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Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress Review

If you could fight off the dead and not worry about being infected, would you fight or run? In April 2016, Ikoma realised running only got people killed, so now... it's time to fight!

Directing this 12 episode (22 minute each) action/drama/fantasy/horror is Tetsuro Araki.

Some of the voice cast is: Tasuku Hatanaka as Ikoma, Sayaka Senbongi as Mumei, Maaya Uchida as Ayame Yomogawa, Toshiki Masuda as Kurusu, Yuki Kaji as Takumi, Mamoru Miyano as Biba Amatori. 

A mysterious virus quickly spreads across the land, transforming the infected into what people call the Kabane (corpses). To kill these creatures you have to pierce the heart, but after infection the creatures grow a hardened layer around the heart that is almost impossible to penetrate, even with the steam pressure guns the soldiers use. To protect themselves from the Kabane people built cities around train stations; turning them into huge fortress and using the railway to transport people and materials from station to station. One day, on its way back to Aragane Station, a steam powered train was attacked and the Kabane used it to crash into the station making way for them to swarm the city. Realising the city is lost to the Kabane, everyone boards a train and makes a run for it. Now on the run, more fear sinks in as they realise with their city gone they don't know where to go... and will they be able to keep fighting off the Kabane till they get there?

Thanks to random surfing through Amazon Prime I tripped over this one, and I'm glad I did. For any Attack on Titan (2013) fans you'll get a kick out of this one. I got hooked on Kabaneri from the first episode and binge-watched the rest. Now, if you don't have time to make it through the whole season, no worries. They made two compilation films that recap the first season. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress 1 came out in December 2016 and Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress 2 will be out in January 2017.

The reason I think Titan fans will dig this is because there are a lot of similarities to it. You have a civilisation, by no choice of their own, that lives cut off from the rest of the world and is forced to adapt to the new "normal" way of life behind heavily fortified walls.  The odds of surviving, even behind the great walls, is low, especially when you're outnumbered by the things trying to kill you. Both stories have a post-apocalyptic setting. Lots of great looking fight scenes. It takes a precise way to kill the creatures and the main character becomes a weapon that can stand toe to toe with the deadly creatures in both shows. Even though these anime's share similarities I think Kabaneri has more than enough going on to stand out on it's own. 

The story that Ichiro Okouchi came up with is pretty cool. Not only do you have the main story of the people vs the Kabane going on, but there's also a side story going on that involves a few of the main characters. I think the only problem I had was that the main character, Ikoma, even in his strongest moments, still came off kind of weak. Like, one minute Ikoma would be willing to jump into the middle of battle and fight to the death, but in the next he'd be sitting around crying about being infected (even though it was a bonus in his case). After awhile, Ikoma wound up getting on my nerves because of that constant back and fourth.  Other than Ikoma, I thought there were quite a few badass characters. Either because of their story-line or the way they handled themselves. With everything going on in the story, Okouchi even managed to throw in some character development and growth (especially in Mumei's case). 

The play-through was really entertaining and held my attention through the whole season. Okouchi does a great job at creating a good balance of action and story-line. Now, towards the end of the season the story gets a little weird and feels a bit disjointed. It seemed like they forgot that they were hitting the last episodes of the season so they hurried to wrapped things up. It doesn't really hurt the show because questions are answered and people are where they should be (story wise) by the end of everything, while leaving few bits of mystery for season 2. It's was more of a sudden speed bump in a otherwise smooth flowing show. 

The voice cast was cool but nothing/no one really stood out.

The animation looked really good. The look of the Kabane was pretty sick and there was even some individuality used to make them stand apart from each other instead of one generic mold used for the whole horde. Sometimes their look reminded me of a zombie or demon, which made for some creepy looking scenes as they attacked. Another imaginative creature creation called the Black Fog Beast was a cool addition to the story and also helped make for some pretty cool action scenes. Most of the time fights/attacks are bloody looking, but every now and then you get a few gory treats when people are fighting off the Kabane and lose. 

Overall, if you haven't checked this one out, you need to! Hopefully, the wait for the second season won't be long because I want to see where the story goes from here. 

4 stars