Kurogane Communication Review

AKA: Iron Communication
Genre: Sci-Fi/Comedy/Post-Apocalyptic Drama
Year Released: 1998-1999
Distributor: Unlicensed (DVD formally released by Anime Works)
Origin: Japan
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
Notes:
-This review reflects the original Japanese language track
-Volume 1 of Kurogane Communication lacked audio in the extras section.
Fun Facts:
-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

Pros:
-Quality animation
-Usage of photonegative parody analogs
-Hopeful, yet not still acknowledging the darkness around

Cons:

-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.

-Curtis Monroe

Photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws.

17 comments

  1. Ace review, and it sounds like I need to check out ‘Patapata Hikousen No Bouken’ one day too.

    I really liked the hopeful aspect too, and the riot of yellow in those final scenes was a great contrast to the darker final episodes. I also hadn’t realised that about the Asuka link, that’s great

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Ashley! I would definitely recommend Patapata Hikousen no Bouken. If you like adventure anime and steampunk elements, then this would be right up your alley.

      That’s good. I liked how it was hopeful, but never sappy or artificial about it which is something I really appreciate. Given how this anime came out after Evangelion and the same times as those series derived from it, Kurogane really stands out and still holds up in this current day. Yup, that was certainly intentional by having this “mirror universe” Asuka come in the form of Haruka. She may pass as Asuka’s sister, but her personality is the complete opposite. Haha!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Adventure and steampunk – I’m in 😀 Sounds like it could be a bit like Nadia too, awesome.

        (That’s a good point about Neon Genesis too, I wonder if ‘Kurogane…’ would have found a bigger audience if it had appeared in the early 1990s instead?)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nice! There are some comparisons of Nadia, but Patapata is totally it’s own thing. That anime didn’t ripoff Nadia like the Disney movie Atlantis though. :3

        That’s a very good question, Ashley. Maybe if Kurogane came out in the early 90s instead (pre-EVA), then it might be more successful or at the least more progressive-looking in hindsight by the critics.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it could have been, yeah. And now I wonder if, releasing when it did, it’s even a touch reactionary – to be overall quite positive in that genre seems kinda like a bold choice perhaps.

    And oh! Atlantis, I’ll review that one day I think – but when I first saw all the elements I was surprised at *so much* crossover between the two. I once found a fascinating essay online attempting to lay out all the arguments for ‘utter rip-off’ vs ‘common ideas accidental similarities’ but now I can’t find it, which bugs me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That certainly was a possibility. Come to think of it, the timing of that anime would certainly be reactionary to EVA and similar shows. I agree that it was bold especially in hindsight. While there’s a place for darker shows, I do wish Kurogane would’ve made a bigger impact.

      That review could be interesting. I saw Atlantis before seeing Nadia. It’s eerie with some of the similarities like how Milo totally looks like an adult Jean or how Nadia and Kida are both black Atlantean princesses who have powers tied to a crystal necklace. It was certainly eyebrow-raising. If I were to paraphrase Scott from Mechanical Anime Reviews from a conversation we had about Nadia: “Yeah, there are similarities, but at least Atlantis didn’t rip off an anime as bad as that OTHER Disney movie did.”

      Here’s an article I found that was on ANN. I’m not sure if it’s the same one you mentioned, but it does talk about that issue. https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/feature/2001-07-19

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, that other Disney movie – wow 😦

        Actually, I think that ANN article links to the one I can no longer find – the name is familiar but the link is a 404. But the ANN post is great, thanks! ‘Nadia’ and ‘Atlantis’ are still just littered with similarities, huh?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, yeah. You know what movie and what anime I’m talking about. That is the most insane plagiarism controversy on so many levels. Interestingly enough, I’ve reviewed 4 different parts of that aforementioned anime series on this blog. That OTHER Disney movie is associated with other bad things like cultural appropriation and literally swindling music and I cover the latter issue when I reviewed the Netflix music documentary The Lion’s Share on here. Oh, boy…I have very strong feelings about that issue.

        I’m glad the ANN link worked! Sorry that the links inside that article were dead. I should’ve investigated that much better. Yeah, the similarities really are something. I like how ANN did that comparison chart, too.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s straight up criminal, huh? Big corporations just love to trample all over the intellectual property of others.

    All good on the link – it’s great because I now know the name of the author so I can search better now 🙂 And that chart is great, I think I’ll refer to it when I eventually do a write up on Atlantis.

    Like

    • It truly is. I get passionate when it comes to film plagiarism issues. My intelligence was insulted by how that Hollywood company still denies watching that one 60s anime to this day. I was more insulted when they trademarked a certain Swahili problem-free philosophic phrase that’s been spoken for centuries because that’s cultural appropriation and I also have ancestry from one African group where one of the countries has Swahili as an official language among others (I’m part Congolese, by the way). I also saw you checked out that Top 7 Underrated Anime Villains list, so I know you saw who got cloned the hardest. Haha! :3

      No problem, Ashley! I’m glad that link was still able to help in some way. You should totally reference the chart when you review Atlantis and/or if you decide to review Nadia, too. Shoot, maybe you can make your own article talking about that issue while expanding on the ideas of both media properties and what it means when influence can border on copying or when creators should admit their sources especially when it’s obvious.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s just bizarre, isn’t it? But wow, I didn’t know that they also put a trademark on the phrase, that’s awful. I didn’t know you had that ancestry, it must be extra galling on top of the plagiarism 😦 And yes! That villain post was great, great idea too.

        That’s a good idea, I’ll add it to my list 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Quite bizarre and infuriating indeed. I didn’t know about the trademark until earlier this year when a Kenyan YouTuber I follow did a news story about it and she was rightfully ticked (Swahili is naturally her first language). Yup, I found out because of a DNA test. Two of the biggest results I got were Congolese and English to name a few. I’m glad you liked the villain post. Heard or seen any of those villains before?

        Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Some of the villains only actually – I remember Queen Delphine and I’m looking forward to Harry Killer when I get a chance, but I’ve also not seen ‘Monster’ yet so that’s also great that I’ve got another to add to my list 🙂

    Really hope Disney fails in that attempt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nice! Last Exile was a good series and something I might review if I have time. Harry Killer despite his obvious identity was a complex antagonist. He does bad things, but you can’t completely hat him. Monster is a great series and Johan’s villainy really stands out. I remember first watching it and reading the manga during my high school years. Even then I thought “Why is this guy not on top anime villains lists?”.

      Fails in what attempt? I was curious what you were talking about? Was it Atlantis or anything involving that other Disney movie?

      Liked by 1 person

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