Is it Batteru on the Tracks?
Just given the general description I was wondering what I was getting into. At the very least I was expecting something like Servant x Service. So with that in mind, what kind of ride are we on, HWY?
Battle on the rails! Strategic movements of troops and materiel, critical supply lines. Or maybe even tracklaying battles, like John Henry Versus the Steam Drill. That’s what the name Rail Wars evokes, isn’t it?
What Rail Wars Really Are
Aoi is totally the teacher’s pet
Highway: I’ll be honest. I thought this was gonna be something completely different from what it was. Honestly, something like above. But right from the start it was both something more ordinary and yet something that will, I think, ultimately be far more interesting and sustainable. Rather than battles, this is actually about the adventures of trainees in the On-the-job Training program with Japan National Railways (an alternate version of reality, although it probably doesn’t make much difference in Japan whether the railways are privately owned or nationalized) . And in order to get us to our main characters being in their job, this first episode took care of the whole month of pre-qualifying to become an employee trainee. Learning how to deal with unruly customers, threats, and even how to run a steam train. There’s definitely a little confusion on my part whether all the trainees for the security force are already employees, or if they’re trying to change to the security force, but that doesn’t really matter.
Skylion: From the start I really dig that Naoto’s character likes both trains, and the idea of very stable employment. This sort of infrastructure is not going anywhere, anytime soon in Japanese society, so it makes it a great kick to have an advocation meeting a vocation. Also, dig that FukuJun voice. There is something in his range that suits this sort of character perfectly. Even though most of the background was straightforward, it was delivered with pep. He works well with the rest of the cast, too. We have Maaya Uchida’s Haruka Koumi, a young lady whose bust defies physics, but whose personality and intelligence defies expectations. I’m liking her. A bit better than Manami Numakura’s Aoi Sakurai man-hating, shoot the molesters schtick. It got old the first minute. But for all her talk, she meets Koumi-san’s expectation defying with some serious low gravity fighting moves. Rounding out the cast is the dependable brick, Satoshi Hino’s Shou Iwaizumi. Tell him to do it, and he will. Unless it’s a bit complex, that is.
The Operations of the Show
It’s not about how much coal you throw, it’s about how you throw the coal
skylion: So with our characters in place we have a good premiere episode that builds this team up from start to finish. In the montage they covered quite a bit of training from engine operations and naming structure, weapons and defensive awareness, and station operations. They aren’t afraid to take risks to protect the public, and boy can she shovel coal the right way. I rather liked that detail, that you have to shape the coal and that it takes teamwork to maximize efficiency. All of them together bring the necessary skills to the story and bring us a good amount of action and suspense along the way. They were probably out of their depth in apprehending the purse snatchers, but you have to salute the attempt, they were someones heroes.
First day spent making beds on the train
Highway: Unfortunately, someone’s heroes isn’t their boss, who has to deal with the ruckus they made. Also, they were so far out of position, going all the way to the end of the line, that there had to be some toes stepped on. I couldn’t believe that they would have the discretion to travel that far from their base of operations. But throughout the show, I thought the animation from studio Passione, moving up to their first full-length TV show (their only other production is Haitai Nanafa, a short), was ok although there were a few continuity breaks (and were they on a steam train simulator? The holodeck? What was that?), and the story composition from Masashi Suzuki (not really a name that I follow but looking at their list of work it kind of lights a bulb above my head) falls right in line with other works he’s done, like Kanokon, Yuushibu, Sacred Blacksmith, and Shuffle. That explains the bit of ‘bounce’ and male gaze that we saw in the first episode here, and I’d expect that to definitely continue. The OP may be the best Minori Chihara song I’ve heard, and the ED, Overdriver by ZAQ, pulls out a electronica rap style that works pretty well, and gets back to ZAQ’s kinda unconventional sounds, a lot better than some of her recent efforts have been to my ears.
Boob gropes? Sure, why not
Though it looked to be rather basic in it’s plot and characters, I like where this is starting. It feels stable, like they got all the bases necessary to build up the rest of the story in the bag first thing, and can now concentrate on how these guys do their jobs. I’ll be taking this train to the next station….
I had a lot of fun watching this show, and I love that they worked a little bit of train information in, but without bogging it down too much. It will be enough to show some of the trains and mention some differences between them. I don’t know what they’ll do for some of the more modern trains, since they only showed what looked to be either a Type 0 or 200 series Shinkansen, and it was probably a Type 0 if they say the speed is 200 km/h (the 200 can reach 275 km/h). It’d be cool if they had some 700 series, but I won’t hold my breath. I will definitely keep watching, tho.