Anime / Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

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All aboard the badass Train!

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (甲鉄城のカバネリ Kōtetsujō no Kabaneri) is an anime series produced by Wit Studio. The series is directed by Tetsurō Araki (Highschool of the Dead, Attack on Titan) and written by Ichirō Ōkouchi (Code Geass), with music by Hiroyuki Sawano (Attack on Titan, Kill la Kill, Aldnoah.Zero) and original character designs by Haruhiko Mikimoto (Macross 7). The series debuted on Fuji TV's noitaminA block in April 2016. A prologue for the anime premiered for a week in theaters across Japan beginning on March 18.

For twenty years now, the island of Hinomoto has been ravaged by the Kabane - undead with bones of steel. These monsters reduced the once prosperous feudal nation into a wasteland, its last vestiges of civilization being walled station-cities. The only connections between the stations are giant armored trains known as Hayajiro. Every train trip may very well be the last, as even the slightest bite may inflict the "curse" of the Kabane, with the only way to avert the transformation being death. The struggle continues even if they arrive safely - attendants are checked over thoroughly for bite marks, and immediate executions on the spot if the "curse" is found are the norm. However, even life inside the stations is difficult, as the gulf between poor and rich is staggering, and the "bushi" caste rules over the common folk with an iron fist, using the fear of Kabane to control the population. Even then, more and more stations fall to the undead. It's a world ruled by despair and fear inside and outside the walls.

Ikoma, a mechanic working on board the Hayajiro, is determined to find new means to combat the Kabane, in spite of the fear-induced madness the populace has fallen into. He is working on a new weapon that can penetrate the iron bones of the Kabane and destroy their only weakness - their heart. His research also leads him to believe that only one bite from the Kabane is not a death sentence, which puts him at odds with the bushi. He will have to quickly put his findings into practice when a train crashes into his station-city engulfed in flames and Kabane. In order to save what few stations remain from the Kabane, Ikoma will have to master his new weapon, gather allies and, most importantly... survive.

Amazon Prime has the streaming rights to the series. Crunchyroll acquired the home video license for the series (along with merchandising rights), and plans to release it on Blu-ray and DVD with an English dub.

Character tropes should go on Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress's Character page and tropes from specific episodes go on the Recap page.

This work contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade:
    • The Wazatori's swords in Episode 4 can slice through metal barricades with no ill effects. (This may have more to do with the Wazatori's inhuman strength than the actual blade, though.)
    • Once upgraded with the metal from a Kabane's heart-cage, so can the crew's swords.
    • Similarly, Biba possessed a Kabane-bone sword.
  • Action Girl: Mumei can decapitate a Kabane with little effort.
    • Ayame. Although she only uses her bow once on-screen, the opening does her pulling a Back-to-Back Badasses moment with Kurusu.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Ikoma's gun. Only at nearly point-blank range, though. Also, jet bullets, also created by Ikoma.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Two full stations of people, brutally murdered by having Kabane unleashed on them. Everyone shrugs. Several of the men serving under Biba and implicit in the massacre are accepted on the escaping train, no questions asked.
  • Badass Bookworm: Ikoma tries to use his inventions in an attempt to combat the Kabane and is fairly successful.
  • Badass Creed: The bushi and Mumei shout "Rokkon Shojou" before fighting the Kabane, which is a Shinto doctrine referring to the practice of purifying one's self through the detachment of the six senses.
    • The Hunters have "Forged in Fire, Proven by Conflict" as their creed.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Takumi is killed by Biba. Mumei is betrayed by Biba. And countless people were killed by Biba's selfish plans. However, both Mumei and Ikoma are able to continue being Kabaneri and are aboard the Koutetsujou with the other residents.
  • Blessed with Suck: Kabaneri have Super Strength, Super Reflexes, are Immune to Bullets, and are not affected by the elementsnote , but they have to face the constant fear and prejudice, and they cannot use their powers for too long, lest they suffer Phlebotinum Overload. Turns out they also need human blood to survive.
  • BFG: The Hayajiro has a cannon turret that can expose the Black Smoke's heart.
  • Bookends: The series begins with the crew of the Kotetsujou making a narrow escape from a Kabane-infested station. The final episode ends the same way as they ride off into the distance to more parts unknown.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Episode seven heavily implies that Kurusu has one on Ayame.
  • Breather Episode: After the frantic pace of the first six episodes, the cast finally makes it to a station that hasn't been overrun with Kabane. Much of episode seven is about restocking on supplies and celebrating a holiday.
  • Citadel City: The station-cities are surrounded by giant steel walls, some of them even coming with a moat, with the only means of going in and out being via a Hayajiro. The Station of Kongokaku is mentioned as being the greatest of them all, and as such the Shogun's residence.
  • Collared by Fashion: All Kabaneri wear something around their neck as a Power Limiter normally, such as Mumei's ribbon. Horobi is the straightest example, wearing a very obvious metal collar that unfolds into a Cool Mask when she releases it.
  • Cool Train: The Hayajiro, giant armored trains that are the only way of communication between the station-cities. Moreover, the elaborate boiler startup sequence in Episode 2, with key-driven security interlocks and boiler core installation, implies that the engine's boiler is actually nuclear.
  • Crapsack World: The rampaging Kabane outside and the injustice and paranoia inside the station-cities makes Hinomoto island a place truly devoid of any hope. How bad it is? One of the most essential items to have on a train trip is a suicide pack. Until episode 7's Shitori Station, all stations seen on-screen had been overrun by Kabane.
  • Darkest Hour: Episode 10 and 11. At the end of 10, Biba foils Ikoma's attempt at a breakout, Takumi takes a bullet and dies in Ikoma's arms, Ikoma gets his arm shot off trying to fight back, and a brainwashed Mumei stabs Ikoma through the heart and flings his body off the train. Then in episode 11, Biba successfully overthrows the Shogun and unleashes the Kabane inside Kongoukaku. Ikoma is revealed to be alive (Mumei was Fighting from the Inside and pulled her blow) but stuck in a Heroic B.S.O.D. on the Despair Event Horizon, and Mumei has been turned into the core of another Black Smoke monster. And just when it looks like things can't get any worse... they don't. Kurusu comes back from his Disney Death with a pair of MacGuffins that just might be able to set things right.
  • Death by Cameo: In episode 3, Miyuu Sawai, better known as the title character in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, voices Shino, a pregnant woman who turns into a Kabane and Mumei is forced to kill her.
  • Defiant to the End: Ikoma attempts this at the end of episode two, when he rushes to the manual release lever to lower the drawbridge so that the remaining survivors could escape. Despite being attacked by multiple Kabane, he manages to reach the lever and activates it. Ultimately subverted when his friend Takumi throws a chain at him, with Mumei tying him to it so he could escape with them.
  • Degraded Boss: The Wazatori variant of the Kabane poses a major threat when it first appears in Episode 4. By the next episode, however, the engineers have invented jet bullets and blades made out of Kabane bone and any future Wazatori that appear get taken out easily.
  • Determinator: In the first episode, Ikoma manages to overcome a bite by putting on an iron apparatus and basically hanging himself in order to hold off the infection.
  • Doomed Home Town: Ikoma seems to have come from a town or station that was overrun in the past. Aragane becomes one for the most of the cast after the first few episodes.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Black Smoke monster. Nothing is known about it, and its existence is only barely alluded to prior to its actual arrival. Whatever it is, though, it is not friendly.
  • Elite Zombie: Wazatori. They are Kabane who have lived long enough that they have learned how to fight as effectively as humans, just through sheer experience.
  • Fan Disservice: If you look closely at the Kabane horde shots you'll see some of the women with their upper bodies fully exposed. On any normal human this would be massive Fanservice, but on the rotting and shambling Kabane? Not so much.
  • Faster Than They Look: The Black Smoke, despite being an ugly giant made from corpses, can move almost as fast as a Hayajiro, a train. It's movements, however, are far from graceful.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In episode two, the Koutetsujou runs into a problem trying to activate the bridge out of Aragane Station. Pay attention, and you'll see that Lord Yomokawa's severed arm is jamming the mechanism.
  • Foreshadowing: In episode three, Mumei seems to sense Kabane somewhere on the train and barges into the next car, where a pregnant woman named Shino is. Cue the end of the episode, where Shino has turned into a Kabane.
  • Funny Background Event: Yukina is doing jacket-less stretches in the background while the other characters are talking.
  • Government Conspiracy: Enoku, a former employee of Mumei's brother, states that the Shogunate is gathering weapons to use against human beings, rather than Kabane. For what purpose is unknown, but considering his threats to Mumei, his ostensible friend, we can deduce that their side is not quite so blameless.
  • Gratuitous English: One of the Koutetsujou mechanics uses English words in his speech. Though, given that he has blond hair in a style resembling 17th-century British wigs, and speaks with a heavy American accent, he's probably just a foreigner.
  • Groin Attack: Mumei is very fond of them.
  • Heroic Bastard: Biba plays this up a little for sympathy points, since his father, the Shogun, has disowned him. His actions push him closer to Bastard Bastard territory though.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Ikoma definitely hasn't got used to his new state yet.
  • It Can Think: Wazatori are sword-wielding Kabane that have either retained enough tactical intelligence to use their blades to maximum effectiveness while hunting, or older infected who have learned how to swordfight after observing skirmishes between Kabane and the remains of humanity.
  • Immune to Bullets: Played with. The heart cage of the Kabane isn't actually immune to bullets, however it takes several direct hits in quick succession to punch through the armored shell, which in practice means nobody except Mumei can pull it off. Becomes less of an issue once the heroes upgrade their arsenal with jet bullets.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Mumei does this to some Kabane after she manages to find a spear. She would does this to Biba in the finale.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: Ayame's steam-powered bow.
  • In a Single Bound: Mumei is capable of making jumps several stories high.
  • Irony: At one point Mumei brags about how her brother was the one to give her such a wonderful name. Explanation 
    • Lord Kensho (Ayame's father) is supposed to protect his station like a good lord would. Instead, he almost dooms the survivors when he becomes a Kabane and jams an important mechanism to lower the bridge out of Aragane, which in episode 6 also turns out to be an accelerator.
  • Istanbul Not Constantinople: Hinomoto Island is Japan, or at least the main island of Honshu, but it's never called that. "Hi-no-Moto" means "The Base of the Sun", and is the result we get if the characters 「日本」 are read by the "native" kun'yomi variant. It's just that they are much more commonly read by the Chinese-inspired on'yomi version: "Nihon" or "Nippon".
  • Karma Houdini: Subverted. While Uryuu may have been welcomed into the Koutetsujou by Ayame, it's clear by the Armor-Piercing Slap by one of the young passengers, that he is not forgiven.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Downplayed, a small portion of Ikoma's hair turns white while he tries to stop the Kabane virus, and his skin takes on a faintly greenish pallor.
  • Made of Iron: Kabaneri are much tougher than humans. Mumei in particular survived being buried under tons of rocks in a cave in with no real damage to her body. This is also literal in the case of the Kabane, what with their armor-plated hearts.
  • Megane: Ikoma wears glasses.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Once the crew of the Koutetsujou gets a chance to closely examine Ikoma's rivet gun, they are able to design "jet bullets" that are far more effective than their normal steam rifle ammo, as well as fashion hardened blades coated in the material from Kabane heart-cages that are much more durable.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In Episode 5, Mumei goes against Ikoma's wishes and charges the boiler room where the Kabane are nesting. Her actions end up distracting Ikoma and the others from completing their mission, alert every Kabane in the station to their position, and nearly get her killed when she goes over her time limit.
    • And again in episode 9, where Mumei blindly follows Biba's order on lowering one of the bridges to the station, which allowed his men to lead a horde of Kabane to overrun the place.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Shown a few times.
    • In the first episode, a bushi is grabbed by a Kabane. His friend bravely helps him pull out, but has his thumb bitten off. All his comrades immediately point their guns at him, forcing him to commit suicide.
    • Once Ikoma is discovered to be a Zombie Infectee, he's at first shot at, and knocked out of the train. However, he still has enough strength to reach the gate release lever and pull it, and after being rescued back onto the train, he is also told to commit suicide despite having just saved their lives. Mumei then intervenes, and says that he's a Kabaneri, not quite a Kabane, but not quite human anymore either, showing her own glowing heart.
  • Off with His Head!: Mumei often kills Kabane in this fashion. Kurusu also decapitates a few Kabane.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The appearance of Wazatori, Kabane that wield weapons and actually know how to use them.
    • And then there is something known as the "Black Smoke". Whatever it is (hundreds of Kabane melded into a single giant colony), it is big, ugly, and it definitely hasn't come in peace...
    • Though Ikoma didn't completely trust Biba to begin with, seeing Biba smile when he kills Enoku prompts this moment.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Kabaneri need to drink blood in order to survive. Going too long without eating results in them actively seeking it out. Episode three ends with not only this revelation, but with Ikoma looming over Ayame, apparently going in to feed on her.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They follow traditional infection rules and have the uncommon Super Strength, but also have Volcanic Veins and are particularly agile. Also they can apparently can only be killed by destroying their iron-sheathed heart or decapitation but the latter method is exceptionally difficult. They also show signs of being intelligent than your average zombie as they can wield weapons, operate the Fusoujou and ram it into Aragane, and as well as use sneak attacks. They also crave blood, pushing them closer to Vampires.
  • Pile Bunker: Ikoma's modified nailgun weapon, which is powerful enough to blow straight through the Kabane's cast-iron hearts, and then some.
  • Power Limiter: All Kabaneri shown have some form of collar around their neck to control their infection. Ikoma keeps his all the time, whereas Mumei usually releases hers whenever she fights.
  • Properly Paranoid: One retainer pulls a gun on Biba during his meeting with a station lord, claiming he can talk just as well with a gun to his head. Shame he didn't do the same to Biba's bodyguard, though.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Ikoma has naturally red eyes, fitting his angry personality. Apparently it's not uncommon.
  • Runaway Train: The Fusoujou, when it does arrive. The entire train has been taken over by Kabane, and is little more than the railway's equivalent of a plague ship. The ominous whistle helps sell the Ghost Train aspect as well. And for a dash of irony, it's implied that the Fusoujou is usually late.
  • Rule of Cool: Giant armored steam trains! Steel-skinned zombies! Dystopic Steam Punk feudal Japan! Steam-gun wielding Samurai! It's as if the authors consciously try to overwhelm the viewers Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Played with. In the first episode, a man who's injured tries to get away from the guards carrying out the Kabane bite checks because he doesn't want to be killed. Ikoma steps in and tries to say that the rules are: people who show signs of potentially being bitten are to be imprisoned for three days so they can be released if its a false alarm, not shot on sight. Ikoma is both following the rules and doing what's right. He was doing what was right on two levels: The injury really wasn't a bite, and the man was killed for no good reason. He would have lived had the Bushi listened to Ikoma.
  • Schizo Tech: It's Feudal Japan with a tech level straight out of Jules Verne novels and more.
  • Shout-Out: Seems to be the one to Metro 2033 (in addition to the inevitable Titans comparison), as the series follows basically the same premise, only with subway replaced by the overland railroad and the mutants with the iron-hearted zombies. The comparison becomes even stronger with the reveal of the third game in the series, Metro: Exodus, which devotes much more of its time to the surface and use of trains to travel across Russia.
  • Shown Their Work: Kabane have iron-caged hearts few conventional weapons could pierce, and decapitating them (another sure way to kill them) is exceedingly difficult. That's why suicide packs that everyone carry in this Crapsack World are essentially shaped charges, which in real life are used to pierce vehicle armor and such.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The Amazon subtitles use some oddly outdated romanizations for Japanese names, mostly for the trains. What they call "Kotetsujyou" would be more commonly spelled as "Koutetsujou" or "Kōtetsujō" today. Another example is the name "Hodsumi" which is technically not wrong, but you would be far more likely to find the more contemporary romanization of "Hozumi".
  • Spiritual Successor: Appears to be this to Attack on Titan in terms of the basic scenario and certain main characters.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Ayame, the daughter of the man in charge of the station Ikoma lives in, is polite and doesn't seem to be too fond of the guards' hair-trigger temper.
  • Steam Punk: Big steam trains, steam-powered rifles, and the stations are all surrounded by metal walls and have steam pipes strewn everywhere. The weapon that Ikoma's invented appears to be revolutionary because it combines steam power with an explosive propellant, suggesting that gunpowder is either not widely known, or is simply not available in sufficient quantities to be used in weapons.
  • Super Strength: Both Kabane themselves and Kabaneri.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: A mild case, as you have to really be paying close attention to the details in the PV to realize what it spoils, and a lot of the spoilers only become apparent after getting through the first episode. In short:
    • You know which characters introduced in the first episode will make it onto the train evacuating the station.
    • You can figure out that Mumei is given special treatment because she has enough agility and strength to go toe to toe with the Kabane.
    • It's easy to figure out that the Kabaneri referred to in the title are people who've been infected to some degree but maintain their humanity, and that some see them as valuable allies while others fear them.
    • Related to the above two entries: Ikoma overcoming a bite has turned him into a Kabaneri, hence why he's fighting alongside Mumei in the trailer.
    • Ikoma is going to use his gun on the front lines.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Mumei thought opening the gate was to let her friends' train in, not let the station be overrun by Kabane.
  • Villain Decay: The Kabane themselves start posing less and less of a threat once the main characters get their Mid-Season Upgrade, to the point that they become a total sideshow by the time the show ends.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Episode 9 ends with Mumei thinking this concerning her brother's betrayal.
  • Watching Troy Burn: The few survivors who managed to board the Kotetsujou watch as their town starts burning after some Kabane manage to break into the city.
  • The Worm That Walks: The Black Smoke turns out to be thousands upon thousands of individual Kabane clustered together into one giant abomination.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episode 10: Biba ambushes Ikoma, using his escape attempt to lead him into a trap, Takumi Taking the Bullet for him, and a brainwashed Mumei stabbing him, resulting in Ikoma falling off the train and into the ocean.
  • You Are in Command Now: Ayame, once her father turns into a Kabane and she has to run him over with the train. Yukina as well, as she is forced to become the Kotetsujou's Engineer.
  • Wrench Wench: Yukina since she's the engineer of the train the main characters are on.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Ikoma has naturally green hair, while Ayame has purple hair, and Kotetsujyo's Engineer, Yukina, has pink hair.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The world appears to have fallen to infectious Kabane, and railways using heavily armored trains are humanity's last resort for connecting fortified settlements together.
  • Zombie Infectee: Most normal humans who are bitten by a Kabane ultimately turn into one. They're often given a choice of killing themselves, or being shot via a firing squad should they attempt I Cannot Self-Terminate. Ikoma also attempts to hide his wound, but somehow manages to avoid turning into one despite having been bitten. Mumei later reveals that they're Kabaneri, no longer completely human, but not quite a mindless Kabane either.
    • Mumei reveals near the end of episode 3 that kabaneri do have a taste for (human) blood.

Alternative Title(s): Koutetsujouno Kabaneri

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