First Impressions: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Summary:

On the brink of an industrial revolution, horrific creatures referred to as Kabaneri begin to surface due to a deadly virus infecting members of the human population, tearing through the flesh of the uninfected populace to satisfy their constant hunger. When bitten by one of these monsters, the victim suffers a fate worse than death by becoming a Kabane themselves.

To escape this plague of undead beings, the remnants of humanity constructed a gigantic wall on the island of Hinomoto to protect the little people they have left against the threat of the virus, with no way in or out the city other than gigantic, armoured trains. After creating a weapon he believes can defeat the Kabane, young engineer Ikoma dreams of the day that he will be able to save humanity with his newly formed creation. However, he is not aware that his chance may come sooner than he thinks, and not as expected.

Rating: 1/5

Impressions:

I’m a little late with this one. In fact, I’m ridiculously late with this one. I didn’t even have this blog up and running when this show first aired, and I never even gave it the time of day back then.

The poster looked boring, the teasers gave the impression that the show was unorigina and I’d heard that in the second half, the story “falls apart” from a lot of people who’s opinions I value.

As a result, I never gave Kabaneri much thought. I dismissed it as something that just wouldn’t be worth my time. That all changed yesterday, when I found myself with nothing to marathon and decided “Hey, some people said this show is pretty fun, so why not give it a chance?”

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So I gave it a chance, and after the first episode, I can honestly say I wasn’t wrong about anything I thought before I watched it.

I’ll start by addressing the elephant in the room: this show is a humongous rip-off of Attack on Titan. In every single way. Once again, Wit Studio has proven that they can’t do anything else but adapt or create shows that mimic the premise, atmosphere, aesthetic and general feeling of Attack on Titan.

I liked Attack on Titan. I liked it a hell of a lot. It was a great show, it was fairly original and Wit Studio did a fantastic job putting the series together. I also liked Owari no Seraph quite a lot. Sure, it took a lot of its ideas from Attack on Titan, but at least that show had a bunch of original ideas of its own, conveyed a very different feeling and most of all, it had a completely different narrative focus, drawing its attention to a conflict of best friends as opposed to that of “us versus them”.

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This was awesome!

 

But Kabaneri does nothing unique like Owari no Seraph did. Nothing is inventive at all. From the hot-headed, angry and angsty protagonist, to the gigantic walls built to keep humanity safe, to the evil threat with very specific weak points all the way to human-kabane hybrids, every single idea that this show churns out is blatantly lifted from Attack on Titan. They are put through the meat grinder until it’s a tragic mess of what was originally a cool concept.

I will give the series credit where it’s due though. The directing is pretty good. This was clearly someones baby and they put a lot of time, effort and dedication into making this production as beautifully choreographed as possible. The action scenes are outstanding and in general things look alright, the setting in particular. That being said, I’m not a fan of the character designs. Half of them are ugly and the other half are just really generic and uninspired. So far Ikoma is the only one who even remotely stands out visually, with the rest of the characters, the females especially, looking like a bunch of generic stock characters from the 2000’s. The art style is unappealing to me, and for a show that’s main strength is its visuals, that’s not a good thing. At all.

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Just… Ugh!

As for the plot itself, it’s not been doing anything all that spectacular either. It’s Attack on Titan with zombies with an equally angry and angst-ridden, albeit slightly more creative and inventive, protagonist who happens to become a human-kabane hybrid who will no doubt have special powers and tear the unstoppable threat of the undead to shreds. And it’s all done in the edgiest way possible. The series is constantly trying to emulate the grim and bleak atmosphere of Attack on Titan, but it just winds up feeling like a super angsty nu-metal CD for teenagers. It’s as edgy as edgy can be. It’s trying way too hard. There’s a scene where the main character strangles himself with a belt to stop the spreading of the virus, and it’s done in the edgiest way possible. I get it, it’s logical, but did they have to go all out on the edginess?

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Seriously…?

And don’t get me wrong, I like edgy stuff, but it’s all about execution. There’s Coheed and Cambria edgy, where stuff is esoteric, deep and actually has thematic importance to the narrative, then there’s Linkin Park edgy, where everything feels overly angry, grim and depressing for no real reason other than “this is what’s cool now.” Kabaneri is the latter.

And to top it all off everything going on is just so boring.

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I’m two episodes into this show right now, and I don’t really care about anything that’s going on. I’m not invested. I’m bored. Really bored. I don’t care about Ikoma. I don’t care about humanity. I don’t care who wins or loses. Nothing matters to me at all, other than seeing cool stuff happen in some pretty okay directed scenes.

And it’s probably because I’ve seen this all before. Twice now. Attack on Titan already did it first and it did it better. Owari no Seraph did it again, and also did it better.

This show isn’t special, it has no identity of its own and it’s incredibly dry, boring and overly edgy for no real reason other than to “be like Attack on Titan.” Yet, it misses everything that made Attack on Titan so great in the first place.

I went into this show expecting an Attack on Titan rip-off and instead I got something far worse. I got a boring Attack on Titan rip-off that feels uninspired and lacks any punch or substance at all.

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It’s a mediocre spectacle at best, and considering this is regarded as the “better” half of the series, I’m not expecting things to get any better.

But I do tend to disagree with the consensus more often than not, so maybe it will get better for me?

I guess we’ll need to wait and see…

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What were your First Impressions of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress?

 

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21 thoughts on “First Impressions: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

  1. You weren’t kidding when you said merciless!
    If you thought the first few episodes were boring – I’m not sure if that would improve over time for you. I haven’t finished the series – I stopped mid-way; you make some valid points. I thought at the very least Mumei stood out – even though she’s bratty and I think her loyalty flip flops (from what I can remember). I still enjoyed what I watched despite obvious plot flaws and that it was a rip-off of AoT (and I like AoT a ton!) I hear Kabaneri ends with a cop-out. Maybe if the series was extended for more than the 12 episodes it got it would’ve been better. But the world will never know. I’d rather see AoT anyways – and I have a newfound appreciation for AoT after being caught up to the manga. LoL. Great (scathing) review! I enjoyed reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah… I was pretty harsh on this one, maybe unnecessarily harsh, but I was in the mood to be harsh, so I was. I still tried to be civilised about it though, since I feel every show, no matter how bad, has some merit to it.

      Interesting to see you stopped mid-way. Any particular reason why? I’m definitely going to finish it off, since I pretty much never drop anything, so I’ll wind up reviewing the whole series eventually!

      I haven’t quite seen enough of the cast to fully judge them, but Mumei definitely made more of an impression than the rest of the cast with her strong personality and charisma, something I feel the rest of the cast kind of lacked (so far anyway).

      I’ve also heard the same about the ending, and I’m not too surprised. It seems like the kind of show that would end in such a way, although I’ll reserve judgement until I actually get to the end myself.

      Like you said, I’d rather watch Attack on Titan and have a second season of it (which is coming next April) than watch Kabaneri, especially with the recent events in the Manga.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I finally get to respond to this! Work was a struggle – but I was able to tough it out but left the moment the clock hit 5:30pm.

        I have to say I’m the same as you – I very very rarely drop shows despite how bad they are. I just don’t like leaving things half finished. I haven’t finished Kabaneri just because I was watching it with my cousin – but she got kinda busy and I felt bad watching ahead without her so I put it on hold. She did the same thing to me with My Hero Academia!! The thing is those few weeks turned into months – and i actually started rewatching both of those on my own since it’s been awhile. She really liked Kabaneri too – but that’s because she hasn’t been enlightened to AoT. She wont watch it no matter how many times I suggest it -weirdo.

        I actually liked kabaneri even though it’s a total knock-off of AoT, like Raistlin0903 said below, I found Ikoma to be much less whiny compared to Eren. He seemed to be more proactive about getting things done to defeat the Kabane (i.e. improving a weapon) whereas Eren was given a power to deal with them – otherwise, as we saw, Eren would’ve died right off the bat because of his prone to act first before thinking things through. I also really liked the character design – especially the princess (i think shes a princess?) I thought she was a beautifully designed character. I also am partial to Mumei’s “brother”. But he was sketchy. I need to finish it to understand him more.

        The ending I heard about – I figured they had to resort to a cop-out because well it was a 12 episode series. I had assumed it was going to be 24 at least. I think it would’ve benefited from it. There were still a lot of questions, but without a doubt I thought the animation was fantastic. However I did find inconsistencies with Ikoma’s voice and sometimes his skin color looked grayish green it was weird compared to everyone else.

        This was super long; but I really enjoyed this review! 🙂

        Like

  2. One of the things I always like about movies, tv series and Anime series, is the fact that everyone experiences it differently. I am a huge Attack on Titan fan myself, and seeing this was from the studio, I gave it a try. And I was not disappointed by it in the least. In fact I loved the setting with the trains (it reminded me a bit of the great movie Snowpiercer). Another thing I liked about it was that I found the main character Ikoma far more interesting than Eren from Attack on Titan (I know, blasphemy right lol😂). Honestly I loved this show. I definitely agree with the point that this is a Attack on Titan clone. It has a lot of similarities, and that is pretty much undeniable. But I can’t help it, I really enjoyed it.
    And that brings me back to my opening sentence, always fun to see someone experience it totally differently. Great post though, and maybe, just maybe, it will grow on you as the series progresses. Sometimes miracles can happen, but if not, I will still look forward to your final review 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree with you there. Despite having a different opinion from my own, I respect yours and find it really interesting to hear about your experience with the show. Different perspectives are always interesting to me, so thanks for giving yours!

      I will admit, despite my complaints, the steampunk setting was pretty darn awesome, and while I wasn’t the biggest fan of Ikoma, he’s certainly more interesting than Eren, who was pretty standard in my opinion. It’s cool that your love for AoT helped to enhance your experience with this show, while it did the opposite for me. Who would’ve thought huh? 😀

      Thanks a lot for the kind words despite being a fan of the show. It’s these kind of comments that make the experience of blogging exciting and engaging for me, to see mature and clean discussions rise from my posts. If this were MAL of some other website, people would be calling me names or being mean because I disagreed with them. I like that we can avoid that! 😀

      I’m hoping I grow to enjoy this show more over time. It wouldn’t be the first time this happened (ask me about Rage of Bahamut: Genesis sometime).

      I’ll definitely write up a full series review when I finish the show, so stay tuned.

      Thanks for reading and for your thoughts! It was super interesting to see your perspective!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow, thank you very much for your own kind words, and this great response. Haha, yeah I know what you mean. When I sometimes see comments on YouTube videos, and how they can quickly spiral out of control, that seems totally crazy to me. Weird how people can let themselves go like that, just if someone has a different opinion.
        I sometimes change an opinion on a show. The most recent was Coppelion. I was almost ready to quit that show, when all of a sudden things changed, and it turned into something truly great 😀 As for this one, well there are certainly some great episodes still ahead, so hopefully it will grow on you. And if not, well that is ofcourse okay too 😀 I will definitely stay tuned for the upcoming review either way 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m still waiting for this to actually be available somewhere I can watch it and I’m looking forward to watching it. Reviews of the show have been everything from amazing right down to total rip-off, waste of time and I’m really curious as to how I’ll take to the show (or not). If you watch more I’m interested in your final thoughts on the series.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s not available on Crunchyroll yet? That’s a shame!

      It’ll certainly be interesting to see what side of the spectrum you wind up on. Looking forward to seeing your own thoughts on the series.

      I’ll most likely do a full series review after finishing it up, so stay tuned! Hopefully my opinion improves.

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your impressions are quite on point. Despite all the critique I’d like to argue that the artstyle is one of the positives of the show (well, probably the one thing that makes it a bit unique). Character designs (as you correctly pointed out) are made by the same guy who did them for Gunbuster and various Macross entries, but for me they look quite pleasant and sticking out from the usual ones we get these days. And there’s Hiroyuki Sawano. Though even with all these positives it’s not enough to make the show great.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you!

      Yeah, don’t get me wrong, I definitely think the visuals are, overall, one of the shows strengths. While they don’t necessarily appeal to my tastes and look a little dated design-wise (due to the character designer you mentioned), the visuals are definitely unique and stand out from the typical style we see today, which is a strength on its own. The animation is pretty spot on too, especially during the action scenes, which wound up being the best part of these two episodes.

      But yeah, I’m struggling otherwise. I’ll see it through to the end, but I’m doubtful my opinion will improve.

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, apart from the visuals there is little of substance. I’m also doubtful that your opinion will improve – the appearance of the villain out of nowhere near the very end (apart from other things) doesn’t improve the show.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I wouldn’t say I hate it, but I’m not exactly loving it either.

      The problem is that it lacks originality in its ideas and the execution of said ideas is pretty terrible.

      Of course that’s my opinion, you’re entitled to yours!

      Thanks for reading.

      Like

  5. I’ve said it quite a few times, Wit have really pigeon-holed themselves with the same type of anime. AoT, Owari and now Kabaneri. Owari is just terrible – well the first season was. The second is better. The visuals were nice when they were consistent. I did love the OP/ED. If AoT, Owari weren’t around then the actual premesis would have been better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, they’ve definitely gotten complacent in terms of what kind of stories they’re trying to tell.

      Sad to hear you didn’t enjoy Owari no Seraph though. I actually really enjoyed it. It was a little messy and had a bit too many ideas that all collided with each other, but it went in an interesting direction and I actually found the cast more interesting than AoT’s. Mika in particular was far more interesting than anyone from AoT in my opinion.

      If Kabaneri wasn’t in the shadow of AoT or Owari, it’d probably stand out a bit more, but I still think it’d be pretty mediocre at best.

      Thanks for reading and your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I actually liked this series (speaking of which, my review’s still coming up. LOL!) I would have to agree though that it isn’t so original, and yes it reminded me a lot about Attack on Titan too when I watched the 1st episode. And because of that, I got even more interested to see how they make it different (if they even try).

    Mumei particularly got me hooked because I felt like her character has something more to offer. Anyway, it isn’t something as memorable as AOT (if we make it as the basis), but among the series on its season, Kabaneri’s a pretty decent show.

    I hope you give it a shot, though! Maybe 2 or 3 more episodes? Of course, I’d like to hear your thoughts on them too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, well I look forward to seeing your eventual review! It’d be interesting to read an opposite perspective from my own.

      Interesting that its similarities to AoT are what made you even more interested in seeing how things would go. I never thought of it that way.

      I admit I haven’t seen enough of the characters to offer a fair judgement, this is just my first impressions of course. I’m hoping they get more interesting as time goes on.

      I’d like to agree, but that season had Tanaka-Kun is Always Listless, Kiznaiver, My Hero Academia, Bungou Stray Dogs and even Re:Zero, all which I was instantly hooked on within minutes.

      Of course that’s my opinion though, I’m happy you could enjoy the show and that it was a highlight of its season for you!

      I’ll definitely be finishing it, since I almost never drop shows, so expect a full review when I do. Maybe I’ll wind up loving it by the end!

      Hope to see your review soon. Thanks for reading and for your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

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