Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – Preview
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress:
Original Air Dates: April 7th, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: The island of Hinomoto struggles against the Kabane, zombie-like beings formed from the remains of the living. They threaten to tear the last vestiges of humanity apart. The only defense against them are the fortresses scattered around the island as stations, with thick huge walls to defend the remaining population. The only way to travel between these stations is via the Hayajiro, massive trains that transport troops and people from one station to another.
A young man, Ikoma, who lost his family to the Kabane, has been working for five years on a new weapon that’ll change the tide of the battle against the Kabane. But during the arrival of a Hayajiro, Ikoma makes the mistake of standing up for a man suspected of being a Kabane. Due to his interference Ikoma is thrown in jail, just as another Hayajiro arrives, transporting in an army of Kabane hungry for the citizens of the city….
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is going to remind just about any Attack on Titan fan of their favorite post-apocalypse fantasy. Visually Kabaneri screams AoT, with its massive walled cities, aerial shots of the districts, and general color palette. There’s also hints here of older animation styles that harken back to the anime of the 90s and even 80s that should appeal to older anime fans that miss that aesthetic. Kabaneri has a gritty, dark, atmospheric style that sells this tainted world on the verge of collapse and the Asian influence in the art direction helps to keep it feeling like a total AoT clone. Not to mention the music which only aids in bringing the atmosphere and terror to life.
Linny: That resemblance to AoT is unavoidable thanks to the premise and visual style employed here. The use of CGI in the episode works and blends very well with the colours and shading choices. If I were to describe Kabaneri in a simplified manner, I’d have to say this was Attack on Titan but with zombies. This isn’t a derogatory comparison by any means, as despite the similarities, Kabaneri holds its own and is a good old fashioned post apocalyptic adventure.
Tom: The similarities are extensive, between the visuals and the very premise, but Kabaneri’s more heavily Asian influenced depiction gives it enough of a visual edge to keep it from feeling like an outright copy, and instead merely something influenced by AoT. The zombie aspect is interesting, and coupled with the unique elements of the Kabane’s hearts being impossible to pierce, it makes the Kabane a bit more interesting than average zombies, but at the end of the day that’s all they really are so we’re still sitting within fairly familiar territory.
Linny: The heavy asian influence and the usage of more steam powered machinery helps to sell the steampunk angle. Coupled with the dated outfits, Kabaneri sells its foreign atmosphere. The show is sure to grasp the attention of fans of broody apocalyptic stories with its gory and desperate vibe, all further boosted by a gripping and well paced story.
Tom: For now the characters feel thin, and that’s partly due to Kabaneri’s decision to focus entirely on set up and plot rather than any significant character building. Our lead, Ikoma, feels a lot like Eren Yeager of AoT. He’s headstrong, determined, and believes in fighting the menace rather than cowering behind the walls. He’s more of an inventor however, creating the weapon that’ll aid in the battle, rather than lucking into like Eren did. We’ve got a couple female characters rounding out the cast: Mumei a young badass who can easily kill larger Kabane by herself, and the princess of the city, who seems a lot more meek comparatively, although we know her heart is in the right place when her father decides to abandon the citizens after the walls fail to keep the Kabane out.
Linny: We definitely have a more nerdy hero, though he still manages to work his way out of sticky situations regardless. He is your standard, heart of gold, righteous protagonist, but it’s always fun to watch heroes like him as they scramble to do the right thing and survive. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the two female characters, with the hope that they both get developed into strong and well defined characters and not just silent ass-kickers or helpless moral compasses.
Tom: Outside of those three, there isn’t too much else to say. Ikoma’s friends, who don’t get a lot of screen time anyway, are all worthless, content as peasants susceptible to the whims of their lords. The lords themselves are about as you’d expect, only interested in themselves when the situation takes a turn for the worse. Thankfully they avoid the over the top, grinning villain portrayal that seems to plague later chapters of Attack on Titan’s manga, making these characters feel more real and perhaps understandable, as I get the sense they really do feel the situation is hopeless and take no joy in leaving others to die.
Linny: For those tired of waiting for AoT season 2, or those who generally enjoy stories in that vein, this might just be your new favourite show. The visuals are amazing, the action is gripping and the show is just brimming with the promise of more badassery, gore and action packed excitement.
Tom: Kabaneri is a wholly original work from the Director of Attack on Titan and Highschool of the Dead (huh, it’s all making sense now.) and the writer of Valvrave as well as the most recent Berserk film adaptations. Together they’re both delivering a product that feels like an answer to all the starving Attack on Titan fans, but feels original enough to produce a following all its own. I recommended Kabaneri to anyone looking for a darker story, or just needs an AoT like fix while we wait, what seems like endlessly, for AoT’s second season.
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is available for streaming via Amazon.com