Who Would Like this Anime?
Rail Wars! is over-the-top action paired with a fair amount of ecchi, thriller (?), and romance. It sort of wants to be realistic with its setting, yet is severly incompatible with reality thanks to its execution. So at its core – the story – Rail Wars! is pretty retarded and throws a lot of hard to swallow bullsh*t at you; you might have a problem with that. However, you might want to stick around for the ecchi and romance, anyway. If you can stomach the first two to three episodes without dying of cringe, you’ll be fine.
I’ve watched this release. When I first wrote up this draft, I was like “overzealous editor,” but I had to rewatch this whole thing ’cause I put it on the side for too long and basically forgot all about it, and now I actually can’t confirm that it’s overly edited, anymore. Anyway, I never thought it was bad editing to begin with, just maybe a bit too spicy for what the source gives. Nothing to worry about.
Takayama, a dude, who just wants to have a steady, laid-back job, and train nerd, applies at the JNR to become a train driver. However, for some untold reason everyone’s being applied into the security program by default. And thus began the days of Takayama, a dude who just wants to drive trains, and his teammates to keep the JNR’s customers save from your occasional train station threat such as robberies, terrorist attacks, knife fights, kidnappings, attempted murder, …
One of Rail Wars!‘ strong suits. The visuals are fairly detailed, sharp, and neatly animated. If anything, it’s one of the reasons to watch it for, not to avoid it for. I really, really like the character design, the girls look super cute and beautiful, the dudes rough and manly, I dig it. There’s a sparce amount of 3D animation too, it suits the setting (it’s mainly the trains which get 3D animated). Even by today’s standards, I’d consider Rail Wars! to look amazing. It aged well, too. I don’t know if it’s worth going for the 1080p release, I can’t tell whether the source is native 1080p or not, but I highly doubt it. Native 1080p sources aren’t even common these days and I don’t think Rail Wars! was big enough of a deal to bother producing it in 1080p.
Oh boy, I didn’t even cringe and facepalm this much when I watched Strike Witches, and that stuff virtually throws pantie shots at you every minute. Let’s start with the good stuff.
Rail Wars! is – give and take – four years old. Four years old. Now go and watch a few minutes. If anything, anime these days looks worse in average. Point being: Rail Wars! looks amazing, even by today’s standards. The usual stuff like sharp and detailed backgrounds or animation quality aside, the character design is just off the charts. The girls look cute and beautiful and the dudes look super manly (I know I’m repeating stuff from the “Visuals” section), and yet it doesn’t feel like there’s a break like the girls and guys were drawn by different artists. They all fit in great and look even better! The animation studio did a marvelous job in production value, I’ve nothing but praise here.
Another strong point of Rail Wars! are the romance scenes. The harem’s all there and the key scenes are well-written and neatly animated. It feels very natural how the girls come to like Takayama and the small romance arcs in between the story arcs are really satisfying. Even the usual ecchi “incidents” don’t feel forced and fit right into the romantic flow. Usually, I tend to roll my eyes over “lucky perv” stuff like stumbling into a pair of boobies. Rail Wars!, however, manages to integrate those in a manner in which they don’t feel out of place but even add to the viewer satisfaction. After all, let’s be honest, no one hates fanservice, people hate bad fanservice. Rail Wars! doesn’t overdo it with these incidents either, a reasonable amount to a reasonable degree.
The characters are alright, I guess. Aoi is your average strong-willed tsundere, Koumi is your average kind-hearted deredere. Noa’s yet another tsundere, albait more pushy than Aoi once she’s in dere mode. Mari’s quite the energetic and straightforward type of girl, but not straightforward enough to just tell Takayama that she’s got a crush on him (of course not). Takayama, himself, is a rather bland protagonist, a train nerd with weirdly self-destructive tendencies when it comes to problem solving and as much of a dunce as a “rom-com” protagonist can be. The one character that really struck me as ugh (yes, ugh) is Sho. This guy only cares for food. There can be four beauties in bikinis around him, he be like “Where’s the next restaurant, tho?” Usually, sidekicks at least drool a bit and then get turned down by the heroines, but this dude is just chemically castrated. Plus, he doesn’t add much to the story or anything, he’s just there to get his “food where” running gag out and then watch the rest of the cast behave like actual human beings. A really weird character, I fail to see why he’s even there.
Sadly, everything else Rail Wars! does, especially with regards to its story and setting, is utter BS. Just think about the setting: JNR is a railroad company. The guys who get you from A to B in trains. At best, those railroad companies have security. At best they aren’t just big, unqualified, minimum wage dudes who idle around to get their paycheck, but went through some sort of training. However, Rail Wars! goes full f*cking spec ops on f*cking railroad security, with bomb defusals, weapon training, martial arts, anti theft, anti kidnapping, anti nuclear strike, marriage counseling, you name it. It’s absurd. Even if you say, “Hey, it’s an anime, it’s supposed to be spectacular and fun,” Rail Wars! does its best to undo any tolerance I can muster up for its outrageous setting: It goes out of its way to talk about a steady and safe company that Takayama wants to join just to drive freaking trains with train nerd facts and references across the board, then puts that train nerd under an armed bomb with his colleague asking him what she can do for him (what a question, the dude’s sitting on a bomb) and the dude, who came there to drive trains basically replies, “Just get our valued customers to safety while I get blown to pieces here, lulz.” But do not fret, tsundere Aoi, a greenhorn herself, comes along and defuses the f*cking bomb. ‘Cause why wouldn’t she know how to defuse bombs? Her dad taught his little teenager daughter, after all. There are just so many questions on top of that. Why did all applicants get auto-assigned to security, anyway? Why would you put people like Takayama and Koumi, who are obviously unqualified, on such hazardous duties? Why would you have kids undergo gun training and the potentially first firearm they ever touch is a f*cking revolver? Where’s the logic in all of this?
What Rail Wars! does is just way too much to just go along with. Everything’s way too much, everything’s way too over the top. Rail Wars! is basically a reversed OreTwintail: Both have an absurd setting, but being well aware of that, OreTwintail doesn’t take itself seriously and tells its story with a wink. Rail Wars!, however, takes itself very seriously and wants you to buy into its BS. The story and setting are a firework of cringe and facepalms, be it either in small gestures (Aoi kissing her gun) or whole story twists (keeping a speeding train from derailing by pulling (!!!) on it; not like this f*cking thing weighs a ton and pulling on it wouldn’t achieve jack). Truely horrible.
All in all, Rail Wars! has its good sides, which is basically everything that isn’t directly related to its main setting. The romance scenes are top notch, the character design great, the fanservice satisfying, and the visuals right up there. All of this does get blown to pieces once Rail Wars! tries to tell its absurd story, though. It just wants too much: Fantasy spec ops action based on boring realism; it doesn’t work. The setting is too relatable to allow me to buy into that crappy, idealized protection force stuff. I’d still say you should give Rail Wars! a try, even if you just skip through its cringe. The visuals and romance are just so satisfying, that you might wanna watch these parts alone. Everything else, however, I just can’t see how anyone could come out of this cringefest and be like, “Aw man, that was great!” All its greatness and all its absurdity add up to a 5 for me. Average. That’s what Rail Wars! is for me in the end, average.