Sweeten Ch2 bit – Targeting

Taking careful aim left-handed, Ikoma fired at one of the approaching Kabane. It staggered, but didn’t go down. “Damn it!”

Using your off hand always sucks. “Pull a little right?” Sukari suggested, picking his own shots. At least he thought that might work. It hadn’t been that many days since Kibito had grabbed a bunch of nervous steamsmiths and showed them how to use weapons they’d only ever repaired before.

“Ch’.” Ikoma fired again. This time, blue sparks flew.

“Admit it.” Sukari focused on a shambling mass that must have been well-fed before it’d turned. Fired. Sparks, and the size of that one slowed down some of the mass of Kabane behind it. “You’re just out of sorts because you can’t jump over there with Mumei.”


Sukari sympathized; they were both steamsmiths, after all, and who didn’t want to take a wrench to a problem rather than shoot it? He knew he’d almost rather be under the undercarriage again than up here making sure one idiot Kabaneri on the injured list didn’t forget he was not supposed to be in close combat.

Kajika is a merciless cutthroat bargainer, who threatened to drag me into the markets to buy food if I lost track of him. Evil.

Around the arc of the Koutetsujou, other shots were ringing out against the approaching sea of gray bodies. Most hit true, blue sparks flying as the jet bullets blasted Kabane hearts. From the Hunter’s car Sukari heard an excited laugh; something about the ammo. Good. The damned Hunters ought to appreciate Koutetsujou ammo.

But there are so many Kabane. There’s always so many….

Steel shifted under them, the Hayajiro starting to uncoil from around the water-tower.

Good, everyone must be on; everyone who wants to live, anyway


48 thoughts on “Sweeten Ch2 bit – Targeting

  1. i hope the people from kongokaku will take a good look at how the koutetsujou people fight off the kabane.
    seems like Sukari got the shit job, again… is it a running gag now?

    will Ikoma and other steamsmiths figure more anti kabane weapon upgrades? his bullet and sword coating, are almost as potent help as his status as Kabaneri at full health, i think.

    If he were to get the time to rest, research, and figure another upgrade…

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Armor would make a lot of sense for Ikoma. He’s not gonna be like Mumei, jumping and leaping about the battlefield. So go the opposite direction- an armored juggernaut (within limits, running is still important).

        Liked by 2 people

      2. re: armor – what about chainmail? I don’t know if it would be lighter (although it seems logical), but I’ve read enough Eddings to know it’s easier to move in *, and while it’s more vulnerable to spiky weapons like rapiers, from what I’ve seen of the shows I don’t believe the kabane have anything like that??? – no claws or anything? It might be more labor-intensive to make, but once you’ve learned the basics it’s pretty much a matter of practice and patience… and there’s a ton of non-combatants on the train with nothing to do but sit around being scared, why not make them do something useful?

        * I love the Elenium – the only fantasy books I’ve read where they actually discuss some of the peculiarities of wearing armor for a living. Like the bit where one order of the Church Knights wears chainmail because their country has a lot of rivers, and if you fall into a river, you can hold your breath long enough to get out of the chainmail and swim to the surface, which you can’t in plate. Or that anyone in armor reeks because the quilted garments you wear between the plate and your skin make you constantly sweat like a pig, and said garments take a week to dry if you take the time to wash them.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Well we have to remember that the fancy upgrades like the Jet bullets, cage coating etc require time, money, facilities and materials to make.

    See ep 7 when Suzuki mentioned they were out of ‘daita-iron’ which was needed to make the jet bullets.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve finally been inspired to watch Kabaneri. What strikes me, is how the japanese people cling so tightly to their stratified society in the face of the existential threat of the Kabane, as Vathara also points out in this fic. A certain amount of specialization is necessary in any community, especially when it comes to the maintaining and operating of complex machinery, but when its a literal matter of life or death, it really ought to be “all hands on deck!”. If one considers how modern Japan conducts itself when it comes to disaster preparedness, the lack of it one sees whenever a Station gets overrun is somewhat jarring.

    I guess it might tie into the way “saving/maintaining face” is practically more important than effective action, or, say, conducting “Kabane Drills” may be seen to imply that “failure” is practically expected. The traditional “proper” response to “failure”/dishonor, is after all, to die honorably… not run away and try better next time.

    An interesting historical note- in WWII, one of the organizational/”corporate culture” advantages the US Navy had over the IJN was in the realm of damage control. In the USN, DC was Everybody’s Business, and many a ship survived against all odds. Conversely, DC was assigned to specific teams/personnel in the IJN, and it didn’t matter if a fire/leak/etc started in the compartment a sailor was in- if DC wasn’t his job, he didn’t combat the problem. No matter that often seconds count…

    It would be interesting to see what someone might come up with for a “Kabaneri” scenario in the US. “Kabaneri” would face the same kind of fear and predjudice, certainly, and there are enough “tin pot” dictators and all kinds of sociopathic types of people to make survival difficult- radical christian sects viewing the Kabaneri as a sign of the Apocalypse, and perhaps trying to hasten the end, or forcefully converting (or “culling” any “non-believers”) would probably inhabit that kind of world… There might well be racist persecution- Fortress-towns/Stations segregated/reserved for “whites only”, etc, but the divide between those who would take up arms, and those who wouldn’t/are forbidden, is unlikely to exist, at least not nearly to the exent in the original anime. IMO

    Liked by 2 people

    1. While I can’t deny that there probably would be Religious Nuts in a case like a Mass Zombie Apocalypse, I find it kind of heart breaking that no one (or at least very, very few) think about the Christians who would do everything in their power to *s a v e* others. No matter who they were. That’s what Christianity is SUPPOSED to be. Not condemning others when we’re supposed to be reaching out to them. Helping people is The Right Thing To Do, even if we don’t like the other guy.

      See the Missionaries that go to share with cannibalistic tribes, for example. Yes, sometimes that ends in heart break. But sometimes? Sometimes they reach them and it changes lives.

      Also, for any believer who’s actually read their Bible, a ZA, while horrific, would not set off The End Is Nigh responses. There are very SPECIFIC signs listed and a ZA does not match them.

      Sorry for the rant, it’s a bit of a peeve of mine

      Liked by 2 people

      1. If one draws historical parallels, one could assume that a Kabaneri-verse USA would have had a population that the great majority of which would have been “practicing” christians of various Catholic/Protestant demoninations (at least, prior to the Kabane), so I didn’t bother mentioning them specifically in contrast to possible (antagonistic) religious sects/doomsday cults that might spring up because of the Kabane appearrance.

        In other words, if the Kabane don’t cause a siginificant fraction of the population “to lose faith”, then by default, those fighting to keep civilization alive would be of the christian faith.

        I don’t think you’d find much in the way of, say, religious “orders” maintaing Fortresses/Stations, or taking on the “Hunter” role in the US, because historically (prior to the hypothetical Kabane at least), I think it can be said that americans viewed the various kinds of religious organizations (various monastery/nunnery orders, Jesuits, etc) with suspicion. Not that they don’t/didn’t exist, but many immigrants/colonists (and their decendents) came to the US to get away from the at times all-too pervasive/invasive power of religious organizations.

        Especially since there appears to be no direct advantage (other than to moral) to calling on religious beliefs when combating the Kabane.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. It’d partly depend on how you built the AU’s USA cognate. The religious dimension is probably a non-trivial part of that. Especially given the influence it had in our own timeline. Orders are kinda more of a Catholic thing, maybe Orthodox and other older versions of Christianity. I think at the time of Kabaneri, the USA was still heavily Protestant at the level of societal influences. (As in, there were Catholics, Orthodox, Jews and even Muslims, but one of the major political fights had a side that mainly made sense in the context of the Protestant flavors of Christianity.)

        Liked by 2 people

    2. And yet that clinging to tradition strikes me as very realistic. That’s what people usually do in the face of overwhelming disaster. The Koutetsujou has lucked out by having 1) people who are either more flexible than the norm or can learn to be, and 2) immediate, first-hand evidence that changing some of their ways pays off.

      Don’t forget that stratified and impractical as it seems, Hi-no-moto society has kept people alive for two decades in the face of a full-scale zombie apocalypse. Granted, they could do things better. And with the Kabane apparently learning new tricks, they’ll have to. But getting this far is one heck of an accomplishment.

      Huh. There are several things you’d have to take into account for a North American Kabane outbreak. First, they might have better gunpowder – it’s specifically stated in canon background materials that Hi-no-moto has steam guns because their gunpowder kind of sucks. Second, unless various old forts against the Indians got reinforced very quickly, with all the steel and concrete people could grab, the Kabane would overrun almost anywhere. 1900s North America really wasn’t that fortified.

      As for racist persecution in the face of zombies… I refer you to the words of a Marine sergeant instructor to his recruits currently treading water. “There are no white Marines! There are no black Marines! There are only amphibious green Marines! And right now what I want to see are amphibious green blurs!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooo, good point, good point. North America was really a lot of open area in those days, all the people on the plains and similar would not have lasted long against running-zombies. Hm…think rather than fortress-type homesteads surviving Americans might have become tenacious cliff dwellers? The Gila Cliff Dwellings come to mind. Or cave dwellers considering certain mines…

        On that note: do you think the stone castles of Europe and Scotland and various other places would be sanctuaries or death traps? Sure they’re fortified but, well, kinda stuck and I don’t think they’re generally big enough to support a steady food source, that’s what the outlying peasantry were for and well…

        As for the Christian compassion bit… isn’t that our own human compassion? It’s hardly limited to Christianity alone (that would be utterly horrifying and beyond terrifying and I don’t think I’d ever want to leave my house….ever.) and we see that very struggle repeatedly in the series, even though it’s twenty years after the initial outbreak. The poor boy the Hunters euthanized, the pregnant woman in episode 3, that man Ikoma tried defending in the first episode.

        Heck, Ikoma is practically the poster child of it! Figuring out where that wavering line is between compassion and mercy and hard-reality pragmatism… that’s something everyone with even a shred of human decency would struggle with. Yes, if they’ve been bitten there’s really nothing you could do, but actually shooting or otherwise euthanizing a terrified victim begging to live, begging for help… I imagine that’s the primary reason why those rifles in episode one pressured their bitten comrade to suicide rather than force them to do the deed.

        It takes either someone utterly lacking a conscience, over the moon insane, or with that iron-will discipline to grit their teeth and do what is necessary even though it hurts. Kill yourself to keep the Kabane you’d become from hunting your friends and loved ones? Easy. Relatively speaking, lots of people can be selfless like that. But shooting someone else who isn’t actively threatening you? That’s something else entirely.

        Though “sacrifices must be made” and “you first” comes to mind if people start spouting ‘for the Greater Good’ garbage.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Cliff dwellers: probably wouldn’t work. Kabane do climb. Moats, however, seem to be very effective.

        Castles were mostly meant to withstand short sieges. A castle withstanding a year of being surrounded was fairly rare and noteworthy. Twenty years would starve people out.

        I was referring specifically to the Christian injunction to minister to the sick, actually. That could have dire results. In fact, it may well have – outside of the ones with Biba, we don’t see a single doctor in the series.

        Heh. And as for self-sacrifice to prevent yourself from becoming a Kabane… note that the hanging rig Ikoma devised in the first ep requires conscious action to release the pressure and let him down.

        As in, if it hadn’t worked? The Kabane would have been stuck. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Re: Fortifications…

        The ACW could have been more awesome.

        North America still has tons of empty. It definitely would have predated Eisenhower’s national highway system.

        One question would be how much population is available to convert, how long it would take Kabane to travel the distances on foot, and how well they would last doing such travel.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Ah well, I mourn the possibility and bounce on to another: community boats. Odds that people fled to water to avoid the onslaught? Moats aren’t always convenient, after all.

        Ooooo, I didn’t even think about that. O.O;
        What a horrible, h o r r i b l e prospect. And instead of doctors they have either scientists, bushi field first aid…and the steamsmiths. Anything more complex than home remedies past through the family, or conveniently written down in saved texts…. good grief. Suddenly so many little things make so much more sense.

        Heh, gotta hand it to Ikoma, he doesn’t even acknowledge the prospect of half-measures. He is also i n s a n e on par with Zuko.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. “radical christian sects viewing the [disaster] as a sign of the Apocalypse, and perhaps trying to hasten the end” is entirely overdone.

    Anytime Hollywood needs an insular group of people to act the villain “radical christian sects” are the first thing they think of because they have no imagination.

    In the US, the weaponry divide is between those who like and/or have weapons already (believing that if they don’t defend themselves, no one else will), and those who hate and fear the weapons in se (believing that the government should, can, and will defend them).

    You’d be more likely to have conflict between the people who’d happily shoot the Kabane and the people who would rather be overrun than touch a firearm (or who try to shame the shooters for shooting, even as those shooters are the only thing between the hoplophobes and Imminent Zombie Death.

    I don’t know how much effect the “imminent death” part would have on your average hoplophobe’s willingness to take up arms and shoot.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lets not forget, I’m not talking about modern America, but the US (and the rest of the world) as imagined in the time period the Kabaneri Anime takes place in.

      The tradition of the “Minutemen” and the State Militia would presumably still be strong.

      Since steam tech is fairly advanced, but the Shogunate still exists (and Japanese society still has much of its traditional trappings), one could assume the historical dates of the US Civil War have passed, but the Meiji restoration failed/derailed by Kabane, perhaps.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. *Wry G* They have no imagination? I think you give Hollywood too much credit. I think they can very well imagine what groups that actually are inclined toward violence might do to them. That’s why they never portray said groups as the real enemy. Just look at how they’ve mangled Tom Clancy books.

      And based on various reports I’ve read, imminent death really doesn’t get through hoplophobes until it’s too late. The Kabane would eat them.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Actually, American gun control at the time was fairly heavily oriented towards making political enemies vulnerable to terrorism and/or mitigating the risk of slave rebellions.

      The current sentiment is probably more of an artifact of generations of mass communication and/or relative extreme safety.

      I tend to suspect that Hollywood’s motivations are head games on a massive scale. People often overlook the question of why people in Hollywood informed on the socialists. It has been alleged that they did so because they felt like the socialists had been discriminating against them in employment because they were not socialist. This type of discrimination is part of the ‘Leninist organizational weapon’ which communists practice. Ask yourself if Hollywood’s slant fits the model of what a communist would say instead ‘your family is weak, mine is strong, you are weak, I am strong, let me beat you to death or it will still happen, but worse for your family’.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The history of gun control attempts in America is complicated and differs by area of the country and what decade you’re looking at.

        I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “current sentiment”. There are at least two strong currents in politics I see ATM – those who appear to believe “we can’t be trusted to protect ourselves, so take our guns away so we stop killing each other”, and those who believe, “I’d like to protect myself, thank you – don’t shoot at me, and you don’t need to worry about my gun.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Current pro-gun control sentiment.

        Current anti gun control sentiment is partly informed by knowledge of what gun control was used for historically in certain times and places in America.

        Liked by 2 people

    4. Anyone ever read the manga Gimmick? It’s about a young special effects prodigy; as part of one of the ongoing themes – if you have the skills to affect how people see reality, you need to be careful how what you create is used – there’s quite a lot of discussion on how Hollywood’s ability to influence public opinion over the years.
      In one pointed example, a couple of the characters point out how there were a lot of negative portrayals of Japanese and Japanese culture during the 1990’s (Rising Sun and Die Hard were two of the examples); this is stated to be because the US was terrified of Japan’s economic power at the time – at one point, Mitsubishi corp owned the Rockerfeller building! These portrayals were at least in part Hollywood’s attempt to shape how other English-speaking cultures viewed Japan.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Suzuki was on shore leave from foreign freighter, according to chapter 1.
    Were there any others, actual foreigners that got stuck when the kabane appeared? how would such foreigners, who managed to reach a station, would be, in the stratified, foreign society? what will be their place? role? caste? will they even be allowed, or cast out as ‘foreign devils’? will they end up try to make a community of their own?

    will our koutetsujou crew get to encounter one, or more?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. …Suzuki is an actual foreigner. Despite the name. *Amused* English judge-style blond curls and all. (From the opening of Japan to about the end of the Gilded Age, it was common for foreigners in Japan to take Japanese names for everyday use.) He appears to have gotten by just fine with the Hayajiro crews, who seem to be accounted as Odd by everybody.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. *Wry G* I recommend Conrad Totman’s Early Modern Japan for an interesting start on the rough time period and customs we see in Kabaneri. Outside of that… oh man, I probably have at least a dozen books on Japanese history of different time periods, geisha, samurai, ninja, and temples. Probably closer to two dozen. Been reading them ever since I found Rurouni Kenshin!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Bringing up the lack of fortified communities, the utility of european/asian castles, etc. reminds me of how densely packed those Stations are. Where are they growing their food? Rice requires intensive cultivation and management of the paddies/fields. Requiring hours of work per day, constant exposure to the Kabane beyond the walls… And then it has to be harvested.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’d need to rewatch to determine what their main food source is now, but a point in series (that came up between Ikoma and Mumei related to her real name) was that the country can’t really grow rice in any quantity anymore.

      There simply isn’t the space for the paddies.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My best guess is actually sweet potato and/or taro. Both of those had gotten to historical Japan some time before IRL, and space-wise they provide a lot of fairly nourishing food. Plus a lot of the fields we do get a glimpse of are partly flooded – which would fit with some methods of growing them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good point.

        Though for the stations surrounded by a moat I have to wonder if said water bodies have carp growing in them. I mean the fish did come to Japan from China way before Kabaneri is set and you could apparently rear them in ‘ponds’ which are no doubt a lot smaller then the bodies of water around the stations.

        It would provide a reliable source of meat for the station that doesn’t take up living space (not to mention carp aren’t that picky about their diet).

        Liked by 2 people

  7. It’s finally occurred to me – anyone see the movie Snowpiercer? One of Chris Evans’ (aka MCU Captain America) best performances, I think. It’s a post-Big Freeze style Apocalypse, where all the (as far as they know) people left on Earth live on a single, giant train constantly circling the planet. Has some interesting ideas about how a large population would cope with being stuck on a single vehicle.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. when you discuss the movie afterward, there’s some holes; you don’t quite see it in most places during the movie, because all the main cast are very talented actors who sell the reality of their characters.
        … and I didn’t say it all made sense. But I still maintain it has some interesting ideas about the situation.

        Liked by 2 people

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