Anime: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (Season 1 Blu-ray & DVD Combo)
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Retail Price: $64.98
When first hearing of the anime series Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, it appeared that it could potentially have been another anime following the popular methods of others like Attack on Titan or Tokyo Ghoul - but assumptions or preconceived notions aside, it offers so much more. In the expansive world this anime provides, the planet has become overrun with zombies (or at least zombie-esque) that has caused humanity to isolate themselves into heavily guarded fortresses requiring travel by armored trains. The threat has caused most to die off and the remaining fearful to come face to face with the creatures but a new idea from one young man named Ikoma could possibly provide hope that the Kabane can be killed.
Where others like Attack on Titan stick to one (former) safe haven, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress begins at a station that is overcome with Kabane and sends the survivors on a fast-paced adventure aboard the Kotetsujo train. Though series protagonist Ikoma has evidence that his invention could defeat Kabane, the threat of death and constant danger takes precedence and an appearance by a quirky (and murderous) girl named Mumei adds to the list of situations to deal with. As if they need anything else to worry about, a discovery that half-blooded Kabane’s can retain semblances of humanity whilst showcasing extreme power and bloodlust is something that affects both Ikoma and the mysterious Mumei.
One extremely favorable trait to Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is the exceptionally crafted characters. From first impressions I knew that Ikoma wasn’t going to be someone I would be attached to - which can be an issue when trying to find a connection to a series. What I learned soon after was the brilliance of the supporting characters that are the heart and soul of this particular anime. Ayame Yomogawa is one of those inclusions, beginning as the daughter of a leader who is forced into a role of power and shows resilience when forced to make the difficult decisions. She provides these interesting plot details that make you question her methods, but there is no questioning the fact that she is honing the power she has received.
Ayame is merely one example of a group dynamic that is so effectively used, with her guard Kurusu or Takumi who all have direct ties to the Kotetsujo. Others that you will find surprisingly enjoyable as an aid to the series successes are smaller roles like the skilled fighter and group’s ‘tank’ role named Kibito or the conductor herself, Yukina. Mumei is a stronger lead than Ikoma even when her past begins to unravel with red flags before your very eyes - which leads us to the character that was a point of controversy to fans, Biba. Biba is one of the more cutthroat characters that anime has seen, offering much less moral ambiguity and is someone who’s upfront with his views or schemes. Some pointed out the change of direction as a human enemy becomes clear but it felt like the series was proving that whether facing the Kabane or the mind of a twisted individual, they have the ability to navigate through the variations of threats the new world holds.
Even after gushing about the narrative and characters, that doesn’t even include the intricacy of the animation. Embracing a steampunk vibe could be off putting to some (I’m not generally into steampunk myself) but it requires the entire setting to be altered to the series credit for using individuality. To continue the trend of achievements, the voice actors were selected perfectly for each role and it easily is one of the best series I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in several years. For being an original project and having potential to have pulled from other genre-based series, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress radiates creativity, relentlessness and sheer superiority.
Overall Score: 9/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
- I had a lot of thoughts at what this anime could have been but was pleasantly shocked to see how great it truly is.
- If the second anime series focuses more on the side characters, it would really unfold into an even more evolved character driven series.