Enter Biba. The sudden main antagonist of the series with a bad case of daddy issues
Let me start by answering a few questions. Did I enjoy watching Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress? Yes. Would I recommend it to others? Yes. Is it a great anime? Not by a long shot…
For the most part, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is widely met with disdain in the Anime community. Many reviewers scoring it extremely low, and some go as far as saying it is complete trash. Kabaneri had all the potential to do great things, but fell mountains short of reaching it for a plethora of varied reasons. Before I get into that, I’d like to address the extremely vocal elephant in the room. No, I don’t think Kabaneri is an Attack on Titan clone, poorly executed or otherwise, I just don’t agree. That being said, it is impossible to ignore the glaringly obvious use of many AoT elements within this series.
Kabaneri and Attack on Titan share the same Director, Tetsurō Araki. They also share the same musical composer, Hiroyuki Sawano. Oh and also the same animation team, WIT Studio… Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t even be a thing to bring up. Unfortunately for Kabaneri, Many Attack on Titan fans blame the series production for the multitude of delays the second season of AoT suffered as a probable result. Due to the teams being overworked and under tight schedules.
In my personal opinion, I dont see all of the similarities as a bad thing. The music is beautifully composed and correctly conveys all the right emotion you would expect from the scene. I really enjoyed everything the music had to offer, including the opening song. There was one instance I couldnt ignore though. In episode 7 Ikoma is trying to rally the people, he says something along the lines of “Are you fine living like this?” and I couldn’t help but think Eren Yeager… *eye roll*
It started well…
At first, up until about episode 8, the pacing and direction of the series is very good. We are treated to action packed and beautifully animated scenes where the story seems to be going in a direction that fits the theme of being a survival action horror.
Except that this whole premise gets flipped on its fucking head.
Enter Biba. The sudden main antagonist of the series with a bad case of daddy issues, which has now gone from being a Zombie like survival to a typical revenge plot. WHY!? This made no sense to me. It is ridiculous in this setting. This late into the series with barely 3 episodes left, you want to tell me that the whole thing has been about revenge? Piss off!
Regardless of Biba fever and the shitty ending, the biggest problem with Kabaneri is its character development. The series is PLAGUED with uninteresting characters and the lack of fleshed out stories make it hard to buy in to almost anything.
Ikoma starts out to be a seemingly intelligent and talented inventor, but the last thing you see him do that fits this description is in the first episode! He successfully completes his jet gun that can pierce the cages of kabane hearts, and manages to survive the kabane virus after being bitten, by bolting all kinds of shit to his body. Which leads me onto another point.
Not only is it not explained how Kabane came to be, but it is also never explained how Kabaneri are created. Seemingly it is a complex scientific procedure. I find it extremely difficult to believe that Ikoma could do it through sheer will power, giant Lego pieces and choking himself the fuck out!
By episode 11 Ikoma has become a whiny, scared little bitch and I couldn’t bring myself to sympathise with him at all. I haven’t been brought to care for him like I should.
What about the other characters you ask? Lady Ayame is the daughter of some lord making her the leader of some people, thats’ all I know. Kurusu is her samurai bodyguard, that’s all I know. Takumi is Ikomas best friend, that’s all I know. There is so little development here that when one of the cast died in episode 10, I barely noticed. Judging by the character reactions on screen i should have been mortified…
There is a multitude of other characters who appear often in the series and its the same for them all. Hell, even Engrish-San is more interesting than half of the cast and he does NOTHING! The characters are incredibly forgettable and seem to serve almost no purpose to the entire show.
If you’ve managed to read this far, then you’re probably thinking i hated this series. I didn’t hate it, like I said at the beginning I actually enjoyed a lot of it. The animation quality was ace and for a animation buff like me, this is important. I constantly found myself impressed by the wonderfully drawn action and the fluidity of the Sakuga sequences. The music always kept me hyped up and I thought the overall design aesthetics of the show were brilliant. For those reasons alone, I would recommend it to others with similar tastes. Kabaneri just severely let me down with its extremely confusing ending and lack luster characters.
What did you think of Kabaneri? Id love to hear your thoughts? Did you love it, hate it or something in between? Let me know down below!