I-I-I was told this would be an anime about trains. I also didn’t realize the war part in Rail Wars! would be quite so literal. Apparently, these kids will be kicked out of the academy if they can’t handle a handgun. Sure, it makes sense for a member of the Railway Public Security Squad (what a mouthful) to carry a gun on them, but I didn’t realize everyone here was aiming to be on the security squad. I also like how the main character takes aim without those protective earmuffs…
…but then they magically appear on his head after he fires a shot:
B-b-but all of them are wearing the ear muffs right here:
But now they’re not!
I feel like I’m taking crazy pills! Ah, the magical world of trains where things magically disappear and reappear, and trains are really giant, bouncing boobs. So anyway, this anime exists in that weird in-between position where it wants to be educational about trains, but at the same time, have exaggerated anime hijinks. Yes, the first trains made use of the steam locomotive. That’s a nice history lesson! We should always be cognizant of our roots–… wait, what?
The funny thing is, this is not even a haha moment. They’re literally going to shovel coal until some old ass steam locomotive hits its desired speed. If the anime had gone for comedy, I’d just suspend my disbelief and move on. But the anime actually isn’t trying to make me laugh. It’s not being dead serious either, but there’s a tiny bit of legitimacy here. Like somehow, learning to shovel coal will be useful to any aspiring train conductor or, uh, security squad member. And that’s the other thing. What on earth are these kids training to become? If they are aspiring to be train conductors, why are they handling guns? If they’re aspiring to join the security squad, why are they worrying about shoveling coal? Hell, why worry about shoveling coal at all? Where on this green planet can you find a steam locomotive that isn’t just an overrated, overpriced tourist destination? So that brings me back to my original point. Had this been a comedic scene, I’d be like, “Whatever. Just another lame joke.” But it’s not a joke. Some dumb academy literally wasted time setting up a high-tech simulation (at least, I hope it’s just a virtual simulation) just so that its students could learn what it feels like to live back in the late 19th-early 20th century.
I’m sure this scene is a delight to train enthusiasts across Japan — of which I’m sure there are many — but it leaves the rest of us in a strange spot. Should I be entertained? Thrilled at the sight of such a quaint training exercise? It’s not really over-the-top or comical. It’s just a little weird. As soon as the training starts, a narrator rattles off some dry and boring facts: “Normally, the C62 requires about 100 liters of water and 40 kg of coal to go one kilometer.” Boy howdy! So again, you have this strange mix of anime’s propensity to exaggerate reality with the need to educate us on the subject matter. Anyway, it turns out the kids aren’t shoveling the coal efficiently enough. Y’see, you have to shovel the coal into the right positions. Hey, I’m not doubting the anime. I don’t know jack shit about trains. As a result, I’m going to defer to them when it comes to train knowledge. Yeah, yeah, fuel efficiency. That sounds about right. At the same time, however, how on earth will proper coal placement help a modern day train conductor in the 21st century? “Oh, well, it develops your problem solving skills!” So sit your ass down with a book of sudoku, then.
The main problem, however, isn’t really about the story’s realism. I could give a rat’s ass about the story’s realism. The problem is that I’ve been taken out of the moment. It’s about managing audience expectations. These kids are training to be serious train… workers, I don’t know, whatever you want to call them. Point is, this training exercise isn’t a joke. As a result, you take me out of the moment when a supposedly legitimate training exercise involves the efficient placement of coals with hand shovels. C’moooooon, man. “Oh, you’re taking this anime too seriously.” But again, if it’s meant to be funny, where are the laughs? Instead, we get a “Ganbatte!” moment in which everyone works together to get the train up to speed. Best part is, the opening episode only covers a month. Halfway through the episode, the trainees are already on the field. Yes, they’re still trainees, but wasting a part of the month with a coal-shoveling exercise… yeah.
Alright, alright, enough nitpick. I’m really only writing this post ’cause other shows haven’t aired yet. As a result, my updating schedule is a bit up in the air at the moment. Hell, I might not even write about this anime ever again. But I may as well say everything I’m going to say while I can. The characters are nothing special. Naoto, the main character, is as standard as they come. Then we get the nice girl who gets high grades, and the tsuntsun girl who is apparently a crackshot with a revolver. Y’know how it is. Aoi’ll be a manhater for now, but Naoto will eventually prove his worth to her. Then it’s all doki doki after that. Yeah, what a colorful cast. Meanwhile, the anime is content to creep on them with potential upskirt shots and Haruka’s detachable, flopping breasts. Naoto also has a best male friend, but he’s even more non-descript compared to the other three. It’s pretty much all about trains and fanservice. Naoto asks Haruka why she’s decided to join Japanese National Railways, so this soft, introspective music starts to play. Yeah, let’s develop this character! At the same time, her ass is right in our face:
So you’ll have to excuse me if it doesn’t seem like the anime cares all to much about Haruka’s story. I don’t know what else I’m supposed to think, to be honest. The girl is pouring her heart out, and we still can’t pass up the chance to creep on her. Naturally, she proceeds to trip and land her giant ass on the main character. And y’know, same old shit in every show. His right hand is on her breasts. His right leg is pressed up against her crotch. This is after she landed on him. Yawn. This camera angle, however, makes it look like her breasts are a ridiculous distance away from her face. By the way, they’re supposed to be looking for a dog. Afterwards, the kids put their brains together to apprehend a bunch of purse-snatchers. The thieves had managed to escape onto a train, but our heroes used their in-depth knowledge of train schedules or something and uh… yeah, it’s that exciting. Nevertheless, they get yelled at for acting on their own. Y’all just a buncha loose cannons! A bunch of free-wheelin’ mavericks! Chasing after a couple of purse-snatchers. What do you think this is?! Rush Hour?!
Anyway, Rail Wars! is dumb, but I got a post out, so I’ve got that going for me at least. For sure, I’ll be writing about Zankyou no Terror in the coming weeks instead.