Overall Rating: 3 /5 moons
If I had to tell what this anime is about as quickly as possible, I’d say: “This is essentially Attack on Titan but with zombies.” The theme and pacing of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is very similar to that of Attack on Titan, and this makes sense as most of the top people that worked on Attack on Titan worked on this title as well.
Now, with the background of the story out of the way, let’s talk about the story itself. It starts off with a bang, with both theme and setting of the story set in stone right from the get-go. Both of those aspects are very well done. Steampunk feudal Japan with crazy mutant zombie horde terrorising the lives of humans; if that doesn’t grab your immediate attention, I don’t know what will!
However, the series failed to capitalise on its extremely well done beginning as it transitions into a story that doesn’t revolve around running and surviving the zombie invasion. The issue I had with the second half of the anime is with the theme of the story. It seemed to change from how humanity is hopeless at the face of the hordes of zombies, to one that revolves around a dude trying to carry out the most hardcore revenge plot I’ve ever seen.
It’s essentially about a guy who wants to lay waste to tons of humans just so he can get revenge on that one dude. That’s not all. There’s also some moments where the internal rule of the story are bent just to make things look cool and flashy.
All in all, the story tried to be something more and fell short. It started out as a show that didn’t challenge the viewers intellect, to one that wanted you to think of the antagonist’s motives and ideology. While I like these kind of anime, it felt out of place and a silly excuse to try and make the anime seem more intellectual than it needed to be.
Each character feels very unique, from their designs to their actions. While most, if not all, the characters were quite cliche, it works well with this story. The build up of the main character is very clear and well done as well. There are many character building moments that are very dramatic and feels very natural. Especially one of the main character, Mumei. She started out being someone who is reckless and blindly follows her “brother”. She then slowly grows into someone that can think for herself and act accordingly.
Most of the characters feels unique enough to be memorable and all of them plays a part in driving the story. But, the main antagonist feels very out of place and awkward in the setting of this story. He is like a poor man’s Makishima Shogo from Psycho-Pass. He tries to be all mysterious, broody and philosophical, but fails tremendously.
He started off being an interesting character that kept me wondering, but did not deliver on our expectations considering his motives were severely lacking and childish; or at least, the motive seemed lacking for him to do what he did. It’s as if he decided to destroy everyone in a country just because one guy did wrong by him.
A weak antagonist just makes all the interaction and clashes between the characters all that less enjoyable to watch. I am one of those people who firmly believe that an antagonist can make or break the show, and sadly for this series, the latter is what happened.
The fight scenes are well choreographed and well animated with awesome flashy effects to pair with it. It has been brought to my attention that the art style is like a throwback to 80’s anime with its unique shading technique in most scenes. With that said, it still feels very modern and fresh and I wouldn’t have even noticed it’s a throwback if not for a Youtube video I watched by “digibro”.
The audio is perfect as well. Nothing less is to be expected from the guy who is also the sound director of Attack on Titan. Each scene feels epic and grand with a great soundtrack to back it up. The music is also good enough to be listened to without the accompanying animation.
This is a great anime to watch for some hot blooded action. It is also one of the more visually impressive anime in recent memories as well. However, don’t put too much hope in this anime to deliver a strong narrative.