“The Silent Hunter”

「黙す狩人」 (Mokusu Karibito)

Biba and Bad Intentions?:

Kabaneri is all about surprises these past two weeks – first we had a quiet and reflective episode devoid of action that worked well, and then this week we have a return to the kabane frenzy while managing to be compelling in a way I did not expect. First up is Amatori Biba (Miyano Mamoru), the son of the Shogun, the Liberator, and the adoptive brother of Mumei. His entrance was grand and jovial last week, but Ikoma knew something was up, and he was absolutely right. Biba has an air about him that’s common amongst anime villains, with his feminine looks, long hair, and icy disposition. There are examples of this character archetype that go back decades, but Griffith from Berserk is the most memorable in my eyes. If anyone is as much of a scumbag as Griffith, then it’s obvious they’re rotten to the core, but there’s a fair chance there’s more to Biba than him simply being good or evil.

A month ago I would never have thought of Kabaneri as a series that would make me seriously questions its characters, their motives, and allegiances beyond what was presented on the surface. In a surprising turn of events the popcorn has been put down and now we should actually be paying attention to what’s going on. The action is still thrilling and just as entertaining as ever before, but this episode (along with last week’s quiet affair) hints that Kabaneri is going in a different direction than I think many of us expected. The real question right now is whether Biba is truly evil, or if he is doing what is necessary to eradicate the kabanes. No matter what, he seems to be doing this to get rid of the threat that ruins the lives of the weak, and he sees himself and his hunters as the answer to their prayers – he did save Mumei when her mother was murdered, after all. But while there is a good chance he’s not completely evil, it’s clear there’s nothing trustworthy about him; he’s brutal, unwavering when it comes to his ambitions, and sees himself as better than others who can’t properly defend themselves. He could just end up being a big baddie with no redeeming qualities by the end, but for now an argument can be made either way.

Mumei’s Turnaround:

Perhaps most surprising of all is something I realised mid-way through this episode – and it’s not something I expected to occur – that I actually like Mumei’s character now! Last week showed a new side to her that I appreciated, and finally it feels like her actions make sense within the context of the story. And now that her age has been confirmed, it puts a lot of things into perspective. Her past is devistating, from her mother being murdered, to her becoming a killer, and then being turned into a kabaneri by the man she now calls her brother. Her naivety is clear, but her bonds with Ikoma and the rest of the crew have shifted her mindset in the best way possible. Now that she’s conflicted on appeasing her brother and making sure her friends aren’t hurt, I found her struggles especially compelling this week. It’s clear she did not want to use her dagger against Ayame, as she appeared like a helpless child in that brief moment before eventually being fooled. Her argument with Ikoma then makes it seem like she’s siding more with her brother, but I think she will see the light before too long as she already appears to be doubting his words.

Overview – What’s Next?:

A surprisingly compelling and thoughtful episode this week, which isn’t what I was expecting, but it gives me more to talk about other than kabane killing! There was still plenty of those moments, mind you, from the hunters riding motorcycles against the army of zombies, to Mumei showing off her acrobatic skills in another impressive action set piece. It’s still great fun, but Kabaneri just got a little more serious, so we’ll see how that affects the remaining four episodes going forward.

Full-length images: 23.


  1. I’ll take my chances with the Kabane than to ride on the same train with Biba, honestly.

    If you can warp your manipulative desires (probably for vengeance based on his conversation with his would-be assailants) on someone, that’s really beyond evil. At least when the Kabane kill, it’s upon primal instinct.

    Mumei, having bonded with Ayame, Ikoma and company probably has forgotten her trained cold self. It’s a little tough for her to waver between Biba and them, can’t really blame her.

  2. so… mumei is just an artificial kabaneri. and with that, I SMELL A DEATH FLAG for her.

    and biba… looks like he knows something about the kabane “invasion” and how to cure those who have bitten with out going to the way of self strangulation just to stop the virus from reaching your brain.

    this anime is getting me insane with all of those suprises..

    1. I don’t see a death flag for Mumei Hodzumi, I see her ended as part of a plot device that our MC Nekoma Ikoma has to save.

      …or something similar.
      (Animesuki forums, always my second-handed-source of amusement…)

  3. Biba is a classic character, high class, hero to the people, psychopath on the inside, does crazy things internally.
    I’m sad they had to tie Mumei into the cliche as well, blind by love to her savior/brother, ready to do anything on his behalf.

  4. Episode like this is why I appreciate anime that slows its pace down a little. It’s good to see some of the minor characters shine with the little screentime they are given.

    Whatever Freudian Excuse Biba has, I don’t think what he had done to Mumei is irredeemable. I have to agree Biba has similar qualities to Griffith to an extend like having charisma and manipulative attitude to use to his advantage.

  5. Mumei is very strong internally. Without the kabane threat, she already has to deal with a lot of conflicting emotions and other problems, such as her own physical state. Her warming up to Inoma as her “other” big brother, whilst following Biba’s orders (and knowing something is wrong) makes me see her suffering clearly and hoping things get better for her. She has gone through a lot in a short amount time; suffered through a lot (more so than a lot of other people in the world), whilst holding her composure most of the time and battling through.

    She truly is a great character and the star of the show; hating on her before her character development is a case of judging a book by its cover; her complexity is very refreshing, and I knew from the first episode she would turn out to be very interesting character with depth, and not just a fanservice little girl. Love Mumei.

  6. It’s not quite a pot and kettle affair, but I did find it amusing at how aghast Ikoma was after sensing the Kabane on the Kokujyo considering he was running tests and experiments with Kabane parts too. Ikoma wasn’t using whole Kabane of course, and odds are Biba’s motives are far less altruistic than Ikoma’s, but both sides do certainly follow the “know your enemy” mantra.

    1. Indeed, and that’s why Biba may become the antagonist this series needs. He’s basically an Ikoma turned up to eleven, what our hero could become if not for those pesky childish morals getting in the way.

      I wonder if Ikoma himself will realize that point.

  7. I only hope that this doesn’t shift the focus too much away from the Kabane and onto Biba while simply using the Kabane as devices towards stopping him or something rather than being the real big threat they are. Hopefully they can keep it similar to AoT where, while the evil of humans is still brought up, the main focus is still overall around the mystery of the Titans and stopping them.

  8. I’m reading a man obsessed with revenge with something he did weak that almost got him killed. Interesting that a troop killed himself instead of having a conversion attempted and that man was clearly committed to the cause.

    Right now I’m taking Biba as a hardened betrayed warrior who is willing to go to any extreme needed to right what ever wrong was done. This of course results in evil acts but can go either full villain or useful in the effort to defeat the true evil of the Shogun. In the later option traditional Biba will die in the effort of course.

    My thoughts on borrowing the key is Biba might be wanting to use the passengers in a effort to build a Kabane monster to attack the Shogun. Or it was just a loyalty test on Mumei.

    I can get half way to feeling for Biba because if creating Kabaneri is truly for defeating the Kabane threat I would myself recruit young people for the task if young was needed to make success more likely. But I was a Army Officer and was prepared to order even draftee’s into battle and if tasked with helping Villagers survive if I have to use the teens I will do so. Would be reluctant to use the young they are less effective that those older, excepting prodigies. Example if I had to have the extra guns would put them in reserve or defense of the easier part. The key is what is the goal, is the goal just or unjust that makes things evil. The part that is evil in Africa in the child solders is the same evil with older people forced to fight or even volunteering, when used to torture and commit war crimes the act is evil. Also if the goal is evil than the use is evil.

    If this alternative Japan is same as our own on ages Mumei is legal for marriage, work and fighting. And considering the casualties from Kabane any female that can have children in this situation probably should be having babies this the primary reason earlier cultures did not let women fight or only had a small number fight, men are expendable those who can reproduce are more valuable increasing your numbers over the long term. Thus there is a question why recruiting females for fighting. Modern day I’m for 50% women in the military doing every job but we don’t need more population. I wonder if the young women, probably around Ikon’s age, has her children included in the batch on the train but the Producers are playing it low key to not inflame some people while still being historically accurate that she should have children.

    By the way at the founding of our country age limit of 17 or so for the Army was to get those big enough to do hand to hand combat and mature enough to make good soldiers they had no problem with under 10 year olds carrying gun powder to the guns during battles on ships. The kids doing that extremely dangerous job were called powder monkeys. Kids and teens in small numbers were used for other Army tasks. I guess because they shared my view that the young are not morally superior to those older and each life is equal. Let me be clear younger soldiers I consider a desperate move as the lower effectiveness and higher casualties they will take are not worth it if I have alternatives. If I know the enemy is honorable and will not torture, enslave, rape the village I will not use the younger in defense but I’m not going to tell the young your to young to shoot the equivalent of Kabane coming into town. 18 to 21 die at a higher rate than those older in battle why can’t they drink if they are being used to fight when drinking and fighting have higher death rates.

  9. A good step in the right direction for Kabaneri, this was a good time to establish the main antagonist was we have 4 episodes left to resolve the situation and get a fairly satisfying ending to this story. You’re right, when we put into perspective that Mumei is only 12 years old (seriously she can pass for at least 16…), I can understand her behavior and personality. She’s naive and brash, but she has her reasons for acting the way she does. Honestly, it makes perfect sense for her to side with Biba because he’s the one who’s made her what she is, and she’s known him longer. You don’t just turn sides because of a few days/weeks worth of connections, although it’s clear she’s becoming very conflicted.

    Also, I actually don’t think Biba’s mindset is wrong in any way. While I like Ikoma as a MC because he has titanium ballsacks and can actually back up his confrontations a bit, I do think he can be a bit too idealistic, which is a typical MC syndrome, not just Ikoma specifically. When you lived in a ravaged world full of kabanes, you really have to do everything it takes to survive. Making Mumei into a kabaneri did give her the strength to move on, otherwise she would have just been a frightened little girl with little she could do against her fate. And I approve of Biba killing his previous servant because he did try to assassinate him, he was completely in the right for doing so, you don’t just spare every man you see.

    1. The thing about Ikoma is that he isn’t basing it only on ideals. While Munmei’s story did make him skeptical of Biba, he still said “I should learn more about him!” rather than “This guy is no doubt evil!”, which suggests that he still had his doubts. Even his accusation in front of Biba was because he wanted to have a talk with him.
      With that said, there is no reason to turn Munmei into a Kabaneri when there are countless adults who are more fit. It would be one thing if she was bitten, but Ikoma noted that she was never bitten.

      Killing the assassin was not that simple either: Ikoma’s main problem was that he SMILED. Biba had every reason to kill him, but you’d expect Biba to be at least somewhat sad that he had to kill a former comrade in arms. A smile, however, suggests that he took pleasure in it.

      All in all, I wouldn’t say that Ikoma hates him due to ideals, but due to concluding that something is off with Biba. He put a lot of thought into this, so it isn’t like he was being irrational.

      1. I agree; Ikoma seems to have a knack for seeing people for whom they truly are. His current outlook is mere skepticism. He has not taken any drastic actions, like persuading others that “Biba is evil”, he simply confronted him on his own terms, even after the discovery of Biba holding live kabane on their train as cargo.

        To those who think Inoha’s actions are rush, are merely forgetting that his own full-on personality is that of a very outspoken and straight-forward man. The way he approached Biba is the way he would approach anyone in such a situation, given his character, but he did so in a rather calm manner anyway, confronting Biba 1 on 1 through dialogue and nothing else – the most sensible way to resolve matters peacefully.

        I also love how Mumei seems to have enough trust in Inoha to show her conflicting emotions, even though she knew Biba for much longer. It shows that she has her own sense of awareness. Of course as of this moment she is still more subdued by Biba unfortunately, albeit expectedly.

      2. You’re right about the smile, I didn’t mention it when he killed the assassin. I completely agree that Biba isn’t exactly a good person, and he’s leaning more towards evil. I also agree that Ikoma is quite perceptive and he didn’t completely paint Biba as an evil person, he was merely skeptical. However, I think he’s a little too perceptive. With so little to go on with what Mumei told Ikoma before meeting him, he already was suspicious of Biba. While Ikoma is correct to assume such a thing, I find it a bit convenient how quickly he was discovering Biba’s true nature.

        Turning Mumei into a kabaneri may not have been necessary, but I wouldn’t consider him evil for doing such a thing. Was he exploiting her youth and ignorance, and were there other candidates he could of considered? Absolutely. Was he just merely trying to use Mumei as a tool? Probably true as well. But considering the fates of those who can’t protect themselves, giving her the strength to fight against kabanes isn’t the worst fate in the world.

        I’m not completely defending Biba, he’s definitely no saint, and he lacks sympathy for his former comrades and has shown a rather sadistic side to himself. I just don’t consider him as a truly evil person, and none of his actions so far have been completely in the wrong. I’m sure as we progress, we’ll see even darker sides of Biba like the crazy experiments and such he’s been doing with kabane, so I’m pretty sure he’ll be considered “evil” by the end of it all.

  10. Yeah, Biba reminded me of Griffith too. In fact, the scene with Mumei as a young girl almost exactly mirrors the first time Griffth meets Casca(except different circumstances for Casca at the time). Griffith “saved” Casca like Biba “saved” Mumei: telling each girl to pick up the sword and save themselves, if their life had any value.

  11. It feels less like the dude was evil more so than the characters interpret his actions through black and white thinking. Both Mumei and Ikoma are rather immature though a bit less so in Ikoma’s case as he can still perceive some nuances even though in his case he’s just overly simplistic, while Mumei due to her young age and mental development finds it hard to think of matters in a more thorough and complex manner. Nevertheless, overall the shogun’s disowned son just comes off more as someone who’s intent on getting revenge through his own brand of violent justice so to speak. Also, he’s relishing murdering people who have malevolent agendas against him so I can definitely get his character. At least his character isn’t simplistic, simple-minded or one-track like the rest of the cast, well except maybe Ayame and Yukina and that other train engineer who lost his pops so yeah.

    Nishizawa Mihashi
  12. Good episode, and am loving the Berserk comparisons everyone is seeing. Though Ikoma is really poorly characterized, as he has only 2 reactions: incredulous and self-righteous, and the latter can become tiring.

    Bamboo Blade Cat
  13. Bamboo Blade Cat
  14. Bamboo Blade Cat
  15. Bamboo Blade Cat
    1. I think I do not see him as ‘evil’ yet, not at all. After all, that night, he did save Mumei, even if he made her into a Kanberi, the other guy would have killed her anyway, right?

      Also, I think it is Ikoma who has to understand ‘not all humans are good’, there’s noway Baba-sama is what he is without reason. Also idk if its relevant, or mis in translation, but idk what episode it was but ‘the shogunate is amassing weapons against humans”, what does Baba san know and why was he disowned? Maybe I am overthinking.

      Baba is a such a horrible name, that I need to discuss with the writer. My only worry is he’s voiced by Miyano Mamoru and that dude always gets the bad weird good looking guys xD /Gourmet-san in Tokyo Ghoul was .. hard.. to swallow :S


    1. I think the problem has others who think about possible “problems” in situation like this. Not everything in life is about sex. Everyone has a body naked under their clothes.

      1. Sorry, I guess I should’ve elaborated further. I was referring to how Biba is obviously radical in his methods when he has no problems looking at the naked body of a 12-year girl. As in, he is extreme in his beliefs that the weak don’t deserve to live while the strong do, that he has no interest in himself or in anything normal he may consider trivial or unrelated to his schemes like sexuality, as displayed by his observation of her physical examination. I wasn’t referring to sexuality in anyway, because yes this scene was not related to it at all. If anything, this scene only spoke to how much ambition he has that has no time to waste on such things.

        I know that came out awkward, but I guess it happens with me sometimes 😛

  16. I was a bit fed up with Ikoma throughout the episode… until the final scene.

    Ok, Biba taught Mumei his version of “strong survive, weak die”, but his words proved that the original version was more nuanced and positive than Mumei’s simplistic take on it (understandable, given Mumei’s age and that such simplifications happen in real life all the time) and even his friend tells him that Biba’s view is not exactly wrong. And killing that man begging for help? Come on, he was trying to assassinate him! Glad the rest of the crew saw it and apologized for him.

    But then the realization: he was not angry because the man was killed (at least, not just because of that), but because Biba was enjoying it. Add human experiments and a stark difference in values, and Ikoma has found his foil.

  17. I hope that there is something deeper behind Biba’s motivations. So they were abandoned on a battlefield. Yes, that’s very sad, but there are many legitimate reasons to do this in this type of world. And even if there wasn’t a legitimate reason, he is sacrificing too much just to settle a vendetta. It looks like he is willing to start a bloodbath to be proven correct in the end. If he plans on killing the Shogun and taking the position for himself, I suppose it is better if he actually has a meaningful plan that will justify the lives lost. However, I also think it is disconcerting how much pleasure he is taking in the violence around him. A ruler devoid of compassion entirely but skilled at leadership isn’t necessarily a better option.

  18. Hmmmmm…What is the disowned son of the Shogun doing with a large Kabane core? And why does he need to strip away our rag-tag group the ability of (essentially) being able to up and run away from the “Liberators” group?

    A method and way of exacting revenge (and a power-play to boot)? Probably. (And it’s the only thing I can think of 3 days after seeing that episode. And after seeing the preview on the official Noitamina youtube page).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *