2016 steampunk action, 12 episodes, anime original:
"Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress". With the shogunate ravaged by zombies
(kabane), civilisation survives in great walled "stations" and the
armoured steam "fortresses" that travel between them.
The story is about Ikoma, an inventor who's come up with a new
way to kill kabane: a armour-piercing steam-carbine powerful enough to
penetrate a kabane's heart-cage, which would allow mere peasants to
join the fight, rather than relying on warriors to protect them with
swords; and it's about Mumei, a young girl he meets who seems to be
supernally good at fighting kabane. Unfortunately for him, he's going
to find out why: she is a kabaneri, an infected human who retains her
own mind, and he's going to be one too.
In many respects this is more the story of Mumei than of Ikoma, who
follows a bog-standard heroic arc of trying harder and getting better:
Mumei, not Ikoma, has to make the really hard decisions, and face
betrayal by those she trusts. But as well as that story, it's an
action series with brutal fights involving hordes of glowing-hearted
zombies, crowds of humans, massive fortresses, and – what clearly got
more of the artists' attention than anything else – lovingly-rendered
iron-girdered trackwork, and steam trains armed and powered as only a
steam train can be armed and powered.
Steam trains that have to take on water, but never need fuel. Running
on tracks that don't need maintenance. And people somehow get enough
to eat, even though the countryside and rice paddies are long since
lost. Hmm. Yeah, worldbuilding wasn't really a priority here.
(I choose to think that these engines are Lyle Borst-style nuclear
boilers, with HEU dissolved in sulphuric acid, partly because of the
elaborate startup sequence shown in episode 2, but mostly because this
is already a
and if everyone died of cancer a few years down the line that would
just put the cap on it.)
Yes, all right, Ikoma is a bit of a wimp at times, Mumei has to be
kicked into thinking for herself, and the villain is a madman. The
narrative tone shifts from survival action, via cheesy overdone
action, into revenge thriller where One Woman Will Make The
Difference. But the trains really are gorgeous, and the action does
help carry one over the rough spots in the story. Look, one of the
characters wields a steam-powered bow, OK?
A sequel series is expected in 2018.