The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Kandagawa Jet Girls: Review and Reflection at the ¾ Mark

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” –William Arthur Ward

While Rin is anxious to get back on the open waters and practise with the Jet Ski Racing Club, she’s also neglected her studies: Misa and the others push her to study for the make-up exam, with the result that she manages to do well on them. Training resumes shortly after, but Rin develops a cold and falls ill. Misa reassures Rin it’ll be fine and cares for her while she rests up. By the time Yuzu, Manatsu, Emily and Jennifer visit, Rin’s largely recovered and appreciates their company. When the Hells Kitchen idols, Tina and Pan, begin exploring the Kandagawa for a mysterious monster known as “Nyu-Nyu” for their television special, Yuzu and Manatsu take an interest in finding this fabled creature to bolster their popularity on social media. While out to do some shopping, Misa and Rin are roped into their antics, which sees the group get lost in the storm drains underneath the city. They get lost and eventually make their way to a ladder leading back to a manhole in a shrine. Here, they encounter Inori Misuda, a miko who is looking after the shrine. She lends them the facilities to clean up, and the next day, Rin decides to visit Inori again, who asks her to stop seeking out the river deity that Rin knows as Nyu-Nyu: instead, luck will favour her when she focuses on her goals and works hard for them. With the preliminaries approaching, Rin and Misa ramp up their training. They run into Fūka Tamaki, who expresses a fear that her partner may dislike her, and manage to reassure her before continuing on their exercises. On the day of the first race, it turns out that Rin and Misa are set to race against Fūka and Inori. Fūka’s personality changes completely during a race, becoming aggressive and foul-mouthed. Despite their jet-ski holding an edge, Misa’s sharpshooting buys Rin enough time for the two to hold their own, and they end up drawing in the race. Misa is disappointed to learn that Fūka’s problems were related to jet ski racing, but Rin finds it all rather adorable. This is where Kandagawa Jet Girls sits after nine episodes, and contrary to expectations, the series has proven to be quite engaging despite its outward appearances.

Since suffering a loss to Hell’s Kitchen that forced Rin and Misa to re-evaluate their abiltity as a team, Kandagawa Jet Girls sees jet ski racing take a back seat as Rin and Misa spend more time together. Two entire episodes are dedicated to this personal growth – while Kandagawa Jet Girls only has twelve episodes to work with, and spending this time means less time towards watching Rin and Misa race, the reality is that these breather episodes, which focus on slice-of-life elements, serve to show those moments where Rin and Misa naturally communicate with one another. Whether it be Misa persuading Rin to study for her replacement exams, or looking after her when she falls ill, common interactions elevate the closeness that Rin and Misa share. This is further accentuated when the two join Yuzu and Manatsu on a search for Nyu-Nyu – although they find nothing of note beyond an army of rats that force them to surface, this minor excursion also shows a different side of Misa’s personality and how Rin complements her. Taking the time to show these elements in conjunction with Rin continuing to train along Misa, then, establishes an improvement between the two’s teamwork. While it might not be racing, these small things nonetheless have a considerable contribution. As such, when Rin and Misa take to racing next, improvements to their performance are justified, rather than coming out of the blue. When Misa and Rin face off against Fūka and Inori in the preliminaries, their opponent’s skill level is formidable, as is their equipment (which is remarked to be a new-model jet ski). That this still-inexperienced team manages to scrape a draw out of their race shows how Rin and Misa have subtly improved since their last race at the halfway point, and so, as Rin and Misa continue to train and race, it is credible that they can hold out against other teams well enough to pass through preliminaries and set the stage for their rematch with Kaguya and Kuromaru.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Despite handing Rin and Misa a loss, Rin continues to take an interest in Tina and Tsui’s show: during one episode, they present the mythical “Nyu-nyu”, a plesiosaur-like cryptid said to be roaming the Kandagawa’s most remote reaches. Nyu-nyu is only briefly mentioned in the seventh episode but then returns in a big way an episode later. During filming of their episode, an accident causes Tina’s swimsuit top to be pulled off, and viewers get a face-full of what follows.

  • Rin resembles Yui Hirasawa at times, with her tendency to become wrapped up in the moment; after focusing on nothing but training and catching up with the Hell’s Kitchen show, Rin fails one of her exams, jeopardising her ability to participate in club activities. Misa might be dedicated to club activities, but she understands that school comes first and says that for Rin, the only thing she can do is study well for the replacement exam.

  • After a scuffle leads Rin to fall on Misa’s thighs, Fumika appears and reinforces Misa’s remarks that Rin must simply bite the bullet and study for the exam: club activities can afford to take a hit for the time being, since Rin failing said exam would exclude her from participation and in doing so, dash any hopes the club would have of beating Kaguya and Kuromaru. Fumika, Kiriko and Hina have a lessened presence in Kandagawa Jet Girls now that the series is underway, and I wonder if the game will feature any of the secondary characters.

  • Exams may seem far removed from jet ski racing, but Kandagawa Jet Girls utilises the space in episodes seven and eight to give Rin and Misa a chance to regroup. Such moments might appear extraneous, but the reality is that showing the characters have a world outside of their club is to remind viewers that development can happen even when they’re not training.

  • While she’s ostensibly studying for a math exam, Rin encounters Kiriko and learns that Misa was once a promising and highly-talented shooter in the world of jet ski racing, but quit after feeling no joy in the sport. Hints of her past have been presented so far, but this is overshadowed by Rin’s overwhelmingly positive attitude – Rin’s optimism means that Misa is compelled to take up her role of shooter once more, and it seems that whatever Misa’s past was, this is secondary to the present.

  • I’ve never studied in the shower before at any level in my education: because I learn best visually, by doing, I study best at a desk with a textbook and plenty of paper on hand. Especially with mathematics, the only way to improve is to understand the theory and then apply it; it’s a subject where doing problems is most effective, and I’ve never been able to just read the theory. Hina’s mother helps Rin study while they’re in the baths, and Rin’s gradual improvement is noted. While she initially has trouble focusing, Misa’s encouragement goes a long way in helping Rin to buckle down and focus on her goals.

  • Rin does end up passing the exam, to everyone’s relief, and Misa feels a weight lifted off her back. She and Rin begin training promptly again, but while they are out jogging, Rin suddenly collapses. It turns out she’s gotten a cold of sorts, probably from having put in long hours in order to prepare for her exams, and Misa immediately takes Rin back to the dormitory where she is able to rest. Despite her severe countenance, Misa is actually very kind and prone to embarrassment.

  • The similarities between Sora no Woto‘s Kanata and Rio and Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ Rin and Misa are probably up for debate: I’ve not seen anyone else draw the comparison anywhere else. There was an episode in Sora no Woto where Kanata picked up three-day fever and Rio rushed into town to call upon Sister Yumina to help look after Kanata; things aren’t quite so dramatic in Kandagawa Jet Girls, since Rin’s only got the common cold.

  • Instead, Rin falling ill provides a chance for Misa to look after Rin, which brings the two closer together. While out on a walk, Misa runs into Manatsu and Yuzu. They’re already planning an excursion onto the Kandagawa to look for Nyu-nyu, but decide to pay Rin and Misa a visit instead upon hearing that Rin’s ill. When they arrive, Misa’s begin wiping down Rin to help her recover, and upon hearing only the audio, their minds immediately assume that Rin and Misa are doing something inappropriate.

  • Emily and Jennifer soon join the party, as well: Rin’s recovered enough to spend time with company, and the four friends waste no time in presenting Rin with a bunch of foods to help her out. Whenever I develop a cold, my main instinct is to sleep it off, drink plenty of water and take in vitamin C. Even without taking sick time, I usually recover within three to five days, and will be left with a mild cough for a few days after. During this time, I do not go to the gym: there’s a persistent belief that hitting the gym can help one recover faster, but the truth is that the body needs all of the energy it can to sustain a heightened immune response to eradicate whatever pathogens are causing the cold.

  • Exertion takes away from this, and extends one’s illness, so when sick, it is definitely the better choice to maximise sleep. It turns out that Misa’s been by Rin’s side the whole time, a subtle but clear indication that some of the communication barriers between the two have slowly become reduced with time.

  • En route to a shopping district to pick up supplies for the dormitory, Rin and Misa get roped into Manatsu and Yuzu’s misadventures, which sees them venturing into the sewer system in search of Nyu-nyu. The last time I saw a similar setup, I was watching The Host (Gwoemul, literally “The Monster”), a 2006 South Korean monster film about a family who becomes entangled in a sticky situation when a mutated amphibian appears in the Han River. I learned about the movie while searching for articles on Tokyo’s G-Cans project and watched the film for myself in 2010.

  • Rin, Misa, Yuzu and Manatsu do not encounter any monsters akin to that of The Host – the most that happens is that Yuzu and Manatsu begins teasing the unexpectedly easily-scared Misa, which brings her closer to Rin. As the group moves through the sewers, they do run into a swarm of rats that force them to the surface. They end up finding an exit located in a shrine and meet Inori, one of the shrine’s caretakers. While initially worrying that Rin and the others are trouble makers, Inori allows the group to make use of the shrine’s baths to clean themselves up.

  • After nine episodes Rin and Misa have not yet raced Manatsu and Yuzu; the latter two are frequently portrayed as being very close to one another, and know one another well enough to trivially destroy Rin and Misa in friendly competitions. The implication of this is that Manatsu and Yuzu are probably excellent racers, and assuming this to hold true, it would be exciting to see whether or not improved teamwork between Rin and Misa might make a difference in the future.

  • The misadventures that Misa and Rin go on have them out for a nontrivial amount of time, and Inori decides to keep everyone over for dinner. Kandagawa Jet Girls might be perceived as being more about fanservice than anything else, but looking beyond this finds that the series is surprisingly solid on many fronts: aside from a serviceable story, Kandagawa Jet Girls has impressive visual quality. Closeups of the dinner that Rin and the others have at the shrine are indicative of how well-presented the anime is.

  • The next day, Rin returns to the shrine and speaks with Inori, who advises Rin against pushing her search for Nyu-nyu further: it turns out that there is a patron deity for the Kandagawa, and paying respects to this deity is all that Rin needs to do. Besides the visuals, the aural aspects of Kandajawa Jet Girls are impressive, as well. Jet skis feel powerful, and races succeed in conveying to viewers their emotional tenour. While I can’t say I’m a fan of the opening song, the incidental music is of a good quality.

  • Having gone for two straight episodes without a race, Kandagawa Jet Girls eases viewers back into the swing of things: preliminaries are coming up, and the jet ski racing club is hyped up to see how far they can go. Kiriko seems quite unenthusiastic about the races themselves, although this is probably a consequence of her personality and interest in maintaining the Orcano more than a disinterest in jet ski racing and the club’s successes.

  • While training, Rin and Misa run into Fūka, who is staring intently into the canals below. She professes to being deep in thought – Rin and Misa initially assume she’s about to jump off the bridge and attempt to talk her down. However, it turns out that Fūka is worried about a relationship, and worries that her aggressive take on things might be causing a rift between herself and her partner. The more she thinks about things, the more despondent she becomes, and she actually does begin to make for the railing at times.

  • Fortunately, Rin and Misa are present to listen to Fūka’s story, and after imparting some advice, the two leave Fūka on a better note. Fiction does not introduce characters that serve no purpose, and Fūka does have an important role to play. Folks who have a good memory will likely remember Fūka from episode one, where she and Inori were sharing an embrace after Rin arrives in Tokyo.

  • One of the most common complaints about anime is that characters suddenly advance dramatically with respect to their skills over short periods of time. Whereas I feel that short moments like these, showing the characters preparing for their competitions and moments of glory, are more than sufficient to convey effort directed towards an event; I’m personally not sure what more is needed to make this convincing.

  • On the day preliminary races begin, as Rin and Misa change into their attire for racing, Misa notices that Rin’s become more toned. Tickled by Misa’s “inspection”, Rin begins laughing, and this continues right up until Inori and Fūka enter the clubhouse, notice Rin and Misa engaged in presumably indecent activities, and immediately back away. Without context, one could be forgiven for seeing where Inori and Fūka are coming from.

  • For Inori and Fūka, it’s a bit of a surprising reunion to meet up with Rin and Misa again. At this point in Kandagawa Jet Girls, it would appear that all of the different teams are genuinely friendly, save Hell’s Kitchen’s Tina and Tsui – in most shows I’ve seen previously, like Girls und Panzer and Harukana Receive, I’ve never seen any rematches. It therefore stands to reason that Rin and Misa will not be racing against Tina and Tsui any time soon, although I do wonder if Kandagawa Jet Girls will have the two teams reconcile in the spirit of sportsmanship.

  • The latest race to grace Kandagawa Jet Girls sees Rin and Misa squaring off against Inori and Fūka, who constitute Suiryukai. Their machine, Messie The Hunter, is a new-generation jet ski with similar handling characteristics to Dress’ Tamakaze, capitalising on its large mass conferring the stability to maintain excellent manoeuvrability, even at higher speeds, at the expense of acceleration. While Messie loses the lead in the first few moments of a match, the jet ski’s traits are intended for patient operators to play a longer game.

  • During the race, Fūka’s personality shifts completely: while soft-spoken, polite and shy on solid ground, Fūka becomes aggressive, violent and foul-mouthed when racing. It turns out that she’s well aware of this, and the worries that she expresses to Rin and Misa earlier are all literal, rather than metaphorical, in nature. Her aggressive racing style has thrown Inori off the jet ski before, and so, Fūka wonders how she can reconcile her truculent tendencies with ensuring that Inori has a reliable partner.

  • Inori wields a gatling gun in races – in Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash, gatling guns offer high DPS through its volume of fire, and together with Fūka’s style (she is comfortable with ramming opponents where this would usually be disadvantageous) and Messie’s handling characteristics, shows that Suiryukai plays with aggression while racing, being very forward with their opponents. Because of the marked contrast between their preferred loadouts and mannerisms when racing, it stands to reason that jet ski racing acts as a bit of a release for Suiryukai.

  • Misa and Rin find themselves overwhelmed by the unexpected change in Fūka’s personality and their jet ski’s edge. However, both are able to regroup: between Rin’s driving and Misa’s sharpshooting, the two manage to slowly close the gap and prevent themselves from falling further into a hole during the race. Kiriko and Hina’s spirits lift as the Fūka and Inori’s lead over Misa and Rin shrink.

  • While Misa might wield an MP5-looking water gun, the way she’s been using it of late is more similar to that of a battle rifle like the MDR. Rather than using automatic fire, Misa carefully places her shots to hit critical areas on the opponent’s jet skis, causing it to power down at inopportune moments for them and giving Rin a chance to close the distance further. In the intense firefight that follows, Inori’s sheer volume of fire blows off both Rin and Misa’s uniforms, but offsetting this is Misa’s sharpshooting: she reciprocates in kind.

  • In the end, the race is a draw: it is evident that on paper, Fūka and Inori are the superior racers, having had more experience and a powerful jet ski, so when Rin and Misa manage to keep up and tie the race, it is an indicator to the audience that, although the two are still inexperienced as a team, they do have the characteristics of a team that could hold their own. Misa’s sharpshooting might not be as strong as Kuromaru’s at range, but her background allows her to land shots that help Rin at critical times.

  • My positive impressions of Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ anime incarnation notwithstanding, I’m not too sure whether or not I will be picking up the game – at present, I’m somewhat inundated with games. I had participated in Origin’s Security event and got a month of complimentary EA Origin Access at the basic tier, which gives me access to titles like Star Wars: Republic Commando and Detention. On top of this, I’m making serious headway through The Division 2, having cleared the Viewpoint Museum, and I intend to buy Halo: The Master Chief Collection once the Steam Winter Sale starts. While I could pick it up immediately, I feel that buying something during a sale event will confer additional advantages.

  • With so much on the plate as 2019 comes to an end, I think that I’ll have enough to be getting on with in 2020, and so, I’ll probably skip Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ game. Back in the anime, Fūka is dissatisfied with the race’s results, but Inori reassures her it’s fine: Rin and Misa are more bewildered at how Fūka had presented their situation than concerned with the race’s outcome, and what this could mean is that Rin and Misa will now square off against the only team they have not yet formally raced. This means that Kaguya and Kuromaru will likely be the final team they race in order to get through the preliminaries and reach the competitions beyond.

With nine episodes now in the books, Kandagawa Jet Girls has managed to build a surprisingly fun and compelling story about Rin and Misa’s experiences as racers in spite of the initial impressions that the series would amount to little more than an excuse to watch clothing damage and papilla mammaria on screen. The degree of character growth and teamwork shown in Kandagawa Jet Girls makes for an anime series that can stand on its own merits – the simple and forward messages in the anime work well enough for a series of its style, and ultimately, the free anatomy lessons of Kandagawa Jet Girls, while brazen at times, is never distracting to the extent that it interferes with the narrative or degrades the characters. Rin and Misa must show their development as racers to viewers, and with a very clear path forward, Kandagawa Jet Girls is on a strong trajectory to deliver precisely on what the anime had set out to deliver. There is one more element that I am hoping Kandagawa Jet Girls will deliver, and this is sportsmanship: Emily and Jennifer have become friends with Rin and Misa, as have Yuzu and Manatsu. The latter have not even raced Rin and Misa yet, but when the time comes for them to compete, it is expected that their friendship will endure regardless of the race’s outcomes. While I’ve spoken to the narrative aspects, the mere presence of papilla mammaria may dissuade some people from watching it; if this isn’t one’s cup of tea, that’s totally fine. For folks who have no objection to this sort of thing, Kandagawa Jet Girls does offer a story that is far more developed and thoughtful than one might originally expect, and with only three episodes left, I can say with confidence that I am looking forwards to seeing what happens in the remaining quarter of what has proven to be an unexpected surprise.

2 responses to “Kandagawa Jet Girls: Review and Reflection at the ¾ Mark

  1. morgoth89 December 20, 2019 at 08:34

    haha, I love the face that girl makes when she’s having her cheeks pinched


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