Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (甲鉄城のカバネリ Kōtetsujō no Kabaneri) premiered this Spring.
The series, brought to us by Wit Studio raised a few eyebrows amongst Anime fans particularly those following manga/anime series Attack on Titan. Many anticipating the 2016 Spring season were quick to draw parallels between the two shows. Were they right though?
Rip Off A Titan?
A virus spreads through an industrial revolution era world. Society as we know it comes to a complete halt as victims of the disease are transformed into terrifying Kabane. Undead monsters that feast on the living and turning victims into monsters themselves. To protect themselves survivors on Hinomoto island wall themselves behind giant fortresses.
To maintain some sense of normality and to keep supplies running, each fortress is connected to the next by railway lines. Huge stream trains transport supplies, survivors and military units to aid in survival and defense.
So yeah, there are similarities here! Society is over! Near-unstoppable monsters tear across the land in hordes. Oh and then there are the main characters…
Forget The Main Guy
Ikoma is our very eager hero. Desperate to prove his worth, he spends every waking moment trying to perfect a weapon to destroy the Kabane. His past riddled in guilt; trust me you’ll get over him and his story pretty quickly. No the real interest here lies in the character of Mumei and her supporting team/travelling companions.
While AoT offers us the deadly Mikasa, Mumei from Iron Fortress has a little more depth. From the start we learn she’s not just an ordinary young woman. Her inability to connect with anyone except her seniors makes her situation aboard the Kotetsujou (Iron Fortress) a little more difficult given she’s surrounded by humans, mostly commoners or people beneath her station. As Kabaneri or half-human/half-kabane Itoma and Mumei are distrusted by most of the passengers. A select few crew including the leader of the former Aragane Station trust and fight alongside the pair.
Off The Rails
So a main character with possessing untold power as a half monster, a powerful young woman with trust issues and a terrible secret yet to be revealed! Yeah you can’t really argue that AoT and IF are similar. It stares you in the face! Monsters, selfish survivors, struggling heroes and more mystery than you can shake a steam gun / sword at!
However IF does take a very different approach to how it tells it’s story! The pacing is very different to that of AoT. Everything happening in IF happens quickly! Characters come and go; not always dying! We don’t really get to explore or learn about them the same way AoT delivers them; only to sacrifice them on a platter later! That’s not to say the series is in anyway shy about it’s brutality.
The series is gloriously violent and unashamedly grim. The Kabane are mauling, snarling, clawing monsters with an insatiable hunger for the living. The reality people find themselves living and the fear of a Kabane death means most people carry suicide bags. A little bomb, placed over the heart that delivers a swift death. The show writers seem to have taken inspiration from the likes of The Walking Dead forcing some heavy and moral scenarios on viewers. Mumei tends to find herself in the middle of most of these; try watching the campfire scene without getting choked up!
I need to talk about the animation for a second! The artwork and style is phenomenal. Tense action scenes really stand out. There are CGI elements throughout the series but they actually manage to compliment the series as a whole.
As a twelve episode series Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress doesn’t get caught up trying to explain why or how it’s different to AoT. It ploughs head on into a chaotic and enjoyable story. Each episode delivering just enough of a hook to drag you along the track. Spotting each episode with action, drama and most importantly intrigue!
I’m excited to see where season two winds up! Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait as long as we have for Attack on Titan season two!
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!