Anime World Order Show # 148 – The Zombie Train Need Not Stop At Pizza Hut

We’ve got a bit of time between one convention and another, so Gerald takes this opportunity to review the recently-concluded Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress.

Introduction (0:00 – 41:30)
We actually get through TWO emails this time! The only titles we can remember about early era fandom have to do with Gainax, so we mention our previous review of The Notenki Memoirs (now readable online here) as well as Otaku no Video (now available on Blu-Ray). We also give our thoughts on why Leiji Matsumoto seems to be relatively unknown among modern anime fans compared to Osamu Tezuka and the like.

  • Space Battleship Yamato: The Making of an Anime Legend is still available at reasonable prices, but you probably want to act quickly if you don’t own that already
  • The phrase “active viewing” was a term Evan Minto over at Ani-Gamers coined. Now that he’s on Crunchycast he’s far more famous than we ever were. They have VIDEO, you see.
  • Ten Old-School Anime Classics You Can Watching Streaming Right Now is liable to become obsolete fast, but for now it’s most still all right
  • Here’s Daryl’s interview with Unified Pictures, the production company developing a Vampire Hunter D animated series co-production with Japan
  • Daryl was also on the GME! Anime Fun Time podcast to talk about Giant Robo: The Animation but as that is spoiler-heavy you should listen to our podcast review instead if you haven’t seen it yet
  • Promo: Right Stuf Anime (41:30 – 42:40)
    The current sale as of this recording is for Kodansha manga titles, so even if Battle Angel Alita isn’t your thing, you can still get volumes titles such as Akira, Attack on Titan, A Silent Voice, and plenty of others at low prices. Shipping is free once you spend $49, which happens pretty fast if you’re buying complete sets of manga.

    Review: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (42:40 – 1:22:52)
    Gerald’s review of the non-union Mexican equivalent of Attack on Titan is late to the party when it comes to Snowpiercer, Lightning Train, and Yukina’s Batista-caliber delts and traps references. But we were never on the cutting edge of anything, so WHATEVER. If you thought we were going to embed a picture of those activated back muscles in the MP3 of this episode, GUESS AGAIN. We’re PIONEERS in our own way!

    Anime Festival Orlando is next weekend, Otakon is shortly afterwards, and Otaku USA magazine deadlines fall right in between. We’re going to be busy for a while, but next time we do a review it’ll be for Erased. We may just do an episode where we give our early impressions on the currently airing season in the interim though.

    7 thoughts on “Anime World Order Show # 148 – The Zombie Train Need Not Stop At Pizza Hut

    1. That was a surprising but also interesting listen. You know, I was honestly expecting more criticism of Kabaneri and especially from Gerald in particular. Not that I am actually disappointed with the results though, since my opinion of the series also happens to be mostly positive. Simply put, I enjoyed the show and thought it was okay. Not completely free from dumbness or silly moments, which generally served to entertain rather than annoy me, but quite alright in the long run.

      In retrospect, perhaps that shouldn’t be too surprising since it’s precisely the sort of production that would be easier to digest if you’re totally used to the zombie genre as a whole as well as a fan of older anime and especially the kinds of contents that used to end up on direct-to-video releases back in the day.

      That said, it seems the dominant Internet narrative about Kabaneri isn’t nearly as generous. There’s been a vocal wave of disappointment in various online circles and social media which, in essence, considers the show as an Attack on Titan clone that didn’t live up to its potential. The biggest issues were the increased focus on the villain (many people didn’t like his personality, motivations or actions) and the more or less stereotypical (some would just say cliched) path the story followed after he showed up.

      I won’t go into all of the secondary complaints in detail, but they’re easy enough to find. In short, far too many lamentations refer to why the series didn’t exclusively remain a simple story about a bunch of fun guys traveling around on the train in order to kill more zombies every week. My response to that is the show had already foreshadowed the existence of the villain and they needed to raise the stakes somehow for the sake of reaching a conclusion. So I can at least understand where several criticisms are coming from, yet I also think there has been an overreaction.

      Speaking of which, that’s a fairly amusing title reference. I know, we’ll never see eye to eye about this, but for me the presence of Pizza Hut (and other random silliness) was honestly appropriate for how much of a campy, festival-like performance Code Geass was always meant to be, especially in the eyes of the people who made it. That said, I haven’t liked most of the other shows made in a similar vein, because they’ve generally lacked the three key elements which made Code Geass work: it was well-directed, the protagonist was a legit good character (he could be ridiculous, petty and immature, yes, but also intriguing, flawed and cool, with a personal arc makes plenty of sense and puts the rest of the show in proper context), and the ending was quite cathartic/rewarding for those who were invested. Take away all of that, as we’ve already seen in other series, and I might be more inclined to agree with the statements made during the podcast.

      Which is also part of why I am so glad about how Ikoma turned out to be a decent protagonist (although not very original, yet that’s not an issue for me) and the fact that the ending of Kabaneri felt pretty appropriate as a stopping point. They may or may not make more episodes after Attack on Titan S2 wraps up, who knows, but this series does help prove that Ichiro Okouchi can in fact write in a different style, depending on the circumstances and goals of each project. He can improve rather than only get worse. I mean, ask people what they really felt about the main characters and endings of Valvrave or Guilty Crown (the latter of which, if you want some trivia, was mostly written by Macross Frontier scribe and not-so-secret pervert, Hiroyuki Yoshino, with Okouchi only as his deputy) and you’ll hear that almost nobody cares for either of them, or they’re simply outright hated. With that background, I was also understandably worried about what would happen in Kabaneri. Turns out that, all in all, it ended up being just fine in my opinion.

      As for Matsumoto and Galaxy Railways…yes, the first series was excellent and it’s a pity that the show has fallen into obscurity. Can’t say I am huge fan of the unlicensed second season though. It was not only inferior in quality, including the visuals and the storytelling, but also mostly unnecessary. Still, the original remains one of my favorite “modern” works from the Leijiverse. In related news, I am also looking forward to the Yamato 2199 sequel and hoping someone finally makes Voyager Entertainment see reason about how to properly release and market one of these things in the West. Tim Eldred sure couldn’t, but I want to believe!

      Regarding Berserk and its use of 3D, I still maintain that computer graphics are best used for machines rather than any organic beings. At least within the Japanese anime industry, they just can’t seem to get it. Which means I am not too fond of the new TV series in terms of visuals and would rather re-read the manga. Honestly, even the upcoming Dynasty Warriors-like game from Koei-Tecmo looks like a better representation of Berserk so far. That said, I am not anti-3D. I think there are several studios which have learned how to pull off the right kind of 3DCG mecha action without always slowing down the frame rate. As much as one might also lament the downfall of traditional mecha animation, I am not desperate enough to watch the currently airing Regalia just to get my 2D mecha fix.

    2. I still need to finish Kabaneri as it got lost in the haze of spring. It wasn’t helped with the plot losing momentum after 4 or so eps iirc and some “dumb” moments which lost the goodwill previously built up. Plus the convenience of streaming anime on an amazon fire TV stick (in the UK) is less so than CR on other devices (I also probably alternated between Kabaneri and Mr.Robot’s first season, until i finished binge watching the latter). Coincidentally I did watch the first couple of eps. of Kabaneri with my dad who didn’t rage at me to switch it off (or passive aggressively do so himself). When I did try to quit tho, the player got stuck on the ED credit fan service image, so….

      Think I’m upto ep.8 rn, and with Mr. Robot Season 2 in full swing it might be the time to finish it before summer ends and other shows warrant a binge watch

    3. Regarding Leiji Matsumoto: Kodansha Comics is actually releasing Queen Emeraldas in omnibus format in English, so if you want to read some genuine Matsumoto there’s your chance. Having read that first omnibus and seen the four part OVA-series, I thought the OVA was much better honestly. That manga is weird and curiously cruel towards women at times, and not really that enjoyable. Seems Matsumoto needs other people to improve his works for them to work.

    4. Oh wow, I didn’t expect all this praise for Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress if I’m gonna be honest. I do agree about the animation in that it looked absolutely stunning and the character designer is one of my all time favorites, but the rest was just mediocre or even bad to me from the story to its badly written characters. And the last arc with introducing a cliché villain you’ve seen a billion times in survival settings did nothing more than just hinder where the anime could potentially go to, IMO.

    5. I still haven’t seen Attack on Titan… it’s purely the lack of Japanese characters that disinterest me from giving it a watch, though the action looks bangin’. Must be that syndrome the internet calls “weeaboo”. I’ll give the anime a go one of these days, cause the manga is the equivalent of Rorschach throwing boiling French fries at your face; regarding drawing-quality that is.

      Kabaneri was delightfully surprising! I almost didn’t give it a go, but the unofficial auto-erotic asphyxiation fan-trailers peaked my interest faster than the Japanese love pronouncing the word “wirus”. Ikoma is what I wanted Samanosuke to be in Onimusha, and bloody hell that kid delivers like a kamikaze-gaijin batting for the wrong WW2 team.

      Suzuki… goddamn. That man made my heart explode like if I was sandwiched in the middle of a Chris Peppler/Patrick Macias conversation about sweet & sour egg rolls. Easily the best part of the show! Max Powers brought back memories of Homer Simpson… or a Eurobeat song? I really don’t care, that man is GOD and every Japandering CM-otaku knows it.

      Great show guys. Sorry I un-followed you on Twitter; if you want me to follow you, follow me back. Otherwise I’ve always gotten my AWO fix the olde fashion way… Right-click: “Save target as…” Cheers, still my numero uno anime podcast since college.

    6. Sorry to be OT but I missed when AWO would review obscure 80’s OVA’s and movies. Seems like the stuff you review now is recent. Any reason for the change in what gets reviewed? [We’ve got an 80s review coming up soon, but it’s a side effect of what we’re currently watching –Daryl]

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