First Impressions (Anime): Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

This was a Spring 2016 anime that wasn’t on my list, but I first heard about from friends. One of them wasn’t someone who watched anime often, but is as much as a nerd as the rest of us — Just because he was a hard guy to please and he recommended it, I’d already had a relatively high expectation when I started on Kabaneri no Kotetsujou.

This week’s Kabaneri… is actually on its second-last episode before the end of the 12-episode series; And I’ve been keeping up with it every week. Hahahahaha ~ This is definitely waaaaayyy too late for a ‘First Impressions’, but 3/4 of this post was sitting in my Drafts for the past 2 months and I wanted to get it out before the end of the series. I have a ton of drafts that often never make it onto this blog and it’s a bad habit I’d like to break.

To keep the post as ‘accurate’ as I can though, this’ll be a sharing of the first thoughts I had when I started on Kabaneri.

Anime: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress「甲鉄城のカバネリ」 Kotetsujou no Kabaneri

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 7.51.24 AM

Every official source I look at has an extremely long description of the series, but to sum the basic plot up in a few sentences:

The world in the middle of the industrial revolution is plagued with aggressive, undead monsters called Kabane that can’t be defeated unless their iron-layered heart is pierced. To make matters worse, these Kabane infect humans with their bite, turning them into their own. People have built towns in the form of fortified stations to shelter themselves from Kabane. These people travel and transport wares between stations with the help of locomotives (trains) that run on steam, called Hayajiro. Kotetsujou no Kabaneri follows the story of Ikoma, a young steam smith who creates his own weapon to defeat the Kabane, and the survivors he ends up travelling with on a Hayajiro.

Mentioning any more would be a slight spoiler.

Oh! I’d also like to mention that this is one of the three series my littlest sister is still interested in keeping up with from the Spring 2016 season 🙂 

WARNING: Zombies and killing. Some despair. Lots of blood, gore and death. Questionable morals from certain characters.

I have to admit, the first thought I had when I saw the promotional image of the anime was that “It looks like a Shingeki no Kyojin.” Seeing as other writers/bloggers have brought this up as well, I’m very sure I’m not the only one who thought this. The similar colour scheme, overall gritty atmosphere, apocalyptic premise, soundtrack (by the same producer, Hiroyuki Sawano), athletic aerial feats of a certain character and the use of steam among other things in Kabaneri really made me think about how these two series are similar. No surprise, the studio behind Kabaneri is also the studio that was behind Shingeki no Kyojin. (It all makes sense now.)

They’re similar, but they’re also vastly different. I’m not fond on comparing series like this, but if I had to rank one over the other, Kabaneri no Kotetsujou would top Shingeki no Kyojin, at the very least, on aesthetic. This is really just a personal opinion. Most of Kabaneri is rendered beautifully and certain scenes really take your breath away.

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 7.53.03 AM

The absolute factor that caught my attention right from the beginning was, hands down, Kabaneri’s setting. Besides being unusual and unique, it was something that greatly contributed to the look and feel of the series as a whole. I seriously love the mix of culturally beautiful feudal Japan and the cool, retro steampunk. You see lots of stories set in the feudal era, and steampunk isn’t a new concept of any kind, but having both of those settings together is just… really cool. (I’m sorry, descriptive fancy words are failing me.) The use of 3D animation for certain aspects, like the Hayajiro for example, totally gives an added OOMPH of impact as well — you actually feel how important/imposing the train is to the survivors.

I currently have many more thoughts on Kabaneri since I’m on the last stretch with the airing of the series, but any more and this won’t be a ‘First Impressions’ post. Just two more episodes to go! I’m really looking forward to it.


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