Do we have a new Attack on Titan on our hands?
The comparisons will be made, the resemblance between Attack on Titan and the new Koutetsujou no Kabaneri anime, airing spring 2016. Koutetsujou no Kabaneri has gotten quite the attention within the community. With community I don’t only refer to the anime enthusiasts, but also artists on Pixiv. Of course there’ll be overlap within both groups.
Koutetsujou no Kabaneri centers around a steam punk world where mankind has barricaded itself behind walls to protect itself from Kabane, aggressive zombie like creatures that can run. We focus on Ikoma and Mumei who ride along a train inhabited by humans, which instantly sparks the relation to the movie Snowpiercer. I assume the train is used to transport humans from location to location and supplying said communities with the necessary goods.
Ikoma is a regular mechanic with a secretive drive to create a mother of all weapon to shoot the living hell out of the Kabane. His character falls in line with a lot of shounen anime where a seemingly weak character becomes the savior of the day. He didn’t really come as a very likeable at first and needs some polishing. Maybe this is due to the voice actor, who in some respect fits the character, but on the flipside comes off as a bit of an odd choice for this type of setting.
We don’t know a lot about Ikoma from the start and what drives his bloodlust to kill of the Kabane instead of just fleeing like all the others. I guess his parents were brutally murdered by the Kabane and his father was working on a device, but couldn’t finish it due to his unannounced premature death. I would be pleasantly surprised if the back-story of Ikoma proves different.
Mumei on the other hand was a strong character from the start, but this might be more of personal preference. Her cute appearance combined with her fierce fighting power was a really welcome addition to the first episode, and especially in the second, where she became a metaphor for ‘not all hope is lost.’ I also like her character design that blends a modern steam punk world and a Japan focused on tradition.
Diving deeper into the background of the show itself, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is directed by Araki Tetsurou who was also the director of Death Note, Guilty Crown and Shingeki no Kyojin. The influences of the last two is what shines most in the first two episodes. The musical choice, and especially collaborating with Egoist, give the familiar Guilty Crown vibe. Music throughout the episodes also follows the same style, may it be less Pop, it is queued at the most intense of scenes.
From a storytelling perspective it is unmistakably apparent that Shingeki no Kyojin is running through the veins of the show. The zombielike creatures are reminiscent of the giants we know all too well. There isn’t much revealed about the mysterious bluish creatures that run around and make life miserable for those who are not yet infected. Infection takes place by a bite from one of them. Characters won’t die off like they did in Shingeki no Kyojin where they weren’t bitten into small little pieces.
Which brings me to next point of the show, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is not for the faint of heart. Although drawn, it is quite gruesome with blood and body parts gushing every which way. Much like Shingeki no Kyojin which also featured the necessary visual violence. It wouldn’t surprise me if the director was very explicit that he wanted to emphasize the violent aspect of the world the characters are moving about. The visual design gives an early 2000’s which gives a welcoming breeze of fresh air among the well polished shows out there.