Anime: Rail Wars
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Retail Price: $59.98
The anime series Rail Wars tells the story of Naoto Takayama, a train aficionado who can only dream of becoming an engineer. This world differs because Japan hasn’t privatized railways, so Naoto’s hopes include working for the Japanese National Railways. As Naoto hits the age where his dreams are nearly tangible, a wrench is thrown into his plans as he receives a trainee position for the Railways Security Force. The security detail mostly includes Naoto watching over “idol singers” and working with a group of strong women (and appealing, according to Naoto’s reaction.) Despite not getting his way, the uber fanservice-y premise of the series is enough to ensure you that the young man involved isn’t too broken up about his “situation.”
For Naoto and his group, it’s not all romance, fanservice, and laughs - as threats of bombings and theft becomes a prevalent issue from time to time. A darker group known as RJ appear in the story to take over the Japanese National Railways and the Security Force must rise to the challenge in front of them or fail the people they are intended to protect. He may not be in the position he has always dreamed of, but there is plenty of action (no pun intended) going on in his unit to keep Naoto distracted with a threat or an awkward encounter with the opposite sex. For Naoto, he begins to lose sight on if the criminals are more problematic that the coworkers he is constantly surrounded by. The series does its best to incorporate both aspects of action and humor, but it becomes evident that the main focus is the humor stemming from the relationships Naoto has with the Railways Security Force.
Though Naoto is the main character in Rail Wars, he’s surrounded by a group of characters that range from typical token characters and those who are actually a positive addition to the series. Aoi Sakurai is the female protagonist of Rail Wars, and is an athletic presence with a clear distaste for men in general. Aoi comes from a family with a law enforcement background, so she takes her job rather seriously and makes it known that she’s a true fighter who won’t back down from a challenge or obstacle. She isn’t completely focused on as a badass, showing her feelings for Naoto from time to time to continue the dramatic romance it provides. I wasn’t as invested in the dynamic between the two, nor was I invested in any of the frivolous fanservice shown in the 12 episode series. As far as characters go, I would have to say the most effective was Shō Iwaizumi, the only other male member who happens to be physically fit for the position, while being very laid back and easier to enjoy than the others that become repetitive.
When I initially heard about the concept for Rail Wars, I assumed it would be a fun action packed adventure about coping with life’s alterations that can put a new spin on our supposed hopes and dreams. Unfortunately, I read too much into the plot and Rail Wars only danced around the potential enjoyable details that could have made it a stronger anime entirely. The overt crude humor is something you come to expect in anime when dealing with a specific genre, but it can almost be frustrating to viewers when they pretend to embrace other things that are merely a facade to mask their purpose - an easy fanbase to please. I am no prude, but there is just something too typical about this series to separate it as anything else.
In instance where anime series use a romantic and fanservice approach, the art seems to always be impressive which was no exception for Rail Wars. I really didn't have any major complaints about the appearances they created (other than enlarged attributes of course) and the characters were all impressive from a basis of purely visual appreciation. Aoi and Sho were probably my favorite examples of animation in Rail Wars (Sho succeeded in every category.) The Japanese voice cast is what can be expected from this type of series, but I can’t say it was a memorable for bad or good reasons - more of a level production. Rail Wars didn’t provide me with what I had hoped it would, but at least there are some things that can be a positive takeaway from the 12 episode anime series (I’m looking at you Sho!)
Overall Score: 6.5/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
Fairly strong overall animation!
Not a series that transcends any cliches
Sho is the only part of the anime that I enjoyed consistently, but he was a secondary character.