Familiar concept of combining historical vehicles/crafts/figures of war with cute and sexy girls once more grace our monitors or Japanese TV screens in the latest entry of the concept known as Kantai Collection, aka KanColle. Keep in mind this review will only cover the anime adaptation.
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi
Themes: Moe, Military, Battleships, War, Yuri
Number of episodes: 12
Plot Summary: A mysterious fleet known as “Abyssals” appeared from the depths of ocean and attacked randomly. Fleet Girls are the only one who can stand against the Abyssals. Together with Tornado Squadron and others, they set to counterattack. Upon seeing Akagi fought, Fubuki earned admiration towards her and aimed to fight with her.
2 things of note:
1: I will be making several comparisons of this anime with the Strike Witches anime because they share several similarities in narrative structure.
2: Again this is a review about the anime. I have not read any manga, doujinshi of the franchise nor played the browser game that started it all so whatever happened in those in comparison to this anime are inconsequential to my overall thoughts on it.
The simplest explanation/comparison of what to expect from this anime is Strike Witches on water. For readers who have not seen SW here is a detailed description. It is a show about cute and sexy girls representing battleships and other war crafts whose main purpose is to protect the world from an alien threat, in this show’s case the Abyssal. However, like SW KanColle is more character driven where most of the show’s time is spent watching the girls engage in casual activities, training for big battles or developing their characters. The Fleet vs Abyssal war is secondary and if only referenced when the plot calls for these battles. Let us go over all the parts I mentioned here by starting with the characters.
The show’s main protagonist is Fubuki, a classic adorable female anime lead who has no difficulty befriending everyone and also has hidden potential within her. The show dedicates part of its time showing her progression from a newbie to a major player in the fleet in a relatively acceptable manner. Also did I mention she is adorable and has an equally adorable love interest and a fetching senpai?
There is one minor gripe I have with the show concerning the characters that SW handled better imo. See, KanColle’s cast is HUGE and in a one-cour broadcast of 12 episodes that is simply not enough time to go through all the girls chosen to appear on the show…which is why a certain announcement was made. On the bright side the characters who did get enough screen time to shine were wonderful. Finding a favorite should not be difficult for viewers who are experienced in watching Girls Club shows.
The Abyssals do not do much other than serve as the major threat the ship girls must combat in order to maintain peace in the ocean. Best compliment I can give is that I like the (obviously) Black Rock Shooter inspired character and monster designs. They are the “actions speak louder than words” type of enemy similar to the Neuroi in SW.
Of course like SW and other shows where vehicles and/or historical figures are turned into cute and sexy girls each character in KanColle represents a real life ship that exists/ed in an important part of history, in this franchise’s case the First World War. Viewers are encouraged, if interested, to look up more information about the ships, their weapons and ammunition and even events depicted on the show to learn more about them.
I initially did not feel it necessary to talk about this but I guess it cannot be ignored: The show’s “elephant in the room”. The Admiral, specifically the debate regarding Admiral’s gender. The Western subs claim it’s a “he” for the sake of mainstream otaku pleasure. However, Admiral’s true identity is “self-insert”, meaning its face is never shown, it never speaks and its gender is up to the viewers to decide. All Admiral does is give orders secretly and write letters. This is because in the game’s Admiral’s gender can either be male or female. This is also the reason the writers did not specify its gender. Let the audience fill the blanks. This is why during my episodic coverage one of my peeps referred to Admiral as a loli. There was nothing stopping this person from labeling Admiral as such. So that is the answer to the mystery, like it or not. Besides, it makes the fact of a certain fan favorite repeatedly gushing over The Admiral less painful for the Nation.
Next is a controversial topic that has plagued the internet anime community for a long time since the mid 2000’s or so (possibly earlier). Japanese television CGI. For some, especially blu-ray collectors, it can make or break a show for them. I personally did not care as the ship battles were cool and that is what I was focusing on rather than the CGI but for viewers who pay very close attention to these kinds of details rest assured it is not as frequent or blatant as something like SeHa Girls. It is there so keep that in mind during the battles. The rest of the animation quality, solid. The cute girls are cute and the endowed women are glorious.
As for the OP/ED and soundtrack they too are all solid. Nothing extraordinary.
The character development aspect for the girls who do get enough time is well done. Nothing new is covered but the lessons learned are still valuable. Topics such as, believing in one’s self, never give up on one’s dream, the classic power of friendship (or in this case, friendship-love) and of course “there is no greater poi than Poi’s poi(s) in this poi-ful world of poi-dom”, poi.
And now we get to the most important part of most of my reviews. There are many yuri pairings in the KanColle world and there are three in particular that won me over.
-The first one being Fubuki and Mutsuki. Even though from episode 1 it seemed Fubuki’s heart was stolen by Akagi-senpai it was clear Mutsuki was the one destined to become Fubuki’s soul mate.
-The second is one of the more blatant yuri pairings on the show, mainly because one of them is a legitimate lesbian who has a mad, possessive crush on the other, in Ooi and Kitakami. It surprised me that despite not getting an episode dedicated to the two they appeared at least once in every episode where Ooi was either singing Kitakami’s praises, snarling at others for interrupting her Kitakami time or getting near them Kitakami (pretending) to be oblivious.
-Third we have my pick for the best young adult pairing of the fleet in the sexy secretaries Nagato and Mutsu. This pairing consists of the stoic, serious, honorable, respectable and lovable Nagato along with her playful, calmer and devoted soon to be soul mate Mutsu. Think of this show as one-sided relationships getting ready to become much more.
Overall KanColle felt familiar but still managed to deliver a fun filled and occasionally exciting show starring ship girls. Not everyone got enough time in the spotlight but that will be remedied in the future. The CGI may frustrate purists and collectors but hopefully everyone else can enjoy the show without getting a hernia. Recommended to everyone who likes “mili-moe” anime.
For readers who paid attention in parts of the review then they figured out what I was leading to: KanColle will continue sometime in he future.