Episode 1: Frightened Corpse
In this Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress Episode 1 Review: What’s worse than zombies you have to kill by stabbing in the head? In Kabaneri’s first episode, Frightened Corpse, we find out: Zombies you have to kill by stabbing in the heart — and that have metal cages around their hearts, that’s what!
There’s blood on the flowers as the huge train roars by. The conductor announces that they’re coming up on an abandoned station, and if they stop, they die. The train shudders as it slams into a horde of zombies (Kabane); they have glowing orange cardiovascular system and eyes. They try to break into the train as the crew repel them with pneumatic rifles. The only way to kill the Kabane? Shoot a projectile through their metal-caged hearts.
In the train’s home station, the steam smith Ikoma tries to perfect a weapon that’ll make it easier to kill the Kabane. He’s strangely motivated; driven. He’s sick of watching humans survive by sacrificing others. He wears a strange green stone tied to his hand.
Episode 2: Never-ending Darkness
In Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress Episode 2, “Never-ending Darkness,”, Ikoma finds out just how brave normal humans are (which is to say, not very). Mumei proves she’s dangerous with more than just the blade in her geta. The train’s “B Team” comes through!
Takumi finds a Ikoma just as the latter regained consciousness and was celebrating his victory over a Kabane that had attacked him. Takumi’s elated that their work on the piercing gun paid off. Takumi learned that a kabane had bitten Ikoma, but that he didn’t seemed infected. Takumi felt shocked.
Mumei, fresh from killing the Kabane at the end of last episode, arrives at the survivor’s staging area under Ayame’s command. The bushi are fighting to hold the Kabane back. In their fear, the nobles are beginning to challenge Ayame’s decision to wait for her father (who went to confirm the Koutetsujou was still safe). Mumei arrives in a very different outfit than before, now with a metal headband and wrappings around her legs and a bushi-like rifle strapped to her back. She tells the nobles to stand down. One of them tries to push her aside, and a second later, she slammed him, writhing in pain, to the ground. Telling the train’s engineer (a trainee named Yukina) to get ready, Mumei tells Ayame to wait until she clears a path. She then proceeded to leap over the wall.
Episode 3: Prayer Offer
In Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress episode 3, Prayer Offer, the passengers express their full gratitude to Mumei and Ikoma. In other words, the passengers demand they be killed and thrown off, and not necessarily in that order. Plus, Ayame tries to grow into her leadership role.
Mumei and Ikoma agree to stay in the Koutetsujou’s (the name of their train) last car, though Mumei makes it clear she’s just being nice. The steam-smiths discover that the Koutetsujou needs repairs, so they stop at a water tower. There, part of the team effects repairs while the elders and others hold a funeral for all of those who were lost. Some are agitating to throw Mumei and Ikoma off the train; somehow, those people are deluded into thinking they can actually force the two to leave. Meanwhile, Mumei’s training Ikoma to become her human shield to protect her as she naps after intense fighting.
Episode 4: Flowing Blood
In Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress episode 4. Flowing Blood, we learn that stupidity isn’t always rewarded (sometimes karma steps in!). We also learn that some Kabane can learn considerably more than we expected! Plus, a trip through the beautiful mountains — teeming with tons of Kabane!
The Kabane attack and force the Koutetsujou to get underway before repairs were complete. The skittish crowd, under pressure from demagogues who want to consolidate their own power, lock Mumei and Ikoma, along with friends, in the last car. After pressuring Ayame to give up the train’s master key, some of the demagogue and his followers try to detach the last car.
Episode 5: Inescapable Darkness
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress episode 5, “Inescapable Darkness,” shows how our heroes encounter a station that has fallen not just to the Kabane, but the mysterious Black Smoke of Kabane. Also, Mumei meets an old friend, then develops a terrible attitude. Ikoma tries really hard to be competent!
The Koutetsujou arrives at Yashiro Station, but they find it overrun with Kabane. They still need to travel through the station, but a tower has collapsed across the rails. The survivors speak of a Black Smoke of Kabane, but they don’t remember the details — they’re too terrified. Mumei meets a man previously in the employ of her brother. He tells her that being close to the people in the train has dulled her edge. Her brother might discard her! This terrifies her to the extent that she distances herself from Ikoma and his plan to fire up the boiler and use the steam crane to remove the crumpled tower from the tracks. During the fight, she acquits herself well, until the second and third waves wear her down. A Wazatori appears as the crane lifts the tower. Will she have the endurance to defeat it?
Episode 6: Gathering Light
In Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress episode 6, “Gathering Light,” Mumei comes face to face with her limitations; Ikoma shocks everyone when he tries to fight alone; and Sukari does the unthinkable: he proves that he’s sometimes good to have around!
Mumei remembers being in the field, seeing a woman solider, apparently from her team, pleading for help as her arm bleeds from a Kabane bite. Another solider shoots her. Mumei’s brother looks on silently and tells them to get moving. Then Mumei regains consciousness only to find that she’s trapped under rubble. Her face begins to glow with orange veins. Try as he might, Ikoma can’t free her, and Mumei tells him to leave her. Of course, he doesn’t.
The huge creature from the last episode chases the the Koutetsujou, which manages to retreat to a shelter within the station. The community “leaders” who advocated for getting rid of the Kabaneri before are at it again, this time in retaliation for the plan going badly. Ayame resists with the support of Kibito and some of the other bushi. They try to come up with another plan while Sukari studies a map.
Episode 7: Begging the Heavens
In Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress Episode 7, Begging the Heavens, the break-neck pace of the first part of the season eases up a bit. The Koutetsujou found a station that humans still populated. Mumei get to enjoy herself for a change — she even goes shopping with Yukina, Kajika, and others! Ikoma and Takumi teach a bushi to be more polite to a merchant. And finally, we get to meet Mumei’s brother, Biba.
The Koutetsujou finds Shitori Station still full of living people (instead of Kabane), and they stop for some much needed provisions. Ayame takes Kurusu and Kibito on a courtesy call to the station’s leaders, who were busy meeting with a representative of the Shogunate. That amount of political intrigue bodes badly for our heroes. Ayame finally decided she had waited enough. She decided to demonstrate their jet bullets to a minister. He finds the demonstration so impressive that he agrees to help provision the train.
Meanwhile, Ikoma and Takumi were stocking up on supplies when a bushi barges in and demands the merchant drop what he was doing to fix the bushi’s gun. Takumi objects so strongly that the bushi drew his sword in retaliation. Fortunately for Takumi, Ikoma intervenes and throws the bushi into the street. Ikoma promises to tell the merchant about their jet bullets.
Episode 8: The Silent Hunter
In Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress episode 8, The Silent Hunter, we get to know more about Biba Amatori, the one who Mumei called “brother,” and as we might expect, there’s more to him than he lets on. He’s not even Mumei’s blood brother! Plus, Enoku meets his fate. And shockingly, Ikoma speaks disrespectfully to authority!
Amid the roar of the crowd adoring Biba and his Hunters, Mumei tells him that she’s been traveling with a self-made Kabaneri. Biba’s intrigued. Ayame Yomogawa introduces herself as the heir to her family. Biba’s polite, but he seems unimpressed. When Ikoma arrives, he immediately confronts Biba for inflicting his philosophy of “the weak must die” on Mumei. Dismissing Mumei to get an examination, Biba asks Ayame, her body guard Kurusu, and Ikoma to go someplace more quiet so they could talk. On the way, they encounter a broken steam engine. Biba says he’s going to stay to help fix it and asks Horobi, an underling, to continue with Ayame and company. Ikoma, as a steam smith, offers to stay and help. Biba tries to convince Ikoma that Mumei misrepresented his philosophy, and Ikoma seems hesitant.
Episode 9: Fang of Ruin
In Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress episode 9, Fang of Ruin, Mumei learns a terrible lesson about trust and despair. Ayame reveals the steel in her spine. Yukina demonstrates her unflinching loyalty. After many trials, Ikoma learns the limits of his strength. And finally, Biba demonstrates an almost unrivaled level of depravity.
his episode gets moving quickly, so there are only a few points I can make without spoiling anything:
- Iwato Station does not trust Biba, so they don’t allow Kokujou to enter.
- Ayame doesn’t trust Biba, and she asks Ikoma to talk Mumei into leaving Biba and rejoining the crew of the Koutetsujou.
- The station’s lord, Maeda, wants to give Biba a chance, so he agrees to meet with him, assuming he only brings women or children with him; he brings Horobi and Mumei, which isn’t exactly in keeping with the spirit of the rules
- Mumei leaves the meeting to use the restroom.
The rest of this review may have spoilers, so please be careful!
Episode 10: The Attacking Weak
In Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress episode 10, “The Attacking Weak,” Ikoma, Kibito, Takumi, and others plot an uprising; we find out what Biba Amatori’s using the crew of the Koutetsujou for; Mumei still holds out some trust and hope in Biba; things get really dark at the end. Really dark. Like, really, really, really dark.
Ikoma, held in a cage among the other captives from the Koutetsujou, carefully watches the guards and their equipment to plan an uprising. Sukari appears to have gone over to the enemy and helps distribute food to his old friends. Most call him a traitor, but he only seems affected by Yukina’s expression of disgust when he hands her a vial of blood for Ikoma.
The captives have different color arm bands. Just after they eat, a different color of band each day must “donate” blood to feed Biba’s Kabane horde. As Takumi waits while his blood drains, another man asks to give extra to cover for his wife. Uryuu, one of the Hunters who has blue/gray hair, says it’s okay, but another Hunter, Warabi, objects. As the man tries to bargain, Warabi hacks off the husband’s arm. Takumi is barely able to contain himself. When he finishes giving blood, he goes back to Ikoma and says he can’t take much more. Ikoma announces they’ll be ready tomorrow night.
Episode 11: Burning Life
In Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress episode 11, “Burning Life,” things somehow get even darker. Biba Amatori unleashes his plot on the shogun’s city Kongoukaku; Ayame has no good choice but to help him. We find out what happened to Kurusu, and it entails rope. Kajika, Kibito, and others from the Koutetsujou deal with the aftermath of Takumi’s decision at the end of the last episode. Finally, we find out if Mumei’s knife struck true last week.
Biba’s train steams towards the shogun’s city, Kongoukaku. Kibito kneels with Takumi’s body while Kajika sobs. Biba’s people try to clear them out, but Kajika, lost in her rage and pain, dares them to kill her. Sukari and Yukina move to defend her, and Sahari, Biba’s blonde mustached strategist/lieutenant is about to strike. Uryuu, one of the Hunters who showed disgust at prisoner mistreatment in the last episode, calls him off and says to leave the car’s cleanup to them. The Hunters leave. Takumi’s friends carry his body from the car.
Standing in the room with the blue-white pulsating heart, Biba tries to justify his actions against his father to the drugged Mumei. She doesn’t react to his words, even when he mocks her kindness as weakness. He then injects her with the same thing he injected into Horobi. He’s turning Mumei into a fused colony.
Episode 12: Kotetsujyo
In Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress episode 12, Kotetsujyo, Biba’s plans bear dark fruit; Mumei declares herself Hozumi, but at a cost; Ikoma fights well for a change; and Kurusu gets to (awkwardly) hold Ayame’s hand.
Amid all of the chaos, Ikoma and Kurusu enter the city and fight their way toward Mumei. The more he fights, the more Ikoma loses his sight; Kurusu promises that if Ikoma becomes a Kabane, Kurusu will put him out of his misery. Ikoma’s goal: inject the white blood he got from Biba’s captive scientist into Mumei to save her life. There’s only one dose.