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?