Koutetsujou no Kabaneri – 12 [END]


Hmph, I was too good for this show anyway.

spring15-irenesWell, now that it’s all over, what can I say about Koutetsujou no Kabaneri? I guess it wasn’t the worst example of wasted potential I’ve ever seen…


winter15-ocHere we are for the big finale! There was quite a bit of hype for Koutetsujou no Kabaneri at the beginning of the season, but where has that gotten us? Let’s look back and see…


Some men just want to see the world burn…

Lofty Ambitions, Mediocre Results

OC// This is probably the best finale KnK could have pulled off at this point. A shallow series gets a shallow ending. There really hasn’t been a lot of development since episode 1, so it would be nigh impossible to suddenly pull out something deep and for it to be successful. The only thing there’s a place for is a series of badass action sequences, with a final scene that just sort of trails off. KnK doesn’t leave the viewer feeling any different as they did coming in. The status quo is maintained, and there’s not much that can be said about such an average series whose only remarkable point is how pretty the animation is.

Let’s take a look at Ikoma, our main character. He has barely changed since when he turned into a kabaneri in episode 1. The only difference is now he has shorter hair and one less hand to work with. His personality is indistinguishable from his episode 1 self. I can’t think of  any valuable lessons he learned aside from Mumei teaching him how to fight. He’s still a reckless and sometimes dorky ball of rapidly-fluctuating emotions. Mumei has changed from her grim outlook at the start, but it feels more like a by-product of her personality being highly inconsistent as opposed to a natural progression. At the very least, Mumei learned to doubt Biba and finally killed him in the end. It’s a shame she ended up being so aggravating despite her storyline being the most “developed.” If you can call it that.


Our players are set, time for the finish!

With such paper-thin characters, it’s no wonder the finale focuses on action and doesn’t try to attempt anything too emotional. For example, Mumei is saved from her wicked rampage by Ikoma approaching her and calling her name. That alone was enough to stop her – no fuss, no muss. He doesn’t have to scream any dramatic lines, or physically fight her, or do anything that would take more than a minimal amount of effort.


Cause we all know a mob is easily dispersed by a girl in a pretty outfit.

It felt rushed and just a little too easy. Ikoma saves Mumei, Biba gets killed, and then Ikoma gets saved by Biba’s last act of secretly stabbing Ikoma with the cure. Even Kurusu somehow manages to survive for a sappy ending. After all the action, we end with everyone riding off into the distance in search of a village that hasn’t been completely obliterated…which again, is just the same thing they’ve been doing this whole time. KnK has just been about them going from place to place and getting owned by Kabane  and/or Biba without exception. There was such a lack of creativity here given the unique mish-mash of steampunk and zombie concepts they had going.

Trains and Zombies, What Could Go Wrong? 


Irene// Honestly, to tell the truth I can’t say that I never had fun with this series. There was a lot of great moments and great elements to this series that I actually enjoyed. Yes, I’ve complained ad nauseum about the horrible writing, the inconsistent characters, and squandered potential. But Kabaneri wasn’t without some fun over the top ridiculousness. I guess I can sort of compare it to say many a Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich film, non-stop explosions and high energy moments, with not much else involved in the story, plot, or characters. Basically, Kabaneri is anime junk food.

As for this finale, there’s really not much to say. Nothing happens that you didn’t expect, not much happens at all really, and yet somehow they do do it all so spectacularly. The plot is simple, grab Mumei, escape the capital with the entire crew, and live happily ever after….somewhere? Ikoma and Kurusu’s two man team to save Mumei is just as over the top and explosive as you’d expect it to be. They both have plot armor thicker than the Great Wall of China, with sudden power ups that will allow them to do pretty much anything. Kabane? Psht, please they’re nothing but momentary nuisances at this point. Biba’s men, well now because the plot demands it, they’re nothing but goons that can easily be taken out. After having gone through this series, this should all be par for the course.


I honestly want to see the jet that is firing automatic weapons at this thing, because that kind of firepower really doesn’t come from anything else. 

Biba and Ikoma’s fight was okay, it was interesting that Ikoma’s mind was more so on saving Mumei then getting vengeance on Biba. While I applaud this, I can’t help but thinking that this was really all part of Ikoma simply using Mumei as an avatar for his own little sister and that saving her would be a way for him to make up for the fact that he wasn’t able to save her as a kid. It made it feel like it was really less about Mumei herself, and more about Ikoma dealing with his own survivor’s guilt complex. Mumei I feel, stayed a plot device until the end, and while she was able to to kill Biba in the end, it really didn’t feel as if she changed her co-dependent mindset, but instead switched from Biba to Ikoma. Especially when she declares that she will do anything Ikoma asks of her, even killing thousands of kabane. She actually went down to the lowest common denominator and became a damsel in distress, waiting for her prince to save her. I honestly felt nothing in regards to her finally being saved other than the fact that they accomplished their goal, on to the next thing.


Honestly, I think it might have been better if either Ikoma or Mumei had in fact died. Ikoma was the expected one, and I honestly think his death might have allowed Mumei to grow and become her own woman. If Mumei died, it might give this series the more solemn, serious tone that it was trying to have, at least in this last episode. With all the good guys making it out okay and going off into the sunset, I just feel as if it just fell flat. But I guess that’s the most you could expect from a show like this.

In the end everything goes as expected. Biba dies, though the reveal of he himself being a kabaneri was a bit of a surprise. Yet, if you think about it, it makes sense since they do mention male kabaneri as being rare, with Biba being the only one probably in their arsenal. Also, while Biba was crazy, he was a man who wasn’t afraid to go out on the frontlines with his men, and so it makes sense that he wouldn’t have had all these others turned into Kabane hybrids without having tried it on himself first.

So, what do I do now Orga Biba?

Biba was honestly the most enjoyable thing in this series. If he had had a better writer supporting him, he honestly could have been a very good villain, or even anti-villain. As it was, it honestly felt as if his character didn’t have anywhere to do after last episode. It was basically his plan to kill his father and destroy the capital as revenge, and then…that was it. He mentions going off to destroy other towns, but it really just feels like a throwaway line. Now that he’s gotten his vengeance, other than getting his men out safely, he really doesn’t seem to have any other plans. In face, I’d have to say that I think he’s glad that Ikoma came.

knk12034knk12052 knk12053knk12058

Ikoma, you saved me! I hearby declare you as my new Onii-sama! So…what do I do now, Ikoma?

Ikoma represents the better version of him, a person who believes as he does in regards to not letting fear rule you and to become stronger by facing your enemy rather than hiding your face from them like an ostrich. And yet, Ikoma has not become consumed with revenge as he has, he’s the chance for a new future, a man who can continue the long ago dreams he probably had before his father abandoned him and his 400,000 men on Kyushu. Ikoma is the hope for a new day, which is probably why he faces him, why he tells him to get up and continue fighting, and why before he dies, he gives him the white blood antidote.


One more time for the road!

In the end, everyone is happy and they are all a family (minus one Takumi), and they ride off on the Iron Fortress to….where exactly? I know the show wants to make you think that everything is hunky dory, but honestly where are they going to go? There are not that many stations left if any, the kabane have increased like wildfire, there is a huge chance that one of the survivors from the capital might have been bitten, and now there is no government at all. We’re all together, yay. But what about after that?

An interesting question for a sequel, but I honestly doubt we’re ever going to get that.



I think this series served it’s basic purpose. To serve as a placeholder for Attack on Titan without actually being Attack on Titan, and to give their animators and staff some practice before the real deal comes next year. We basically just watched a 12 episode warm-up exercise.

However thankfully, when the second season of Shingeki no Kyojin comes out next spring, we will have switched Okouchi for Kobayashi as series composer, and have gotten rid of script writer, Hiroshi Seko (of Owari no Seraph fame). Though beware, Mob Psycho 100, he’s coming towards you next. 🙁

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri served as a fascinating, experimental distraction. It had a huge amount of potential, and lot of lofty ideals. However, I honestly think the heart wasn’t there. Wit Studios wasn’t thinking about this show, they didn’t put forth their best effort, their minds on bigger and better things coming down the tracks (pun intended) soon in the future. They could have shot for the stars but the fumbled and barely cracked the troposphere.  


KnK is disappointing. It looks gorgeous, but there’s no substance behind all the glamour. Yeah, Ikoma looked really cool de-railing an entire train with his powers as the music swelled to a crescendo, but those visceral moments are the only thing up for offer. I demand a little more from my entertainment. The characters are dull at best and eye-rollingly annoying at worst. The story is the same thing over and over with villages constantly being destroyed by massive kabane invasions. New rules to the kabane/kabaneri thing are introduced all over the place in a sad attempt to spice things up. It’s a predictable, poorly-written show that just so happens to look really, really good.

I think a lot of people were expecting this show to be good considering the same staff as Attack on Titan were on board. This is a logical conclusion, since if someone makes something you like it’s plausible they can do that again. I mean, like, obviously. It’s hard to separate your expectations from what you’re actually watching, but I feel that even if you just judge KnK on its own merits that it still underperforms. It’s not just that it failed to be another Attack on Titan, it’s that KnK fails to be an inherently good show beyond showing us some flashy violence. It has some great action moments and a few nice scenes here and there, but everything else is flat. Just so slightly below average, I can’t recommend anyone to go out of their way to watch KnK when better action shows exist that get all the other aspects right as well.


‘Honestly Mumei, did you understand anything of what just happened?’

‘Just smile Ikoma, just smile and wave.’


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22 Responses to “Koutetsujou no Kabaneri – 12 [END]”

  1. BlackBriar says:

    Kabaneri will get two compilation editions that will screen in theaters in Japan (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress Gets Theatrical Compilation Editions) and will be one of a handful of series to get an English dub and BD/DVD release from Crunchyroll (Crunchyroll to Dub, Release Anime on BD/DVD).

    Hmmm… Crunchyroll beat Funimation to the punch. I was sure the latter would get the licensing rights unopposed.

  2. BlackBriar says:

    A great high end and open ended finale to an awesome series. Epic, intense and glorious. That said, a continuation doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility and with remnants of both sides of the battlefield now cooperating, future events should be even more interesting and I personally want to see more of that world. It all felt like a prologue, anyway. The Japanese support Kabaneri’s getting is a good enough sign. If it does come, count me in! I’ll definitely be there.

    Biba was an odd individual but it became clear to what his deal was. He eventually came to resent human nature itself, that in actually humans are their worst enemy. Earlier episodes, he told Mumei that thanks to the Kabane, the true enemy had been identified. Mainly because the Kabane served as a threat and with that threat, pushed humans to their limits and as a response, show who they really are underneath. Unethical maybe to some but a fascinating and frighteningly true point of view.

    The manner of Biba’s death was fitting. Killed by the subordinate he so diligently molded to faithfully follow him without question. Ironic and poetic. At least Mumei… I mean Hozumi is free now. She and Ikoma make the better sibling-like pair.

    Overall, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress/Koutetsujou no Kabaneri was my favorite of the Spring 2016 season. An action packed zombie thriller, fast paced, purely fun from start to finish and never boring. All it should and ever needed to be. Predictable? Maybe but doesn’t mean it can’t still bring satisfaction. Entertainment value is the determining factor.

    The cast steadily grew on me, especially Mumei/Hozumi who was no trouble to tolerate based on her circumstances that earned her sympathy and wise guys like Sukari. It never felt cheap because it was never a deep story aiming to deconstruct the tropes of its genre or do anything else that would’ve made it go out of its way, making itself something it had no intention of becoming. If there’s a reproach, it’s that what was necessary was a few more episodes to stretch things out. There was never the impression the entire story would’ve flourished with a single cour.

    WIT Studio does an amazing job. Action scenes are fluid and filled with energy & the character designs were well done. Had a lot Princess Mononoke vibes thanks to that. Not to mention getting my fill of human nature observation when their feet are put to the coals. Kabaneri’s biggest offering.


  3. BlackBriar says:

    I think a lot of people were expecting this show to be good considering the same staff as Attack on Titan were on board. This is a logical conclusion, since if someone makes something you like it’s plausible they can do that again.

    Those who continually seek to compare the two always neglect two critical points that make a rift of a difference. First: Attack on Titan is a manga adaptation while Kabaneri is an original work. Second: It’s about who made the story. The former is from manga author Hajime Isayama and the latter from Ichiro Okouchi. That’s as different as day and night, so expecting an otherwise carbon copy is out of the question.

    The former is one with an already lengthy story waiting for a copy/paste to animation while the latter is making its own headway into territory that hasn’t been paved for it. Taking that into account, saying it’s from the same staff means absolutely nothing, has no bearing at all. Instead, all that’s saying is that it’s a different series using the same animators, directors and music composers.

  4. skylion says:

    ^^^^This is the only train that matters for the purpose of this discussion^^^^

    I won’t belabour the point. This show was nothing but hot garbage from start to finish. To OC and Irene. A very good, tasteful take down. You’ve both triumphed over this smear of style over substance. See you for the Summer shows! It can only get better from here!

  5. zztop says:

    An interesting question for a sequel, but I honestly doubt we’re ever going to get that.

    I’ve heard Kabaneri’s Blurays have been selling well with the Japanese viewers. Provided this can translate into a tidy profit after expenses, the studio could want to make a sequel (similar to how Cute Defense Club’s sales warranted a S2). The only thing that would stop them now is a busy schedule, especially since they’re making Attack on Titan S2 for Spring 2017.

    They’ll be releasing a 2-part movie compiling the anime’s events for this December and Jan 2017, likely to draw in an even bigger audience and fanbase (Which means improved animation and extra scenes).

    • IreneSharda says:

      I honestly just don’t see how they can make a sequel since there’s not much of anywhere that they can go. All of your villains are pretty much dead and a new kabane or kabaneri would just seem redundant. Also like you said they basically have a full schedule next year so I see them concentrating on that and may be a few movies they have lined up.

    • BlackBriar says:

      It’s not just the Japanese showing favor to Kabaneri. Take a look:

      MAL Users and their Spring 2016 Anime Season Hits and Misses

      • IreneSharda says:

        I would not call MAL rankings as much of an authority on anything. They are too flimsy and even if you wanted to use the rankings as any sort of authoritative indication of something, you should take the ranking around a week after the show has ended, not in the middle of the series, which is when this particular article was written.

        In fact if you really look at that article, of all the hits and misses that they have listed, Kabaneri had the largest percent drop, from being ranked #377 as of June 21st (when that article was written), to plummeting to #1274 as of today now that the series is done. Not really a good example of a show of favor.

        But like I said, MAL rankings are honestly not the best evidence to base anything on. There are too many parameters and variables to consider. If you like a show, like it because of your own interests, not because of what some site ranks it as.

        • skylion says:

          Seconded. Here, here! The only thing I can add is: lists like these are very useful to prop up a bias, one way or another. If you want the best list, try Franz! 😉

    • BlackBriar says:

      Kabaneri ranks second place on a Japanese poll for best anime of Spring 2016:

      ANN article: Japanese Poll Ranks Re:Zero Best Anime of Spring 2016

  6. zztop says:

    …Well, at least they didn’t end it with a Thriller-style danceoff with zombie MJ.

  7. ProtoSovereign says:

    Oh, Kabeneri, all bark and not bite, all crust but no filling? Idk, basically this show knows how to make a scene, how to get hype going and adrenaline rushing. It just can’t do anything else properly and often doesn’t even try to. At least, Guilty Crown can still safely maintain its throne of most wasted potential in an anime. More importantly how does Ikoma fire his gun without a way of pulling the trigger? This isn’t FMA where auto-mail engineer’s somehow figured out how to connect nerves to prosthetic limbs. Can someone explain this to me?

    • IreneSharda says:

      Guilt Crown? Ha…that’s a big contender as well, but it doesn’t surpass the Show That Shall Not Be Named, for some of the most egregious wasted potential ever seen in a series.

      As for his arm, I made that comment last episode when he decided to bolt the darn thing to his arm. How exactly does bolting it to your arm allow you to pull the trigger?
      Anime magic is the only thing I can think of. 😀

      • ProtoSovereign says:

        the Show That Shall Not Be Named

        What?! There’s a show that infamous?! Pls do tell me what it is, put it in spoilers if you must, a show that crashed harder then Guilty Crown is something I need to know about! Show ▼

        • Highway says:

          I’ll name it, it’s probably Aldnoah Zero. Irene thought that things would be different for the second series, cause it promised that it would change. And like that lover who broke your heart before, it didn’t change. 😉

        • BlackBriar says:

          She’s deeply traumatized by it since it used one of her favorite genres (mecha) so asking her won’t do unless you want to deepen that trauma. I, however, am the brave soul who dares to mention that infamous series’ name no matter how terribly bad it played out. The name is Aldnoah.Zero, a split cour series.

          Go find the final post for that series around here and see for yourself why it’s heavily blacklisted, especially by hardcore mecha fans.

        • IreneSharda says:

          I forgot you weren’t around here during that travesty. I’m referring to the series known as *gag* Aldnoah.Zero.

          I hate that show. I don’t say that very often, but I actually hate it. It had so much to work with that it honestly took effort in order to make it fail as much as it did. I at least didn’t care by the time Guilty Crown was over. With Aldnoah Zero, they kept stringing you along until that craptastic ending.

          It’s one of few times I can say that Highway was right and I was wrong. 🙁

          • ProtoSovereign says:

            Hmmm, I guess that’s why I didn’t know what you were talking about. I rank the most lost potential in hyped anime with Guilty Crown as 1st, Kabeneri as 2nd, and Aldnoah.zero as 3rd. I didn’t consider Aldnoah nearly as bad as the Guilty Crown becuz it didn’t really screw up really hard anywhere, it just didn’t use it’s potential well and the event’s didn’t go in a direction that anybody liked.

            • Highway says:

              It wasn’t a hyped show as much, but my most lost potential actually goes to Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai. One of the best character designs I’ve ever seen, Aya Endou and Hiro Shimono as the main characters, an interesting premise, some good decisions made as far as body image (like actually showing Lisara as a sensual person even with burns), and a possibly good story arc, but it was really harmed by things like every monster looking the same, too much dithering about the ending crisis, a weird overlay on the screen throughout that just looked bad, and some other decisions that were maybe interesting but didn’t work out so well (tentacle rape not interesting, having Lisara fight topless for an entire episode ended up going a little too long, although it was interestingly not depicted as embarrassing or demeaning). I wanted to like it a lot, but it really just wasn’t that good of a show with all that stuff.

              The only show that might (might) have had a better character design that was a worse show was Campione with Erica Blandelli.

      • ProtoSovereign says:

        Spammy strikes again :/

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