'Attack on Titan' Copycat? Not Really: 'Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress' Review

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress)

Studio: Wit Studio
Producer: AniplexDentsuFuji TV,Kyoraku Industrial HoldingsKansai Telecasting Corporation
Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Episodes: 12
Episode Length: 22 minutes per episode

As the world is in the middle of an industrial revolution, a monster appears that cannot be defeated unless its heart, which is protected by a layer of iron, is pierced. By infecting humans with its bite, the monster can create aggressive and undead creatures known as Kabane. On the island Hinomoto, located in the far east, people have built stations to shelter themselves from these creatures. People access the station, as well as transport wares between them, with the help of a locomotive running on steam, called Hayajiro. Ikoma, a boy who lives in the Aragane station and helps to build Hayajiro, creates his own weapon called Tsuranukizutsu in order to defeat the creatures. One day, as he waits for an opportunity to use his weapon, he meets a girl named Mumei, who is excused from the mandatory Kabane inspection. During the night, Ikoma meets Mumei again as he sees Hayajiro going out of control. The staff on the locomotive has turned into the creatures. The station, now under attack by Kabane, is the opportunity Ikoma has been looking for.


Many people called 'Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress' a copy of 'Attack on Titan'. But I disagree. Sure, there are elements that seem similar, but nothing is outright copied. It's a different anime with a different story. 

My favorite part of this anime had to be the main characters. 

Ikoma was this complex character, and I absolutely adored him. He was caring and kind, but he also had a troubled past. I wanted to know more about him. He was admirable for all the things he did. He risked his life for these people. He risked his humanity for them. 
Something I felt was a bit lacking was his motivations. His backstory was great, but I felt like it didn't explain why he became a Kabaneri. Was it his will to live? Was it his want to continue his research? It's never really explained, and I wanted to know why. 

Mumei was the best. She was all sweet and innocent until she whipped out her gun and turned you into a slice of swiss cheese. I loved how badass she was. But she still kept this air of innocence which made me love her even more. Through all that she's been through, you forget she's just a kid until she flashes you a sweet smile. It really shows what this world's kids have to go through on a daily basis. Even if Mumei is a bit of an exception.
She was this intricate character who went through a lot. She had an awful experience in her childhood with people wanting her to be killed, and she really saw Biba as her savior. It's something I find interesting. She loved Biba to death, and him being the opposite of sunshine and rainbows threw her for a loop. At times, the people you can trust aren't trustworthy at all. And Mumei really shows a good example of this.

I want to touch upon the supposed 'villain' of this anime for a second. Biba is also very interesting. I felt like his motivations fell a bit flat. He really seems like an antihero to me. Sure, he unleashed hell onto lots of different places, but I felt like he did it from a good place. He was all for lots of bad things, but I felt like his motivations were good. If we had more information about Biba, I might understand him better. He just didn't seem like an obvious villain to me.

I'm a huge fan of animes/books/anything that picks up the issue of human versus -insert monster here-. This anime does a great job of showing the human versus Kabane problem. Most people would turn on the Kabaneri because of the tiny portion of the Kabane in them. The Kabane terrify everyone, and they would do anything to get away from them. But Ikoma and Mumei are different. They're more human than the humans expect, and they do want to protect their loved ones. The Kabaneri can be more human than Kabane, and it's something the humans have to come to terms with. It's this struggle that is really interesting in this anime.

This is the best one I could find...

The OP was gorgeous. It's by EGOIST one of my favorite Japanese bands out there. They did the soundtrack. (OST) to 'Guilty Crown' which has the BEST OST ever. I love the OP to death. It's something I'd play on repeat forever and ever.
It's a beautiful song, and it really works with the anime. Especially the line about fighting for your friends. That's so true for Ikoma. He would die for his friends. And he almost does. Many, many times. 

On the other hand, though, the story was a huge problem for me. It felt way too drawn out. We had multiple scenes of Ikoma and Mumei fighting Kabane. Not that I don't love the animation, but I felt like the Biba arc could have come in earlier. The action truly comes from that arc and not mindlessly fighting Kabane. 

But the worst of all? The ending. I couldn't believe it. For a good second, I thought a certain important someone would die. That would have been interesting. Not every anime has to have a happy ending. Anyways, if he had died, then certain people could have had a sequel where they deal with their grief and try to figure out what happens next. The last episode felt rushed and abrupt. I couldn't believe it was the last episode. So many things that could have gone right were totally wrong.
Again, not everything has to have a happy ending.

If you like lots of action scenes and little story, this is for you.

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