Anime Discovery 2019: KABANERI of the Iron FORTRESS – #213

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2013…… the year when Wit Studio, a subsidiary of IG Port, debuted Attack on Titan and the show ended up being a mega-success and one of the most talked-about anime during that time period. It garnered a lot of attention, even from outside the anime spectrum and while hype about it has slowed down by the time the 2nd and 3rd season, it’s still a well-known name.

However, during the time when most people expected a season 2 but not until 2017, there has been some clones of it or at least something that vaguely similar to it. One of them was Seraph of the End and yeah… my mind hasn’t changed since I watched it. That show is fucking horrible.

I am talking about the other show, coming from 2016 in the Spring season and I did talked about it before but as a Time of the Season piece and we know about the whole Amazon shit happening around that time and why am I reviewing this now when I don’t have access to Amazon anymore?

Well…..

Yep, since Crunchyroll did licensed it and I’m guessing Amazon’s rights to it have expired, it now belongs on something that most people can watch and the dub’s on here, too. (It was on Funimation’s site for a little bit before it was taken off.)

Now, I can watch this again…….and what’s this about again?

A mysterious virus appears during the industrial revolution that transforms infected humans into Kabane (カバネ, “corpses”) and rapidly spreads. Kabane are aggressive, undead creatures that cannot be defeated unless the glowing heart, which is protected by a layer of iron, is pierced, or an important body part is completely severed (such as the head). Unfortunately, most melee weapons and the steam-pressure guns used by the bushi (武士, “warriors”) are not very effective against them. On the island country Hinomoto (日ノ本), people have built fortress-like “stations” to shelter themselves from these creatures. People access the stations and transport wares between them with the help of fortified steam locomotives (駿城 hayajirō). One day, a hayajirō hijacked by the Kabane crashes into Aragane Station and they overrun the city. A young engineer called Ikoma uses the opportunity to test with success his anti-Kabane weapon, the “piercing gun” (ツラヌキ筒 tsuranuki zutsu), but is infected in the process, although he manages to resist the virus and become a Kabaneri (カバネリ), a human-Kabane hybrid. Assisted by Mūmei (無名, “Nameless”), another Kabaneri who appears to help them, Ikoma and the other survivors of the station board a hayajirō named Kōtetsujō (甲鉄城, “Iron Fortress”) and depart to seek shelter elsewhere, fighting the hordes of Kabane along the way.

 

So, Attack on Titan on Trains with Zombies?

Yeah, that’s what it’s been called ever since seeing the PV of it. It had the same art style, same animation company on it, same director and at that time, people were really thirsting for that AOT Season 2 and they settled for this. For me…. it’s not too shabby.

Look, I get some people said this failed as a AoT clone although that’s a good thing because I rather it be it’s own thing. It’s mainly zombies or “kabane” are attacking and you know the drill. You get bit and you’re fucked…. that is, unless you’re our lead Ikoma and suddenly, you can stop the infection from spreading by….doing asphyxiation on yourself and behold, you’re a Kabaneri.  Of course, you got people thinking that since he’s a Kabaneri or part Kabane, he’ll turn on them and start having them as a feast. It’s mainly that the first half or 1/4 of the series of “Can we trust him?” along with another person on board with Mumei, who is also a Kabaneri and I can say that from the beginning, I liked Mumei as she kicked a lot of ass and does get the same amount of shit handed to her as Ikoma except she has more of that spunk and sass. She’s also desensitized considering with her own mother dead and her “brother” doing that “only the strong survive in the world” bullshit drilled in her head and to be honest, I always hated “the weak deserve to die” spiel because it implies. Hell, when Ikoma told her about how his sister is killed, she merely said it was a common story. True, but damn, it’s still messed up although I can say she does have her vulnerable side in later episodes.

Everybody else are fairly decent characters to my liking. Ayame is the princess character that’s trying to get things handled on the train and keep the village people from panicking/getting angry, etc. You got the best friend with Takumi, the “I don’t trust or fuck with you because of XX” character with Kurusu, Ayame’s bodyguard and the rest of them like Yukina (aka that girl you saw flexing her muscles that got every otaku fiending for muscle girls in anime) and….. well, for memorable characters, that’s all I got.

Now thinking about it, I see what some might compare this to AOT although I’ll say that Ikoma is more of a tolerable main character than Eren as he doesn’t scream about “I’M GONNA KILL THE KABANERI!!” although Mumei is more of a moe Mikasa and by moe, I mean in terms of how she’s designed.

Speaking of designs, yup, you see why people called this an AOT clone since the look, the colors, the same damn animation studio…..but overall, it has a nice look to it and the fighting animation is decent to good at best but it’s more on the former since still images and speed lines do happen here.

Music is always set on being epic and yes, it’s another recognizable feature taken from AOT again with Hiroyuki Sawano doing the music. The opening theme “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress” by Egoist does have some interesting parts, mainly the beginning where it goes “Are you a human or a Kabane? Neither, I am a Kabaneri!!” and that part is easily the best thing from that but the song is still fine. I don’t have the need to skip the opening and the ending song “ninelie” by Aimer with chelly is more of the slow, somber song that ends off every episode and it felt right to end it like that.

But you know what’s very different from AOT? The dub, as it was done by Studiopolis and it does feature some prominent VAs in the mix like Ben Diskin, Veronica Taylor, Colleen O’Shaughnessey & Jamieson Price, the main leads do interest me. First being Robbie Daymond as Ikoma and he delivered a solid performance although I think my favorite performance of the whole dub is Janice Kawaye as Mumei. It might be because I missed hearing her as a lead character. Yes, she is still working in VO and getting roles in both anime and western animation. I really liked her delivery as it does sound cute but it also has some spunk and bite to it.

 

FINAL VERDICT: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is…. completely watchable. It does fulfill having some genuine decent action sequences and some of the dire moments were capable of getting me involved in this and the more I think about it and watching it, I don’t have that many problems with this as most people does. Yeah, they were some WTF moments but not enough to say it’s bad or terrible but I’ll say it’s worth checking out, especially now since you can actually watch it and the dub without it being held hostage by the house Jeff Bezos built.

 

8/10

 

KABANERI OF THE IRON FORTRESS is available on DVD & Blu-ray via Crunchyroll/Funimation through their past FuniRoll deal. You can now stream it on Crunchyroll both sub and dub. However, there are 3 theatrical movies after that. First 2 are recaps but the third one (The Battle of Unato) is split into 3 episodes and is released on Netflix.

 

I’m MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid and yeah, I mentioned the movie, that’s getting reviewed next.

KABANERI OF THE IRON FORTRESS – animated by WIT Studio / licensed by Crunchyroll/Funimation

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