「甲鉄城」 (Koutetsujou)

A Fitting Epic Ending:

I was shocked to find how mixed the response was to this finale. My take was that this was epic, glorious, and typical Kabaneri. Was it predictable? Yes. But predictability doesn’t mean it can’t be satisfying. It may mean it doesn’t reach that level of quality that diehard viewers may expect, but I never expected Kabaneri to transcend to that level. In fact, I think the most apt comparison to this episode would be the recent season finale of Game of Thrones. If you haven’t watch it yet, then don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything. But what I will say is that they both tried to be big fan pleasers. The creators behind both shows tried to give the viewers exactly what they wanted, but I would say it turned out more satisfying with Kabaneri.

Kabaneri is a smaller franchise, but this last episode felt fitting with the rest of the show – it was a blitz of blood, gore, violence, war, mayhem, with the good guys winning at the end of it all. However, Game of Thrones is a different beast; earlier seasons were loaded with intrigue and political machinations that meant what you were seeing on-screen wasn’t what you were going to get – there was often three, four, five layers of backstabbing going on, and it always proved unpredictable. That’s the fundamental difference between both shows, and both decided in their recent episodes to give something that should make us happy. And because Kabaneri was never a deep story aiming to deconstruct the tropes of its genre, it doesn’t feel cheap. It may be an unpopular opinion, but the recent Game of Thrones episode, while wonderfully epic, was a step-down from the intrigue that we’ve come to expect. We’ve reached the point where what you see is exactly what you expect. Fan theories are more complex than what we’re actually getting, and that’s when things start feeling disappointing. Unless you had unrealistic expectations of what sort of series Kabaneri was trying to be, I find it difficult to understand why people feel betrayed by this ending.

There is one turn of events that didn’t play out as I predicted, but for the most part this finale was exactly what you’d expect. Ikoma is a brand new badass, he encounters Biba and they have an epic showdown, Mumei is brought back to humanity by Ikoma, and gets revenge on her brother. Thankfully, the stellar production and impressive battle animation helped make the most of these expected plot turns. It was satisfying seeing the good guys succeed, because it’s what they deserve. The pacing may have been faster than previous episodes, but I wouldn’t say it was rushed. It had the same spirit as most Koutetsujou no Kabaneri episodes, and I’m glad it finished more or less how it started.

A Happy Ending:

One thing that did come as a surprise to me was how happy this ending was. When I said ‘let the bloodbath commence’ a few weeks backs, I thought that was what we were in for; but it turns out Takumi was the only member of the main cast to be taken out. Miraculously, everyone else made it out alive, happy, and celebrating. It was nice to see everyone smiling by the end, riding off into the distance after defeating Biba and bringing Mumei back to the human side… but I thought there would at least be some more casualties along the way. That’s the only part of the finale that stuck out as odd, but it is forgivable enough considering how entertaining the rest of the episode was.

Overview – Final Impressions:

And so it ends – or does it? I was always under the impression that Kabaneri would tell a complete story in the 12 episodes it was given, but after this finale it felt like there’s more story still to tell. Biba the Liberator may have been defeated, but the kabane still roam the land, and it feels like the main crew’s journey has only just begun. Could we get more? It’s not uncommon for Noitamina titles to have sequels, and since Kabaneri looks to sell fairly well in the BD department, that could be a positive sign. I’d be eager to explore this world further if there is another cause to fight for. The focus on this train journeying through the lands has been small-scale compared to what the series as a whole may have to offer, but I do fear if this story continues it will end up less personal than these 12 episodes.

Putting the possibility of a sequel aside, if I were to judge Kabaneri as a whole I’d say it did exactly what it said on the tin. It was a fun zombie thriller, with brilliant action, plenty of violence, and few surprises along the way. For the most part it did exactly what you’d expect, and it did it to great success. Compared to its spiritual predecessor, each episode felt tightly written, as the scenario was clearlyly made with 1-cour in mind. Every week we got something that was grand and bombastic, fast paced, and never boring. It even managed to be rather touching and heartfelt in the middle, where I expected it would dip in quality; instead it managed to make Mumei a believable character, and turned Ikoma into a easy-to-root-for badass. Biba was just as evil as you’d expect, but I was fine with that. His character archetype is fairly common in anime, but there’s always something satisfying about seeing an overconfident bishounen get what they deserve.

I’d say as an action anime, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri was great. It knew what it wanted to do, it was unabashed in its inspirations, and it proved itself to be a fun watch throughout. This season has been an interesting one for me – not only because my real life has been busy, but because both anime I blogged weren’t particularly deep or insightful or had themes I could pick apart. They were action/horror/supernatural flicks that did their own thing, and didn’t try to be anything too profound or hard to swallow. I’d recommend Kabaneri to anyone who enjoyed Shingeki no Kyojin, or to anyone who feels action anime have lost their flare in recent years. It’s fun, in-your-face, well-made, and proves itself a blockbuster worth your time. After all, there may be more that awaits on the horizon.


  1. My reaction to the ending was rather mixed. They tried to make EVERYTHING happen in one episode and they did but with a somewhat messy outcome. Still, it proved to be highly entertaining and I thoroughly enjoyed it despite the mess. I didn’t expect too much from the show and in the end I was pleased. I think it’s best to level your expectations before handing out the final verdict. The showrunners never meant this one to be thought provoking or deep. They just wanted it to be fun, and it was despite some missteps. Enjoyed it a lot! 7/10

  2. I really liked that ending. I was kinda scared that ikoma was a goner from a few EPs ago, like sacrificing himself to save Mumei but all the fear just vanished the moment Biba’s underling gave him the white blood. 2 White blood flasks and It was totally obvious whose gonna get them ^^!
    A great anime indeed, and I there turns out to be a sequel , count me in .

  3. The pace was a bit strange sometimes, a bit rushed, but in the end, it was a very satisfying way to close this series… for now. A sequel can’t be discarded; the cast added a new colourful character (ex-villains, another classic) and the state of the country after the capital has fallen could make for very interesting scenarios.

    The series was predictable? Probably. Did it stick to classical tropes? Yes, it did. Did it try to break new frontiers in anime? Not really, although the varied portrayal of characters of both sexes with different strengths and skills was much appreciated (everyone contributed, not only with warrior supermen is the world saved). But tried and tested formulas for fun that don’t try to be clever or pretend to be anything else are very enjoyable in my books. I guess that a lot of disappointment may have come from people who expected it to be otherwise.

    In any case, the series was a feast for the eyes. Beautiful designs and art direction.

  4. I had forgotten that the really advanced Kabane could use energy blasts, so I was really flummoxed for a minute when Ikoma blew the Hayajiro away. XD

    Overall it was a fun series though. Given all the comparisons to Attack on Titan, I do appreciate the overall faster pace compared to WiT’s previous actionfest. It’s never going to be a complicated show, certainly, but I wouldn’t really call it shallow either since it produced some really nicely developed characters. I’m actually a bit impressed at how the show presented strength in the female cast, since it wasn’t just about Mumei being a Kabaneri. Ayame’s one of the most convincing leaders I’ve seen of any gender for a while in anime, and Yukina is a rare literally strong woman that isn’t comically overdone. There are several things to like about the male cast too, but I find it notable how fair a shake the female cast members got.

    I’d definitely be on board for a season 2, it’d be very interesting to see the Liberator army remnants integrate into the Kotetsujyo population and watch the fight turn to repelling the Kabane proper and pursuing the mythical cure for Ikoma and Mumei.

  5. At this point, I’m just glad that it ended. I really loved the first half of the anime, when it was a quest for survival of epic proportions, but after Biba’s introduction, it quickly just became painful to follow for me.
    Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind a big villain, just not one that is ultimately about destroying everything for the heck of it. I’d actually look forward to a sequel.

  6. The main reason I see for the mixed reaction is largely due to the expected “epic final battle”.

    People were expecting black smoke Mumei to make black smoke Horobi look tame by comparison, but she ended up barely doing anything of note except stomping on a few miscellaneous things and is just so easily turned back rather than Ikoma having to epicly fight through hordes of her Kabane body to reach her in order to give her the white blood. By comparison, black smoke Horobi, in a much shorter time span, had a much greater impact on things by breaking the wall and allowing hordes of Kabane into the station while also almost killing Biba herself in her near-Kabane state after the black smoke state wore off (which gave us a further hint on the “coward” he really was with his sweat). It gave a lot more “oomph” to her black smoke sequence compared to Mumei’s.

    The fight with Biba started out looking epic with Ikoma, but then just sort of tapered out into a “safe” way of beating him rather than Mumei also having some sort of epic fight with him in order to truly show her basically saying, “Fuck you, nii-san, for everything you did!” Personally, I was hoping that, while Biba was going after a knocked down Ikoma, black smoke Mumei, represented by Mumei swatting away the red butterflies that would come to be represented by Biba in order to reach the one blue butterfly being swarmed by them that represented Ikoma, would end up getting back up and start attacking Biba, either killing Biba herself or create an opening to allow Ikoma to get in the killing blow himself, and then give the white blood to turn Mumei back.

    And I guess the way Ikoma was “saved” by Biba…completely unseen…felt like a bit of a convenient copout to people too.

    Another reason I see is that, for a “zombie apocalypse” type story, the way the “zombies” end up being less of a main threat themselves and simply turned into weapons for a human enemy to use was a bit of a turn-off for people, sort of like how the Noise in Symphogear were initially made out to be a world-ending threat by themselves, only to be turned into cannonfodder grunts used by the “real” antagonists.

  7. This show truly got worse since Biba was introduced. Ending was definitely very “meh.” Pacing was all over the radar.

    Shoulda stayed on the train to be honest with ya…Oh well.

  8. Ep. 12: Pretty much as expected with action and a strong visual aspect being the biggest positives. Still, had a couple O.o (WTF) type moments. First, Ikoma stops that one train by… some energy beam? I won’t call it ass-pull (kind of feels that way though) since we saw something like that before with the one girl who turned into a “black cloud” mega-zombie hive, but still, WTF? Zombies… with laser beams! Yeah, I know, just go with it, but sure seems out of place (with YMMV as to “rule of cool” or not). Not bit deal overall.

    Bit late given all that’s happened, but I also have to wonder why Biba has so many loyal followers willing to cause such rampant destruction. As far as I know, he’s the sole survivor from the “betrayal” (at 12 no less, because shounen). Thus, not “revenge” for them. This isn’t conquest (i.e. some mercenary factor), but rather utter destruction of valuable human outposts in zombie world. So… why do they blindly follow along – including releasing hordes of zombies and creating super hive zombies? Gonna run out of cities to destroy and then what? Again, whatever/not a huge deal I suppose, but something that did cross my mind.

    Lastly, I have a hard time buying into Biba saving Ikoma (which is insinuated). WHY would he do that? It’s odd as hell for a guy who has ZERO problems causing the deaths of what I have to think is thousands, destroying three (IIRC) vital city safe havens from the zombie hordes, human experimentation including on a mind-f**ked young orphan girl, etc. It struck me as a ham-fisted, unconvincing way to give his character some (very) last minute depth/redemption. Yeah, not buying it or Biba as “liberator” unless one means “liberate” people from their existence by killing them (think scene in Hobbit movies where Elf king decapitates a captive orc).

    Yes, daddy wronged him and all, but his revenge goes far, far beyond taking dad to task for past transgressions. Anyway, Mumie (or I guess her real name’s something else) got her scripted moment of redemption as well. One the one hand, she needed it. On the other hand, eh, a bit scripted feeling as noted. I can give it pass though.

    I don’t have a problem with a happy ending, but yeah, given how it played out would have been better if Ikoma died. Having a second magic vial on hand was a bit plot convenient. Actually, I thought there was only that one briefcase with the stuff which is why evil scientist was so obsessed with it. Actually, didn’t evil scientist guy expressly say there was only one “white blood” vial? Meh, whatever. Anyway, WHY would Biba need even need/want that? Just in case of what? In case of a last minute redemption scene? I suppose Ikoma surviving somehow would be OK for a max happy ending, but maybe drop the “power of darkness” type power up all together.

    1. someones just want to see the World burn, in this case the last remain human city fortress. Envy? for lost precious persons near to them and they blame the others for not helping?

      How knows

    2. Seams like the goal was to destroy the Shogun and the members of the don’t fight the Kabane faction in order to get the rest of the humans to go on the offensive. The Shogun’s capital surely had a large part of the male population being part of the government Bibba just did not care about collateral damage. Historically in Japan they often tortured and executed the whole extended family of someone condemned by the Lord so this not to far off historical practice.
      Thus the Liberation chant of Bibba’s followers probably into destroy the don’t fight leaders and the towns that supported them.

  9. I’d say Mumei was not so much taking revenge as regretfully having to kill Biba to protect people she loved more, particularly Ikoma.
    I’d say Biba showing last hint of humanity by injecting Ikoma with the serum proves there was still some good in him, despite all the crimes he committed. His last order to one of his sub-commanders to save as much of his crew as possible shows that too.
    on another note: shipping Ayame and Kurosu furiously now. DAT BLUSH.

  10. Final Thoughts:

    Pretty good show if you don’t think too closely (or maybe not at all sometimes). Despite more stills + speed lines than I’d like, the visual quality was one of the, if not the, greatest strengths of the show. Some pretty good animation, and gave the right atmosphere – dark but not too dark, and colorful without going into nuclear glowing territory. Some money was spent. Pacing was another positive. Action based show and pacing matched that without being too rushed. A lot went on (maybe a bit too much), but even Ep 12 didn’t seem all that rushed to me.

    Characters were for the most part fairly good. I liked Mumei early on (but did she really need to be 12? Say, 16 doesn’t work?), but then she fell into damsel in distress (and plot device hive zombie) later which I really didn’t care for. Her FINALLY wising up that “bro” is a total ass helped. Better late than never, but didn’t care for her as much as I did early on. One plus is that some of the side characters (passengers, train crew, etc.) were memorable and added to the story rather than just fade into the background. A couple even had a bit of character growth. Hime’s character (forget her name) IMO varied a bit more than it should have depending upon what the plot required. She was OK/serviceable to me. Ikoma was a pretty solid ML, but that cutting his hair cliche’ moment was just godawful. WHY even go there!? Biba was too much towards comic book evil with his rampant destruction, etc., etc. Meh. Other than him, really no serious complaints, but also no one I really latched onto either.

    As for the plot, I liked the show significantly more when it was “on the run survival” rather than “defeat evil guy” when, as HalfDemonInuyasha notes, the zombies oddly took a back seat in the story. Rather than the main threat, turned into a weapon for evil guy to unleash upon the innocent, unsuspecting masses. Frankly, once the Biba’s very modern looking motorcycle (too modern IMO) riding troops went out and started pawning zombie hordes, the show kind of went off the rails for me. As I’ve mentioned before, you have zombie apocalypse which I would think would be more than enough of a setting for a dramatic, tense story setting without the need to “amp things up”. Also, particularly later on, there were a few too many plot convenient circumstances which made things feel overly scripted rather than naturally flowing.

    All in all, a pretty good action show with a strong visual element as long as one didn’t think too closely. I certainly would not say “epic” or “transcendent” by any means. Was it better than AoT? Started off that way IMO, but not entirely sure given how things ended. Again, IMO would have been better to stick with what was going on roughly the first half with them barely making it to the “safe city” at the end. You could add a political factions at war element if that’s really necessary (probably better saved for Season 2), but I’d skip the over-the-top mad scientist and evil guy bent on wanton destruction stuff.

    1. The final episode was much less disappointing than I had expected (probably because I had already lowered my expectations for the show much enough…).

      The first half of the show wasn’t bad, though it fell short of a satisfactory substitute for AoT season 2. At least its animation was superb most of time, and some of action scenes of it were entertaining to watch. If the story of the anime continued to be about well coordinated team-work of the crews under the leadership of Ayame-sama for survival against zombies, along with the devoted Samurai guy and MC’s support and action, it would have become a reasonably well made action-zombie-steampunk anime which you can recommend to anyone who loves that sort of genre anime. As some of commentators pointed out, it should have stuck to a simple and plain, yet effective storyline, struggle of Koutetsujou crews for survival against zombies.

      But around the middle point of the show, something wrong happened. And the show kept going downhill since then.

      It was just a bad idea to turn the focus of the show suddenly by introducing a classical (anime) villain, Biba. As the story turned to be about MC’s one-man show to save Mumei from evil Biba, the anime effectively became a different one from the first half of the story. In a word, lack of cohesion and consistency of the story. It felt as if two different shows/stories were combined in a single work. Even worse is that almost everything about Biba was boring. No splendid action, No interesting interactions with other characters, No Interesting background story (a 12 years boy became a commander for a massive military operation??? What the…), No brilliant plan for his purpose… Nothing.

      Maybe, the staff wanted to add some emotional touching tragic story (Mumei and Biba) to the anime? Or they wanted to make the story even more interesting/gripping with a sort of so-evil-but-you-can’t-really-hate-him villain and his revenge story?

      I don’t know. But let me repeat it. It was just a bad idea.

  11. A lot of viewers tend to focus on the zombie kabanes (and why not, it seemed like a major part of the series) but if you think more about it, there’s no really good way for them to bring a resolve to that in 12 episodes, especially since they never explained too much about the virus itself. I’d like to think the Kabaneri focuses more on the ‘fear’ as a result of the kabane infestation; the show is really more about the human side of the problem. If you look back to Ikoma’s monologue in ep 1 (and also Biba’s monologue in the beginning of 12) they’re both fed up with people’s fear of the kabane, Ikoma especially disliked that the fear caused people to start killing each other unnecessarily.

  12. Well that seemed pretty rushed.

    And where did Ikoma’s mind powers come from? That seemed rather abrupt, lol

    It feels like this was the end, considering how much they rushed tying all the loose ends up and throwing in Biba’s last minute saving of Ikoma, which doesn’t make sense considering his last actions, with a Mumei throwaway line.

    Overall, it was more or less enjoyable, warts and all. It really seemed better suited as the summer blockbuster anime.

    If there’s more I’ll def watch it.

    Bamboo Blade Cat
  13. The Japanese will be releasing 2 compilation movies this December and Jan 2017 which condense the Kabsneri anime into feature length films ( likely will have new scenes and improved animation).

    Likely this is to promote the anime to a wider domestic audience whilst appealing to those who don’t have the patience or will to binge watch the series.

  14. I loved it. Now both Samu, others who liked it, and I figured out that we were watching a zombie action flick that’s not too long with a mystery in Mumei mystery that probably brought a secret human group into it. (the evil human group is common zombie trope) So the show delivered what we expected and we were not disappointed by the lack of things we never expected to be there. Also it’s a zombie action story so not expecting to much realism in the story. Characters were actually developed more by the end than I expect in most short action stories, and I liked the characters.

    There was great originality in the Japanese steampunk look which I loved.

    I love trains, and armored trains so that was extra nice.

    I think Ikoma probably would have died if the BD sales and other popularity was lower resulting in no plan for more episodes. But have to have the hero live for the next season now.

    Now that we know Bibba was planing on leaving we know he did not intend to destroy everything instead probably finishing off the Shoguns’ faction then trying to organized the remaining towns into offensive actions against the Kabane.

    Story drew a large number of the people who love to tear apart anything that is popular. Often being errors that are not actually errors or thinking normal human behavior is wrong. Many of these people are basically trolls trying to get a rise out of others.

  15. Seya-chan
  16. Kabaneri ranks as my biggest disappointment of the season. Mayoiga and Big Order were terrible too but you get the feeling that they weren’t taking themselves seriously anyway.

    It started out with so much promise, with fantastic visuals, great music, and a killer concept. What could have been more amazing than combining steampunk, Edo-period samurai, and zombies into a single show?

    Then they brought Biba in and wasted half the season on this pansy of a villain. The writing and plot took a nosedive as well to match Biba’s low standards.

  17. This show shot itself in the foot the instant it went from a unique vampire/zombie show and dove head first into “Attack on Titan clone” territory with giant monsters with people as their cores.

  18. I hardly care if it was predictable, since it was executed well enough. Granted, I was expecting Ikoma to bite the dust but I dont mind him being “alive”. Then we got kind of a happy ending with the Koutetsujyo crew sailing off into the sunset, yet that city was completely destroyed and with it comes the feeling of another major loss for humanity seeing the world they live in. I mean like, makes you wonder whether they’ll eventually run out of places to live.

    Anyway, solid action anime with good production values and pretty good main villain.

    I’ll remember this one as “Zombies & trains” – the anime.

    Manly Tear
  19. I did not expect a happy ending to this show. At the very least, it seemed like Ikoma had no chance of surviving.

    There’s a part of me that wishes the show could have stayed the characters vs. the Kabane, but then Biba had to appear. Without going into too much spoiler territory, it’s also why I had some problems with the later parts of the Attack on Titan manga. Instead of the humans vs. the titans, it becomes the humans vs. humans.

    All that being said, Kabaneri was a bombastic and fun anime, for the most part. It served as a nice diversion while we all wait for the next season of Attack on Titan. Great production values, as to be expected of Wit.

    Thanks for blogging Kabaneri, Samu.

  20. Personally, I would have preferred Ikoma to have died, and not necessarily by Biba’s doing. Him surviving downplayed the consequences of what he did to his body in order to save Mumei. Of course, if we’re in for a second season, it makes sense for Ikoma to survive, so perhaps that’s the reason they’ve done it, but if this is to be the actual ending of the story, him dying to save Mumei, whilst bittersweet, would have been far more powerful, in my opinion.

    Secondly, I was slightly disappointed that Mumei still considered Biba her brother, despite all of the deceit and betrayal. I would have expected her to be far more angry, but equally, he’s clearly an incredibly important figure in her life (after all, he did save her life, even if it was for his own means), so I guess her decision to kill him was a difficult one.

  21. I can’t say that I hate the show overall, but only because it was the storyline (involving Biba and, to a lesser extent, Mumei) being the only downfall, pulling the focus AWAY from the main group from Koutetsujou. Still, it somehow ended quietly, with Biba seen to be losing his reason to continue living after taking out the Emperor in a crazy ploy last week; as Biba could’ve been the protagonist if this show was revolved solely around his group instead.

    ANYWAYS, it was an exciting ride from the beginning to the end despite that rant above.

  22. I am going to miss watching this on thursday. I like what was done with Amazon( dare I say it ).
    I think a 13th episode would have done it a service, but it did really will as is.

    Well let’s see what this next season offers up to satisfy our “action” fix.

  23. What an underwhelming ending….wait no that’s not it…what an incesently naive ending. Everyone from our train survives while everyone in the main cities is eaten alive and our protagonists escape unscathed!

    There is so much wrong with the plot and writing as well. The main baddy’s motivation is so very shallow and undeveloped. But not only that our scowling antagonist (biba) somehow manages to build a loyal army of zombies (pun intended) that will follow him on his quest for human genocide. But why?? Because daddy abandoned him? /snore

    This show left too many questions unasnwered and just plodded along with no direction. It started off with a bang, and ended in a whimper.

  24. https://randomc.net/image/Koutetsujou%20no%20Kabaneri/Koutetsujou%20no%20Kabaneri%20-%2012%20-%2045.jpg
    Seriously…you’re done now…
    That was the last time i ever see this…girl, She ain’t terrible but she ain’t great too…
    I heard that there will be a movie compilation coming out but That is the only last thing they can do…

    For now, I fear that My Nightmares (yes My Nightmares) will come back…well, you know
    Show Spoiler ▼


Leave a Reply

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