The Set-up – Side Characters and Flashbacks:
When I initially watched this episode I wasn’t really feeling it – I thought it was slow, and the set-up was too long, and it never really got exciting until the final minutes. But after watching it the morning after when I wasn’t totally drained from work (82 hours without a day off is (not) fun!), I decided this episode was much better than I gave it credit for. For one, I actually don’t mind Mumei now. Like last week, we saw her at her weakest, which allowed me to feel some empathy for her, and not just watch her being the supposed badass that she is. We start off by fleshing out that brief flashback from last week, with her looking over a dying girl before we cut to a shadowed figure who I assume must be her brother. If she’s truly being sent on a mission, does that mean she is working for or against this young master? I’m intrigued by that little detail, and it seems it’s going to play a role in the future story. Other than that, we see the moment where her mother suffered a brutal death, lacking any subtlety whatsoever, in typical Kabaneri fashion. As heavy-handed as it all is, it helps make her a little more down to earth, which is much better than could be said two or three weeks ago.
The other part to this episode that I didn’t properly appreciate in my hazy state was how plenty of the side characters got their chance to shine. Their worth to the overall plot isn’t grandiose, but the events of this episode made them feel essential – cogs that were needed to keep everything running smoothly and preventing everyone from meeting an untimely demise. Whether it be Takumi’s sniping skills, Sukari’s personal mission, Suzuki’s glorious thumbs up, or Yukina’s incredible muscles, they all shined for at least a few seconds – enough to make a lasting impression. But damn, Yukina’s muscles! I never thought she was hiding that physique beneath all those clothes. I’ve already seen a ton of fanart over my twitter feed, and I expect to see plenty more over the coming weeks.
The Payoff – As Epic as They Come:
Thankfully, my opinion of this week’s epic climax was in no need of alteration. Epic is a word I’ve used far too many times to describe Kabaneri, but it feels like no other words else will suffice. When it’s on, it’s impossible not to get caught up in the glory of it all. It may not be the smartest show of the season, but it’s certainly one of the most entertaining. It’s an action anime done right, and this battle proved that. We have the effective use of 3D animation, the imposing nature of the shadow kabane monster, and the explosive visuals – the whole thing was glorious. Ikoma acknowledged the idiocy of himself and Mumei, who manages to show off her tricks once again after drinking some human blood. And once you add in their foe seemingly being another kabaneri, that opens up a whole other can of worms. Mumei talked about turning into a kabane before Ikoma came to her aid, but this proves that if these half-humans can be seriously dangerous if they go off the rails.
Overview – What’s Next?:
This was an impressive finish to this two-part story. Thanks to the hints given through Mumei’s backstory, her character is becoming more digestible, and the big baddie not being a traditional kabane was a noteworthy conclusion. I’m beginning to appreciate most of the characters in this show, though it feels like there will be some major tragedies in the near future. For now, I’m keen to see where the story is heading. Hopefully next week they arrive at their destination; this train journey has been a blast, but has gone on longer than I imagined.