Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – 12 (Fin)

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Now that he’s killed the Daddy who never loved him, and is well on the way to destroying the capital with the sister he turned into a monster, there’s not much for Biba to do but sit on the throne and…wait. Wait to be defeated by Ikoma, that is.

There wasn’t really much doubt of that, as this show has typically stuck to tried-and-true plot developments. That being said, Ikoma and Kurusu storming the city, going to town, and leaving piles of bodies in their wake is a sight to behold, as is the latter’s understanding that he’s to waste no time ending the former should he go Full Kabane. (Never go Full Kabane; the audience can’t connect.)

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While on the outside Mumei is at the core of a grotesque yet also oddly beautiful fused colony, in her mind she’s fighting memories of being weak and stamping them out. It’s as much a prison for her mind as her body.

As for Ayame, she’s able to break some locals out of a prison of fear and rigid lashing-out simply by getting in their face. Not sure that wouldn’t have resulted in someone accidentally pulling a trigger on her, but she’s always had relatively good luck.

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With Kurusu by his side, Ikoma continues to carve his way to Mumei, leading to a minor boss fight with one of Biba’s lieutenants, who tries to run a train into Ikoma but is thwarted when Ikoma’s super-Kabaneri power allows him to blast the train straight off the rails and into mid air. He then kills the guy himself with his arm-gun, justifying the killing by saying the guy kill too many. No arguments here.

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There’s just one last obstacle before he can save Mumei: Biba himself, who takes the stage excited to “hunt” a rare, fearless foe such as Ikoma. In her fever dream prison, Mumei sees Ikoma as the one blue butterfly in a cloud of red ones, because butterflies have never been used in this way in anime before.

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In all seriousness, as we’ve seen, Biba is highly skilled at combat, but when you don’t seem to be fighting for much anymore, but when up against a singularly motivated and nigh unkillable Kabaneri, it was only a matter of time before he took a hard lick that took him down.

Biba doesn’t stay down, however, even after Ikoma downs him and gives Mumei the magical white blood, reviving her and bringing her back to normal. It isn’t Ikoma who delivers the killing blow to Biba; he’s unconscious. It’s Mumei, who repeatedly implored Biba to stop hurting Ikoma, and stabbed him through the heart when he didn’t.

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With Biba dead and Mumei back to normal, she and Kurusu (with Ikoma on his back) race back to the Kotetsujou, which seems like a rather manufactured final hurdle, even though I did like how happy she looked when she saw the whole gang ready to catch her with a big fabric net.

The only real problem is that Ikoma won’t wake up…until he does, on Mumei’s insistence. When he does, she embraces him closely, her shield returned to her by white blood Biba must have injected before being killed, a last act of selflessness and compassion in a life full of violence and hatred.

With Mumei and Ikoma both alive and relatively unhurt (amazingly), the Kotetsujou steams off into the sunset, ending a very dark show on a very bright—if awfully tidy—parting note.

Kabaneri initially grabbed my attention with superior visuals (and audio) and thrilling action. But once the novelty of that quality wore off, the shows shortcomings grew more conspicuous, keeping this show rather far from greatness. Still, it was a hell of a rousing watch…most of the time.

If a second season comes one day, I will definitely give it a look—I’d like to see Mumei’s humanity restored, for one thing—but if it’s all the same to Wit Studio, I’d prefer a second season of Attack on Titan first.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

3 thoughts on “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – 12 (Fin)”

  1. The Japanese are releasing a 2 part Kabaneri movie this December -January. It’s just the series edited into 2 movies, so don’t get too excited.

    Sales are looking good in Japan, so perhaps another season will come soon.

  2. I am a bit mixed about the ending, but for a show whose main purpose seems to be to hype the supposed incoming second season of Attack on Titan (hence the uncanny similarities), Kabaneri actually has the potential to come out of that shell into its own. Amusingly, that supposed sAoT second season got delayed indefinitely, which makes Kabaneri’s initial purpose for existing pretty useless.

    I also recall how Hannah described the first four episodes as a movie that introduces the series. That description could pretty much be applied to the series as it is now. This whole season feels like a short story that is meant to meant to introduce a loargter narrative setting.. It will really be disappointing if the produces don’t take that shot and make a second season. They really have a lot of interesting themes here. Though I must say that the Biba arc really did take a lot out from the show’s potential (kinda like how the Five arc took a lot out of Terror of Resonance’s strengths).

  3. The line Biba says as he gets his ass kicked “You have finally found a coward” bugs the living daylights out of me. I don’t know the context and it seems to me that it is the reason Biba chooses to save Ikoma. I have a feeling that the amount of time that passes between Ikoma using the white blood and Biba being killed for good is not instant. There is probably a small time skip in there, but we will see.

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