Trains! Zombies! Really blatant references! This show has it all!

 

The world has become overrun with metal-hearted zombies called Kabane. Humanity lives in walled settlements called “Stations”, while fortified trains travel between stations delivering supplies. Young maintenance worker Ikoma dreams of creating a weapon that will be more effective against the Kabane than the current steam guns wielded by the warrior upper class.

One day, while performing routine cleaning on the train Koutetsujou (Iron Fortress), Ikoma steps in to prevent a man believed to have been bitten from being shot on sight, suggesting that they observe him instead. Ikoma is brutally beaten. During the beating, it is discovered that he has been collecting Kabane hearts to experiment on, an illegal activity. He is thrown in jail. A mysterious girl, Mumei, approaches but does not rescue him, and he picks the lock himself and escapes.

Another train, overrun with Kabane, crashes into and destroys the settlement’s wall. As people begin evacuating to the Koutetsujou, Ikoma tests out the gun he has been working on. It successfully pierces a Kabane’s metal heart, killing the Kabane, but Ikoma is bitten in the process. He uses a strange device made of metal straps to seemingly remove the Kabane virus from his body. Meanwhile, Mumei reveals herself to be a skilled fighter, successfully eliminating Kabane in her own escape to the Koutetsujou.

Mumei is so pretty!

Well, I’ll just get the obvious comparison out of the way. Yes, this show has a lot in common with Attack on Titan. The walled cities, the inhuman-yet-human advancing enemies, the main character possibly becoming or at least picking up characteristics of the enemy. Even something that strongly resembles 3DMG appears during the OP. However, the question I tried to ask myself in writing this review is “if you ignore the similarities, does this show have anything else going for it?”

And the answer, to me at least, is yes. The art is strong, the music is appropriately dramatic, and the designs of the cities, trains, and weapons, while possibly a bit too steampunk for some, are pretty cool in my opinion. Because the first episode primarily focused on the breaking down of the walls, the characters didn’t get a ton of development, but Ikoma did manage to interest me (being more of a researcher/developer than a hotheaded fighter, unique for the protagonist of this kind of show) and Mumei, while her clothes are a bit short, is pretty badass.

hello friends I am here

And, similarities aside, I’m interested in the world this show presents. The Kabane are a pretty unique take on zombies, what with the whole “metal heart” thing making even usual methods of zombie-fighting unworkable. And I love how the world manages to keep a distinctly Japanese feel, with the ruling government being referred to as “shogun” and “bushi” and characters being shown in more traditional clothing and practicing kyuudo (archery). Plotwise, the last few minutes of the episode felt very rushed and crowded, with so much happening at once – Ikoma being bitten, Mumei’s companion dying and her battle, the general populace trying to escape. And exactly how Ikoma seemingly stopped the Kabane virus was not explained at all. Writing a synopsis for this episode was pretty hard, because so much happened – but that’s action/horror anime for you.

So, despite obvious similarities to certain other popular anime, I found myself really enjoying Koutetsujou. It’s got action, it’s got horror (I already find Kabane scarier than Titans ever were), it’s got some pretty neat worldbuilding. My biggest complaint is that now I have even more shows to decide between when picking something to review this season!

Out of 5 Dios:

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And then Ikoma was Black Jack.

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