Koutetsujou no Kabaneri – 02


Spider-men, Spider-men, do whatever spiders can. 


“You become the monster you fear the worst, so the monster won’t overtake you.”

-Suzanne Weyn



spring15-irenesThis episode we are introduced to the titular creature, which if you are any kind of genre savvy, you knew was coming. The Kabaneri: not human, not kabane, but somewhere in between. The  idea of these creatures should come as a surprise to no one. This is the director and studio that created Shingeki no Kyojin and the writer of Valvrave, remember?  

But what is it we can tell about this hybrid creature that our heroine is and our hero has become? Well, we can see of course that they are mostly still human in nature, they still have their minds, their personalities, and their sense of self. And yet they also seem to have some of the best parts of the Kabane zombies as well. Their nervous system has been compromised and they have an increased resistance to temperature and pain in general. They are also stronger and more agile as well. It was interesting to watch the changes in Ikoma and yet, to see that he doesn’t even realize it.


Bro moment!

It’s great to see that despite all the power that these Kabaneri have, basically making them superhuman, they seem to have some weaknesses too. There seems to be some kind of time factor, a time limit before they become so lethargic and must sleep. With Mumei we see the kabane blood traveling through her veins as she rests after her headlining scene as a one-woman army. We’ll get to that scene later, but I am interested in finding out more about the weaknesses of the Kabaneri and how that will affect the overall progress of the story.


Well, at least they allow you a running start…

Speaking of the progression of the plot, everyone is running and cramming to get to the titular iron fortress, the Koutetsujou. They are chased by some of the most interesting (aka inconsistent) zombie kabane, that will shamble and groan without any sort of intelligence one minute, and then run faster than the wind, with strength and agility of a spider and potential for strategy and cognitive thinking.  The lord of this village has gone off on his own with his men to secure the train(anyone with any genre experience knows what this means. Yep! Bye-bye, douche lord!), and the lack of leadership, has the bushi and Ayame-hime standing around directionless. This once again shows a bit of the issues with the feudal system that we see in place, but thankfully Mumei isn’t going to let that stop her from doing her job. I enjoyed seeing her in action, though I do think that a good chunk of that scene was “spoiled” in the previews, so it wasn’t as if I didn’t know she was capable. And of course, anyone genre savvy would have taken that scene as a large clue to the reveal about what the girl really is in the end.


In death as he was in life….still gumming up the works.

Most of the episode is a lot of running, chasing, and yelling as everybody runs for safety. Well…all that is, except for our one-track minded genius main character.

Ikoma might be intelligent and forward thinking and not afraid to speak his mind, but like many geniuses who are good at having book smarts, they are not necessarily adept at having street smarts. And Ikoma is rather naive. The fact that common sense is not common is not a new concept, and that applies to this setting here as well. He feels that if he can just explain, everyone else can see what he sees and feel as excited as he feels. His mind is totally centered on his discovery, to the point where he almost seems to be on a different wavelength than everyone else. Unfortunately, again, he’s a man before his time, and many a man with vision, can see farther and beyond what others without such vision can see.


Annnddd….sometimes they also seem be unable to see the forest for the trees.

Ikoma is at times so tuned into his own wavelength that he fails to really notice the danger or the immediate issues that are right in front of him. A wise person would know to stay low after having such an encounter with the kabane, because it is no secret what the samurai/bushi will do to you if they find out you’ve been bitten. And Ikoma ends up learning this lesson the hard way.


And what about that rather awesome speech? Definitely made to get your heart pumping, I loved it. It does show that despite his single focus, he truly does have his heart in the right place, and does show heroic qualities, including courage and bravery. You want to cheer for him, comfort him for the wrong that he has endured you want to condemn those who have condemned him. Just as he does. And yet–I can’t. I can also see the position of these people who may not be of like minds with him. They are scared and they are in survival mode, not knowing if in the next moment they are going to live or die. I know I’d rather take the precaution then suffer consequences I could have avoided. So while you can easily take Ikoma’s side as the audience, I like that the other side of the argument is also reasonably understandable.


Brave ones, fair ones, cool ones, dead ones…

There are two different and opposite archetypes of women in this series so far (not including as-of-yet minor characters). There is the confident, strong but a little too overly playful Mumei, and the prim, proper, but completely out of her depth, Ayame.

Mumei proves to be quite the genki lady warrior.  I know that quite a few watchers (especially our male viewers) are already taken with her. I myself like her, but just not as much as other people. I am more of a fan of the more stoic, serious fighter ladies, maybe with a wry sense of wit and humor. Sort of like a Mikasa, or a Black Widow. Mumei is a little too easygoing and playful for me, sometimes it feels like she doesn’t take the situation seriously enough. I mean her genki levels haven’t reached Hajime level or anything, but I’m interested in seeing the growth of her character in the future. She does have some serious scenes, such as when she talks to her previous handler before his death, so I have to think that she does have a side that it not all fun and games. Hopefully we’ll get to see more of it.


The Kabaneri work hard for the money…so hard for it, honey. They work hard for the money, so you better treat them right!

I assume that she will be taking on the role of Ikoma’s trainer and mentor as she guides him into this new life as a Kabaneri. Yet, the reveal near the end also has some other interesting implications. Mumei has been one for some time, and obviously her handler and Ayame’s father all knew what she was. That was why she was able to skip inspection when she arrived. So, it seems that at least the higher-ups do know about the fact that there is such a thing as human/kabane hybrids. And yet, considering that the handler still decides to commit suicide rather than become a Kabaneri, tells me that there is more to this process than we know. Ikoma obviously only scratched the surface and committed to an experiment full force before taking into account all the variables. However, I’m glad they decided to at least acknowledge the fact that blocking a virus from getting to the brain (however impossibly done), is completely useless in halting the virus’ course. I’m still waiting for a full explanation, but it also looks like there might be a little more conspiracy involved than what we had first realized.


Make of this scene what you will. 


So this episode, we have finally moved on the Koutetsujou and we are on our way to…where exactly? I assume that we will have a destination in mind, but I expect a lot of problems along the way, and that most our time will be spent on the train. Ikoma will be feared and treated as an outsider for some time to come, but that’s to be expected. We will probably also get more information in regards to his sister and what both the kabane and the Kabaneri are and how long they have been around. Also, what was Mumei and her chaperone doing in the city in the first place? And what was their destination? A lord was mentioned. Could this be Mumei’s mysterious older brother? We’ll just have to see, next time on Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress!


Sleepy Mumei says, “see you next time!


A Chicagoan biochemist, teacher, and an aspiring virologist, with a love for science only rivaled by my love for movies, animation, and anime. Both a lover of action/adventure and romance, I'm a girl who walks the entire spectrum. Mecha, Sci-Fi, Psychological Thriller, Romantic Period Piece, if it's has a good story, I'm there.
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34 Responses to “Koutetsujou no Kabaneri – 02”

  1. skylion says:

    So much of this episode is very typical of what I guess we can only call the WiT style? Just like we say shows are very KyoAni or typically Shaft, we can probably chalk big set pieces with sketchy connection up to this studio now; at least for the short term, and at least for they silliness of short-handing, “studio is this thing” a whole horrible writing technique and shoehorning it into one studio.

    But the big set pieces work for the very broad entertainment factor, and it’s not changed much since the first episode.

    I find it interesing that we both find Mumei a little to much of the one note but for different reasons. I’m fine with her personality type, as I feel her nature vs. the grim environment is a contrast you can mine for drama. But, and this is where I think our opinions converge, the production just wants a moebomb and isn’t really thinking about any contrast or drama, as least not yet…

    Overall, I’ll keep watching this. It makes little sense, but it’s big and dumb and fun…

    • sonicsenryaku says:

      that’s exactly it; that’s exactly my gripe with mumei. She sticks out like a sore thumb precisely for this reason

      • skylion says:

        …generally speaking I’m fine with the character, she just feels like she could fit a touch better into her scenes. Contrast needs finesse…

    • IreneSharda says:

      It definitely is the “Wit Style” but I think they know what’s popular and what makes money, so they stick with it.

      I think I understand what you’re saying about Mumei, and I think I agree as well. She feel like she’s there for “drama”. Mikasa was popular, and they’re like “Hey! What if Mikasa was cuter and girly, and all those other traits that Japanese like in a female?” And then they went with it. I’m hoping she ends up being more than just that though, but we’ll have to wait and see.

      • BlackBriar says:

        I think they know what’s popular and what makes money, so they stick with it.

        Such is the aim and priority of any business. Practically all of WIT Studio’s productions end up under Funimation’s license (Attack on Titan, Seraph of the End, Rolling Girls) and Funi’s policy includes not dubbing a series they believe won’t turn a profit.

      • ProtoSovereign says:

        That does seem to be the case here lol, your assessment of Mumei’s character conception that is.

  2. ProtoSovereign says:

    Well one thing I enjoyed was that Ikoma didn’t have a post transformation 180 degree personality change, I absolutely hate it when that happens. Btw which outfit do you guys like more? Mumei’s original outfit or her new puesdo bushi outfit? What about Ikoma? Normal engineer outfit or his kabenari look with all his clothes shredded and with bolts and stuff stuck in him?

    • skylion says:

      I’m just happy to see that Kotori from Phantom World found work this season…But it’s too bad those powers didn’t transfer from show to show, they’d come in useful against the kabane…

      • ProtoSovereign says:

        I still haven’t gotten to watching musaigen no phantom world…

    • BlackBriar says:

      All of my votes go to Mumei’s bushi outfit. No disrespect to her kimono. It’s cute but too simple, too plain and just lacking in impact. Whereas her new outfit exudes how badass, powerful and combat ready she is.

      Ikoma’s look shows exactly what he’s experiencing: An identity that’s now been warped.

    • IreneSharda says:

      For Mumei, I’m not sure. I like her hair more in the original style, but I like her battle outfit. As for Ikoma, his kabaneri look give his more edge. 😛

      • ProtoSovereign says:

        Yeah, that’s for pointing that out. I think the biggest thing take makes Mumei look different wasn’t even the outfit, it was the hair lol. And yeah Ikoma’s knew look gives him more edge but the ripped pants and random cloth draped over his otherwise topless body remind me of a hobo for some reason XD.

        • IreneSharda says:

          It’s all about how the torn look is drawn and of course the character themselves. The unkempt look can be rugged and handsome on one guy, and make another guy look like a total bum. It’s also about how the guy carries himself that really makes the difference.

          • ProtoSovereign says:

            Too true, if it wasn’t for Ikoma being Ikoma I would have mistakened him for a bum. But no bum carries themselves with such conviction, vigor and purpose. That said the hole in his pants is distracting >.> Me: dude you need a new set of clothes XD just take a page from Mumei’s book on grabbing new clothes.

          • ProtoSovereign says:

            Actually, Ikoma might also looks pretty good (clothing wise) due to the red cape/mantle. Long swishy capes, mantles, cloaks, hooded cloaks, long coats etc. I think you get the idea always make you look more impressive. Though Ikoma probably just tore up some red cloth and draped himself in it like a king 🙂

  3. zztop says:

    The anime website has some important worldbuilding info on the setting.

    -The setting’s an alternate 19th century Japan
    -The winning feudal lords/daimyo from the Sengoku period chose to open up the country instead of closing its borders, and over 300 years built a peaceful and tranquil realm
    -Trade with outside countries meant that Hinomoto was able to bring in a lot of industrial technology, leading to the steampunk meets ancient Japan look
    -The Kabane outbreak apparently started in Western Europe. The daimyo began preparing their country to face the threat in the off chance that it would come to their shores. The fortress and train network was established as a result. The Kabane eventually arrive in Kyushu and overrun the land
    -The network is the only safe haven remaining in Japan, and no one was able to go against the shogunate that controlled it

    • skylion says:

      Yeah, this scans pretty good. I’m sure there are holes in there somewhere, but they need time to fill in. I’m thinking points four and five beggar belief a bit too much. It doesn’t answer why this awesome train network exists without having to fall back on The Rule of Cool. Now, that’s fine by itself, you can do a lot with RoC. But the one thing you don’t have to do with it is explain why it’s there. We know already…it’s Cool. Explaining it just exposes shoddy reasoning, making it Not Cool.

    • BlackBriar says:

      The Kabane outbreak apparently started in Western Europe.

      At this point, it would probably save time just saying that 70% of creepy supernatural happenings occur in Europe.

      • skylion says:


        • BlackBriar says:

          I said 70%. It would’ve been ridiculous if I said it was 100%. This was nothing more than an approximate estimation.

          • skylion says:

            Blah, Europe keeps giving us the same old vampire garbage year in year out. 70% blah. I eagerly await our creepy haunted sandal monster overlords…

    • ProtoSovereign says:

      So the daimyo were just like, okay an pandemic has been released in Europe. Now lets fortify our castle towns and wait for them to send a ship filled with kabane to kyushuu and call it a day? lol what a life.

    • IreneSharda says:

      I’m sorry, but considering that 19th century Europe and the rest of the West had way better weaponry than these “steam guns” and also more space and resources to hold out against the threat than the Japanese have, I can’t think that the everywhere else suddenly got overrun and Japan is the only remaining safe haven. But I doubt we’re going to go much into that anyway. But if all this history is true, then trying to defeat the Kabane is going to be a near impossible job for just our cast, unless they either decide to drive the Kabane from Japan and then just close their boarders completely, or there is some sort of kill switch involved where if you kill the main one, all the others will die as well.

      • skylion says:

        Irene I think this is one of those settings where:

        Steam Jackhamer>>>Steam Katana x Gun>>>Steam Katana>>>Katana>>>Gun>>>real stuffs

        • IreneSharda says:

          Well, technically, I think at least two of those previous weapons are considered “real stuffs”. 😛

        • ProtoSovereign says:

          HAHAHAH, that reminds me of talk about space magic from mass effect. because if you simplify things a bit mass effect’s “biotics” is just space magic. It also reminds me of something about how adding space to everything just makes it better but I can’t remember where that line if from.

  4. BlackBriar says:

    Wow, Irene, this is a surprise. I knew on and off, you’d watch a show like this but I didn’t think you’d blog one. First Impressions are exceptions since most tend to be made by multiple bloggers.

    Anyway, Kabaneri gave a satisfying follow up entry.

    Yeah, not hard to guess what a “Kabaneri” was if the enemy are called “Kabane”. Basically, a human with an affliction derived from the enemy that gives them exceptional benefits. I knew it was too good to be true about Ikoma escaping his infection unscathed. In Mumei’s case, dispatching a Kabane with a hidden blade, such a feat would be called skill. But when she easily wrecked that old guy who was not only twice her height but also should be heavier before rooting out that horde of Kabane, easy to figure she couldn’t be a regular human. The red markings on her skin finalized the confirmation. What to wonder now is what the percentage of victims becoming Kabaneri is. 5, maybe 10% out of 100.

    That aside, since Kabaneri are hybrids, fair to assume they’re more durable than either sides of their nature. Like if they’re targeted, using the method of killing Kabane on them is likely to have dull effects.

    Mumei steals the show effortlessly. Her attitude doesn’t put me off at all. To me, she comes off as one who has adapted to whatever change came to her and her actions like what transpired this episode are now merely commonplace. As though it’s just another day, nothing unusual is going on. She’s a seasoned combatant while all others are green horns. You can also assume her behavior is from a form of arrogance since she has enhanced graces that make her (and surely anyone else) confident.

  5. BlackBriar says:

    Alright, Spammy. Cough it up!

  6. BlackBriar says:

    MAL article: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress vs Attack on Titan

  7. Overcooled says:

    I want to learn more about the kabane and kabaneri, but I fear they won’t be able to come up with any decent logic behind it. I’m also pretty sketched out at the way the kabane are shambling corpses one minute and speed demons who can hurtle through the air the next. It’s weird. And the whole hybrid thing seems very hard to explain. So then again, maybe I don’t want them to try and explain it…

    This was an action-packed episode and it certainly did well at that. The budget really shows, because it looked gorgeous! Man, this is gonna be a fun series to follow!

    • skylion says:

      …Low Budget Podcast!!!!

    • ProtoSovereign says:

      Maybe the Kabane are like hackers in games and have an on/off switch to their speed hacks. You could say that sometimes they ‘toggle on’ 😉 if know what I mean.

    • BlackBriar says:

      Maybe the Kabane have limited reserves of energy, slouching around to preserve it but use it going into a sprinting burst when they realize they’re close to their prey. If you were a predator, I doubt you’d go all out when your target has a considerable distance away from you.

      Well, this is the same studio and team behind Attack on Titan’s adaptation, so that’s a given.

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