Don’t look now, but that episode was actually kind of coherent.
Without any question that was the most logical, measured and sensible episode of Koutetsujou no Kabaneri so far. Now, sometimes with shows whose main stock and trade is being bombastic and frankly dumb, the absence of bombast and stupidity can leave something that’s just boring. But this was actually quite a good episode I thought – a needed breather from the breakneck pacing, and as usual bolstered by Wit’s strong work on the visual side.
If I were to call out Koutetsujou being Koutetsujou over anything, it would be the fact that Mumei (perhaps I should call her Hodsumi) was pretty much unrecognizable from earlier episodes. That’s a bit of a mixed blessing, because in those earlier episodes she was pretty insufferable so I guess I shouldn’t complain that she was so different, even if it wasn’t remotely believable. It’s always nice to see 2-D characters act like human beings, even if I wish we’d seen hints of it over the past six weeks.
That this series is a riff on Attack on Titan is so transparent that it seems pointless to even call it out, but the similarities are more striking than ever with the arrival of the Hunters (who have Survey Corps written all over them). The politics are eerily reminiscent too, but I’ll grant they’re sort of interesting in Kabaneri. It’s clear that the survivors inside these walled towns are the fortunate ones, and it seems they’re never too glad to see outsiders arrive to drain their precious resources. Just how does this shogunate system work – who determines who gets to live in a town with shops and Shrines, and who has to spend their lives riding an armored train from station to station, hoping not to be eaten?
The interlude with the shopping trip and the Tanabata theme is a pleasant diversion – better than one might reasonably have expected it might be given the first six episodes. But the meat of the story comes in the last few minutes with the Hunters’ grand entrance. We finally get to meet Mumei’s “brother”, Biba (Miyano Mamoru), and it turns out he’s the son of the Shogun. It also turns out that he was the one who took Mumei’s birth name away from her and made her into a fighter (I assume she’d already turned kabaneri, but I haven’t ruled out that having been done intentionally). So it makes sense that Ikoma doesn’t trust him. His pledge to turn her human and stuff her full of rice is noble (if a bit hackneyed) but it certainly signals a pretty big death flag for the main character…