OP: 「KABANERI OF THE IRON FORTRES」 by EGOIST
An Audio-Visual Splendor:
This is the relentless zombie action thriller we’ve all been waiting for. Or at least I have. Is it deep or thought provoking? Not really. Is it especially original? No. Is it subtle in any way? Hell no. Luckily, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri doesn’t have to be any of those things. All it has to do is entertain. If you expect insight into the human mind or are hoping for some transcendent storytelling, then your expectations aren’t aligned with what is intended here. I said it last week, and I’ll say it again: this is probably one of the best action anime I’ve seen in the longest time. Sometimes you just want to watch something that grabs you by the throat, straps you in, and screams in your face for 22 minutes every week. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like pure fun to me.
It helps that the series is a feast for the eyes and angelic to the ears. While the quality and detail of the art fluctuates depending on the importance of the scene (and by fluctuates I mean anything between very good to gorgeous), it was the music that caught my attention most this week. The OP is freaking epic (and as I expected, comes with updated visuals), and the ED is serene and lovely, showing a gentler side to this blitzfest. Meanwhile, the OST throughout this episode, especially in the heavy action sequences, was as adrenaline pumping as you could imagine. I’m sure if Kabaneri didn’t look and sound as good as it does, it wouldn’t be getting the attention it has garnered this past week. Thankfully, it does look and sound that good. It makes it a wonder to watch – a call back to 90s anime in the layers of shading and quirks of the character designs, while taking influence from more modern hits, making sure it appeals to as many anime fans as possible.
The Kabaneri Curse:
With that, we get confirmation on what a ‘kabaneri’ actually is. It’s fairly typical, but it’s someone who is neither human nor kabane, but somewhere in between. There were hints last week that Mumei had some supernatural powers with her glowing eyes, but it’s nice to have confirmation that there’s more to her (and now Ikoma) than meets the eye. I honestly didn’t realise she was the same girl as the one in the OP with the head guard on, which seems silly in retrospect. Once I got past that not being another yet to be introduced character, I loved seeing her go all-out on on the invading kabane. While the action was somewhat lessened (and the blood now grey) due to foreign censorship, there were plenty of brilliant moments, all seamless and polished.
After Ikoma near strangling himself to death last week (I’m not going to get caught up in the details), we also find out that he’s become a kabaneri. When his glowing heart is exposed, everyone turns on him, even his closest friend. It’s one of many relentless scenes that are packed into this episode, followed by him being shot off the train and left to die. While his action were admirable, he didn’t get as much time to shine as in the premiere – this week was mainly about Mumei showing off her badassery. They make for an interesting (and amusing) pair, but I imagine from here on out there going to face heavy discrimination and many challenges ahead.
Overview – What’s Next?:
God, that was fun. Part of me was worried the hype wouldn’t continue past the premiere, but I’m glad to see things are just as exciting the second time around. I’m not sure when the third episode will air, as there are delays in the Japanese broadcast due to multiple earthquakes. If any of you kept up to date with anime during the 2011 tsunami you will know that these things are unavoidable. Complaining about waiting an extra week is petty compared to the damage done to those affected by these natural disasters. If we have to wait a little longer for the third episode, then so be it. It will only make its eventual airing even more exciting.
ED: 「ninelie」 by Aimer with chelly (EGOIST)