Kabaneri of The Iron Fortress is maintaining its favoritism of the spring 2016 anime season. And rightfully so people are comparing it to Attack on Titan. Given that it’s basically the whole team who worked on the 2013 Attack on Titan anime, but now its just the director Tetsuro Araki’s own story, you can see where the comparisons are warranted. However it seems the poisonous mindset of the internet is starting to feed its way into this discussion. As of now the resounding cry is that Kabaneri is better than Attack on Titan. To be fair some of the arguments brought up are valid criticisms about Attack on Titan, but I find it funny how easy it is to throw away one show when a similar one comes by to take it place. Kabaneri wasn’t probably intended to overthrow Attack on Titan but it seems that’s the way its going, so I’d like to take the time to ponder why that it. As a person whose immensely enjoying Kabeneri right now, but who also still holds Attack on Titan up to par, I think I can try to figure out why this shift and downright abandonment in fandom is taking place. Then I’ll try to explain my feelings on the matter.
Attack On Titan isn’t in the forefront anymore
One of the biggest reasons that Attack on Titan is being pushed aside is the fact that its been three years since its been released. There is still a lot of content there to be adapted and without a satisfying conclusion, or any conclusion, the show feels like its floating in limbo. I don’t think anybody likes “read the manga” endings and as of now that’s really all there is for Attack on Titan. As a person that doesn’t read the manga, my feelings for Attack on Titan can’t really be decided until I see it conclude. It’s a show that highly relies on its mystery and how hard they are going to pay off and what the price of getting there is going to be. So if I don’t have the answer to the mystery or know the complete cost of the show its hard for me to have concrete feelings for it. This is where I get confused when people say that Kabeneri is already better than Attack on Titan. Kabaneri isn’t over yet. I have an idea what people mean when they say this but I’ll get to that near the end.
Kabaneri is Still Insular
While Attack on Titan is a giant success that exceeds the anime fandom, Kabaneri (while having the same potential) is currently giving every anime fan who watches it a straight adrenaline rush to 11. People are eating this shit up, myself included, and when you see something you really like and think is good justification comes into play. And boy does part of the anime community pride themselves on being the hippest of hipsters. See Kabaneri has yet to break into the demographic that Attack on Titan has. So if you wanna prove what an anime fan you are, what do you do? Do you commune with the people who like the same thing and introduce them to something similar in quality? Well that would make sense, so no. You bash the older and more accepted show against your new bias to prove how devoted of an anime fan you are, and how not the other people who like Attack on Titan are. This is considerably low portion of anime fans, but they are so vocal that you would think otherwise. I’ve seen this same situation happen with enough shows to get the subtext behind why they’re saying it.
So which is Actually Better
I don’t think the majority of people actually think that Kabaneri is better than Attack on Titan. What I think they mean is that when they watch Kabaneri it makes them feel better than thinking back on watching Attack on Titan. I went back to watch some Attack on Titan episodes to see how I felt about it. Every big beat still hits me like a ton of bricks and the tension and emotion is still effective even though I know whats going to happen. Attack on Titan and Kabaneri both present themselves in a way that makes for compelling television at the moment you watch them. They’re awesome when you watch it and even more so when you think back or talk about it. In the long run though I think that Attack on Titan is the better show and it doesn’t really have to do with the art aspect or the fact that its genuinely more digestible than Kabaneri. Because while its characters aren’t as likable as Kabeneri’s they fit the world they live in better. Kabaneri is like a heavy metal guitar solo and Attack on titan is like a well composed rock song. One has intensity while the other has lyrics to connect with the listener. I think Attack on Titan isn’t just about its hook and spectacle and focuses on actual themes. Maybe this is just how I enjoy shows as a whole. Kabaneri is fun, but fun only lasts in the forefront of my mind for so long. I need more than that to hold onto a show. And a show I can hold onto is better than one that fades.