Episode Focus: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress Episode 1 ‘Frightened Corpse’


It’s not really the done thing to write reviews of shows after only one episode has aired but with Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress I couldn’t help myself. Taking up the Spring 2016 noitaminA slot and having the privilege (?) of being the first anime to stream through Amazon Prime, Kabaneri is a steam punk style anime that sees humanity stuck behind walls hiding from some terrible man eating monsters.

I know what you’re thinking – that sounds just like something else I know… Well hold that thought, I’ll get to it a little later!

Main character #1 Ikoma seems like a decent enough guy. Almost inspires you to rebel against the system yourself, until you see the blood that is.
Main character #1 Ikoma seems like a decent enough guy. Almost inspires you to rebel against the system yourself, until you see the blood that is.

The main character of episode is rebellious ‘steam smith’, Ikoma who as well as servicing the locomotives that allow humans to travel between stations (essentially human settlements) is trying to create a weapon to kill the Kabane.

Ah, so you’d like to know what Kabane are? Well before you say it, they’re not titans. Though they do essentially serve the same purpose. They are humanoid creatures with rotting steel like bodies that can ‘infect’ (a debatable term in the show, hence the ”) others forcing them into a ‘join them or die’ situation.

This is a Kabane. Uglier than a titan any day I'd say.
This is a Kabane. Uglier than a titan any day I’d say.

Without this is a first episode that doesn’t pull any punches in terms of content. It’s very fast pace introducing a fair amount of characters that judging from the ending sequence will be fairly important throughout the show. Censorship levels are, refreshingly, very low, with an unashamedly high amount of gore and brutality taking place in the first twenty minutes.

As I mentioned there are lots of characters floating around in this episode though the most interesting by far (not considering Ikoma) is the mysterious Mumei, a girl who appears to be related to the ruling bushi class in someway. She’s got a lot of attitude and breaks off from some of the more typical female shounen stereotypes through her rebellious nature and self confidence. Plus she is very good at fending for herself.

Mumei stands out as being the most interesting character we've met so far.
Mumei stands out as being the most interesting character we’ve met so far.

Now, we’ve got walls with humans inside and human eating monsters outside. I needn’t tell you anything else before you realise that there has been a parallel drawn between Kabaneri and Attack on Titan by many people who live on the internet. It’s not all that surprising that we’re seeing similarities in an original work that has been created by the same studio (Wit) and director (Tetsurou Araki) that worked on AoT. 

If you worried about this being a problem I would urge you to stop. In it’s first episode Kabaneri has offered plenty of original concepts and characters to distinguish it from other anime like it. I’m also of the opinion that if a show is good in itself then you may as well enjoy it and not worry about comparing it to potential inspirations for the writers.

Brace yourself. It's grim from the very start.
Brace yourself. It’s grim from the very start.

Though a little fast in terms of pacing, the show is off to a largely good start with a great concept in place, promising characters, great music (from Egoist and Hiroyuki Sawano) and lots of gore!

As Amazon continue to take over the world you will find Kabaneri, as well as all future noitaminA shows, on there. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress streams in the UK, Germany and the US at 03:00 GMT on Friday mornings.

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