Koutetsujou no Kabaneri – 03

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“Please let the kabane eat these basic bitches before me, amen”

So we have steampunk samurai zombie…”vampires”. Yes, it’s time to update that lengthy list with yet another theme. Maybe next week we’ll have pirates and dragons too. Soon Irene and I won’t be able to keep track of it all!

Desperate to start off with a bang, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri has been going at a frantic pace right out the gates. It’s only now that things are slowing down and people are starting to sit down and explain what’s going on. I appreciate the attempt to give us backstory instead of just plowing through everything. Unfortunately, these quieter moments mostly just made me want to throw my hands up in the air.

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No, not that kind of putting my hands up

My aggravation comes from the sparks flying between Mumei and the panicked humans aboard the train. Okay, so I get why everyone is afraid of Mumei and Ikoma even though they saved their lives. Kabane are terrifying and it’s no surprise everyone is keen to paint these strange, unheard-of hybrids as villains. Considering that some people take a few days to turn into a kabane, Mumei’s insistence that they’ll remain sane doesn’t hold much weight. Still, these two saved their lives and they deserve to be ignored and locked in a spare compartment at the very least.

This is very much how a group of terrified people would act after such a traumatic event, but that explanation for their actions doesn’t make it any better to watch. It still isn’t fun to see these grave misunderstandings over and over again. We, the audience, know that Mumei and Ikoma really mean no harm and should be trusted. They’re practically the key to defeating the kabane, as they have superstrength and can be bitten without turning into the enemy. Everyone’s a little too spooked to realize they could be the perfect weapon to turn the tides and defeat the kabane. They have a ton of advantages for this world where just a single bite could mean death for a regular human. Honestly, I’d probably be first in line to be converted to a kabaneri if they perfected the method for not letting the “curse” spread to the brain.

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But when your whole city was reduced to ashes mere moment ago, sometimes you do stupid things. So this episode is basically humans screaming and freaking out at everything Mumei does. Sigh. Mumei’s reactions are equally frustrating, as she does absolutely nothing to quell the doubts of those who despise her. She could have consoled them and said “hey, I’m not going to hurt you!” or “hey, I broke my promise by busting out of here because I’m protecting you from a potential kabane hiding out here!”. Instead, she jumps around brandishing her weapon towards anyone who says anything bad about her. That’s not the way to earn the trust of people who are scared. Even worse was when she won over the trust of the women, only to freak them the fuck out by asking them for their blood out of the blue. An explanation would have been really helpful there! Maybe suggesting that someone pricks their thumb and lets it drip into a bowl instead of letting their imaginations run wild so they all instantly picture her chomping into their jugular. It’s no wonder the humans don’t trust her when she acts sketchier than an old man in a trench coat luring children to his white van with lollipops.

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Making friends 101: DON’T FUCKING DO THIS

Mumei also fails to tell Ikoma important little details…like that he’ll go into a frenzied bloodlust if he loses blood. That would have been 10x more useful than her horrible training that just consisted of kicking him around. I think the message here is that Mumei is extremely bad at communication, much like Hajime from Gatchaman Crowds. She never voices her inner thoughts and she relies on vague sound effects to try and portray her feelings. The message doesn’t come across, and as a result, she cannot connect with anyone. I think this is supposed to be an intentional aspect of her character, but when she’s vague to this extent she just comes off as idiotic. Even Ikoma is better at explaining things and all he does is scream at things!

Anyways, Mumei’s back and forth with the humans annoyed me to no end. At this point, I’d be happier if this show just cut her out completely and stuck with Ikoma. Which brings me to the parts I really did enjoy: anything not involving Mumei. It was nice to hear more about Ikoma and why he’s so determined and brave. It puts a lot more weight behind his previous actions of sacrificing himself to open the drawbridge. It shows that he’s already grown a lot from then to now – and he still has a lot of growing to do.

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That rock is going to important later on, isn’t it?

I especially enjoyed his interaction with Ayame, who is really proving to be a lot tougher than she looks. I like how she straight up shanked him in front of her men so they’d see Ikoma wasn’t a threat, and then sweetly apologized to him for shoving a blade into his ribs. Nice. It was a sweet moment when Ikoma admitted that he grabbed the knife instead of her because he was afraid of injuring her with his newfound strength. That was the perfect way to prove that Ikoma meant no harm…only for it to undermined with a sudden thirst for  blood. Admittedly, the pseudo-vampire thing feels a little random (zombies need brains, right?), but I’ll roll with it for now. It might be interesting later down the line. I just hope things don’t go too sour after he attacks such an important lady during a crucial moment.

…But this is Attack on Trains so of course it will go sour.

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Gotta throw in some moe in-between killing pregnant zombies

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A neuroscience graduate, black belt, and all-around nerd. You'll either find me in my lab or curled up in my rilakkuma kigurumi watching anime.
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26 Responses to “Koutetsujou no Kabaneri – 03”

  1. skylion says:

    Yeah, this is pretty much becoming of WiT and their Big Production writing style. For all it’s faults The Rolling Girs followed the basics of storytelling i.e. characters acting like people instead of trope-signalers, logical steps of cause and effect adhered to, and the school of yell don’t tell and don’t even show how characters are supposed to react to anything!

    I miss The Rolling Girls…

    • Overcooled says:

      I like the action, but the characters here really are walking and talking tropes so far. I hope things get a bit better, otherwise this will just end up as an extremely pretty but kinda dumb action series.

  2. BlackBriar says:

    Man does this series have some good music. The OP “KABANERI OF THE IRON FORTRESS” by EGOIST is awesome but the ED “ninelie” by Aimer with chelly (EGOIST) is just beautiful.

  3. BlackBriar says:

    Interesting developments. After this, I’m looking forward to Kabaneri all the more.

    When it comes to anything survival related, it’s pretty much a futile effort to expect rationality from a majority of people who are too scared to think clearly. Humans by nature reject anything not like them so it’s no surprise they’d still persecute Ikoma and Mumei despite the fact the same two defended their ungrateful asses. The two are being judged for what they are instead of who they are. Not to mention they can’t be controlled, otherwise the humans would be singing a different tune.

    My observations on Mumei have brought me to this conclusion. She’s focusing on her priority to get to her destination, not make friends. If people are cool with her, she repay them in kind but has no obligation to be friendly. Solely using her abilities as a bargaining chip to stay on the train. She knows she’s not a normal human and won’t pretend to be something she’s not to comfort others and be suffocated. The “what you see is what you get” mentality. That nonchalant “Just give me blood” had me in awe. Such a signature vampire sentence. Even better with her glowing yellow eyes for extra effect. How she went about that piece of information wouldn’t have mattered. Whether she was being straightforward or beating around the bush, the odds of the women’s reactions being different was slim to none. Adding her treatment of Ikoma, all evidence to Mumei not being a people person, not used to socializing. In spite of all that, I still find myself liking her.

    Regarding the Kabaneri anatomy, it’s an interesting thing. If comparisons had to be made, I can see similarities from other series. Three to be precise. First one is Hellsing showing conditions and consequences. If a human gets bitten by a vampire while still being a virgin, they become a vampire themselves (Seras Victoria) but if it’s a deflowered human instead, they become a mindless shambling ghoul/zombie. Second is Shiki. When slain victims revive, the majority are the kind isolated to the night (Sunako Kirishiki, Megumi Shimizu) while the select few are the type that can walk during daylight and nighttime hours (Tatsumi, Yoshie, Natsuno, Seishin). Third is Tokyo Ghoul. While that series established its Ghouls as vampire/zombie hybrids (ANN article: The Grim, Disgusting Magic of Tokyo Ghoul), having them prey on human flesh while self-aware and facing moral dilemmas, Kabaneri takes its Kabane in the opposite, more aggressive direction.

    Also, keep in mind that the Kabaneri are not absolute beings but a byproduct, accidents of providence both blessed and cursed who by right should be joining the ranks of the undead but got away nonetheless. Being at least half of the species, downsides are to be expected. Their “vampiric” qualities aren’t what I’d call random either looking back at the two previous episodes. Ikoma got into his predicament when he used his blood after wounding himself to lure a Kabane into his hut to test his gun. Then there’s the Kabane attacks. We see they don’t bite into their victims no more than once, mostly around the area of the neck (Like Ikoma’s sister) and there were no munching sounds. Which implies it’s not the flesh they’re after. Therefore Mumei and Ikoma’s hunger for blood is quite fitting. Plus it gives an idea as to what that guy dressed in white tagging along with Mumei at the beginning was. Maybe he was her livestock blood supplier.

    Ayame stepped up, earning herself some points and an increase in presence. In light of father’s death, I guessed she realized it was time toughen up and become a leader. Using Ikoma was shrewed but payed off greatly. Provided no one finds out about the ensuing incident, winning over Kurusu is the next step.

    A lot of pity to the unfortunate woman who turned into a Kabane while still pregnant. I don’t recall her getting bitten otherwise she’d have been dealt with immediately. Maybe she was at place some Kabane were being killed and some of their blood splashed into her mouth.

    • IreneSharda says:

      My observations on Mumei have brought me to this conclusion. She’s focusing on her priority to get to her destination, not make friends. If people are cool with her, she repay them in kind but has no obligation to be friendly. Solely using her abilities as a bargaining chip to stay on the train. She knows she’s not a normal human and won’t pretend to be something she’s not to comfort others and be suffocated. The “what you see is what you get” mentality. That nonchalant “Just give me blood” had me in awe. Such a signature vampire sentence. Even better with her glowing yellow eyes for extra effect. How she went about that piece of information wouldn’t have mattered. Whether she was being straightforward or beating around the bush, the odds of the women’s reactions being different was slim to none. Adding her treatment of Ikoma, all evidence to Mumei not being a people person, not used to socializing. In spite of all that, I still find myself liking her.

      Mumei is just so off putting to me, I just can’t get into her attitude. She seems foolish and brash, but with little reason why. If we get more backstory on her explaining why she acts this way, perhaps I can get more behind her, but so far, she’s a nope.

      In terms of her “vampiric” qualities, I like a good a vampire that has a reason for having that arrogance, and has some class to go along with it. With Mumei, her arrogance makes her seem more like a bully than anything else.

      Plus it gives an idea as to what that guy dressed in white tagging along with Mumei at the beginning was. Maybe he was her livestock blood supplier.

      She may have been getting blood from him perhaps, but he seemed to hold precedence over her. I would think that he was probably her keeper. He told her what to do and where to go and kept track of her.

      A lot of pity to the unfortunate woman who turned into a Kabane while still pregnant. I don’t recall her getting bitten otherwise she’d have been dealt with immediately. Maybe she was at place some Kabane were being killed and some of their blood splashed into her mouth.

      She was probably bitten off screen. So far that seems to be the only way a person is changed into one. All the soldiers and other characters who fight them off get kabane blood everywhere and they’re fine, so I have to think it’s in the bite.

  4. BlackBriar says:

    When you think about it, regardless of the train undergoing repairs, everyone outside with a campfire going on practically screams “Attack us now! We’re defenseless!” 😉

    Does anyone get a Princess Mononoke vibe just looking at the show’s animation and character designs? After Mumei announced her hunger for blood and the women’s reactions, just looking at them, especially with the white bandanas on their heads, I’m reminded of the women working in Eboshi Gozen‘s iron works furnace.

    • Overcooled says:

      Thankfully no one attacked them yet! Well, aside from one of their own turning into a kabane.

      Yeah, I know what you mean. The girls all have this kind of retro look to them, especially in closeups. Man, I need to rewatch Princess Mononoke now

  5. Di Gi Kazune says:

    Delicious Mikos.

  6. ProtoSovereign says:

    Ok, so Overcooled basically said most of the things I thought, but there were differences so I’ll elaborate a bit. Firstly I was equally pissed at Mumei and the ‘Human mob characters’. Mumei could have been more subtle for instance when she asked for blood like Overcooled said she could have explained a bit more. Or when the ‘mob’ confronted her about being ‘kabane’ she should have either showed them that they are powerless before her or that she’s an ally or neutrally aligned at least for the duration of the trip. As for the ‘mob’ trying to exterminate the kabenari… they’ve seen how powerless they were against kabane, now kabenari are basially sentient kabane/human hybrids on crack that wipe out kabane en masse… did they ever have a chance fighting her seriously? No, so they should have tried to not get on her bad side instead (given any intelligent thought this should be one of their top conclusions. I would like so say though that Ikoma still impresses me, and Ayame has stepped up too and impressed me

    • Overcooled says:

      Mumei not only failed to earn their trust, but she was so shady that she actually made them even more suspicious! Sigh. This is going to take a while…

  7. ProtoSovereign says:

    this ep just like BlackBriar said. Kabane needing blood and not going for the brain does kinda make sense though given that they have glowy golden hearts :)And Lastly I figure last ep that aimer sings in the ed too lol, the whole now I know why the singing sounds so good and very aimer.

    • BlackBriar says:

      The Kabane in the 1st episode went into Ikoma’s hut following the blood trail he left, not actually seeing him. It was a pretty solid hint whereas if it was regular zombies, you’d expect them to react to sudden movements or noises. It got distracted by the blood’s scent.

  8. ProtoSovereign says:

    Also I’ve completely gotten used to Mumei’s new outfit. I guess her old one would have been beyond silly given the situation they’re in.

  9. zztop says:

    Supposedly the Bluray preorders of Kabaneri are so high, it’s got its own meme on 2ch…

  10. IreneSharda says:

    My feels are pretty similar to that of my esteemed colleague.

    Okay, I only kind of liked Mumei before. She had some interesting qualities but she also was off putting for me sometimes. This episode just made her plain unlikable.

    She comes off brash, stubborn, unyielding, and just violent. I just don’t care for her at all. Girls who can fight is cool, but girls who just beat up on others because they can, does nothing for me. It makes me not like them at all. In fact, I’d have to say that I kind of like every other female character more that Mumei at this point. Ayame has become one of my favorites.

    As for the rest of the story, well, leave it to the writer of VVV to include a blood component. Mumei was cool for a couple seconds and then she went psycho asking for blood like it’s the most natural thing in the world. I wish they would get their plot straight in how all this works too. With Ikoma, his virus spread like wildfire in seconds. For this pregnant lady, it took days. How long is this supposed to take? Be consistent!
    Also, somehow the virus just doesn’t affect their brains, and so a Kabaneri is just a Kabane with a human mind? I guess these people don’t know what the circulatory system is, even though they are trying to use it for the plot.

    Sigh, didn’t care much for this episode, but I’ll see more I guess. The only part I really liked was Ikoma’s backstory. Everything else kind of fell flat.

    • BlackBriar says:

      Mumei was cool for a couple seconds and then she went psycho asking for blood like it’s the most natural thing in the world.

      Is it psycho? She’s just being honest. Hey, it’s better than beating around the bush. How it should be: Short and to the point. Either way, it’s silly to believe the women would’ve given a different reaction to what they already did give.

      • skylion says:

        I think the writers are going for brutally honest. In a typically ham-fisted fashion of these sorts of high action, “ain’t got time for subtlety” shows…

      • IreneSharda says:

        There’s honesty and then there is wisdom. I was thinking more in terms of her social skills. She was making progress with the women of the of the train by Charming the children. And one definite way to get to the hearts of the public is through the women and children. And yet, all that good will goes out the window when she asks for blood without any tact.
        Yes, asking for blood in any situation would be shocking, especially for the Japanese people of the 19th century. However, there are definitely better ways to ask than what she did. One such a way would be to talk to the princess alone and explain to her the situation and why she would need blood. Talking to one person, especially a person in charge, would do much better then talking out loud in a crowd, especially if you explain in a rational manner rather than talk brashly.

        Also we have no idea if she requires human blood or any kind could do. If she can sustain herself on animal blood all they would have to do was keep the remains of food for her and Ikoma. If she must have human blood, it would be harder, but they could assign somebody to let blood for them.

      • ProtoSovereign says:

        Mumei could have tried to reveal her need for blood in a less antagonising way, but hey its Mumei and I think we all understand that her social skills and ‘common sense’ had been thrown out the airlock ages ago.

    • Overcooled says:

      I liked Mumei in the beginning as well! This episode really just made her seem like a bully with no common sense. I hope her character arc involves learning restraint…

      The virus still makes no sense…I also don’t get how it can incubate for several days in some people but for Ikoma it immediately started crawling up his arm. Also, how on earth would a ribbon tied loosely around your neck even do anything to stop…well…anything?

      • BlackBriar says:

        The virus still makes no sense…

        Assuming it’s something natural than can be scientifically explained, which I seriously doubt. It’s getting talked about as if it was made in some bio-weapons lab. An organism that can turn people into humanoid man-eaters shouldn’t be considered normal. Plus it’s possible the effects vary by person.

      • Alexandre Martins says:

        Magic? But, seriously, I think they actually believe if you constrict your throat/neck somehow, it’ll stop the virous from reaching your brain. I’d see how a medieval person might think that, but see no excuse at all for the writer to do so. It’s really like they haven’t the slightest idea how blood circulation works. If it were only Mumei’s lace, I’d be inclided to think of a spell or something, but with Ikoma chocking himself to prevent the infection to spread to his brain, either they’re gonna say the virus (?) only runs under your epidermis or they really think that chocking prevents blood from getting to the brain… which is silly even by kindergarten standards. Also, what Mumei calls training Ikoma just seems like she’s taking her frustrations on him, because it’s nothing but pointless beating.

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