G-4rce Anime Reviews: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Mcgillacuddy Warning: this review will contain spoilers
I'm back everyone! It's been a while since I've done another review, but finals for the semester are coming up, so I gotta make sure I'm ready for the oncoming sh*t storm. By the way, I hope everyone out there is doing good in school. Keep those grades up everyone. They will only benefit you in the future. Anyways, enough about school. Let's do what we came here to do...

7.39 on MyAnimeList
Ranked #1970

My Thoughts and Review:
So during the time I was watching Boku no Hero Academia, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress came onto the scene as the #2 hottest new anime on KissAnime. Since Boku no Hero hyped me up for new anime at the time, I decided to check it out. First things first: what made me continue watching the series? The answer lies in the beginning of the anime. The first two episodes are FANTASTIC. One thing you will quickly realize is how similar the plot is to Attack on Titan. People have continuously compared this anime to AOT, and the first two episodes are convincing enough make viewers think that this anime could probably be even better than AOT. Did Kabaneri succeed in the long run? Let's break it down...

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is classic zombie anime. The anime itself takes place in a somewhat steampunk-ish era of Japan where mankind is on the neverending battle against the Kabane, which are a unique brand of zombies. They are more indestructible than average zombies with steel-plated hearts and unique abilities. A young engineer named Ikoma has been working for years to build a gun that's strong enough to pierce the heart of a Kabane, which is the only way to actually kill them. I'll point out that this didn't make any sense because all of the other weapons that other characters used had absolutely no problem destroying Kabane hearts. Anyways, soon an army of Kabane invade the city and Ikoma ends up on the bad side of it. After killing a Kabane with his new gun, he finds out that he himself has been bitten and is slowly turning into a Kabane. Fortunately, Ikoma is able to keep the infection from reaching his brain by literally choking himself out. After this experience, Ikoma becomes a Kabaneri, which is a half human and half Kabane. So yeah, remember from Attack on Titan? The Titans get through the walls of a city, kill people, Eren becomes a Titan himself and begins to lose faith and trust from others because of his instability. Now plant that in Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. The Kabane get through the walls of a city, kill people, Ikoma becomes a Kabane himself and begins to lose faith and trust from others because of his instability. Big difference, though, is that this plot is all summed up in just the first two episodes, and I have to admit, it was well done. It was action-packed, captivating, and it got me completely interested...

Then halfway through the season, I began to notice a change in the anime. It just became... boring all of a sudden. The action was still there, but it still didn't feel spectacular enough. The whole theme of this anime is based mostly around major action sequences, just like Attack on Titan, but they were half-assed. Barely any replay value could be found in them. They looked cool, but they were missing the overall grit of a good action sequence. Only few action sequences, mainly the ones with Mumei, were the most entertaining. The plot was also starting to become very cliche, which only works for an anime if you know what you're doing as a developer. Let's take Attack on Titan for example. This anime is disliked by some people mainly because of how cliche it is, but they overlook the fact that it's just wonderfully executed and superbly entertaining. The characters also make a huge impact on the mood and provide strong depth within the story. Now let's look at Kabaneri. Pretty much the only character that you can actually relate to is Ikoma. He just feels like a real character with real emotions and whatnot. Other characters were just huge burdens. They were either too douchebag or too kind. Ikoma had the best development of any other character. I could give credit to Mumei, but she was an overall bland character who I could care less for. Just because she's a badass doesn't mean that she's a good character. This is the problem I see with a lot of anime. If you're making an action/drama anime, your characters MUST be believable. Good examples of strong character development would be from anime like Cowboy Bebop, Hunter x Hunter, and, of course, Attack on Titan. Characters put a major dent in cliche plot devices and make anime enjoyable. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress fails to accomplish this by putting the spotlight only on Ikoma, and it felt like all of the other characters were meaningless. This made the cliche storyline become tedious, and there wasn't any solid action to back it up.

I can't take everything away from this anime, though. The animation is very clean and overall smooth. I wouldn't say it's high tier, but it provides some decent eye candy. Another thing I must give props to is the voice acting for the main protagonist. Tasuku Hatanaka does a fantastic job playing as Ikoma. He puts a lot of emotion in his role, making his character believable and lovable. Also, the soundtrack is composed by Hiroyuki Sawano, the same composer for the Attack on Titan soundtrack. Just like the soundtrack from AOT, there are plenty of great songs for Kabaneri that are worth checking out.

As flashy as this anime attempted to be, I felt cheated out of a better experience, but I can't call it a bad anime because it really isn't.

Overall 6.5/10:
I'll give them credit for trying. You can tell that they tried very, very hard to make this anime work. With a similar plot of AOT, it made me believe that it was going to be a fully fantastic anime, but AOT is still superior. Yes it has the top-notch art and soundtrack, but Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress fails to take cliches and turn them into morals that can hit your soul, something that AOT succeeded in. Would I recommend this anime? I would for anime fans who don't mind watching watered-down anime (i.e. Naruto Shippuden). This one lands directly in that category, but for anime fans who are only looking for the good stuff instead of wasting their time, you might as well bypass this one. It's not a bad anime, but it's just overwelcomed its stay.

6.5/10 Would watch the first two episodes again


Sometimes, when a fight happens, when it takes forever to end a fight, it is not exciting and boring because you just want to move on with the show. I also like relatable characters, not mary sues or too cruel characters. - visitor

Ugh, I can't stand those kinds of fights. The only anime where I can tolerate those kinds of battles is Hunter x Humter - Mcgillacuddy

*Hunter - Mcgillacuddy

Good review. Yes, I really didn’t like how the character development went. They only focused to develop Ikoma and Mumei’s one. Whilst I believe if they had more scenes with the other characters such as the Princess, Takumi and the others, it could have been pretty interesting.

Secondly, you said about how it all went boring after the first two episodes. I’ll say what that was, it was the fact that it couldn’t meet our expectations. As there were too many similarities with AOT, you will unconciously start comparing these two anime in your mind. At one point, you might find yourself expecting something better than AOT. I’ll be honest, its because the plot was better. A zombie apocalypse sounds more reasonable than a giant apocalypse out of nowhere. And better, they could switch places when the wall got breached. It wouldn’t be weird to expecting something better, right? But as I said, you will eventually find out that it won’t go as you expected and feel a bit cliche and bored too.

Thirdly, the explanations were too vague for an anime that has ended. Like how Ikoma stopped himself from being a Kabane or what was the difference between the weapon he made and the other normal ones.

And I also wanna chew them up for some parts of the last episodes. But I don’t wanna give any spoilers.

Leaving these aside it was a pretty descent anime, not a recommendable one but anime fans should like it.

That’s what my opinion is. Please, forgive me if I’ve troubled you with this McGillacuddy but I wanted to say these things for a while. - Undistinguished

No trouble at all. I agree with you on that. After watching AOT, this anime didn't really live up to the expectations I got out of the first two episodes. It would be better if this anime got a second season for more story development, but I think it ends there. - Mcgillacuddy

I don’t think there will be a good plot if a second season airs. Zombie based plots are all too cliche after all. - Undistinguished

Good review. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

Good review. - Skullkid755

If you like AOT, God Eater is an anime I can recommend. I personally thought Kabaneri was amazing but it's just my personal thought. Maybe God Eater will be closer to AOT level of greatness than Kabaneri will for you. - SelfDestruct

I'll check that out, then. Thanks - Mcgillacuddy