Surly Summaries: Koutestujou no Kabaneri

You know I’m kind of having trouble deciding whether or not Koutestusjou no Kabaneri was in fact the best show of the season or not.  It’s a fantastic show but I feel like it ultimately suffered from greatest bane afflicting original shows in the anime industry: time.  Typically anime studios don’t want to bet big bucks on anything but a sure financial success, i.e. SAO clones, so they only give them 12 episodes, much the same way that AAA gaming has lost much of it”s flair because publishers only want CoD level smash hits and refuse to make many more original, potentially riskier titles.  Anyway before I really dig myself into this, be warned there will be spoilers ahead.

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is fantastic anime, far superior to Shingeki no Kyojin, which many compare it to for obvious reasons, it was made by all the same people and has a similar story.  Actually to pause from reviewing this for a second, I wish now that it was Shingeki no Kyojin which was stuck with twelve episodes and Koutestujou no Kabaneri which got 24 but sadly that’s not all that relevant.  Koutestujou no Kabaneri is the best zombie apocalypse anything to have out in years, it’s much more intense and interesting than your typical zombie fare, the characters are better developed, the setting is fucking rad and the actual virus itself makes the zombies metal as fuck.  As far the animation goes it’s fucking amazing, though I would argue the art style is even better and more important as it sets the tone of the series.  Sadly though despite all this high quality stuff, stuff which I applaud the show for and would love to see more of, Koutestujou no Kabaneri suffers from a lack of room to breathe.

In other words to much happens too fast.  Part of what the series so great early on was that we had Ikoma investigating the Kabane, how the virus worked, what kind of tech could kill the Kabane, etc.  After the first few episodes that all vanishes, any new information about the Kabane like the Wazatori or the Fused Colony comes via exposition from Mumei.  Now I love that the Wazatori and Fused Colony exist, I totally dig the variety of Kabane both in terms of how dangerous they get and just seeing multiple levels of intelligence, it’s a nice touch, however I would rather that had come through Ikoma and other’s observation maybe with some help from Mumei’s knowledge as Ikoma explored how these special Kabane came to be.  Also I love how you can see Biba’s values in the names of the female Kabaneri at his side, Horobi the one who destroys Iwato, well her name means Ruin or Destruction, and Mumei explains her name as basically being No-Name but it can also mean No Honor, which fits Biba pretty well, and I’m a sucker for names which foreshadow things or the like.  And if the show had 24 episodes that probably could have happened.  Another problem is the last two episodes, episode 11 is a gigantic buildup to 12’s main confrontation between Ikoma and Biba, and sure getting the chaos started in city was important but I felt like episode 11 didn’t quite do enough, while ironically episode 12 tried to do a little too much and felt a little rushed as it tried to make room for all the fights and everyone getting to safety.

I think this can be attributed to 12 episode limit as well as the director Tetsuro Araki.  Araki has done some really big shows, Death Note, High School of the Dead, Shingeki no kyojin and now Koutestujou no Kabaneri, but in all of them except High School of the Dead I have always thought the pacing could use some work.  Araki has a tendency to make unbelievably powerful episodes with big dramatic moments, tons of tension and a pulse-pounding pace that leaves the audience begging for more, but I always thought when he’s forced to slow down and make more normal episodes so the audience has time to digest more information he’s generally been a lot weaker, though in episode 3 the first slow episode of Koutestujou no Kabaneri this was not the case.  Anyway long story short, I’m not surprised the show has pacing issues though I do feel it would have been a lot better if we’d had 24 episodes and the director had a bit more room to work with.

I also have some questions as to why the virus effects men and women differently, like how Ikoma can’t become an artificial Fused Colony but Mumei can, why the one pregnant woman took hours to become a Kabane when Ikoma was going to get turned in like one minute.  Which again was something I feel the show could have explored if it had the extra episodes.  But on the whole the show was fantastic and I highly recommend it to everyone, though most people have already watched it and so I’m not sure how much my recommendation helps.  Hope you enjoyed this and I’ll see you in the next one.

P.S.  If you want some more in-depth analysis posts about Koutetsujou no Kabaneri you can find them here, here and here.

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