma, is decent, but he's nothing special. Ikoma doesn't start off as a typical weak or uncertain protagonist. From the beginning he shows signs of badassery. However after episode two, he just seems to run out of steam. In fact, I don't think he develops at all as a character throughout the entirety of the anime. Most of the side characters are rather annoying since they rarely know how to properly deal with the kabane and constantly try to get rid of Ikoma and Mumei, two of the very few people in this show who actually manage to accomplish anything. You'd think that being on the verge of extinction would make the senses of these people keener, but instead it feels like some of these characters have the intelligence level of your average mindless zombie.
Despite its flaws, this is a pretty entertaining anime. It has a large sum of faced paced action mixed with a good amount of tension that leaves viewers on edge. Plus Mumei is really enjoyable to watch and she has her moments of awesomeness. Also the atmosphere created by the sound and animation makes watching Kabaneri an even better experience. Unfortunately, the show got duller as it progressed, which consequently sucked out some of the enjoyment that I derived from watching it.
Although a 5/10 is a decent score, I can't help but feel a twinge of disappointment. I predicted that Kabaneri would be a strong 8/10 after watching it's initial episodes, and I just think that the anime partially let me down. It was mainly the poorly constructed story that held this anime back. Nonetheless, Kabaneri is a somewhat exciting show, and I would recommend it to people who love intense action and gore.
Survival is a theme that is touched upon quite a lot, and not only when it comes to the anime medium. Most of these kinds of series tend to engage this rather generic theme with interesting and good-looking fights, completely ignoring the plot's development and the characters' growth on the audience, instead adding a lot of gore which apparently triggers the "feels" of ignorant masses because, you know, losing someone precious is hard. There are many ways to strike a certain series despite the generic concept, instead of doing that you might as well develop some characters hence making it feel not as retarded. Kabaneri
does not do that, and it also is full of the "retarded adults syndrome", it being apparent in the whole anime, despite the main characters themselves being idiotic. Consequently, all it manages to be is a copy of Attack on Titan, if not even worse than that, and yup, that ain't good at all.
Koutetsujou no Kabaneri takes place in a post-apocalyptic Earth, in the face of an industrial revolution, where unknown creatures named Kabane have appeared, them eating flesh and drinking human blood, hence becoming humanity's natural enemy. Once a Kabane bites a human, that human becomes a Kabane and so on. Post apocalyptic Japan has been colonized into train stations, which themselves are cities and are surrounded by walls, with trains travelling between them for many reasons, including provisions and soldier transfers. Interesting huh? Well, despite some of the points of the concept being indeed interesting, such as combining a steampunk setting with survival in a world that has been destroyed were, not really, because there was nothing left in order for the concept to be supported, therefore the execution being extremely weak. Letting alone that the dialogue was really cringy and reminded me of SAO, everything else except the production values was, likewise. After all, trains can not save anything.
The havoc has wreaked, and then there is our main character, Ikoma, who is an overenthusiastic fellow. Guess what, he wants to kill the Kabane in order to avenge his sister who was bitten by them. He develops a weapon which can kill Kabane in an easier manner, and boards Koutetsujou because the city is not to be inhabited anymore with several other people, to whom I will get into later, him broadening his horizons and deciding that it's not fair that only strong people have to survive or whatnot. The moods of the main character change quickly depending on the situation, so he sometimes is extremely badass whilst in others you wanna hit him in his head with a screwdriver because of how retarded his actions are. Another bad thing about him is that he actually is the most likable character in Kabaneri. Unfortunately.
Enter Mumei, our second main character, who is your generic fare of courageous on the outside, feelsy yet manipulated in her childhood on the inside. Not that it matters, but it is the revelations about her that are extremely lazy, leaving me with a hand scratching my head. She is the one to inherit the standard "strong people survive, weak people die". The portrayal of that ideal is really bad, as it is played with and goes round and round to reveal that, in the end, Mumei should not become like her mum who was killed by the Kabane, and that she should remain strong and get experimented in order for her to become her "brother's" puppet, becoming a Kabaneri and wandering around like an idiot not knowing what to do with her life.
Mumei's symbol of admiration, Biba, whom she calls her brother, is the most interesting character in the whole series, appearing relatively later in the series, only for the audience to learn that he is the leader of the Kabane extermination troops in order to satisfy his egoistical means, adding yet another idiotic character to the cast. By the end of the series, he has become your common villain with only a flashback to be supported with, following the quote "in the face of our supposedly enemies, he is the one that should be exterminated because of his evil means". Apart from these three, there are other side characters which are cookie cutter like our mains, including your Ayame-sama, her knight who is always by her side, Ikoma's friend who dies for the sake of melodrama and many many more, including the retarded adults whose IQ is minus 150. Bad writing is all over the place, there are no explanations given about what the hell the Kabane are, and true, some but few characters might have gotten some development, but that was done with some of the lamest, laziest and most boring excuses aka. Plot devices I've ever encountered in my life. Along with an ending that obviously was not the best, after the trainwrecks all the other episodes were, the outcome most surely is not that noteworthy.
What Koutetsujou no Kabaneri lacks in every other department, somehow wins when it comes to the art and animation sections, because you might as well make something bad at least look good. The backgrounds are great, them being the best point of the whole series, the sceneries being fresh and given a good amount of lighting. The choreography of the so-judged significant battles, especially the ones in episode 8, is pretty detailed and make up for some shortcomings incoming with the drop of budget in the middle episodes, although it looks a whole lot like Attack on Titan's 3D Maneuver Gear. The character designs are as a matter of fact not bad-looking, but they somehow are unappealing in certain moments, especially when it comes to the character's faces. Mumei's face is a huge representative example, as when included in light-hearted moments, like those where she plays with the kids, where her face looks extremely moe-ish and unfitting to the whole thing (her armpits and legs make up for it though). A character design that I personally liked is that of Horobi, which is quite detailed and looks great in a certain battle scene. A plus, amongst others, would also be the costumes of each and every significant character, which are cool enough and remind me a lot of a crossover between the cheap clothes used by people back in the industrial revolution along with some style to support the steampunk setting. Overall, despite the animation quality drop in some episodes, the section as a whole smelled success, over how bad other things in the series were per say.
Soundtrack-wise, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is fine. It comes down to each person to how much they will like edgy music or not after all, and in Kabaneri's case, the opening and ending songs have fitting music and lyrics to the series' concept. The OST was misused some times, a good example being Mumei's flashback where a happy-toned song was used in a scene which was downright sad. The voice acting was quite okay, though forgettable most of the times, the exception being Ikoma's, which was both exaggerated and unforgettable in a whole bad way. He sounded like someone who was getting laid off at the time and place he spoke in. Consequently, the soundtrack was above average despite myself not being a fan of Sawano-esque music because it is repetitive as heck.
To say the truth, I somehow enjoyed Koutetsujou no Kabaneri quite much, with both its goods and its of significant amount bads. I enjoyed the fights and their choreography, the sceneries and the backgrounds and I laughed at how tarded the characters were. Noticing how much of a "Nothing happened: The Animation" it was, was incredibly fun as well. It literally went round and round and achieved nothing but nothingness, void, darkness. And even if it did achieve something, it was by default pointless, because in the end, nothing happened. Only edgy teens trying to survive in a post apocalyptic world full of blood-drinking creatures, generic and undeveloped villains and retarded adults, with the whole meaning of the word. I would have enjoyed it way more, hadn't it tried to be as supposedly serious as it was in the first place.
In conclusion, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is just another one show of the kind which includes overhyped Attack on Titan-esque shows like Black Bullet. If you expect a show with relatable characters, a realistic depiction of survival and interesting yet explained lore, avoid it like the plague it is. However, if you just need a show to cool off with and do not care about any kind of flaw and shortcoming, engage Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress like the ephemeral and cathartic journey it is. To finish with a bang, I am going to quote a friend: "It will be performed as an opera on the holodecks of the ships that disperse us into the heavens. We were really just clothed monkeys until it allowed us to transcend our animalism. I shall sing its praises to all that shall come forth and be enlightened. If it was not Clannad After Story that could make you cry, try Kabaneri, that is how amazing it is".
This show reminded me that one can immerse in the anime world just by simply watching it. With its breathtaking visuals and compelling story, I was taken into the world of Koutetusjou no Kabaneri.
Now a lot of people will say it's a rip-off of the mainstream anime, Shingeki no Kyojin. Well, I digress. This show actually offers more than suspense and action. For one, not everyone in this show is powerless. The characters are actually able to fight back from the monsters easily. Not everyone is at harm because the threat wasn't that big (no pun intended). The real problem lies outside the walls, but
not the monsters. It's the humans themselves. The way I see it, it has more similarities with Guilty Crown than Attack on Titan.
Speaking of Guilty Crown, the characters themselves resembled those from the show. Even the mechanisms and biology of the show was the same with the one in Guilty Crown. I mean, the main character even resembled Shu in some way. Mumei is just an energetic Inori, and The villains are... you get my point.
What I liked about this show the most was its setting. A steampunk Japan surrounded by zombie-like creatures, and people can still travel to different places without enclosing themselves in walls. Also, the animation focused more on the movement of still scenes rather than bloodshed in action scenes. It doesn't even try to become a horror anime. More like its main priority is to present exciting visuals and storyline rather than excite viewers through the use of fanservice.
In short, this series was well-done. I definitely recommend this to Aot and non-AoT fans alike. Then come back and tell me if you're human, Kabane or Kabaneri.
Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (also known as Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress) is honestly one of those series that almost wants to make you rip your hair out. By first impressions, the show seemed to be on the right track. Dubbed by some as a generic clone of “Attack on Titan” or the next “big thing”, this series is one that is filled with controversy.
As an original anime by Wit Studio, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri seems to be inspired by a lot of generic concepts taken from the dark fantasy genre. These concepts ranges in variety from survival horror, revenge, tragic past, monster invasion, betrayal, experimentation, you
name it. If you’ve seen a monster movie, chances are, you’ll find one of these ideas stuffed into this show. As the first few episodes rolled through, I do have to admit that the series is highly entertaining. The storytelling sparks interest, the setting has potential, the characters are diverse, and the production is solid. So what exactly went wrong?
Before we get to the meat of the series, it’s probably best to understand the staff behind the series. Besides Wit Studio, we got director Tetsuro Araki who is well-known for his work on Attack on Titan. Then, there’s Ichirou Okouchi, the guy that wrote the scripts for Guilty Crown. And finally, the music you hear throughout the show is crafted by Hiroyuki Sawano who is well known for many series (Kill la Kill, Aldnoah Zero, Owari no Seraph) Take this in all a second and you may see a pattern. And chances are, you’ll find some familiarity with these shows if you’ve seen them.
It’s pretty much one of those mainstream shows that tries to appeal to a broader audience. And by that, I mean it’s a show that tries to do everything possible to make it entertaining. Not necessarily entertaining for its story but more about its over the top notch action. It’s pretty obvious though. The production quality of the series is stellar. A simple glance at the first two episodes will have you in awe with the action as we see humans fight monsters (or otherwise known as Kabane). These monsters seems mindless and inspires horror based just on their appearance, behavior, and way to try to assimilate others into their race. The setting has the apocalyptic feel with the widespread destruction caused by the Kabane. Furthermore, we also have steampunk technology in the form …trains. That’s right, trains. They are actually called Hayajiro and are locomotives used for transport and protection due to their armor. The most infamous one is the Koutetsujou where we meet our main characters.
Collectively, the characters are both generic but also has some unique traits about them. The main protagonist is Ikoma. He may seem like the typical teenager but has genius intellect when it comes to inventions. On the other hand, there’s nothing too special about him except for his main role in the show because of his personality. You’ll probably notice it right away from other series similar to this: the type of characters where they have a strong will power to protect what they believe in and make a difference in their world. Then, there’s Mumei, a strange petite girl with a lot of mysteries of her own. Unlike Ikoma, she has the personality of a child despite her powerful abilities to fight the Kabane. It’s also shown that she had a tragic past so expect PTSD-like scenes in some of the later episodes. In essence, what she lacks is more of a character that can be relatable or we can feel attached with. Although throughout the series, Mumei does forge a strong bond with Ikoma that seems to grow more and more. However, the way some characters develop throughout the series is rather questionable. While Ikoma follows a straightforward progress of becoming a savior of mankind, Mumei’s character seems to develop backwards from a badass fighter to damsel in distress. While I still find the chemistry between Ikoma and Mumei to be fun to watch, their characterization is something that really degenerated.
Of course, we do have the princess of the series. Meet Ayame Yomogawa who is blessed with noble blood. She’s pretty much the typical female character you’ll find in books who has a reasonable understanding about certain individuals, is honest, and even shows mercy to her enemies. She also shows potential as a leader and unlike Mumei has more of a mature personality. And if you can guess by now, she also has her own personal bodyguards such as Kurusu, a serious man with a code of honor and skilled fighter. So on paper, the majority of the characters from the series each has their own strengths and weaknesses. You’ll discover them easily through their role in the story and believe me, some of them are generic to the core. On the other hand, I do like some of the relationship dynamics throughout the show. Strong friendships such as Ikoma and his childhood friend Takumi, the deeper bond between Ayame and Yukina (engineer of the Kotetsujo), and Ikoma and Mumei’s building trust are just a few to name.
So initially, I had little problems with the show mostly because it’s what I had expected and nothing really took me by surprise. The revelations and identities of the Kabaneri, zombie symptoms spread through like a “curse” by infections, background history/storytelling, or the weaknesses of the Kabanei never really bothered me. What started to become rather questionable is the storytelling and execution of the episodes around mid-season. Out of nowhere, we get antagonists whom I find as some of the most stereotypical characters I’ve ever seen. Their motivation and roles in the story almost makes me puke just because how preposterous they are. As I’ve also mentioned before, Mumei becomes one of the most insufferable female characters in the series later on. That’s actually a bit disappointing to realize as well because the show has painted most of the female characters as strong women. Otherwise, storytelling takes a swerve with two faced characters, the overemphasis on certain plot devices (such as mind control), and overall just seems unrecoverable after certain episodes in the latter half of the season. The inserted breather episodes are overshadowed despite their importance while deaths of certain characters are extremely predictable from miles away.
By technical standards, the show is gorgeous. There’s little concern about it as production values remain high throughout the entire series ranging from battle segments to cinematic choreography. The setting of the series is also designed with high caliber quality with rich backgrounds. The technology has a crude yet firm design such as the weapons that Ikoma and Mumei uses or the locomotives we see every episode. The monsters also gives a horrific feel with their design and although isn’t too unique still inspires fear. Finally, character designs sophisticated that makes both the male and female characters credible with their roles.
If you got headphones, then definitely put them on for the show. It’s worth it because the OST is something that will get you in the mood quickly. Because the show is very action oriented (especially in the first few episodes), you’ll quickly catch on with the flow. The OP and ED theme songs are also nicely choreographed and sung by world class talents. Speaking of talent, Sawano’s skills are easily recognized as well that combines elements of thriller and his instrumental style to bring the show larger than life when it comes to music. On a lesser note, character voice mannerism is moderate and you’ll hear plenty of screaming.
So, the big question mark is if you should watch Koutetsujou no Kabaneri. It’s an original show so there’s nothing to lose when it comes to adaptation. But for its storytelling, do be aware that it’s not exactly as impressive as it seems. Characterization throughout the series is questionable for certain characters and the show also suffers from numerous flaws about them. But if you’re in it for some fun entertainment, then this is definitely the show to go see. Put those headphones on, ride the train, and see what’s ahead.
BOKU WA KABANERI DA!!!!!!!!!!!1!!!one!!!oneoneshiftone!!!!eleven!!!
<insert your favorite cliche, corny phrase from the show here>
Kabaneri. What happened? This show was supposed to be the Attack on Titan that everyone wanted. All the pieces were there to get everything on track- Tetsuro Araki as the CONDUCTOR, Wit Studio in the boiler room, and my main man Hiroyuki Sawano handling the harmonic balancing in the CABOOSE. With these three wheels churning, Kabaneri should have been a hit. But oh man... did it ever DERAIL itself about halfway through.
They say that monorails make for a good one liner, but Kabaneri really RAILROADS you through the story. There's something to
be said for a fast paced show, but this one is full steam ahead from the first minute, burning off much needed characterization in favor of jumping from one action setpiece to another. The inclusion of a machiavellian villain who has no discernible goals other than to be a giant dickhead and watch the world burn could have been a great DEPARTURE from the norm in anime- villains who have some grandiose rule the world or become immortal plot. However, Biba truly is just evil for the sake of being evil, and his entrance into the plot comes far too late to have much effect in taking us DOWN THE LINE.
For those who don't mind getting OFF TRACK into mindless violence involving a little girl and a level 87 Platinum Edgemaster of the Balron, though, this show could be your TICKET! For everyone who is looking for characters to EXPRESS themselves through something more than action, the show runs out of STEAM very quickly. Once the shock value of decapitating a pregnant woman, killing children, and generally showing no mercy to most characters that aren't listed in the main cast wears off, it pretty well SIGNALS the end of anything that's not pure action schlock for Kabaneri.
In fact, this show could have been a FIRST CLASS alternative to Attack on Titan, had it just come out of the gate sooner. It's almost like there was a DELAY, and this made it to the STATION late, but nobody got a refund or free trip. All told, this show is basically a one way trip to high action, but never gets back to any kind of real storytelling. Revenge is a powerful motivator, but when it's the only thing DRIVING the show- it looses a lot of its STEAM.
The bottom line:
If you liked Attack on Titan, you'll probably like this. It's all the action with very little of the teen angst. Another zombie series that's heavy on action, light on characterization, and a visual feast- just don't BOARD with too many expectations, or it might just RUN YOU OFF THE TRACK.
Remember the last time an anime truly gripped you, a show that you couldn't put down and was complex and intellectual? If you're looking for something like that, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is not the anime for you. Plagued by vanilla characters and repetitious fight scenes, Kabaneri was the disappointment of the season for me. How could something combining zombies, samurai and steam punk be bad? Please allow me to explain ...
Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away there exists a populace chronically threatened by incessant hordes of zombies called Kabane. Most of the world's people are confined to living in tight
settlements or aboard one of several titanic locomotives. Although the Attack on Titan comparisons are evident, I initially found the setting reminiscent of the recent cult classic film, Snowpiercer (those of you film buffs who have seen it will probably understand where I'm coming from). All we as viewers seem to need to care about is that the zombies attack by the shitload, are very hard to kill and pretty much everybody is a pussy about it. Ikoma enters stage left with the hatred and knowledge of these creatures that seems to transcend virtually anyone else in the show, despite the fact that he's probably only a teenager. Why? Because anime says so. I was initially receptive of Ikoma's zealous personality, and thought he was a protagonist I could really get behind. He had just cause and didn't whine like a baby. Nowadays that's just about all I need to not hate a character.
The first episode was rather intense, and I could feel my expectations building. I kept thinking "if the show just keeps it up, if it keeps up this intensity it'll be good". However, the main area where Kabaneri fails is depth. It doesn't have much going for it past its shock and awe face value, and it started to bore me after a few episodes. It's like a young puppy let loose after being in its crate all day. At first it runs around hyperactively and makes lots of noises but eventually ends up just chasing its tail and pooping on the carpet once it loses its excitement. We see Ikoma turn into a Kabaneri, or half man/half Kabane, by a process which is lazily explained. He uses this newfound power to defeat more Kabane, meets this wild child who is also a Kabaneri, develops awkward feelings for her, then the bad guy is introduced, everyone is irritated/mesmerized by him, more Kabane are killed, some people die... yadda, yadda, yadda. I think this script may have actually been stolen from a B movie director and pawned off as an anime. Kabaneri literally has nothing else going for it other then impressive fight scenes and questionable lolli fan service with Mumei.
The writing in Kabaneri is just dreadful. I'm not asking for a Pulitzer Prize winning script here, but I would like something better than what can be comprised by a third grader with writer's block. The dialogue is stale and unsettling with constantly recycled lines and sporadic conversations that don't necessarily seem to fit. Mumei is the most frequent culprit here. One minute she's laughing and joking around with little kids and the next she's a cutthroat lapdog unwilling to listen to reason. I get the whole half Kabane thing, but is there also mind control going on? If so, that certainly wasn't explained properly. It's also quite amusing how the Kabane horde attacks are written in the script, as if to say "oh yeah, in case you forgot, here comes another zombie attack!" Timing is impeccable. Most of the scenes seem reactionary, like nothing in the show is premeditated. So many different themes or touched on but never really explored. The writers spent too much time delivering cheap action sequences rather than focusing on the characters or what made the Kabane tick.
With the zombie genre, Kabaneri had a unique opportunity to do something most anime don't have the luxury of, being scary. While some of the moments were intense, it never really captured the fear that SnK did. I felt rather apathetic when characters were killed off, because the poor writing didn't really make me care. The individuals killed felt more like useless fodder than real people with families and friends that cared about them. I think back to other zombie films like 28 days later and World War Z where I was absolutely frightened during some scenes, wishing that one day an anime is able to capture that same emotion in me.
Sometimes, even by anime standards, some events that transpired in Kabaneri can be unreasonable and unrealistic. The fact that I'm questioning the validity in Ikoma's process in becoming a Kabaneri in the first episode speaks volumes. If what he did was truly possible, I feel like it wouldn't be such a revelation and that somebody would've figured it out long before he did considering the Kabane have been around for a while. There's also a portion in episode six or seven (I can't remember which) where a precarious, intense battle where many lives were lost jaggedly transitions to some kind of a festival? How can they sit around making fireworks when they can't even establish rice fields? Are they so naïve to think that fireworks arent going to attract a horde of zombies? Possibly the dumbest scene in the entire anime. If there was anything well-placed in this series, it was Mumei's skirt, since I wasn't unnecessarily bombarded with panty shots while she was flipping through the air in damn near every episode.
I could write a lengthy dissertation on all of the issues I had with Kabaneri and its script, but I should probably point out a couple positives for good measure. If there's one upside to the writing that I can attribute, it is undoubtably the fight scenes. For the most part, the scenes are well choreographed and intense with characters introducing new weapons and tactics at various points throughout the show. I also like how they wrote scenes with Ikoma, with incorporating his severe lack of battle experience into his fighting style. He'd be rumbling and bumbling while slightly skiddish, and I often thought he would get overrun by the Kabane... Only to prevail at the last possible moment. This is one of the few areas that I wouldnt improve on.
To elaborate on the character aspect, let's start with our protagonist, Ikoma. If anime has taught me anything, it's that the list of badass characters with glasses is rather small (Sakamoto, Shiro etc.). I should've heeded to that red flag when Ikoma was introduced, because underneath it all he really doesn't get that much development. Aside from the first episode or two he serves more as a placeholder in the generic protagonist trope than anything else. The writers were negligent on his past and focused on other aspects of the story instead. Mumei serves as the necessary fan service part of the series, as I've already seen some rather scantily clad images of her floating around the Internet. It's actually kind of sick considering the fact that I think she's only like 13 or 14 in the show. At least we learn a little bit about her past, and how she turned into a Kabaneri to begin with. She arguably has the most depth of any character in the show, as she experiences multiple flashbacks along the way. The villain seems like a spoiled brat who resents his father and wants to bring down everyone else because of it. I don't know if it's just me, but I'm so sick of these archetypes. I mean we get it, your dad was mean to you but can you stop whining about it already? I feel like killing thousands of innocent people to get your point across isn't necessarily the way to get back to your father. The rest of the cast is as bland as they come, all replaceable in their own right. Being the nerd that I am, I really wanted to delve in deeper and see what I was missing in the character's motives and aspirations since they were never really explained. Unfortunately, there's really no source material for me to gander at, as Kabaneri is a standalone anime and not transposed from a manga.
Even though I've already watched 12 episodes, I still can't decide if I like the art in this series or not. On one hand, the character models are unique and the environments remind me of an early 2000's anime. But also in some respects I can see that as a negative. It could be used as an excuse for lazy artistry since it didn't have a lavish budget or use the standard illustrations we're used to seeing in anime today. I'll have to go ahead and give the artists the benefit of the doubt on this one, since most steam punk animes seem to have different styles (Last Exile, etc.), and given the fact that there was no overuse of CG.
The opening for Kabaneri is actually quite enjoyable. I've seen more and more anime utilizing a small intro phrase or something of that nature to get their opening started, and it really seemed to be effective here. The music seems to fit the setting well, and the animation and choreography was top notch. This is what truly got me hyped for the anime initially. Perhaps even more polarizing than the opening was the ending. Despite the overall disappointment I have for the show, I have since added the ending song to my playlist of top anime music. Some of the rest of the background music fits in decently, but the show still suffers from recycled tracks and occasionally missplaced music. Incorporating a ballad with strong female vocals is normally nice, but not in the middle of a fight scene were Kabane hearts are being ripped out. I don't really know what they were thinking here. The voice acting cast was buffed up, and even ironically included the likes of Yuki Kaji (Eren from SnK), but no single performance really stuck out to me. Not to mention one of the engineers randomly spoke English from time to time. Really, what the hell was that about?
Whenever I look back to Kabaneri, I will always think about what could have been. While Attack on Titan was certainly not my favorite anime of all time, Kabaneri had an opportunity to learn from its shortcomings, but it just didn't capitalize. You know what they say, you can lead a horse to water but not make him drink it. If I could recommend this anime to anyone, it would be those who play videogames where they like to mash a button repeatedly (i.e. Dynasty Warriors). There's not much else to be explored then mindless drivel and flashy fight scenes. Eventually someone in anime will get this zombie thing right, but until that day I await with bated breath. As always, thanks for reading and be sure to check out the rest of my spring 2016 reviews!
No matter who the enemy might seem to be (zombies, titans, mutant bees, flying pigs), the real enemy for humans will always be humanity itself. I believe kabane were only a tool meant to emphasize that. I'm not gonna lie, I'm not very bright and this review's not gonna be the most intelligent thing for you to read. Just a humble review for humble people interested in giving Koutetsujou no Kabaneri a shot.
Really messy, but somehow its mediocrity made it seem like a piece of reality adjusted to fit a steampunk puzzle. Real world is filled with people who make bad decisions, kill (apparently)
for no reason and do reckless and pointless things. Same happens in Koutetsujou no Kabaneri, making the story confusing and a real pain to take in certain moments. The ending was not great, but satisfying, even though some said it was rushed, I didn't want to get more than this.
Art & Animation
If you pay attention and look closely, you'll notice how even the hairs in the eyebrows slightly move when the wind blows. I've never seen such details until now, I'm really impressed with how meticulously the animation was done. The art style and colors fit the story perfectly, turning plain backgrounds into an explosion of details. The character designs are also unique.
I've noticed a lot of new voice actors (like Ikoma's), pretty refreshing considering that I've heard some voices so many times I've had enough of them. And not only they were new, but also very good.
I liked both the OP and ED, performed by EGOIST and Aimer respectively. The background music was like honey for my ears, a happy combination of classic, electronic, ambiental and rock music.
Some were annoying and some were memorable. The writers failed at creating strong personalities for most of the characters and in all that mess of people acting subjectively I wish there was at least one to save the disaster. Given only 12 episodes, the character development is impressive in Ayame's case which turns into a brave leader from a daddy's girl not long time ago.
Enjoy it for what it is, not for what you expect it to be.
Ahh, a show about humanity being pushed to the brink of extinction due to a sudden appearance of man-eating monsters who are overwhelmingly powerful. Wait, doesn’t that sound familiar? If you say yes, it’s Attack on Titan, then you’re absolutely right. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with an AoT clone if it improves on AoT, but somehow Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress manages to do everything worse, spiralling down into a ludicrous mess of melodramatic, illogical plot elements and a villain so poorly founded and comically evil that it is laughable. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (especially the latter half) can only be best described as
a the love child between Guilty Crown and Attack on Titan, and in absolutely no way (literally no way) is this a good thing. At all. This show is deplorable.
Hailing from the same studio (and director, and composer) as Attack on Titan, it’s understandable and inevitable that there are going to be some similarities between the shows; However, whenever Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress attempts to differentiate itself, it fails in a spectacular fashion. In the first episode, they attempt to replicate the “hooking” effect the premier episode of AoT had, sweeping you up into a violent and dramatic rollercoaster, keeping you at the edge of your seat as you eagerly anticipate the following episodes. What made AoT’s premier episode do this so effectively, is how the show juxtaposes the peaceful, cattle-like life of the civilians within the walls, with the violent massacre that ensues once the Colossal Titan shows up and everything turns to shit. None of this intensive juxtaposition is present in Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. Right from the get-go this show emphasized its edgy, violent and melodramatic nature, so when things turn to shit it doesn’t have the same effect AoT’s first episode had. It was predictable, and on top of that, came off as very soulless.
Let’s look at plot holes and elements that are entirely illogical. The Kabane are the Titan equivalent in Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (or KNK, from here on out). The concept is simple, once you get bittn by a Kabane you turn into one, and the only way to kill one is to pierce their heart that is protected by a solid iron rib cage. This presents a great obstacle for humanity, as their simple steam based weaponry isn’t powerful enough to penetrate the rib cage. This honestly blew my mind with stupidity; The zombies can’t heal or regenerate, so cutting their heads off is the most efficient and effective way to get rid of these zombies.They can’t hear, see, and most important of all, BITE YOU! There are so many moments where humans are wielding Katanas trying to JAB THE KABANE’S HEART! I MEAN SERIOUSLY!? You have a weapon designed SPECIFICALLY for cutting yet you are JABBING its heart like you’re fencing or something. It just doesn’t make sense, how can their be humans so dumb to think that’s an effective way of killing the Kabane? That’s how you know what little thought was put into this show, when such an obviously blatant plot hole is present yet no writer decides to even remotely justify it.
Another thing is the abundance of slitting wrists in this show. Literally, the characters slit their wrists. I mean, I know the show is edgy but there has to be a limit, in the first episode Ikoma slits his wrist thinking it’s a good idea to attract zombies that way, I mean seriously? Your wrists, where a crucial artery lies? You’re going to slice that? I don’t understand how he didn’t die from blood loss. He isn’t the only one who thinks that’s a good idea, either, and that’s the scary part. It’s like the writers in this show just decided to abandon reality entirely and write whatever they want; it perplexes me that nobody working on the show pointed this out, does nobody at Wit Studio understand how bad of an idea it is to cut your wrists?
Let’s talk about this show’s meager world building and insufficient world exploration. According to its synopsis, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is set in the far east on the island of Himoto, where humanity resides behind the safety of a colony of walled shelters connected via train tracks. Yet, the only settings of this show are the train and 2 stations, one of which is the biggest one in the entire island. KNK is another show to fall victim for biting off more than they can chew, as they tell you how big their world is but never expand on it in any way (granted, this show’s limited run time is partly to blame). The mechanics of their civilization are never explained, how the Shogun (authoritarian leader of the colonies) gets messages across, how food is grown, etc. Speaking of food, apparently rice hasn’t been grown or eaten for decades in the show, but how does that make any sense? Rice isn’t even that hard to grow, all you need is sufficient rainfall and a warm climate, neither of which were shown to be absent from the show’s setting. They can’t just say things like “Rice hasn’t been eaten for a long time” without explaining why, hell, a quick google search shows 11 ways to grow rice in your damn backyard, but you’re telling me the entire island of Himoto can’t grow rice? How can there be no rice, but there can be fireworks? Mines? Bamboo? Peas? Garlic? Onion? I mean come on. I know I’m literally getting mad over rice, but what may seem trivial is in reality extremely lazy writing especially when the show leads you to believe that there are going to be more things than available, as many loose ends are formed that are shrouded with uncertainty.
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress attempts to differentiate itself from Attack on Titan towards the latter half of the show. They do this by changing the conflict from humans vs Kabane to humans vs humans, with the Kabane as a weapon. This could have worked if the antagonist of the humans vs humans conflict was a well-founded, understandable and coherent character. Instead, we get this comically evil, cold-hearted sibling figure that has daddy issues. His motivations are unrealistic and laughable, and the fact that there are people working for him perplexes me, since there is no logical reason anyone would aid his unnecessarily destructive unhealthy grudge. There were a few melodramatic scenes that attempt to intimidate you by showing off the villain’s overwhelming evil prowess, but it’s so farcical that I was unable to stop laughing. Every trait that makes a typically good antagonist is entirely absent from the villain in KNK, his motivations are illogical, he’s not intimidating, his dialogue is cringeworthy and nonsensical, I could go on but the point remains the same. Almost everything pertaining to the villain was done wrong. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress even attempts to foreshadow the villain very early on, but it fails remarkably once more. There is a difference between subtly foreshadowing an event, and simply insulting the viewer’s intelligence by acting like they haven’t figured out the twist out already. Just from the dialogue of certain characters you can tell who the villain is going to be from the FIRST EPISODE, yet the show constantly tries act live they’ve kept it hidden very well.
Ultimately in terms of plot, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is simply a poorer version of Attack on Titan. The show tries to sell you something that they don’t have, relying heavily on melodramatic and action scenes to entertain you—this show doesn’t have any substance to it; mediocre mindless entertainment at best. Don’t get me wrong, though, there is indeed such a thing as good mindless entertainment and this show simply doesn’t get it; for mindless entertainment to be good your cast needs to be likeable and endearing, and your show needs to understand itself that it’s mindless entertainment. KNK has no idea that their show is a joke and consistently tries to be something it simply isn’t, making this show the best comedy this season. t
The characters of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress are extremely shallow, with little to no layers, as well as offensively stupid. There are only two characters that undergo any mentionable development, and the rest of the cast never behave consistently. Let’s first take a look at our protagonist, Ikoma. In the beginning, Ikoma was portrayed as a better version of Eren Jaeger from Attack on Titan; he had a deep and well-founded hate for the Kabane, but, unlike Eren, was very capable, intelligent, and actually developed an effective weapon to fight against the Kabane. Throughout the course of the show, however, it’s as if Ikoma relapsed, falling prey to the same annoying character traits Eren had, including incapability, naïvety, and his off-putting incessant rage. It’s as if Ikoma is incapable of having a calm and normal conversation with anyone, he always has to be yelling or some other dramatic motion. There are several moments when Ikoma spews these really cringeworthy lines of dialogue, too, including but not limited to “you have a lot to learn” and “you’re not as fast as X character!”. These shortcomings pertaining to his character make it difficult to connect and admire Ikoma as for the most part you’re simply annoyed with him.
Let’s take a look at Mumei, now. Mumei is actually one of the only characters in KNK that undergoes some mentionable development, but it’s not like this development is very profound or original. Being 12 years old (let’s just ignore the obnoxious hypersexualization of her character, no way her body and age correlate) Mumei is obviously vulnerable to mood swings and rash decision making. But the writers of KNK don’t understand how to write this part of her personality properly and realistically. There are several scenes where she is playing with the children and cheering them up, and then seconds later her personality does a 180 and she becomes this entirely different character. I’m reluctant to believe that the writers actually think that is how you write a 12 year old’s mood swings. No child (half-zombie or not) behaves like this, opinions change on a whim but personalities do not--especially in the drastic matter Mumei’s does. The writers simply do this to fall back on to the only thing they can use to entertain their audience: shock factor.
Moving onto Ayame, who is the shining light in this endless dark pit of distasteful characters. Being based on the “Hime-sama” character archetype, Ayame is the daughter of a governing family and is very elegant, soft-spoken and protective. Ayame, being the heir of the Yomogawa family (governing family within the walls) is naturally put in a position of leadership when her father is absent. Her sheltered personality and reliance on her father and bodyguards make it difficult for her to effectively lead her people, as seen during her incapability to control the people’s panic when the Kabane had invaded the walls. However, the more difficult positions Ayame is put in throughout the show, the more she is able to fluently grow into the position of leader and the more effective she becomes at it. There is a scene in the second episode where her authority is questioned, and her position is revoked in a pseudo-revolution as people rely on fear instead of rational thinking. By the end of the episode Ayame confronts these people once more, and there you get to see a very profound change in power dynamics as she realizes her natural talent for leadership and seizes back her authority. Her naturally protective nature makes for some very interesting moments as she interacts with several characters who pose threats to her people. Ayame’s development from the sheltered and soft-spoken princess to the stern and iron-willed leader is easily one of the best parts of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress.
Wit Studio absolutely killed it production wise, producing what I think is the best looking show this season. The characters have these great vintage-esque facial and character designs with some absolutely stunning fight choreography and cinematography. The soundtrack was produced by my personal favourite composer Hiroyuki Sawano, and as someone who’s listened to all of his soundtracks, I can safely say the KNK OST is some of his best work.
Honestly, the beginning 6 episodes of this show probably deserved an enjoyment score of 7 or 8, as the show was bad, sure, but at least it was fun. That is until the latter half of the show where it changed from fun to boring, and from bad to deplorable. It got to the point where it became a chore to sit through the final episodes as I had little to no interest in any of the characters or any of the events. I honestly wouldn’t have picked up this show if I knew how bad it was going to get.
Easily one of the worst shows I have seen in awhile, and probably the most disappointing show this season. I wouldn’t even recommend this show to someone who liked Attack on Titan, it’s a try-hard wanna be of it as Wit Studio attempts to replicate their success. The writing in Kabaneri lacks any sense of originality and creativity, relying heavily on stolen plot elements and clichés that culminate in an unbelievably ridiculous, edgy, melodramatic finale that solidified its position as the most disappointing show that came out of this season. The only thing original about this show is the fashion in which it failed.
Dammit, Kabaneri! You had it! You were good! But then you just had to had to make things human, didn’t you? You couldn’t just stick to what you were actually good at, no; in fact, you’ve completely forgotten what made you great in the first place!
It’s not every day that I get to say an anime was not only the most surprisingly good show of the season, but also the most disappointingly bad. With a strong start, a shaky midsection, and a complete disaster of an endgame, the anime had gone completely off the rails. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress truly is a trainwreck.
got your fucking train jokes. Are you happy?
But before things go south, let’s sit in a circle with our juiceboxes and thinking caps and really think about the idea of Kabaneri for a second. Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the guys making the Attack on Titan anime understand that the second season is taking way too fucking long, so they made Kabaneri as an appetizer. But is that all?
Think about what’s popular these days. What’s the biggest anime of the 2010’s? Attack on Titan, pretty much. What else is popular in mainstream media? Zombies. Somehow. It’s been a while and they’ve gotten kinda old, but The Walking Dead is about to put out a seventh season, so I hope everyone’s happy. While Titans were like zombies to begin with, Kabaneri has Kabane, which are literally zombies, but with a small Titanic twist that makes them a little harder to kill than normal.
Put these two things together, and you have instant potential for a big mainstream hit.
Next, the production. Wit Studio have been working on Kabaneri for well over a year (Noitamina first announced it in November ‘14), so they’ve had a lot of time to add a modern polish to an otherwise timely-looking art style, with the more realistic faces, stellar lighting and shading, and less saturated coloring. It looks fucking awesome, and I’d consider it perfect if the close-ups didn’t look so ancient and if the anime industry would finally learn how to do CG decently. MFW the iconic Koutetsujou is just a bad CG train.
So where am I going with this? Well, call me crazy, but I think Koutetsujou no Kabaneri was made as a way of celebrating anime, by making a concept that best defines mainstream anime of today, while presenting it with a classic style. By blending the old and the new, Kabaneri could possibly have been meant to be iconic in anime’s history, and a tribute to all fans of the medium.
Now, does that mean it’s good? No, Kabaneri sucks lol
But, while I’m doling out compliments, the art isn’t good because just because an old-looking show that still feels new. Solid character designs, gorgeous vistas, and a great steampunk setting combined with an Edo-period look help define Attack on Train’s aesthetics. Zombies, aka Kabane, are creepy-looking buggers with blood of molten iron, or some shit like that, which not only makes them (literally) metal as fuck, but it gives them a pretty, fiery glow to contrast with their dark purple bodies, and they look great as a result. Fighting them often involves some fantastic choreography with a lot of animation and camera movement, with some overall good direction from Tetsuro “I Need To Make Everything Look Dramatic As Fuck” Araki, and creative ideas in the technology. ...Until you get to the lazer-firing zombiwaiT NO FUCK STOP READING YOU DIDN’T READ THAT
Meanwhile, Hiroyuki “I Need To Make Everything Sound Dramatic As Fuck” Sawano composed a beautiful score, blending his cinematic orchestra with an electronic flair as usual. To be honest, it sounds like every soundtrack he’s ever done, which is good or bad depending on your opinion of the guy, but I think he’s consistently great. While not particularly his fault, I felt that the music was a little intrusive at times; as in, it sounded louder than it needed to be, and I had trouble focusing on what people were saying.
And while the OP is nowhere near the best of Egoist, her soft-yet-powerful voice takes the reigns of the song KABANERI OF THE IRON FORTRESS WHICH IS WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS FOR SOME REASON. It works well for the anime, as it takes an epic choral and string arrangement and layers it over electronics, going along with what I said about blending old and new. I think the song’s just okay, though. The ED is much, much better, with a beautiful duet by Egoist again, as well as the singer Aimer; the composition is a lot more interesting with its riffs on piano and acoustic guitar on top of a hard-hitting percussion.
Golly, I sure am positive about Kabaneri for someone who gave it a 5/10. What the fuck happened? Oh... that's a good question, honestly.
On top of what I said above, we have the main protagonist, Ikoma, as in “eek!! omagod the habaneros broke through the wall!!” This guy is pretty standard as a hero, but he’s not bad. He’s respectable for having the drive to do things himself instead of being thrust into a situation against his will. he’s experienced loss, but, very surprisingly, they don’t play this up very much so he doesn’t have an annoyingly corny sob story. Moreover, his ideals don’t align with those of the rest of the world, who live in great fear of the Kabane to the point of the officials acting like American cops killing anyone even remotely suspicious. Don’t mind me, just taking my edgy jokes for a walk. Ikoma also develops his own steam gun, which is powerful, but not exactly the best weapon ever, but he turns half-Habanero so he still gets some extraordinary power, all of which being the result of his desire for changing the world. He’s a standard shounen guy, which is good enough, but he can be pretty badass at times. At the very least, he’s better than a lot of other characters here...
The first four of episodes are good for introducing the characters and establishing the setting pretty well, but the next few (and the third, I guess) can basically be summed up with “Mumei is a fucking idiot.” This stupid girl, with the most troll-ish character design ever, being a 12-year-old with the body of someone much older, changes personality almost every episode and goes along with everything anyone says, unless their name is "eek! omagod the zombies r breaking through the gate because mumei gj stupid". She gets told about a small hint at some conspiracy, so then she acts like a cunt to everyone. She trusts someone so much that she’ll do anything they say, not think about the overwhelming consequences, and then look in horror as everything goes to shit because of her. But I was at least willing to forgive some fuck-ups if Kabaneri could get its shit back together.
It didn’t. It got so shit that even flies were repulsed by its stench.
The main villain is established late into the series, and he’s so utterly boring. His motive is basically revenge, but then he fucks up everything else around him and paints it as “liberation” or some bullshit. “I just killed this entire village for the sake of humanity! You’re fucking welcome!” Sure, he has a brutal backstory, but his excessiveness prevents the audience from feeling sympathetic in anyway. It’s more of the writers making him as hateable as possible.
But that hardly even compares to what eventually happens with the Kabane. You think this is just a bunch of steampunk weapons and zombies? Hahahaha… fuck you. Bring in superpowers. Because why not, I guess. Once you see a weird humanoid Kabane fire a freaking laser, that’s when you know the train has derailed. That’s when all the clever ideas were thrown out the window in one fell swoop. It’s over. But oh no… the show still has a couple episodes left. And you spend them getting frustrated at a random bad guy killing someone asking for help, listen to the villain babble about god-knows-what, watch Mumei get completely used like a cheap, underage hooker, and then eventually understand Ikoma’s disappointment towards the rest of civilization for being such idiotic dickfucks all the time.
The second half is just a clusterfuck of bad game-changing ideas, inconsistencies, and people being idiots, heavily contrasting the ambitious first half. Could it have been fixed with a higher episode count? I don’t really see what good that would’ve done. I guess you could flesh out the characters more, but you’d still have the dumb Kabane shit. Is the second half still good in any way? Well, the action is still… okay, at least, and the production’s still there, but everything worth seeing is in the first half. This habanero tastes pretty weird after a while.
Kabaneri was good. It was actually really good in the beginning. It was the most hyped show at the start and had a lot of reason to be at the top. I would love to say that Kabaneri is iconic, that it’s something that will live through the ages as a beloved series, but even if they dare to continue it, it’s just not meant to be.
Also, Ikoma’s haircut is stupid and I don’t like it.
Story - 5/10
Art - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Characters - 3/10
Enjoyment - 4/10
Mumei - 12yearsoldneverforget/10
Overall - 5/10
Favorite episode - 1
Favorite character - Ikoma
Recommendation level - Medium
“THE APOCLAYPSE STARTER PACK”
Whatever disaster happen in this world. Absolutely, we can’t predicted about that. That’s why we must make preparations and brainstorm our mind to address this problem. You’d better prepare your transportation, shelter and food for emergency. Sometimes, natural disaster occurs in the several country and there’s a lot of cost to recover all this things. In fact, this is just information of the catastrophe. Henceforth, our discussion is about the theme of post-apocalyptic & you know? “weapon & suit & tank is the paramount things in the battle against zombie, right?” In the year 2016, the WIT Studio launched their new
Anime project & it’s not an adaptation of manga or novel. Now, I’m proud to present the most popular Anime as we know it. “Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress)”
“Haters gonna Hate and ain’t-ers gonna ain’t”. Basically, we can see there was a lot of criticism of the Koutetsujou no Kabaneri in the myanimelist review, previously. I know everyone of you have a different opinion about the story. In fact, some people think it's one of the greatest and they gave a compliment for the series. Meanwhile, haters are being a bit too harsh on it because they say this series is a blatant stole from Shingeki no Kyojin. Besides, I bet all of you comparing Koutetsujou no Kabaneri with that Shingeki no Kyojin, when you write a review about the series “AM I RIGHT”. Actually, I was a bit reluctant to watch this Anime for the first time. However, I’m just ignored my scepticism. Basically, I tried to evaluate a situation of the story. In my considered opinion, this series have a lot of the struggle to retain humanity in front of impossible conditions and their characters always have strategies to solve the problem. One question “Before you are waiting for Shingeki no Kyojin 2nd season - would you like Koutetsujou no Kabaneri instead”, Yes or No.
Wait a minute!!! You want to know a secret formula of Koutetsujou no Kabaneri, it’s :
[World War Z film + The Walking Dead series + Highschool of the Dead + Shingeki no Kyojin + Unstoppable film = Koutetsujou no Kabaneri]
Story : 5
Just trivia, Tetsurō Araki who was the director organizes the actual making of the Koutetsujou no Kabaneri series. He is best known as the director of the Death Note, Highschool of the Dead, Guilty Crown and Attack on Titan anime adaptations and I never thought Okouchi Ichiro (Script, Series Composition) is scriptwriters for the Koutetsujou no Kabaneri series. I believe everyone know, he’s also original creator of Code Geass (In my considered opinion, Code Geass is a masterpiece). “Forget about it” let’s focus our discussion. According to the story, a monsters it’s called Kabane. If humans got bite by the monster & they become Kabane creatures. That’s why people have built stations to shelter themselves from these Kabane. Hayajiro or locomotive running on steam, its transport wares between people & they can access the station.
One night, one of the locomotive running on steam or Hayajiro, called Fusang Fortress is coming. However, the train hijack was organized by a group Kabane and the train is really fast and there is little probability of the train crashed into a Aragane station. When they realized about this situation. A few people at the station, attempt to seal the railway station. “TIME IS RUNNING OUT” they can’t make it in time. The accident happened and this is the beginning of Kabane to assault on a people at the island country Hinomoto.
***NOTE : Another words is “Kabaneri” it means half human and half Kabane
However, I have my doubts about the story & crucially, “I’M CURIOUS” ok firstly, this story explain the infection transforming humans into Kabane and rapidly spreads. However, it never explained to any degree where this Kabane comes from???? Because I want to know the history a mysterious virus appears during the industrial revolution. Do you remember?? What did Eru Chitanda says, when she's has a curious about something and she's always says “WATASHI KIRINARIMASU”.
Now, we move on to another topic. You know what? Sometimes Koutetsujou no Kabaneri reminds me of the Twilight film & Strike the Blood series. The both of story is about vampire creatures. In fact, Ikoma & Mumei both of them have the same personality with Vampire (I guess!!). Besides, if there has been a decrease of the blood in their body. All they need is blood from human being. Sometimes, they couldn’t control themselves, if they have craving for blood. Fundamentally, they took the human blood to preventative measures to stop their body become Kabane form. Guess what, who’s the volunteers to help them and they become blood donors for them, “OF COURSE” the Princess Ayame, Kurusu, Kajika, Kibito, Takumi and Yukina (watch episode 4). Crucially, I never thought this might be happen in the story. At the beginning, I can’t make any sense of what the purpose of the motive. However, I realized blood is circulates round the body going from the heart and lungs along arteries and returns to the heart through the veins (especially human). Which means Kabaneri has a heart failure and that’s why they always need some blood. By the way, I can deduce for this case “HALF KABANE + HALF HUMAN + VAMPIRE = KABANERI”.
I found the series was reaching its climax when “OUR HEROES IS BACK” Ikoma is reunited with his team-mate to save Mumei. Next, Ikoma had to battle against Biba (the villain, who’s unleashed the chaos) and finally, he did it to defeat Biba. However, Biba awoke and tried to kill Ikoma (Ikoma's collapsed at the moment). Out of the blue, Biba was stabbed in the chest by Mumei and Biba died. Of course “HAPPY ENDING”. Actually, the most ridiculous part is Ikoma has return after he was killed by Mumei. Seriously, I thought he’s die at the moment, however he’s still alive. “WHAT THE F**K”. It’s really strange. OK just remember one thing, I assume the protagonist of the story is “IMMORTAL”. Nobody can kill him.
I thought, could it be possible Shingeki no Kyojin & World War Z film inspired WIT Studio to made Koutetsujou no Kabaneri series??? Well, this series is an exact “copy & paste”, yet is not much different with SNK & World War Z film. I mean look at the performance of the character in the story & don’t forget about the plot of the story, seriously it’s quite similar. Truthfully, WIT Studio imitates its competitors by making very similar story. In fact, the final score in the myanimelist was score 7.94/10 (scored by 47,219 users) & it’s really different based on IMDb score (627 IMDb users have given a weighted average vote of 8.30/10). By the way, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri deserve the appellation of “Plagiarism”.
Furthermore, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri mainly focus on the drama, emotion, and the action. The best slogan for Koutetsujou no Kabaneri utilizes is "One For All & All For One" and also “The Strong Survive While The Weak Perish”. I realized there’s a few of a butterflies comes out in the series and it was one of the shock scenes I have ever seen. Crucially, it’s really same scenario with the STEINS;GATE and Boku dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED).
Character : 8
Firstly, I really appreciate the “seiyuu” have contributed to the Koutetsujou no Kabaneri project “WELL DONE” and they are very talented as voice actress. Based on my opinion, all of them are “seiyuu” prodigy & they are having unique voice for casting of the character in the series.
From my observation about the protagonist, Ikoma’s very brave & knowledgeable about the weapon & he’s always make a new strategies to solve a problem. In fact, he’s engineer too and he creates his own weapon called Tsuranukizutsu or Piercing Cannon. I saw Ikoma was in trauma after her younger sister was attacked by a Kabane. However, the pain was more than he could endure. Next, the heroine is Mumei, “seriously” she’s really “BADASS” and she’s has 3 personality same with the characters of Shingeki no Kyojin, for example Mikasa & Levi & Annie. In fact, she’s has same personality with Mikasa (as you know Mikasa has outstanding ability in the battle against Titan and this is same thing happen, she’s (Mumei) has outstanding ability in the battle against Kabane) & Levi (she’s reminds me about Levi kicked Eren face and that’s what she did to Ikoma. She has no doubt to “KICK HIS ASS”, watch episode 3) & also Annie (we know that Annie has good fighting with her opponent and it’s similar with Mumie, she’s has oriental fighting techniques, when she’s against someone). Now about the princess Ayame. Fundamentally, she’s is leader of Aragane station. Since her father die, she’s going instead of him. Besides, she has a kindness personality. Next, the characters is Kurusu. He’s appearance like a samurai warrior. Besides, he always make sure that all his soldiers know exactly what they must do in the battle against Kabane. Besides, he’s always care about the people. The next supporter characters is Yukina. She piloted the train (Ironclad Fortress) into another country and she’s working with 3 crewmen who can operate an express fortress, they are Takumi & Sukari & Suzuki. Besides, they are an expert engineers.
Arts : 10
It was great work done by Haruhiko Mikimoto because his contribution for original character designs. Next, I want to compliment the arts it’s really accurate, superb and this series has really high quality art and animation. I really loved how they did all of the facial expressions in the series. I like the character expression in the animation, sometime it have wrath expressions, fear expression and it has grief-stricken expressions. Based on my opinion, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri animation is quite similar with Shingeki no Kyojin. Furthermore, the utopia of the story is really unique and the construction of the fort, city, train and the railway is the magnificent construction, I have seen.
Sound : 9
In fact, I really love their opening theme "KABANERI OF THE IRON FORTRESS" by EGOIST and the Opening song video featured the characters in the battle against corpse and present about their struggle to save humanity and it’s really impressive. Next, I’m not forget about the ending sequence "ninelie" by Aimer with chelly (EGOIST) is really beautiful song. I’m glad to see Aimer featuring chelly (EGOIST) to sing this song & previously I heard Aimer song for opening theme Fate/Stay Night : UBW 2nd season. Based on my opinion, EGOIST is a professional singer & I like the latest song in the year 2014, it’s “EGOIST – Fallen” for PSYCHO-PASS 2 Ending song. Now, I will talk about theme song composition, music. It’s really great because the soundtrack created by Sawano Hiroyuki. In fact, he’s the creator of soundtrack for Shingeki no Kyojin too. Besides, the soundtrack has a catchy tune and f**king awesome.
Enjoyment : 4
So far, I love the action, adventure, and drama of the story. However, I would not said the story, “it was most enjoyable” because there’s a few of flaw in the plot of the story. Next, there is only another unique of the story. Its show the apocalyptic scenes of destruction caused by the zombie in the Edo era and I think is really impressive. The soundtrack of the story it’s really magnificent, “Thanks Sawano Hiroyuki and you are the brilliant person & the BEST composer”.
Overall : 3
Essentially, this story taught me about brave and struggle to gain something, such as happiness, freedom, peace and save humanity from this doom. I want to compliment about the teamwork. For example, their warrior tried to ensure the safety of the people. I think its good things they did. So far, my expectation for this story will surpassed Shingeki no Kyojin (I hope so!!!).To be honest, the narrative part of the story it’s really disappointing and for the whole of the story Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is POOR. Guess what rating would I give that story, it is 3.00/10. I wouldn't say that the story in Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is particularly notable or masterpiece. However, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is something that I could call a straightforward and cliché.
I hope that this review makes you consider what the pros and cons in the story.
*SPOILERS FOR KOUTETSUJOU NO KABANERI aka KABANERI OF THE IRON FORTRESS. OH, AND TO ANY OF YOU WHO CLAIM THIS TO BE AN ATTACK ON TITAN RIPOFF JUST BECAUSE IT HAS A BUNCH OF MINDLESS CREATURES PUSHING HUMANITY TO THE BRINK, I SHAKE MY HEAD AT THEE. IT'S LIKE YOU NEVER HEARD OF ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE SERIES BEFORE*
I'm sure you've heard this question before: What do you prefer? Starting off strong but ending weaker, or starting of weak, but ending strongly? Personally, I'd choose the latter, and I know a few shows that DID the latter, like Macross F. Unfortunately, this show falls into the former,
like with Gundam 00 (S1 and as a whole). Kabaneri was like a rooftop jump gone wrong. The first 7 episodes were this fun run that had a few stumbles but was still cool, episode 8 was that big leap, and episodes 9-12 were some random as strain smashing our jumping friend into the concrete, showing a hand in hope that it wasn't all in vain, before the finale exploded the train into gloriously sad bits, dropping the ball so hard, that almost all of the show's other issues were put on full blast. Nonetheless, I still like the show al things considered, but well, if you're here to see how this zombie apocalypse got the nickname "Trainwreck", let's find out, shall we?
In the middle of an industrial revolution, an outbreak of armor-clad zombies known as Kabane has spread into a zombie apocalypse, and now it is up to the likes of Ikoma and all members of the Koutetsujou to hopefully out and end to it. Now, this show has some questionable things from the beginning, but with enough decent pseudoscience and explainations, we could've seen a really unorthodox and interesting zombie show. Instead, a lot of the radical moments weren't explained with decent and interesting reasonings, but were hand waved for the sake of plot and maybe time. It seemed like a standard story at first but with clever science, could've made for a really good and interesting steampunk zombie apocalypse, but then, with the lackluster villain, and the ludicrously safe and plot mangling finale, it unfortunately falls short of what it could've been. It definitely has more than its fair share of plot holes as well. I mean, it's a mess! Things like Kabane muscle memory and later, OP Kabaneri steroids don't get explained at all because "action" and interesting things like Kabaneri being resistant to heat, Kabane clinging on to each other to make a colony beast with one Kabane used as the heart, or the knowledge on how to halt and slow down the Kabane virus in order to be a badass Kabaneri get the same treatment. That is the sad thing. Plus, the motivations of our true villain Biba, don't add up with his actions, and well, we'll move on to the characters section for that.
Ikoma is a calculating and ruthless yet shounen and kinda soft guy, and it flip-flops over the course of the show, and it's often understandable, like when he loses his best friend in EP 10 for the soft and shounen side, and like when he has to kill actual people in the finale as well as Kabane because not every human is an ally, and not every human has shown a reason to be allowed to live when it comes to the harsher and calculating side. He's probably the best character here for being a mostly solid character. Plus, he actually feels real at some points, as well as his best friend, due to some of their reactions and conversations in times like this being what most actual people would do rather than just simple characters, like freaking out when they find out that their project for making a weapon to combat Kabane in episode 1 actually works as Ikoma kills a Kabane. Mumei, is a badass and jerkass in the first half, and a total child for most of the 2nd. Not that great, but she has an interesting bit in episode 4 where her mouth and grim ideals get her admonished by her already stupidly jumpy and dickish co-passengers. Kurusu is just a samurai with a jerkass side, and Ayame, is more interesting, being that type of female authority figure that likes cooperation between enemies rather than needless violence, which only really gets to shine in the last few episodes. The villain Biba, is not that good. He's shallow, cold and calm, with grim ideals, and a vendetta against his asshole father that should've been fleshed out more so that we can buy into his motivations. His actions are pretty deplorable as is, so, meh. At least one of his lacked has some decency despite being kin of a rouge guy. Also, poor Horobi. She never got fleshed out, and she still managed to call her death.
However, I DO like how the first half of the show focuses on these unlikely allies on the Koutetsujou cooperating to defeat a common enemy despite being at each other's throats all the time, and how betrayal of that begrudging trust by one of the members in episode 10 leaves a detriment in one's reputation, even if it turns out he was a spy to get our heroes some benefits later on, courtesy of Ikoma. Not the best or most developed bunch, or even the most fleshed out, but overall, not a terrible crowd, villain aside. Too bad most of the red-shirt guys were cowardly idiots that screwed themselves and Ikoma over constantly, and ended up causing some of the bad stuff in the first half. Overall, it kind of evens out as mediocre.
Some awkward 3D CGI in episode 6 aside, this show looks amazing. The fully detailed and high def look to the realistic artstyle really gels with everything beautifully, and the action scenes are well done with some incredible bits here and there. The explosions, spark effects for whenever a Kabane or Kabaneri gets stabbed in the heart, and the well done and detailed explosion effects are downright astonishing, even if there are some odd bits here and there with some action scenes. Hell, the artstyle is an epic update on that 80's OVA shading artstyle, and has numerous references to 80's artstyle themes, like Ikoma's cool new haircut in the end of episode 11 reflecting they badass punk-looking character type in the 80's. Given that the character designer was Haruhiko Mikimoto, legendary designer behind the characters of Macross, Gundam 0080 War in the Pocket, and Gunbuster. His work is legendary and I'm glad to see his stuff again, even if it is for a train wreck. The character designs look amazing, and more anime need this upgraded shading style. This was by far, Studio Wit's best work yet in terms of art. Just, look at how detailed and well done the character models, environmental and explosion effects, and backgrounds are! That's probably the main reason why many people like this show so much. It looks impressive and the action is bombastic and glorious.
The music in this series... The way to properly phrase it as, not overly memorable, but catchy and perfectly fitting. This soundtrack was done by Hiroyuki Sawano after all; it's pretty much expected for him to knock it out of the park every time. The songs are definitely good, and the cola tracks are all great, and while they aren't all that memorable on their own,most of themfeel like they were tailor made for this series. Not one song feels out of place at all, and another large part of what makes the action in this show so breathtaking is how each fight has a piece of music that fits perfectly with what is going on, weather that be an action scene, or that transformation sequence from Kabaneri Ikoma to Steroides Kabaneri Ikoma. Also, the OP, Kotetsujou no Kabaneri, is done by EGOIST, so of course it sounds catchy and awesome. The ED, done by AIMER sounds really cool too, and I wish there was some cool animation stretched to it. Plus, some of their songs were used in this OST, so good for them. Plus, "Through My Blood" (the song that plays during Ikoma's roofed out transformation) by AIMER is an awesome track as well. Also, WarCry (which is sung entirely in English) is pretty damn catchy.
For the first 7 episodes, I absolutely LOVED this show. It was so awesome and epic. It even had some nice comedy, especially in episode 7, and some nice realistic banter and reactions that we don't really get to see a lot of in anime, which I mentioned was a cool thing about this show in my review of ERASED, which had bits like that. However, some of the later episodes really crashed and burned in my eyes, ruining what could've been an amazing show, and making it merely a mostly fun yet rather flawed show. Plus, the finale really aggravated me with all the BS and asspulls in there. However, like I said, it was still very entertaining with its action and humor, and despite how bad the ending was, it still had some kickass action.
OVERALL: 6/10 RAW SCORE: 64/100
The group concencus for this show is that while it was entertaining and impressive to look at and listen to, it fell short of what it could've been via failure to explain interesting yet radical things, and failure to give a decent finale and antagonist. I whole heartedly agree. It's not as good as what it could've been, but it was a pretty entertaining show to watch, even if it turned out to be a bit of a "Trainwreck". Well, with all that said, I bid you adieu.
Although the story is unoriginal, I'm a sucker for zombie anime because there haven't been a plethora of them and even then, some of them weren't as good as this one.
The art was good for the most part, but there was no need for CGI. For example, it was obvious the Black Smoke monster was used with CGI and sometimes, when they showed a zoomed out action scene, they used CGI for the characters.
Just go listen to the OST. Words can't describe how amazing it is.
I have to be honest: I hated most, if not all of the characters. They get
little to no development and I hated how paranoid everyone was. That rule they had for whenever you enter a new station, you have to stay in the train for 3 days made no sense. They were already checking people for bites, so why the 3 day rule? Also, I understood how the people were suspicious of Ikoma and Mumei because they didn't know about Kabaneri, but it got ridiculous to the point that they almost abandoned them twice even when they got saved by them. Finally, how is it that Ikoma is the only person in the entire anime that was researching a cure for the virus?? I know that it's the Industrial Revolution, but if something was threatening the very existence of the human race, wouldn't you want to do everything in your power to stop it??
I loved the action.
Final score: 8/10
Although there were some aggravating things about this anime, I still really enjoyed it overall because of the action. I recommend this to people who like action anime.
If I had to describe iron fortress in a word it would be... generic. Now you don’t have to tell me how overused and pretentious that word is, because I’m very well aware of that. But I suppose it’s the most appropriate word to use for this anime because that’s exactly what it is. This is indisputably one of the most generic anime I’ve seen in a long time. The biggest problem with this iron fortress is that the vast majority of it is so standardized and uninspired. It's a show you've probably seen many times in the past and probably more
in the future. I envy anyone that’s capable of watching and enjoying something that’s been retold countless times in different ways. Not only is the story of Kabaneri hackneyed, the actual execution of the story is filled with ludicrous moments and poor characters. With its formulaic structure, it's at best a low-end ditto.
So the story is about humans on the verge of extinction again, but this time they’re up against kabunes. Basically, the kabunes are mindless zombies that eat human flesh and raid trains and towns occasionally. From there we are introduced to kabaneris, human-kabane hybrids that have super strength and healing abilities that fight off the kabunes. The story follows Ikoma, who is a kabaneri that wants vengeance against the kabane. He’s accompanied by loli Mumei and wimpy friend Takumi. Sound familiar? It’s as if I’m repeating the synopsis of Attack on Titan. Wit Studio has done this story structure twice already. Hell, iron fortress and attack on titan even share the same director.
To start off, the kabune infection and main threats of the story is plain ridiculous and, by addition, the story is too. Sometimes the infection turns a human into a kabune within minutes, except when the plot decides to change this to days for no reason. It can be deterred by strangling yourself (no joke) and or even given through magical serums. They explain how Ikoma learned about the strangling technique through his research, but how and when was a scenario or an experiment ever shown to him or the audience? Despite finding out crucial information about keeping your humanity when turning into a kabune, Ikoma illogically, never informed anyone of this.
Without a delay, the humans quickly establish a bad relationship with the kabaneri. Initially with their given situation and miniscule knowledge of the kabaneri, it made enough sense that they wouldn’t trust them. But after watching the kabaneri protecting the humans for a large portion of the story, it is apparent that the drama between the humans and kabaneris became too absurd for its own good. For example, Mumei killed a pregnant women that had just turned into a kabune. For some odd reason, the other characters antagonized her despite there being numerous incidents where soldiers killed a bitten person. There’s even a scene where people thought the kabaneri brought the kabunes to them which led to the their imprisonment. “You're no different from a Kabane after all!" All the adults being stupid are just plot conveniences to continue this tense climate between humans and the kabaneri. It’s just lazy writing altogether.
After the story wanders around aimlessly, we’re introduced to the villain, Biba. His intentions and overall plan just baffles me and I’ll get to him later. Ikoma and friends try to rebel against him with Mumei being somewhere in the middle. Takumi ends up dying along the lines by taking a bullet for Ikoma. This is just a really half-assed effort to tear-jerk the audience. Takumi has already witnessed Ikoma survive severe injuries with his regenerative powers. Why would he even feel the need to jump in and “save” him in the first place? Could the exact same scene of occurred in a way where Ikoma was shot and then Takumi dies? It would’ve made much more sense and far less stupid.
So after Biba finally ends his father’s life, he continues to bring about widespread destruction on everyone in the city for no reason. The Kotetsujyo are imprisoned and Mumei turns into what appears to be a shadowy dog with butterfly wings. Ikoma comes in with Kurusu and it’s up to them to save the day. Prior to this, Ikoma used a drug to basically turn into a super saiyan, but it will cost him his life. The white blood can only save him or Mumei. So after an underwhelming fight, Ikoma is able to save Mumei. Mumei kills Biba and everyone escapes on a train. Ikoma is alive and breathing. WTF?! It’s implied that Biba somewhere along the lines used the white blood to help him. Why, when, and how did he do this?
I don’t have much to say about most of them, so I’ll be talking about the ones I felt were important, starting off with Ikoma. He is as original as the premise of this anime can be, not at all. He makes a pledge to himself to never run away against the kabune after the death of his little sister. There is nothing else that defines his character. We know nothing about his past other than the death of his sister. We also knew nothing about his sister. Can anyone describe this character, without also describing similar main characters in other anime? Ikoma doesn’t get that much development. He’s more like a stand-in of a generic protagonist.
Mumei’s development was handled better than Ikoma, but her bipolar personality is hard to take seriously. She can quickly change from being friendly with kids, to a cold-blooded killer, to being motivational, to being arrogant, or conflicted. There’s no transition or anything that makes it gradual. She is unable to communicate with others and her irrational behaviour loathsome. She doesn’t listen to reason and acts idiotically. There are some flashbacks here and there that show why she is how she is. Even though I disliked her character, she is developed the best out of everyone.
Enter Biba, the show’s antagonist. Biba is so poorly-written, it makes me sad to hear Mamoru voice him. His intentions and motivations as logical as someone getting ran over by a parked car. He’s butthurt about his daddy issues and he constantly tries to thrust the idea that the weak die and strong survive. He’s a butthurt villain whose main objective is to kill the shogun, his father, and end his reign. For some odd reason, his father let the Kabane attack a city Biba was protecting at the time. Why or how his father let this happen is never explored. He’s the cause of thousands of innocent deaths because he has some grudge against his father as a child. They also attempt (quite unsuccessfully, I might add) to humanize and add some depth to him in the last episode by showing him riding a horse with his papi. Remember kids, daddy issues= genocides.
Art & Animation / Sound
This is the only department in this anime that stand out as being particularly well done. Tetsurō Araki is once again fantastic. Admittedly it feels over the top, but I loved the writing scenes from Death Note and the swinging with the 3D maneuver gear in Attack on Titan. His style and sweeping movements along with his variance of camera angles are superb. The choreography is exceptional and captivating. It could have been much simpler to have the camera remain static. The art is pleasant and the animation is mellow. The soundtrack was as epic as it possibly could be. It climaxed during action sequences and toned down in calmer, quieter scenes.
I’ve only enjoyed some of the action sequences. I’m not much of an action fanatic, so it did very little for me. There were so many parts of the story that made me go, “Really?” Ok, a kabune is somehow able to fight like a trained warrior with a sword. If this isn't pushing the limits of suspension of disbelief, I don't know what is. In addition, the black smoke further exemplifies how comical this show is. The black smoke is a giant shadowy figure made up of dead or alive kabunes/humans. REALLY?! Need I say more? One episode in particular featured them celebrating and lighting up fireworks. ARE THEY SERIOUSLY NOT WORRIED AT ALL OF THE ATTRACTION OF KABANE? The unoriginal plot, the plot holes, the characterization, terrible antagonist, and character development all ruined my enjoyment.
I criticize this anime because I’ve already seen a similar plot structure numerous times but it’s being marked as something new. Because of the magical power I like to call memory, I've already experienced every formulaic plot turn they can throw. “Ever get that feeling of déjà vu?” Not only did that take away from the overall score, but the level of ridiculousness progressed with each episode. It's bland and soulless, created with little effort. I’m willing to believe the Wit Studio dished this out for some easy $$$. They’ve already done it twice, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If you’re not aware of these cliches, then I’m glad that you’re able to enjoy the same stories over and over.
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, or Disappointment of the Iron Fortress, you choose the best title for this.
The show started very well. Despite of the amount of people comparing it with AoT, the first seemed that this show would be a blast, and also would be nothing like AoT. However, after 3 episodes, this show became a trainwreck.
The plot is almost nonsensical. Kabaneris wear tight necklaces that for some reason don't asphyxiate them, Mumei gets transformed to Kabaneri by Biba just because of silly reasons, Biba wants to transform everybody into Kabane because of silly reasons etc.
Furthermore, there are disturbing plot holes. Katanas, that
are fragile swords, somehow could pierce a Kabane heart. In contrast to that, in the following episode, Ikoma had to build a Kabane-based Katana for the samurai guy because a normal one can't pierce the zombie heart!!!!!! WHAT????
The main problem with the show is that the plot isn't straightfoward. To be exact, the plot is almost inexistent. It's a train trip with friends. Sometimes the train gets attacked by the zombies and BOOM, we get nice action scenes and it's over. Later on, they meet a group of anarchist Kabane exterminators that in the end will try to kill everybody. And what happened in the last episode? Suddenly Ikoma becomes Ouma Shu and started to have Guilty Crown-ish powers. I was like "WHAT THE HELL?"
Also, the plot conveniences and the idiotic actions that some characters take in some chapters really annoys me, like when the purple-haired girl cuts herself wasting a lot of blood that could have be given to the Kabaneris instead of being wasted.
The characters were totally undeveloped. The only one that we could say that had a decent development was Mumei.
On the other hand, the ost and animation saved the day. They have Sawano, EGOIST and Aimer. This is a dream team! The art was very beautiful. That steampunk vibe was very nice too. KotIF is one of the best looking anime that I have ever watched, only losing to the Fate series (ufot. vers.).
To sum up, the anime wasn't very original, but had some potential that wasn't well explored. If you want to watch this, expect nothing more than a very nice ost and action scenes, because the plot is utterly trash