Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – Episode 3

After a week’s delay we’re finally getting the much awaited 3rd episode. It certainly didn’t disappoint – in fact, I’d honestly say this is perhaps one of the series’ best so far.

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Our cast is basically taking a breather and sorting things out each to their own, but whether or not they’re in the battlefield, the decisions they have to choose can bite back at them later. As what our protagonists often say: it’s the kabanes who are our real enemy. After watching this episode, I can’t help but argue that it’s actually their own selves they have to conquer first. The fear of something can fester like a bad wound, and will make you sick should it be left uncared for. This is true for most of the side characters but we’ve seen glimpses from people like Ikoma, Mumei, Ayame, driver-san, that experiencing a loss will not make you lesser than who you are. The quote “you won’t know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have” is a perfect slogan for our unsung heroes. Ayame, in particular, surprised me. I thought that she’ll take a few more episodes to take a stand but she displayed that she’s capable of herding the crew’s morale uphill. Props to our princess.

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Cute and deadly, caring and blunt; we’ve seen both sides of the coin this episode. Much like Ikoma or any other character in the Kabaneri world, Mumei shares her own tale of defeat when she was younger. This may account as to where her ideology of “survival of the fittest” comes from. Maybe the “strong” side of her is just a facade, an excuse to hide something she can’t make ammends to… I don’t know. It’s just a gut feeling but that last frame of her when she unknowingly executed a pregnant woman-turned kabane is surely implying something about her past. Kabaneri is really great at hinting things without revealing too much. It puts the show on an unpredictable route and I love it.

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We’ve also been shown some plot advancements and character developments. Oddly enough, a western dude suddenly appeared out of nowhere accompanied with some broken English. His appearance is perfectly funny and on cue considering that the atmosphere is threading on thin ice up until he spoke up. Additionally, I love how <i>Kabaneri</i> shows us rather than telling us with some heavy exposition about how a kabaneri functions. It’s all a garbled mess at this time, but the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place bit by bit.

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The episode ended in a high note with a friggin cliff hanger. I didn’t expect that piano insert at the end but it did its job well to set the tone of the shitstorm we’re about to face. Also, I’d like to point out that animation is still consistently fluid and beautiful even at 3 episode counts. I just find it funny that most of the budget seems to be getting directed at making Mumei and Ayame (or actually every girl) pretty. Not that I hate it.

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