Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress and Silver Spoon

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Most of what I have watched on television lately has been anime. I did take a break when I binged on Stranger Things and a couple of episodes of season two of Penny Dreadful, but in general it's been anime, which ranges from truly terrible to quite good.

This week I watched a new series, an Amazon original series called Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. That's of course the English version of the title; I don't read Japanese so I couldn't tell you what it was in Japanese. It didn't look like much from the little bit I saw about it and I expected that was not going to be good at all, but I ended up really enjoying it and binge watched the first 7 episodes.

At its core the show is a steampunk Zombie series. Set during the Industrial Revolution, virtually all of the action takes place on a steam-driven, reinforced train. The zombies are called Kabanes and they have glowing hearts which are encased in a “heart cage”. The living humans have been unable to destroy any of the Kabane because their hearts are so well-protected.

As The Story begins everything is going to hell. We are rapidly introduced to several important characters just as their train station is attacked by far too many Kabanes. We meet a princess, her smarmy guard, two young steamsmiths (whose job is fixing things on the trains), a young lady who reminds me of the character Delirium in Neil Gaiman Sandman series (who is much more than she appears), and a few others.

One of the steamsmiths called Ikoma is working on making his steam driven gun more powerful so they'll be able to break through the heart cage and actually destroy a Kabane, instead of just knocking it back or temporarily disabling it. He has the mind of a scientist and has been studying Kabane anatomy as well as weaponry and is full of new ideas, but by those in authority he is viewed as basically just a peon.

A huge horde of Kabane is descending on the station and everyone in it needs to flee. So they all try to jam aboard the train while the Kabane are murdering everyone around them. This means that those who do escape are so rushed they are completely unprepared and there isn't enough food or water, which will obviously lead to its own problems.

Just as there is on The Walking Dead, there is just as much human-to-human conflict as there is human-to-Kabane. And then there's a whole other element which we find out about, that I don't want to talk about because spoilers. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is exciting and a little frightening. The animation is quite nice and reminded me of Watership Down in parts. It's in Japanese with subtitles, which I definitely prefer to English voiceovers. The literal translations of the songs at the end of each episodes are a little bizarre and hard to comprehend, but it's not really important to the actual story. The plotting is tight and the story is interesting. While maybe not at the level of Stranger Things, which is probably the best thing I've seen recently, it's still an excellent program.

You can see a trailer here:

The show is free with your Amazon Prime subscription. If you don't have Prime you can get a free 30 day trial.

(Purchasing anything via these links will net us a commission from Amazon, which helps keep the site up and running.)

Silver Spoon

Still in the anime world but in a completely different direction, is Silver Spoon, a comedy about a young man called Hachiken who goes to an agricultural school. He's definitely a fish out of water. Everyone around him has a dream and a goal and is excited about what they're doing while he is completely floundering. Also he's learning things about animals that are interfering with his ability to eat. In the first episode he discovers where eggs come from and becomes horrified by them.

This series is just plain fun. The main character is constantly confused and freaked out. In episode number two he's trying to decide which club to join, which is required. He is already completely overworked with school work and practicums so he's not enthusiastic at all about joining a club. At one point he's coerced by people trying to convince him to join the Holstein Club, where the other members are just a little too interested in cows.

The manga the series is based on is by Hiromu Arakawa, who also wrote the popular Fullmetal Alchemist. Silver Spoon is a very different story that shows what a versatile creator she is. The show is currently free on Netflix.

You can watch a trailer here:

(Purchasing anything via these links will net us a commission from Amazon, which helps keep the site up and running.)

Bonus Treat:

This week's bonus treat is an interview with Mary Carrillo, in which she explains the story behind her lovely diatribe about how badminton really works. (And if you haven't seen the video, there's a handy link in the article.) http://deadspin.com/lets-relive-mary-carillos-great-american-badminton-r...