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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 (Death Note, Highschool of the Dead, Guilty Crown, Attack on Titan) and written by Ichirō Ōkouchi (Berserk: The Golden Age Arc, Code Geass), with music by Hiroyuki Sawano (Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, 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 simulcasted the series worldwide as part of a deal with Fuji TV's Noitamina programming block. Crunchyroll acquired the home video license for the series (along with merchandising rights), and released it on Blu-ray and DVD with an English dub via their partnership with Funimation. Crunchyroll would later add the series to their service on November 1, 2019, including the aforementoned dub.


A sequel film titled The Battle of Unato released on May 10, 2019 in Japanese cinemas. Netflix picked up the exclusive streaming rights for the film and released it worldwide on September 13, 2019.

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.
      • And, as of the movie, she is training in kenjutsu under Kurusu's tutelage.
  • 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.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Any time Yukina shucks off her coat during an action scene, leaving her upper body clad only in a tight tank-top-style undershirt, the 'camera' is prone to linger on her muscular physique as she does Train Things.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Ikoma's gun. Only at nearly point-blank range, though. Also, jet bullets, also created by Ikoma.
  • Artificial Limbs: After losing his right hand, Ikoma bolts his piercing gun onto the stump, turning it into a short-range Arm Cannon. As of The Battle of Unato, he's detached it again in favor of a proper prosthetic hand.
  • Badass Bookworm: Ikoma tries to use his inventions in an attempt to combat the Kabane and is fairly successful.
  • Badass Creed:
  • Balkanize Me: In The Battle of Unato, the fall of Kongokaku and along with it, the collapse of the Amatori Shogunate, have fractured Hinomoto. Stations have now become countries unto themselves as they attempt to hold off the Kabane. The Koutetsujou and its crew are so powerful that they can be considered a mobile country.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: The three most prominent female characters broadly fall into these roles: Ayame the graceful nobleman's daughter, Yukina the train's engineer, and Mumei the superhuman warrior. Ironically, Yukina is physically the brawniest of the three, while Mumei is child-sized.
  • 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, Koutetsujou has a cannon turret that can expose the Black Smoke's heart, this was recovered from Yashiro station and appears originally to be part of the fortress. There are also other train guns, with the biggest one being the self-propelled mortar Narukami which was legendary for once having killed 3000 Kabane at Musashi. Narukami was to be the backbone of the attack on Unato castle had it not been destroyed in an ambush.
  • Bookends: The series begins with the crew of the Koutetsujou 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 7 heavily implies that Kurusu has one on Ayame. By The Battle of Unato it is more-or-less confirmed.
  • 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.
  • Casting Gag: It's not the first time Yūki Kaji has voiced someone named Takumi who also came from a fantasy version of Japan.
    • It's also not the first time he voiced a character from a series about humanity being ravaged by hordes of man-eating monsters (that were once human) where the protagonist gets partially turned into one of them and gains their power but still retain his humanity. He even sacrifices himself to save his best friend, except here he doesn't make it out alive...
  • 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.
  • Combat Stilettos: A variant; when first introduced, Mumei is wearing high-heeled geta, okobo-style with a narrow base, which are revealed to be bladed when she uses one to behead a Kabane.
  • Cool Bike: Biba's hunters use steam-powered motorcycles when they need to go somewhere quickly and the bikes are tough enough to handle some stunt-driving.
  • Cool Train: The Hayajiro, giant armored trains that are the only method of travel 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. This is further supported in a scene in The Battle of Unato where a train is destroyed on-screen and lets out a distinctive mushroom cloud as it blows up.
  • Cosmic Horror Reveal: Although it's never fully explored, the existence of the Fused Colonies suggests that the Kabane aren't 'just' a horde of shambling monsters, but merely the earliest manifestations of something far more alien.
  • 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.
  • Dance Party Ending: The Battle of Unato ends with the main and notable characters from the Koutetsujou being on stage and doing a happy dance (interspersed with scenes indicating they had succeeded in returning to Aragane.
  • 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 BSoD 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.
  • Deadly Upgrade: After Biba takes Mumei to Kongokaku and transforms her into a Fused Colony, Ikoma willingly receives the black blood to enhance his abilities, even knowing that it will turbo-charge his transformation into a full Kabane.
  • 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.
  • Death of a Child: This show is not shy about showing what happens to the children.
    • Mumei saves a mother and her child from the Kabane, only to be horrifed to see the mother readying a suicide pack to her daughters heart; her daughter had been bitten and she could not bear to go on without her, and both die from the same pack.
    • When the Hunters bring the Kabane into one of the cities their train and the Koutetsujou stopped at, one of the boys on the Koutetsujou is bitten. His sister is restrained by the Hunters as they gun down her brother in cold blood.
  • 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.
    • Averted in The Battle of Unato, where a new Wazatori mutation is a serious threat and almost kills Mumei on its own.
  • 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.
  • Emergency Transformation: After Ikoma is bitten during the fall of Aragane Station, he tries to prevent his transformation into a Kabana by restricting the bloodflow carrying the virus to his brain. It works... sort of. Played With in that his goal is to remain fully human, and doesn't even realize until later that he's become a Kabaneri.
  • The Engineer: The steamsmiths, such as Takumi, Sukari, and Suzuki, who manage and repair the Koutetsujyo. Ikoma and Kajika are also employed as steamsmiths at the start of the story, though they transition to other roles given the needs of the refugee train. Yukina is technically one as well, but is more The Driver archetype despite literally being the train's 'engineer'.
  • 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 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.
  • Force and Finesse: Ikoma and Mumei. The former uses an effectively-melee weapon, and charges the enemy head-on, tanking any damage he takes along the way. The latter is much more evasive and tactical, with precisely-aimed attacks of her ranged weapons.
  • 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.
  • Game Changer: The people of Hinomoto have been steadily losing ground against the Kabane, until several things happen. First are the Kabaneri who can overpower the Kabane, then with enough dead Kabane - swords and bullets can be made with from Kabane hearts so that they'll pierce the heart cage and then there's the emergence of the hunters who have researchers and bleeding-edge equipment, such as motorcycles and mortars. This allows the people to turn the tide on the Kabane.
  • Gatling Good: Averted. In the scene where Kurusu fights the hunters on their Hayajiro, the head scientist gets a gatling gun and fires away. It's used too close and uncontrolled, so Kurusu was easily able to dodge where the scientist would be pointing. Kurusu was then able to tackle the scientist and knock both of them into the sea.
  • 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.
    • Could be a subversion as the actual voice actor is an American speaking Japanese, not a Japanese actor using English words.
  • Groin Attack: Mumei is very fond of them.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Downplayed, seeing as steam rifles are the standard weapon regardless of gender, but the few characters who do opt for melee weapons tend to be male: Ikoma with his pile-driver, as well as Kurusu and Biba with their respective Kabane-bone swords. Ikoma and Mumei frequently form a smash/shoot duo in battle. It's also notable that the only archer in the setting is the classically-feminine Ayame, making her a 'shooter' even relative to the firearm-wielding bushi.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Doubles as an Establishing Character Moment. The Shogun's introduction is followed by his communications officer asking to inform the public of the Fused Colony that destroyed the Great Gate only for the Shogun to ask this question and stab the officer.
  • 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.
  • Heroic Suicide: Once a person is bitten by a Kabane, their transformation into one is inevitable. The 'honorable' thing to do is kill yourself before you turn, so you won't become a danger to your friends and allies. To this end, people carry 'suicide bags', handheld shaped charges which are placed over the heart and detonated, ensuring that the body won't become a Kabane.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Averted by Biba's hunters. A defining moment is when they go out to face an incoming Kabane horde. From their Hayajiro, they bombard the Kabane with mortars and incendiary rounds, after that they snipe the Kabane with deliberate shots before slowly closing in for a mop up. Because of this, only one mook gets bitten when he didn't see a Kabane lying down.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Ikoma definitely hasn't got used to his new state yet.
  • It Can Think: Wazatori are Kabane that have either retained enough tactical intelligence to use weapons with maximum effectiveness while hunting, or older infected who have learned how to fight (some unarmed) after observing skirmishes between Kabane and the remains of humanity. The Kabane of Unato Castle were capable of building traps, setting up ambushes and aim to kill enemies quickly rather than try and feed on them first. This is because those Kabane are being guided the the previous lord of Unato, who has since become a renegade Kabaneri.
  • 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 also does this to Biba in the finale.
  • Important Haircut: After Ikoma recovers from his Heroic BSoD outside Kongokaku, he trims his shaggy head of hair into a more close-cropped style.
  • 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. Similarly, one of Kageyuki's long bangs was turned white by his transformation. Notably, Mumei doesn't share this feature, nor do Horoobi or Biba himself which suggests it might be a result of the strain of his impromptu transformation rather than an inherent feature of the change into a Kabaneri.
  • 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.
  • Mark of the Supernatural: Under normal circumstances, Kabaneri are visually indistinguishable from humans, save for the molten-orange glow which emanates from their transformed heart.
  • 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.
  • Mistakenly Attacked Mole: * In Episode 10, the cast is shown to have been captured by the villains, with one of the characters having performed a Face–Heel Turn. Most of the cast believed the betrayal was genuine, due to his previous status as the Aloof Ally. So when the prisoners finally retaliate, the "traitor" is also attacked. It's up to the main character to intervene and explain that the "traitor" had spent the entire time passing him information about the villain's lair
  • Nail 'Em: Ikoma's rivet gun has been re-engineered to be a gunpowder-based weapon, it's now powerful enough to blow a spike straight through the Kabane's cast-iron hearts, and then some.
  • 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.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: While the undead hordes plaguing humanity are essentially zombies, in this series they're referred to as Kabane, which literally means "corpse".
  • 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.
  • Opaque Lenses: Suzuki is never seen without his steamsmith goggles over his eyes. Even when the Koutetsujyo is hijacked by Biba's Hunters and its crew taken captive, he still has them. It's implied that he's a foreigner to Hinamoto, so this might be an intentional choice on his part to downplay a difference in his physical appearance relative to the native people.
  • 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 more 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. Some scenes have them operating machinery. In other scenes, they can employ actual fighting skills. Essentially, the weakest members in their rank are more than a match for even a moderately armed human.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Mumei in a nutshell. Short and slender, but her superhuman Kabaneri abilities and her extensive battle training make her by far the most capable individual fighter among the protagonists.
    • Combat Parkour: She uses this to take on large numbers of Kabane single-handedly in the relatively dense environs of the Stations.
    • Cute Bruiser: People have a tendency to underestimate her, given her youth and apparent immaturity. They learn their lesson painfully and in short order.
    • She-Fu / Waif-Fu: Her fighting style is highly acrobatic, and focused primarily on moving quickly and evading attacks, relying on the power of her weapons to actually kill Kabane.
  • 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.
  • Poverty Food: The Zombie Apocalypse hasn't reduced the population to a Dog Food Diet, but they're clearly hurting for food. Meals are just a leaf-wrapped roll of something that might not be rice (the rice paddies outside the fortresses have all been abandoned). Mumei's fondest wish is to eat her fill of rice and Ayame at one point hopes to eat a cookie (Kurusu embarasses Ayame by walking into her... not naked... but stuffing her face with sweet snacks during a meeting with a local lord).
  • 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 Steampunk feudal Japan! Steam-gun wielding Samurai! It's as if the authors consciously try to overwhelm the viewers Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
  • Science Hero: Although his Kabaneri abilities make him a formidable fighter, Ikoma's true talent lies in his ability and willingness to pierce the veil of superstition surrounding the Kabane, and research their nature as a purely mundane phenomenon. He is constantly frustrated the tendency of the general populace to view the spread of the Kabane as a 'curse', and to let fear drive them to act in ways that are completely illogical and counterproductive given what actually is known of the threat.
  • 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:
  • 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.
  • The Social Darwinist: Biba, and by extension Mumei, frequently espouses the philosophy that 'the strong survive, and the weak perish.' As Takumi observes, he's not exactly wrong, but Biba seems to elevate it from a simple observation to a moral imperative.
  • Somebody Named "Nobody": "Mumei" literally means "nameless".
  • 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:
  • Steampunk: 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.
  • Technically Living Zombie: Despite being described as 'walking corpses', the Kabane appear to still be living organisms. They don't exhibit any of the signs of mortal injury or long-term decomposition that you'd expect of true undead. Moreover, only living bodies ever seem to become Kabane; killing an infected person before the virus reaches their brain is enough to prevent the transformation.
  • Team Mom: Kajika seems to spend most of her time caring for the children aboard the Koutetsujyo. In a more figurative sense, Ayame serves as this to the train's entire refugee society.
  • 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. Reversed in The Battle of Unato where Kabane are once again the major threat.
  • 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.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: The Battle of Unato had the Alliance Forces comprised of the Federal Forces, the Echigo-Tora-Ohuki army, the Unato locals and the people on the Koutetsujou. Unfortunately the Federal Forces treated the Unato locals as just cheap labour and while they and the Echigo respected the Koutetsujou's ability in a fight, they don't trust them and are openly hostile to the Kabaneri. So when the Federal Forces were annihilated, the Echigo were going to retreat and had to be shamed into rejoining the battle.
  • 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.
  • War Refugees: Although it's only a 'war' in the World War Z sense, the Kotetsujyo's journey very much has the feel of a refugee population fleeing from a region destroyed by conflict. Even when they finally arrive at a safe Station, it's far from clear whether the locals will be willing to accept them.
  • Wrench Wench: Yukina since she's the engineer of the train the main characters are on.
  • 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.
    • This concept is used to devastating effect when Biba infects his father with a needle in the handle of a blade, then incites a riot by implying anyone can be infected among the populous and are just waiting to turn. This ends up causing the bushi of the Station to turn on each other when a few of them are similarly infected by Biba's men.

Alternative Title(s): Koutetsujouno Kabaneri