Koutetsujou no Kabaneri [TV]
Koutetsujou no Kabaneri, otherwise known as Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, is a post-apocalyptic steam-punk action survival anime series. Produced by the same studio as Attack on Titan, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress premiered on Fuji TV’s Noitamina block and aired a total of 12 episodes from April 8, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
The world is in the midst of the Industrial Revolution when suddenly a mysterious virus spreads and ravages the land. Infected humans are turned into aggressive, zombie-like creatures, referred to as Kabane. Blood thirsty and merciless, the Kabane kill any humans they can lay their hands on. They are very hard to kill, as the only way to stop them is by piercing their glowing heart protected by a layer of steel. Their victims, shortly after meeting a gruesome fate, rise from the dead and join the horde of undead.
After seeing that their melee weapons and steam-powered guns are unreliable to fight against the Kabane, humanity is left with no choice but to flee and hide. In an effort to defend the survivors from the onslaught of the Kabane, the people created a network of iron fortress stations connected by railways, and used armored steam locomotives called hayajiro as means of safe transportation.
Within the safe walls of the fortress, a young engineer named Ikoma has been secretly developing a more efficient way to kill the Kabane. Little does he know that his chance to test his weapon is coming very soon.
Since the series only has 12 episodes, very little time is permitted for the characters to develop. Their background stories were not extensively explored, and were very much straightforward. The characters may have seemed a little flat as a result. So, if you want to have a general view of the story before investing time watching it yourself, then read on.
Ikoma is a young engineer working as a steam smith in Aragane station. After failing to save his little sister from the hands of the Kabane during their childhood, Ikoma vowed to avenge her death and never cower again. Fueled by guilt and hatred, he searched for ways to exterminate the Kabane and eventually created a specialized weapon that can pierce through the monster’s steel coated heart.
Skills and Ability:
Ikoma is a Kabaneri, a Kabane hybrid, which makes him more powerful than the average human. He has increased strength, heat resistance, durability, regeneration and pain tolerance. In order to remain in his human form and avoid turning completely into a mindless Kabane, Kabaneri need to drink human blood.
Mumei is a childish but a very strong girl, appearing to be a member of some elite force. Her past is mysterious and her name literally mean “nameless”. Despite being rude and snobby to others, she seems to show interest in Ikoma and have a soft spot for little children.
Skills and Abilities:
Mumei is also a Kabaneri, but unlike Ikoma, she was never bitten by a Kabane before. Instead, she was injected with the blood of the Kabane in order to artificially gain powers. Contradicting her harmless appearance, Mumei is agile and strong, being able to leap very high and handle multiple Kabane in hand-to-hand combat. Her full potential is unlocked whenever she releases her limiter in a form of a ribbon around her neck. During this time, her Kabaneri capabilities are greatly enhanced, but causes her to tire immediately and require sleep, thus making her vulnerable.
Ayame is the eldest daughter and heir of Yomogawa family, the governing power of Aragane station. She has a very modest nature, and a kind heart that earned her people’s trust and respect. After her father’s death, although still inexperienced and indecisive, she became Aragane’s leader.
Skills and Abilities:
Being modest in nature, Ayame lacks extreme physical prowess, although having the capability to kill a Kabane with long ranged weapons.
Kurusu is a loyal Bushi (soldier) and personal bodyguard to Ayame. He is somber and frank in nature, and resents Ikoma and Mumei for being Kabaneri. Despite his strict personality, he secretly seems to have affection for Ayame.
Skills and Abilities:
Kurusu is very skilled even among his fellow Bushi specially with his sword. He has amazing reflexes which was demonstrated in his encounter with a Wazatori swordsman.
Charismatic but ruthless, Biba the Liberator is the leader of the Hunters and the eldest son of the Shogun, and is viewed as a hero by most common people. But behind his glorious and prideful image, lies a dark secret unknown to most. He was once betrayed and abandoned by his own father and comrades in the battlefield, making him develop a worldview that only the strongest survive, which he incorporated on Mumei. Wasting none of his talents and using all available technology at his disposal, he vows to take his revenge upon the Shogun.
Skills and Abilities:
Being a leader of an elite offense group and surviving a horde of Kabane, Biba is obviously capable in terms of physical prowess. He uses a gun-sword which is coated with the metal of a Kabane’s heart. With his excellent military leadership, he can devise very effective strategical moves to defeat his enemies.
Episode 1: Frightened Corpse
The hayajiro Koutetsujou carrying Mumei arrives at the Aragane station, and meets Ikoma for the first time. Later, a Kabane infested hayajiro successfully infiltrates the defenses, and the Kabane proceed to overrun the station. In this episode Ikoma is bitten by a Kabane, but manages to kill it using the weapon he invented, and even successfully stop the virus from spreading to his brain. Mumei’s abilities are also shown in this episode, with her bladed shoes as the highlight.
Episode 2: Never-Ending Night
The Kabaneri are first introduced in this episode. After losing many Bushi and getting out-numbered by the Kabane, the survivors decide to fight their way to the Koutetsujou and escape Aragane station.
Episode 3: Prayer Offer
The Koutetsujou is now on its way to Kongokaku, with hopes that the Shogun will shelter them. However, the passengers are uneasy after learning the true identity of Ikoma and Mumei, and their fear became worse after learning that the Kabaneri requires human blood for sustenance.
Episode 4: Flowing Blood
The Koutetsujou in under mutiny, and was redirected to a shorter but more dangerous route. Kurusu and his sword mastery is demonstrated in this episode as he fights a Wazatori. Later the Koutetsujou was back in Ayame’s command, and the Kabaneri were accepted to stay.
Episode 5: Inescapable Darkness
The Koutetsujou arrives in a Kabane infested station. Their railway is blocked and they were required to fight the Kabane in order to use the crane to clear the way. To make things worse, a new and more dangerous threat appears, a “black smoke” resembling a huge monstrous creature.
Episode 6: Gathering Light
The black smoke is revealed to be a giant fusion of hundreds of Kabane, and a Kabaneri as its heart. Ikoma and Mumei gets trapped by the Kabane, but manages to board the Koutetsujou after the railway was cleared. With the black smoke chasing their tail, Mumei destroys it with Ikoma’s help and proceeded to their next destination.
Episode 7: Begging the Heavens
The Koutetsojou arrives at a functional station still inhabited by humans. Due to lack of supplies, they were only allowed to stay for a few days. Mumei’s background story is touched in this episode, and the Hunter lead by Biba is introduced.
Episode 8: The Silent Hunter
The station is under attack by the Kabane, Biba and his groups capabilities are shown in this episode as they kill the Kabane, but also a glimpse of their ruthlessness as they kill a human. Biba agrees to accompany Ayame in her journey to Kongokaku, but Ikoma is very suspicious with Biba’s intentions.
Episode 9: Fang of Ruin
Biba’s intentions for revenge are revealed as he kills the leader of Iwato Station and takes Ayame hostage. He proceeds to inject Horobi, a Kabaneri, with a serum that will turn her into another black smoke beast.
Episode 10: The Attacking Weak
Biba successfully takes control over the Koutetsujou. Meanwhile, Ikoma devises a plan to attack Biba, but suffers great consequences for his actions.
Episode 11: Burning Life
Biba and the Koutetsujou finally arrives in Kongokaku and successfully kills the Shogun by making him suffer and turn slowly into a Kabane. Mumei is injected with the same serum as Horobi, and is also turning into a black smoke. Ikoma resorts to being injected with a black serum, which makes him stronger but also shortening his life, in order to save Mumei.
Episode 12: Koutetsujou
Biba is revealed to be a Kabaneri also, and fights Ikoma who is trying to save Mumei. With time running very short, Ikoma fights his greatest adversary.
If you love steampunk and Attack on Titan, then you should give Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress a try because it is exactly those two things combined.
Despite the story’s writing receiving a lot of criticism for having no originality and its several plot holes, the series definitely shows promise in its other aspects. The animation has a heavy feeling to it similar to Attack on Titan, and the dialogue is average at most. The icing on the cake for this series is its fight scenes. Being a show involving super zombies and sharp weapons, it would be expected to have a lot blood all over the place. The fights themselves might not be over the top, but the music accompaniment is what makes it epic. So, if you prefer bloody fight scenes and a glorious soundtrack over a deep meaningful story, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is definitely worth a shot.