AKA: Iron Communication
Genre: Sci-Fi/Comedy/Post-Apocalyptic Drama
Year Released: 1998-1999
Distributor: Unlicensed (DVD formally released by Anime Works)
Running Time: TV Show, 24 episodes, 15 minutes each
Rating/Recommended Audience: 13+
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Stellvia, Patapata Hikousen No Bouken, The Last Man on Earth
-This review reflects the original Japanese language track
-Volume 1 of Kurogane Communication lacked audio in the extras section.
-Tomomasa Takuma (Co-creator of Kurogane Communication) has drawn Evangelion parodies which explains why the main character is a photo negative parody of Asuka.
-Speaking of look-a-like parodies, once you see Reeves and Angela, you can easily tell that they resemble The Terminator and Major Mokoto Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell.
-This anime was part of a block called Anime Complex that featured series with episodes of 15 minutes or less. This block also contained series such as Neo Ranga and Risky Safety.
Iʼd never thought Iʼd write this out, but I officially watched the happiest post-apocalyptic series ever.
Post-Apocalyptic stories have been around for decades, but in anime, it became (and in someways, still) a trend once Evangelion was released in the nineties. Finding end of the world scenarios, decimated populations, and catastrophic events in this medium is as common as leaves on the ground in fall. Not to mention heaping angst on top of these plots and a sense of despair.
Kurogane Communication is not that series.
This anime revolves around a girl named Haruka who believes that sheʼs the last human on earth after World War III occurred. She was put in cryogenic sleep and was awakened by a group of robots that become her adoptive family. Thereʼs Trigger whoʼs a loudmouthed short robot who enjoys firing his guns. We also have Spike whoʼs a boy robot who always frets about Harukaʼs safety. Cleric is a stoic and coldly logical robot who always assesses situations with Spock-like demeanor. Reeves is this effeminate robot whoʼs the father figure of the group. He enjoys cooking for others and uses flowery language despite looking really tough. Finally, we have Angela whoʼs a combat robot who starts out hating humans and is a very tough individual who can slice up war machines with her katana.
Even with all the ruined buildings and destroyed scenery, thereʼs a demented sense of hope. The first third of the series plays out like some slice-of-life comedy/drama even with the wreckage around the main characters. Then, it goes into more of a survival mode with natural disasters like droughts, massive flooding, and unnatural events like robots who still think the war is still going on. Thereʼs a surprising amount of cohesion between the serious and more lighthearted scenes that really donʼt come off as jarring or schizophrenic.
The animation itself is surprisingly good despite itʼs age. Itʼs not mind-blowing, but there was a lot of effort put into it like subtle movements and facial changes, brisk action scenes (especially with Angela), and the artwork detailing the scenery is well done showing the desecrated landscape of a post-apocalyptic Japan. Studio APPP (short for Another Push Pin Planning) doesnʼt get enough credit as a legitimate animation studio in the same vein as Madhouse or Gonzo.
I enjoyed the balance between the serious and dark moments. Some scenes made me laugh, others got intense, and not to mention feeling for two certain characters with dark backstories. The last major arc really ups the ante as secrets are revealed as to what happened after this cataclysmic war and a villain who has a very diabolical plan, but the reasons for this antagonist to do that isn’t what one expects until the last episode. The finale of the show ends on a hopeful note that makes sense for the characters and the plot involved without coming off as forced or cheesy.
Kurogane Communication has a few drawbacks though. Spike can come across as annoying especially in some of the earlier episodes. I know heʼs intentionally written to be a worrywart personality, but I found him to be obnoxious sometimes even when he tried to help Haruka and company. Not to mention there were some cliched events like where Spike walks in on accident while Haruka changes clothes. Having it once was okay, but it got old in the early episodes. They do stop that later on, but that bugged me. The background music itself worked just fine, but I wasnʼt a fan of the theme songs. Nothing against Yui Horie as a singer, but I felt the songs were lacking even though the opening theme did fit the mood of the anime. Whatʼs interesting about the background music was that it was done by Kenji Kawai of Ghost in the Shell fame which is interesting given who Angela resembles. There were also a few plot holes with the war itself and Harukaʼs family, but they didnʼt detract that much from watching it.
All in all, Kurogane Communication is worth your time to see. There are some likable characters who do develop, some good writing, and above average animation that still holds up. If you ever watch some super depressing movies or shows especially ones that involve apocalyptic or dystopian situations, then I would recommend watching Kurogane Communication right after it. Even despite a disastrous situation, Haruka and friends find a way to overcome them and are able to live on.
Adjustable Point System:
Add 1 point if youʼre tired of post-apocalyptic shows
Subtract 1-3 points if you like your anime to be more depressing
-Usage of photonegative parody analogs
-Hopeful, yet not still acknowledging the darkness around
-Mediocre theme songs
-Spike earlier on in the series
-Lack of major development for Cleric
Final Score: 8/10 points
Content Warnings: Teens and up. There is some mild language thrown around especially from Trigger and Angela. Some of the violence can get intense, but the combatants are robots, so when they “bleed” itʼs clearly green or purple oil. Thereʼs a tiny bit of fan service, but there is some full frontal nudity in the bath scene with Angela and when another female robot character (spoilers avoided) is battered and is in the nude. Nothing too major in other fields though.
Photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws.