Koutetsujou no Kabneri – 03

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The bubble is usually pretty crowded around this part of a season, especially one with a schedule as packed as this one.  When a show is a popular as Koutetsujou no Kabaneri, there’s always a little extra temptation to look past the rough edges a bit more than usual – make allowances and try and keep the series on the schedule.  But I’ve learned that road is fraught with danger, and I try to avoid walking it these days.

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri has rough edges aplenty, but it certainly has a lot to recommend it (and not just that it airs on a slow day).  The budget clearly slipped considerably this week but the show is still one of the best-looking on the air – not only nicely animated but featuring excellent cinematography and direction.  And it’s hybridized monster-movie premise holds a measure of interest, curiosity on what direction it will take if nothing else.

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However, the truth of it this series is pretty dumb.  Dumb can work in horror-thrillers if they have a good sense of humor and no sense of self-importance, and we’re right on the edge of that being the case here.  The dialogue ranges from cheesy to awful, and Mumei is a nightmare mashup of most of the annoying character cliches out there.  But there is a genuine tension in the air, and I quite like the whole idea of an armored train winding its way through a forest of zombies protected only by two vampires.  I mean, sure – I’m game.  But what was with that guy’s random English in the middle of the episode?

We’ll see.  I can afford to carry Koutetsujou no Kabaneri for another week or two, and it does offer some of the best-looking action of the season.  I want to like it and I don’t dislike it, so there’s still room for hope if not necessarily expectation.



  1. M

    I liked the first episode well enough and I found the second episode to be pretty thrilling. This third episode has definitely hit the brakes a bit though. I just found it to be a strangely put together. There was the strange English-speaking guy that showed up briefly as you mentioned. More importantly, I was left perplexed by the two female leads. Mumei is either really dumb or so socially inept that she can’t help but make situations worse. Leader girl (I forget her name) stabbing Ikoma was also incredibly dumb. No matter how inclined she is to believe in Ikoma and Mumei, stabbing him just seems unnecessarily risky.

    The episode also showcases the other members of the crew as being ruled by their fear. It seemed a major theme of the show would be to not live in such a manner, but it turns out their fear was pretty well founded. Mumei is kind of crazy and Ikoma loses control. Undermining a major theme of the show in the third episode seems like a strange move.

  2. C

    This thing with the token eccentric character speaking half-Japanese, half Engrish is becoming a cliche.

    It was a slower episode, sure, but it was still all right. But yeah, Mumei… did she really need to be all creepy and ask for blood in front of the people who are terrified of her?

  3. N

    That person is clearly a foreign immigrant, probably one of a wave of engineers involved in the kickstarting of the local industrial revolution, who ended up trapped there when the zombie apocalypse occurred. He’s a side character, but he’s useful to give a bit of context to the world: other places are just as if not worse off than Japan.

  4. This show is incredibly frustrating to watch because almost every character is constantly whining or being overly dramatic about something. That said, I have to agree the show is well animated and choreographed. Ikoma’s past is the oldest cliche in zombie fiction, having to put down a loved one who has turned, but I’m quite the sucker for it.

  5. J

    In this episode I got the first hint that Mumei is not just meant to be some precocious girl, effortlessly outclassing all the other characters, but rather an emotionally stunted, feral character. As stylish as the anime makes her seem, I think her disdain for everyone isn’t just aloofness, but more a real lack of humanity, coupled with immaturity. Her playing with children and then immediately becoming hungry made me think this. I like this angle because often her character’s actions would be extremely jarring tonally.

    Then again, at the end of the ep she does have a reaction to killing a pregnant woman. (Which confuses me on some fronts – surely there’s nothing that could’ve been done other than killing that woman, and also, was that woman bit or did she get cursed some other way?) So we’ll see where that goes.

  6. I suppose one could imagine that perhaps she could be killed in a way that left the baby unharmed, and then an emergency C-section could be performed? Though the virus seems to spread through blood, so I wouldn’t be so sure the baby would be still safe anyway.

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