The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Kantai Collection: Review and reflection at the halfway point

“A ship is always referred to as ‘she’ because it costs so much to keep one in paint and powder.” —Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
We’re now sitting at the halfway point in Kantai Collection, a point where we’ve seen Mutsuki learn the truth behind Kisaragi’s death and come to terms with it in Fubuki’s arms, marking what is probably the most tearful moment in Kantai Collection thus far. The introduction of the Kongou class battleships are introduced as well, and like the Sendai-class, they are a diverse bunch with unique identifying traits. A major reorganisation also ensues, with Fubuki being transferred into the fifth mobile fleet and learning that when the chips are down, she’s quite capable of assuming a leadership position. The episode at the midway point appears to have quite forgotten Kisaragi’s fate, seeing the sixth destroyer group (Akatsuki, Hibiki, Ikazuchi, and Inazuma) work together as they participate in a curry competition.

The milestone is now reached, and it’s clear that Kantai Collection has depicted a very light-hearted, easy-going environment where the kan-musume sortie into weekly battles and otherwise spend much of their time with team-building exercises. Elements from the game, such as resource acquisition and fleet restructuring make their way into the anime, reminding those familiar with the game that this is based off the game, but otherwise, are subtle enough as not to detract from the anime itself. As it stands, Kantai Collection feels and handles like Strike Witches: aside from the odd serious moment, things have been laid back insofar, emphasising comedy and character interactions above other elements. The Abyssals have not been a very threatening enemy in their depiction, despite their access to beam weapons and force fields. There are six or seven episodes left; this is sufficient time to change that, and it is quite possible that the Abyssals may play a more substantial role in the series as the ending draws closer, to reinforce the fact that Fubuki has matured as a kan-musume and is capable of sortieing with Akagi.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It’s been almost a half-month since I’ve posted. This is because I’ve been quite busy with my coursework, teaching and thesis (these things matter!). In the aftermath of Kisaragi’s sinking, the fourth episode quietly pushes it aside, and only Mutsuki continues to go to the dock every day with the hopes that she’d sail back in. Classes resume as per usual, and Fubuki is assigned to assist the Kongou battleships on their next sortie.
  • The Nagato was a dreadnought battleship commissioned in November 1920. However, this vessel only saw minor combat operations in the Battle of Midway, and did not participate in a real sortie until the Battle of the Philippine Sea in 1944. After the Second World War ended, the Nagato was sunk during Operation Crossroads: during the Baker test, the explosion did little damage to the Nagato, but a leak caused the vessel to slowly list, and five days later, the Nagato capsized.
  • Kongou’s voice actor, Nao Touyama, also supplies the voice for Kiniro Mosaic‘s Karen Kujo, and while I couldn’t initially place it, I immediately took a liking to her mannerisms, for they were familiar. Looking up the voice actors soon answered why Kongou’s voice was so familiar.
  • Shimakaze disappears on the eve of battle, leading Kongou and the others to seek the means to lure her out. It turns out that a tea party manages to do so, after Hiei, Haruna and Kirishima’s attempts are unsuccessful.
  • Dark, stormy skies tend to be the norm whenever combat operations get serious. The Kongou kan-musume are equipped with a fixed S-foil armed with larger calibre weapons compared to what Fubuki has, and even in the heat of combat, the Kongou-class vessels tend to maintain a generally cheerful disposition. Each of the vessels of this class were sunk by Allied fire, with the Haruna being the longest-surviving (sunk in July 1945).
  • Fubuki gives in to despair when she starts thinking about Mutsuki and very nearly takes a direct hit from one of the Abyssal’s weapons, a strange-looking projectile that looks like it would be conducive towards tumbling around when shot. However, at the last second, Kongou steps in and deflects the shot to save her. Kongou refers to Fubuki as “Bucky”, which in turn leads me to think of Behind Enemy LinesBuck Rogers song.

  • After the Kongou class battleships mop up the remnants of the Abyssal fleet, Kongou comforts Fubuki, who subsequently gains the courage to do what is necessary for Mutsuki. Sunshine breaks through the cloud layer, and soon, blue skies dominate the scene. Take stock, AnotherDuck, Diamite, MarqFJA, Hylarn, kyun and TPPR10 of TV Tropes: this is how a real anime talk is written, without the incessant need to include the phrase “in which (some bollocks)” as the opening to each and every post.
  • The sun always returns after a successful mission, and here, the Kongou-class battleships remind Fubuki that things are alright. Returning to Behind Enemy Lines, the USS Carl Vinson was used in the principle photography for filming the carrier segments, and one has to wonder if Kantai Collection would probably just decay if period American naval vessels were introduced into the game (an American carrier group with support from the Iowa class would’ve been enough to solo the entire Abyssal fleet on account of superior American fire control and training).
  • This is about the maximum extent of Mutsuki’s reaction to Kisaragi’s sinking, and after this point on, it’s almost as if nothing had happened. This demonstrates that Kantai Collection is looking to project a more casual anime, away from the bath of blood and carnage that characterise another anime that saw a named character snuff it after three episodes.
  • No, Fubuki, Mutsuki, Yuudachi, Sentai, Jintsu and Naka aren’t making any attempts to call down a saucer so they can remain friends forever. From here on out, Kantai Collection will mix things up, presumably because the admiral is able to rearrange their fleet’s configuration at will before a sortie. With that being said, combat in Kantai Collection (the game) is apparently automated. A proper game about naval warfare would handle like an RTS, and Kantai Collection‘s premise means it’d make more sense as a first-person shooter.
  • The fleet rearrangement leads Fubuki to be assigned into the fifth mobile task force, a motley bunch that includes Kaga, Zuikaku, Kongou, Kitakami and Oui. The fire rises almost immediately, and the group encounter tensions especially where Kaga and Zuikaku are involved: the two disagree on most everything. The Kaga had a longer service life (being involved in the Sino-Japanese War), it was sunk during the Battle of Midway, while the Zuikaku was sunk during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944.

  • Despite being assigned to a different group, Fubuki shares the same classes as Yuudachi and Mutsuki, but the group cohesion amongst the fifth is initially disappointing, and Fubuki tires out as a result.
  • Exercise upon exercise proves fruitless, as the girls learn that their unique roles and propensities appear to preclude them from working together all that effectively. Thus, every mock battle against some unknown team ends in a glorious explosion and see the girls return to the hot springs for repair.
  • If Fubuki was limited as a kan-musume earlier, by the fifth episode, she’s at least improved in terms of combat proficiency, and during an unexpected sortie, proves to be surprisingly effective at leading the fifth mobile force to victory over an Abyssal fleet.
  •  The Abyssals are sunk in a quick battle, and the others realise that Fubuki is quite suited as a leader. While the kan-musume comment that the fifth mobile task force’s composition, consisting of two aircraft carriers, a battleship, a pair of light cruisers and a special type destroyer, such a loadout sounds reasonably balanced and could be made to work by someone with über-micro, being able to conduct long-range attacks via aircraft, while having the assets to both engage other heavy vessels and defend the carriers.
  • While the sixth episode is involves the “Battle of Curry Seas”, the episode itself does not have anything to do with the Battle of Coral Sea in 1942. It was the first battle where aircraft were the primary combatants: the great ranges meant that even the battleship’s main guns were useless, as the fleets engaged each other while out of the other’s line of sight. The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) scored a tactical victory here in terms of damage dealt.
  • However, The Battle of Coral Sea is presumably passed over because the IJN had suffered a strategic loss: Allied forces courageously demonstrated that the IJN was not an invulnerable war machine, and from here on out, experiences from this battle allowed the Allied forces to formulate more effective strategies against the IJN. Thus, the focus of this episode is curry, and, introduced during the Meiji restoration, curry is a wildly popular dish in Japan, and the variety I’m most used to is with potatoes, carrots, onions and either beef or chicken.
  • The sixth destroyer division decide to complete in their regional competition to further their sense of individualism: Akatsuki considers herself an adult lady, while Hibiki tends to speak Russian frequently, Ikazuchi has a very caring and confident personality, and Inazuma is a timid girl. They’re fielded frequently for resource-gathering expeditions (another aspect from the game), although they don’t learn to cooperate as a true unit until the curry competition.
  • The episode at the halfway point is solid comedy, being a parody of Master Chef in a limited sense. The competition quickly eliminates itself, and it boils down to offerings from the sixth destroyer division and Ashigara, a heavy cruiser who acts as the kan-musume’s instructor. Given the episode’s title, there’s no prize for guessing who takes home the gold.
  • Thus ends the sixth episode for Kantai Collection, and with it, comes the usual end-of-post speculation. I imagine that things will probably remain easy-going until around episode ten or eleven. I’ll swing by at the nine-episode mark to do a talk after the third quarter: there’s a deficiency of good talks out there on Kantai Collection. The content here is top tier when it comes to presenting readers with a general highlight of the anime without making excessive references to the game.
Between the near-total absence of meaningful discussion on Kantai Collection from my usual sources, and my own difficulty in coming up with something meaningful to say about Kantai Collection, it’s no small feat that this post has the amount of content that it does. With that being said, it is clear that this is an anime intended to provide viewers with 24 solid minutes of entertainment without the prerequisite of having an encyclopaedic knowledge about the game. The situations the kan-musume find themselves in deal more about their everyday lives and occasional sorties, focusing on the characters and their interactions, allowing newcomers to drop in and just enjoy the show. Rather than catering solely to those who’ve sunk thousands of hours into the game for the sole purpose of “marrying their ships”, the Kantai Collection anime aims to paint a world that is accessible for all audiences. Thus, even if the game is about as inaccessible as learning about the quantum tunnelling for people like myself, the anime manages to deliver something that those with no prior knowledge of the game can nonetheless find enjoyment in, making the anime a sufficient experience for one to say that they’re familiar with Kantai Collection.

5 responses to “Kantai Collection: Review and reflection at the halfway point

  1. Jusuchin (Military Otaku) February 19, 2015 at 09:21

    I think talk about the KC anime is hard to find since most of the fans who are watching it are people who play the game, like me. If you hop onto the World of Warships NA forum, you’ll find we tend to talk about the week’s episode on airdate…and also find a wealth of knowledge about the game and other occasional things you find on forums on the KanColle thread there.

    Meanwhile, I’ll still be doing my episodic summaries and thoughts. Just not this week, because screw E-5 and my resources.

    Like

    • Jusuchin (Military Otaku) February 19, 2015 at 09:26

      Also, while the Abyssals have forcefields, I do believe the girls have em too, just not as pronounced. Kongou swatting that projectile can also be a play on the ‘flagship’ mechanics where another ship will take the hit intended for the flagship, seen when a ‘shield’-like animation is played on the flagship and the damage instead goes to another ship. And said other ship can also just be a miss/low damage/or you curse and scream as the protecting ship gets fucked over.

      There are little nigglings here and there that are easily picked up by players. Especially when Yuubari was crafting that pot, the sound is the deconstruction sound when you decomission/scrap a ship, hence why 6thDesDiv was huddling in fear.

      Like

      • infinitezenith February 19, 2015 at 21:09

        I appreciate your taking the time to drop by and provide feedback: it’s been quite quiet around these parts. As I’ve (probably) made abundantly clear, I’m watching Kantai Collection from the perspective of someone who’s never touched the game, hence my more unusual take on the anime. When I refer to ‘meaningful’ discussion, I usually don’t look beyond the well-travelled path, such as AnimeSuki and whatever Google’s top searches are. Looking back, I probably should’ve done better to mention that (and I’ve made the corresponding update): there are definitely places out there with more interesting talks. You’ve got an excellent resource on Kantai Collection, as well.

        It’s easy to pick out the subtleties from the game in the anime if one’s familiar with it, and I learned a few new things about them; I’ll swing by your blog from time to time to see what kind of callouts there are to the game🙂 With that being said, as I’ve noted in the passages above, as an anime, Kantai Collection is quite friendly for beginners: it’s got just the right balance so people like myself can follow what’s going on, while possessing enough of the elements from the game to reward those who’ve played it.

        Like

        • Jusuchin (Military Otaku) February 20, 2015 at 00:25

          Ah, I totally misread that bit.😄;; Or I guess I was just proud of my small community. Maybe.

          I wouldn’t say I have an excellent source on it, it’s just we KanColle players who are part of the WoWS Alpha seems to have found our little niche, much like Girls und Panzer was for World of Tanks. We’ve even got some people who were originally going ‘wtf is this’ through the lottery and in the game.

          Himeuta.net and 2chan still the best place for KC info.

          But back to the anime. I do agree that with the exception of episode 4, it feels very SW-like. It’s focusing on my beloved characters, and fleshing them out as well as keeping them familiar. While there are still some recycled lines from the game, it’s less jarring now (like Hibiki going ‘khorosho’ at times where it felt…stupid).

          Like

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