Outerhaven Anime: First Reaction – Kotetsujou no Kabaneri

Seid ihr das Essen? Nein, wir sind der Jaeger!

Oh wait… wrong anime…. Or is it?

This anime has everything you know and love about Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) without the titans! You have humans living inside of a walled city that they have built to protect themselves from the inhabitants of the outside world. You have steam-powered weapons to fight against said beings and you have the fateful day where the walls are breached! Replacing the titans in this show are beings known as Kabane. The Kabane are zombie-like beings that cannot die unless their hearts are pierced, but the problem here is that their hearts are wrapped in solid iron. Add in the fact that this show takes place within a steampunk era and you have a recipe that’s familiar, yet fresh at the same time. This is Kotetsujou no Kabaner,; also known as Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress!

First Episode Impressions

Aside from the similarities between Kabaneri and Attack on Titan (including the studio that’s producing the show – Wit Studio), you get some unique elements such as the way they treat their citizens. If you are bitten by one of the Kabane, you are arrested and thrown into a quarantine. Any resistance results in an instant punishment by death.

While the episode opens up to a thrilling train ride where the Kabane find a way on board, we are introduced to a rather large cast that’s almost immediately forgettable. There is a shocking moment where one of them is bitten and is held at gunpoint to use a suicide pack so that he wouldn’t turn into a Kabane and start attacking them. This drove home the kind of society that these people living in almost immediately. However, that opening sequence awkwardly transitions to focusing on a single character: Ikoma.

The reason why I feel it was awkward is because you see Ikoma on the train and then in the next scene, he’s working at Aragane Station where is a steam engineer. It takes you a moment to realize that the opening sequence of events takes place either before or after the transition. They don’t really make it all that clear, which is quite confusing. The biggest piece of confusion is when you see the train in the opening sequence splattered with blood journeying towards the city. Ikoma is on this train as he was testing out his steam-powered gun that will, hopefully, contain the power to pierce through the iron-coated hearts on the Kabane. Then you see Ikoma back in the city and the bloody train arrives. It’s at that moment where you wonder how he was in two places at once and it’s there where you realize that the opening sequence took place at a different time.

What makes it even more confusing later in the first episode, after the breach of the walls, Ikoma used his steam-powered gun and it was able to kill a Kabane, whereas on the train, the gun didn’t seem to be ready, but before he used it, Ikoma still wasn’t sure if it was ready and took a gamble when he shot the Kabane. That still begs the question of whether or not that opening sequence takes place before or after the bulk of the first episode… so right out of the gate, the pacing seemed just a bit off.

Despite this, Kabaneri does do things a little bit different than Attack on Titan through function of its main character. In Attack on Titan, Eren joined the Survey Corps who already had the weapons to fight the titans, but here in Kabaneri, Ikoma doesn’t belong to the military and he’s developing this steam-powered gun on his own in between his shifts at the Aragane Station. This gives us rebellious feeling to the main character that isn’t the type to be weak or the kind to second guess their actions. I think that Ikoma is a very solid main character so far.

While the story isn’t anything new here in Kabaneri, I’m hoping that future episodes will diversify themselves enough to where this won’t just be an Attack on Titan clone. I believe there is a very solid foundation here to build off of and it could end up being a much better story if done right.

OP & ED Impressions

There was no ending for episode one of Kabaneri, but the opening theme did serve as the ending song. The opening song’s title is the same as the anime’s title and it is performed by EGOIST, who famously performed the opening to Guilty Crown. The song starts off with EGOIST joining a haunting chorus which gives the illusion of an epic opening… and then the rest of the song happened and it just sounded terrible. Dissonant vocals, unmatched lyrics to the rhythm, sour notes… this song started out in epic fashion and just plunged into a hot mess. So much potential wasted.

Worth Watching?

YES – While there will be haters out there who will scream “CLONE” at this show, I think it’s doing enough to set itself apart and make itself feel unique. The story is similar, yet different enough to hold my attention and I want to see how one rebellious main character will end up standing against the Kabane. Right now, MyAnimeList does not list a total number of episodes so I am unsure if this will be 12/13 or 24/25 episodes long. I’m hoping for 25, but anichart.net does not have this listed as a Spring leftover for their Summer lineup so it could very well be a 12 or 13-episode series. Based on that, I worry that there will be rushed scenarios throughout the show, but I guess we will see. For now, I think it’s worth checking out.

About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.