Hey all! Sorry I have not been keeping up like I promised to! Once I fall into my summer rhythm all will be well. Anyways, I am catching up today with kabaneri episodes 7&8 (9 coming soon!)
Episode seven was a fairly successful slice of life episode, while episode eight ramped up the drama with the introduction of Mumei “brother”.
Episode seven was a pretty well done change of pace as far as the series is concerned. I also appreciate how the end of the episode didn’t explode into a massive Kabane attack. I suppose there is a multitude of things that I could talk about this episode, but I have cut my list down to three main topics: how slice of life integrates, critiquing Ikoma’s character, and the power struggle portrayed in the anime.
First off, I have to commemorate this episode for achieving the better slice of life moments from this series. Between the light music and toned down visuals, we get a very calm vibe from the show. Watching it without sound even gives the viewer a slice of life feeling. The dialogue was also an improvement from previous slice of life scenes, as it felt very natural and character-interest based, rather than viewer-entertainment based. When the show takes a moment to contrast the calm atmosphere, it effectively makes you feel the underling plot and thematic issues, while still upholding a slice of life exterior. I will get to the scene with Ikoma and Mumei, but for now let’s just say that was one of the weaker moments of the episode. The transition to a more serious atmosphere was also very well done. Instead of the previous “let’s go for a mode switch and just throw in a kabane-related problem,” the show takes a sidestep to address some social themes such as power and family.
Next up is our justice loving protagonist Ikoma. I have previously praised his character for being the perfect platform to represent justice and the line between Kabane and Humans. When he is not being useful as a plot or thematic device, Ikoma is utterly annoying and useless. Seriously though, who ever constructed his dialogue need to be reassigned. I suppose this is a prime example of failing to “show not tell”. Also maybe it is just me, or has his character changed in a nonsensical way? To me, he seems much more dense than before and is even worse at judging how he should act around other people. Compared to Mumei, who (most of the time) is very aware of her surroundings and knows how to work people over, Ikoma looks like a bumbling fool. I would also say that his voice actor doesn’t help all his lack of seriousness all that much. Anyways, I still think Ikoma is a solid character in the context of the show, I just wish there would be more effort put forth by production to make his actions less textbook justice guy.
I want to talk about in particular the scene pictured above: Biba’s return and what that says about power. Okay so earlier in the episode some men talking in a dark room showed us that this Biba guy is someone that normal people do not want to get involved with. His group, the hunters, seem to be idolized by the general public, but it also seems clear from the mens’ conversation that the image above is a facade and there is some dark stuff happening underneath the surface. Of course, the general public seems to favor these vigilante type men over their own government. Here is the interesting thing about fear culture and government: when people are scared of something, they get out of hand, and the government is tasked with the job of calming, controlling, and providing for the general public. It seems that in this world the government holds the value that we should save the most people as possible, but value women and children, as well as people who control the government (aka those who have power). In contrast, the hunters value strength over number or political influence. For example, if you are stronger than a government official then you will survive over the government guy. The ideology of the hunters appeals to the general public, who would be given a chance to “rank up” over other given that they are stronger. What the people fail to realize is that most of them would be helpless in the face of the kabane, and that the hunters an average skill level that is much higher that the public’s.
Episode 8 exists primarily to introduce Biba’s moral compass and how he functions in the Kabane filled world, as well as how he affects Mumei. Personally I though Biba’s character building was going quite well until the last minute or so (when he smiled). Other than that, Biba makes perfect sense as a character in this series. He is a man of great power, and feels an immense amount of pride in his ideology, so much so that he will play a little dirty to make it true. Biba’s moral compass is dictated by a handful of strong beliefs: you should protect and stand up for yourself, if you are unable to successfully do these things then you are weak, even if you are weak you still have the potential to become strong, and the strong will prevail as the powerful. All things considered, it is easy to see why Mumei struggles so much with her morals.
By now I’m sure the bulk of you have found out that Mumei is supposed to be 12 years old. Now, 12 year olds, and really young people in general, always seem tasked with figuring out their morals and values. Mumei has been present two different moral compasses that are incompatible/do not overlap. This has forced Mumei into a situation where she is forced to choose between the two. Biba’s morals are much harder to live by, but she has devoted her life to following his ideals. Alternatively, Ikoma and co.’s morals are much more inclusive if that makes sense. Ikoma’s morals appeal to Mumei because she struggles so much to meet Biba’s expectations of “strong” and because Ikoma’s are easier to live and love by. Although I have a strong hunch that she will chose to live by Ikoma in the end, her struggle with her morals will be something to look for as the conflict between Biba and Ikoma heats up.
I hope you enjoyed my (catch up)writings on Kabaneri this time! I will be writing much more in the coming days and weeks. Happy anime hunting!