The Infinite Zenith

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

Kandagawa Jet Girls: Whole Series Review and Reflections

“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.” –Aristotle

Following the race with Fūka and Inori, Kiriko mentions that while Rin and Misa have definitely seen improvements as a team, the Orcano is lagging behind in terms of performance and could use an engine upgrade. With new-model engines costing upwards of three hundred thousand yen, the girls settle on a slightly older model that costs two hundred thousand yen, but would nonetheless confer a considerable performance boost for the Orcano. When Fumika refuses to sign off on the Jet Ski Racing club’s request, the girls decide to take up part-time jobs instead and earn enough money to secure the engine. Rin and Misa take up positions as waitresses at a Hell’s Kitchen café. They run into Emily and Jennifer, who have a special job for them: help out at a beachside restaurant. After a hard day’s work, the girls unwind and run into Manatsu and Yuzu, as well as Tina and Tsui. Upon hearing about a beach volleyball competition, Rin and Misa sign up, moving through the tournament until they face off against Tina and Tsui. However, before they can settle the game, Hell’s Kitchen’s manager arrives and hauls them off, leaving Rin and Misa to win by default. With the prize money, the Jet Ski Racing club now has enough funds to buy the latest engine. Once Kiriko installs it, Rin and Misa test it, but find that Rin’s piloting isn’t making full use of the Orcano’s power. Rin decides to return home and visit her family, where she comes to understand that she’d been following her mother’s racing style, and that her mother would’ve wanted her to find her own path. Meanwhile, Misa encounters Fūka and Inori while training. She decides to join them, and after sharing a conversation with them, decides to tell Rin why she’d originally wanted to quit Jet Ski racing as the gunner: long having lived in her sister’s shadow, Misa ended up losing a race when one of her shots failed to connect and began to lose her love of the sport. When Rin returns back in town, the two have a heart-to-heart talk. With their feelings and the truth in the open, they enter the final race for the Kandagawa Cup. Despite falling behind initially, Misa manages to create a pile-up with her sharpshooting that eliminates MKHU, Hell’s Kitchen and the Unkai Surfers. While Team Dress and Suiryukai are neck and neck, Misa lands an exceptionally tricky shot: together with Hell’s Kitchen, they disable Suiryukai and square off against one another in the race’s final moments. Ultimately, Rin and Misa win the race to take the Kandagawa Cup and promise to continue racing together into the future. This is Kandagawa Jet Girls, and with the series now in the books, this is one anime that proved to be surprisingly engaging and fun.

While Kandagawa Jet Girls might prima facie be an anime whose sole existence was to promote a video game and incentivise people to check it out by employing excesses of skin to draw attention, the anime itself presents surprisingly consistent and solid themes of teamwork, trust, honesty and sportsmanship. Towards Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ final quarter, Rin and Misa have gradually become more effective as a team, making considerable strides in communication and trusting one another: having seen Suiryukai’s performance in the final race, that Rin and Misa managed to race them to a draw is all the more impressive, indicative of their progress. As the girls work towards upgrading the Orcano, it is revealed that there is one final hurdle that is stopping Rin and Misa from being their best. Rin, having long admired her mother, attempts to emulate her style even when jet skis have advanced considerably and require a different mindset to operate. Misa had once considered quitting Jet Ski Racing altogether after a humiliating loss took away her sense of competition and enjoyment of the sport. When Rin returns from a trip back home, she and Misa openly discuss things that were bothering them, and with this talk, cast away the last vestiges of doubt they had, allowing them to truly race without being held back by their emotional baggage. The themes in Kandagawa Jet Girls are not particularly complex or innovative, but for a series that is probably better characterised by an ample amount of T & A than it is for character growth and development, the fact remains is that there’s a very coherent and clear progression that makes Misa and Rin’s journey worth following. Along the way, the two encounter a colourful and interesting cast of races, each with their own unique personalities and traits. Together with these racers, Rin and Misa discover the thrills of racing and the worth of sportsmanship, treating their competitors as friends rather than rivals. The end result of this is that Kandagawa Jet Girls succeeds in creating characters that players will now be familiar with should they choose to play the game, although even without the game, Kandagawa Jet Girls remains quite serviceable as an anime.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The game mechanics of Kandagawa Jet Girls will likely involve an upgrade tree or parts for jet skis to bolster their performance, along with weapon upgrades. At the start of the final quarter, the girls go over Rin and Misa’s performance in their last race with Inori and Fūka; Kiriko believes that the time is due for the Orcano to be upgraded, since it’s likely that in the final race, the other competitors will have improved their jet skis, as well. However, engine parts are not inexpensive, and with club funds limited, the girls take on part-time jobs for extra cash.

  • Hina takes up a position at a local supermarket, responsible for manning a stand for cocktail sausage samples. Ever in love with food, Hina yields to temptations and eats one herself, but her ensuring reaction draws the attention of nearby customers – if the sausages are really this good, they reason, it must be worth buying. Kiriko works as a clerk at a convenience store, and contrasting her usual demeanour, immediately becomes embarrassed after serving her first customer.

  • Rin and Misa work at a Hell’s Kitchen Café as waitresses. Rin initially makes mistakes but catches on quickly, while Misa is embarrassed at being made to do the sorts of things expected of waitresses at a maid café. Both acclimatise over time, and in the blink of an eye, the Jet Ski Racing club begins to close in on their goal of securing the two hundred thousand yen needed for a suitable engine part. When the two encounter Jennifer and Emily, the latter suggest a special job to help Rin and Misa reach their goal faster.

  • After Rin and Misa’s presence leads to improved business at the seaside café that Jennifer and Emily work at, they are given a bonus, and some downtime to really enjoy the beaches under a hot summer sun. While Kandagawa Jet Girls is about Jet Ski racing, the number of detours the anime takes also gives plenty of time for the characters to loosen up. This is a crucial part of any anime that deals with a given activity: showing how characters are outside of their chosen interest serves to humanise the characters.

  • While it’s just Rin, Misa, Emily and Jennifer initially, soon, the entire party shows up: Manaka, Yuzu, Tina and Tsui appear, as well. Things are coincided with a beach volleyball tournament. Everyone decides to enter, spurred on by the prize money: the winnings are just enough for Rin and Misa to now purchase the latest model engine should they take home the tournament. The situation presented here is akin to a hardware enthusiast looking to upgrade their GPU at present: NVIDIA has both the RTX 2060 and the GTX 1660 Ti, both of which are considerable upgrades from the last-generation cards. There’s a 130 CAD gap (about a 25 percent difference) between the two cards, and the RTX 2060 offers a 15 percent increase in performance over the GTX 1660 Ti.

  • The last time I saw beach volleyball in an anime was Harukana Receive, and since Jet Ski Racing does have parallels with beach volleyball, watching Rin and Misa make their way through the tournament, defeating their opponents along the way, is meant to show that the pair have come a long way since the series’ beginnings. Whereas the two had trouble beating Manatsu and Yuzu in anything earlier and were decimated by Tsui and Tina, they manage to overcome the former, and manage to drive the latter into frustration. The match is ended when Tsui and Tina’s manager appears, putting a hilarious end to the competition, but going from how things were progressing, Tsui and Tina would’ve eventually lost.

  • The new engine parts give the Orcano a serious boost in performance, although in trial runs, Rin’s found to be running the designated course more slowly than the gains that were anticipated. It turns out that something’s bothering Rin, and this comes at a bit of a difficult time: Rin’s arranged to visit her home, and this means that she and Misa won’t be able to train as extensively for the upcoming competition. While Misa’s been holding together owing to her composure and experience, it turns out that she’s also been troubled by something.

  • Misa’s reason for quitting Jet Ski Racing is ultimately revealed in the penultimate episode: having long been inspired by her older sister, a natural gunner, Misa took up Jet Ski Racing as a gunner, but lost a critical race when it counted most, and became disillusioned when she overheard spectators comment that Misa was not her older sister. Devastated, Misa no longer wanted to race and since then, had avoided the sport until Rin appeared.

  • One of the running jokes throughout Kandagawa Jet Girls is that Misa rejects Rin’s efforts to update the Orcano’s front logo of one featuring the two of them: throughout Kandagawa Jet Girls, the Orcano is decorated with a logo of Rin’s design, and Rin’s persistent efforts to update it typically ends in failure owing to Misa’s embarrassment. Misa is similarly embarrassed when Rin shows a video promoting the race: she and Rin are considered to be the unknown dark horses who took everyone by storm, and although their rise to prominence is notable, they remain the underdog entering the final race.

  • When Rin returns to her hometown, she visits her mother’s grave and pays her respects. It’s a beautiful summer’s day, a far cry from the blistering cold that’s now moved into my area. For the next few days, we’re getting a daily high of no greater than -20°C, with windchills reaching up to -30°C. This scene here was another reminder of the technical excellence in Kandagawa Jet Girls with respect to the show’s visuals: despite being classified as an ecchi series driven by fanservice, the artwork is excellent.

  • Minor details like the sunbeams streaming through the frame, the subtle shimmer of the air from the heat, and the vivid colours of both sky and ocean all come together to create a captivating, immersive scene. When Rin turns around, she runs into Tina and Tsui, who reveal that they’d also known Rin’s mother and had been inspired by her to take up Jet Ski Racing. These two idols have been repesented as being competitive, arrogant and even immature up until now, but with a quiet moment amongst them, Rin’s able to share a conversation with them quite normally.

  • Tina and Tsui are mildly surprised to learn that Rin is the daughter of Ran, the famous Jet Ski racer, and reveal to Rin that they were originally inspired by Ran’s racing. Learning that one of their jobs would swing by Rin’s home island prompted them to come, and from this conversation, it’s clear that while Tsui and Tina might be perhaps a bit more arrogant and standoffish, they’re still friendly at heart and race for their own reasons.

  • While Rin’s back home, Misa’s training brings her on a chance encounter with Inori and Fūka. She decides to accompany them on their training, which is quite different than what she’s used to: the Japanese misogi ritual of standing under a waterfall has Shinto origins, but was adopted by martial artists as a form of meditation. Misa is quite unaccustomed to this, but her discipline allows her to at least keep up, and she spends the remainder of the day with the pair, resting in an onsen afterwards.

  • While back home, Rin finds the answer she had sought: Rin’s mother had always encouraged her to find her own path and approach to things. Remembering this, Rin understands that she should race in the manner that best suits her, and so, the last of Rin’s doubts are cast away. The conversation that the younger Rin had with her mother is set under brilliant skies and warm weather, mirroring the notion of unlimited possibility and hope for the future.

  • Weather and lighting accentuate the strength of a moment even in something like Kandagawa Jet Girls, and in general, for a series that was supposed to be an advertisement for an upcoming title, there’s plenty of moments and details in the anime that make it stand on its own merits. While not perfect by any stretch, Kandagawa Jet Girls does many of the basics well enough so that the anime overall is respectable. The incidental music is also of a passable standard: besides the sporty piece that reminds me a bit of Eye of the Tiger, the remainder of the incidental music does help the series to establish the mood of a moment. The soundtrack itself released just two days ago and runs for 3520 Yen, featuring forty-seven tracks over two disks.

  • When Rin returns for the final race in the finale, she and Misa have a heart-to-heart talk. Their exchange is presented as flashbacks during the race, breaking it up to strike a balance between the action of the race itself and the emotional growth that has allowed Rin and Misa to compete against the best Jet Racers in their league. With no more secrets between the two, this team enters the race with thoughts of victory on their mind.

  • Further symbolising the closing of the distance between Rin and Misa, the Kandagawa Jet Girls’ logo has been updated: it’s now the one that Rin’s been begging Misa to use as the decal on the Orcano. Their logo, along with the logos of other teams, are visible here behind Shōko and Aqua, who are doing the commentary for this race. Unlike the races before, which pitted two teams against one another, the final race has the top six competitors vying for victory.

  • With a larger number of teams on the waterway, the race itself is much more chaotic and frenzied. It is here that we see MKHU race for the first time: Manatsu is the pilot and Yuzu is the gunner. Initially, Rin and Misa start in the last position and therefore must contend with the other racers, but behind this seeming disadvantage lies an opportunity for Misa to patiently observe the competition.

  • Suiryukai’s choice of armament for one-on-one races seemed inappropriate, but against multiple opponents, having a rotary cannon weapon allows Inori to lay down a large volume of fire very quickly and suppress her enemies. Despite lacking acceleration, Suiryukai’s jet ski has a high mass and top speed, so early on in the race, they pull ahead of the competition and go toe-to-toe with Team Dress, whose jet ski has similar properties.

  • The whole of the Jet Ski Racing club’s members are out to watch the race. Fumika’s promise is not forgotten, and it turns out that Kaguya is related to Fumika, so some family rivalries exist between the two. This explains why Fumika is so determined to see Kaguya fall. Early in the race, even though Rin and Misa are at a disadvantage and remain in the sixth position, the team never stops cheering for them.

  • A nontrivial number of viewers approached Kandagawa Jet Girls as a yuri series with world-building and Jet Ski racing as secondary elements; these individuals left Kandagawa Jet Girls a trifle disappointed. One of the things about the anime community that I never particularly understood was why yuri is such a big deal: I tend to look past the fact that many series only deal with the issue in a tangential manner and focus on other aspects, so for the most part, I don’t have much to say about yuri – this attitude has resulted in my falling out of favour with many a reader.

  • When Rin and Misa enter the tunnel, Rin’s bold decision to engage her boost allows them to slowly catch up to the others: Misa here fires upon MKHU, pressuring them into engaging their boost. However, in the narrow turns of the tunnel, where Hell’s Kitchen and the Unkai Surfers are duking it out, their acceleration presents a new threat: they are unable to pass the others, resulting in a titanic collision that knocks out all three teams. With a bit of patience and skill, Misa’s singlehandedly simplified the race down to three teams.

  • Inori’s minigun is giving Kaguya and Kuromaru a difficult time, and sustained fire is actually slowing them down enough for Suiryukai to pull ahead. When it looks like they’re about to take the race, a shot from Misa’s MP5 strikes their jet ski, surprising them and slowing them down slightly. It is here that Misa’s skill as a marksman really shines: she manages to place a shot from a range that Kuromaru would’ve found challenging to hit, using a weapon that was intended for medium range combat to perform a shot that normally something suited for longer ranges.

  • Misa’s sharpshooting with the MP5 suggests that “assault” style water guns are capable at all ranges and when upgraded (or if the user’s skill points are properly invested), they can reach ranges approaching those of a sniper rifle. We’ll have to see if this is the case in the game, but back in Kandagawa Jet Girls, just for the time being, Kuromaru and Misa join forces to fire on Suiryukai, dealing enough damage to slow them down and causing them to spin out. Kaguya is completely okay with this, having longed to race Misa again properly.

  • With Suiryukai down for the count, the Kandagawa Jet Girls and Team Dress’ gunners discard their weapons and turn their focus towards winning the race. While the Orcano has a quicker initial acceleration, Team Dress’ Messie has a superior engine and greater top speed: even when boost is enabled, the Messie is able to catch up to the Orcano without too much effort. That Kaguya has used two boosts in this race shows that she’s serious about winning; her motivation for putting in her best is because she wants to carve out an achievement of her own that she can be proud of, having come from a wealthy and connected family where everything else comes easily.

  • However, it is the raggedy-ass, dark horse team that ultimately takes home first place in the race: Rin and Misa’s victory in Kandagawa Jet Girls shows that grit and determination can be a powerful combination. They’ve come a long way from their first race, and while the anime may not show every moment the two have spent training and preparing, character growth and spending time together is counted to be equally, if not more, important towards helping the two really understand and trust one another.

  • Altogether, the ending of Kanadagawa Jet Girls was superbly satisfying, and the outcome was one I greatly enjoyed. While the series would’ve had an equal impact even had Rin and Misa come in second, their win over Kaguya and Kuromaru was a nice bonus. Upon seeing the race’s outcome, Kiriko is seen cheering the loudest of anyone – she’s mortified after the fact. In this scene, it turns out Rin and Misa’s classmates have all come out to watch the race, and while not shown on screen, it seems that the two have had quite a positive impact at their school, as well.

  • Watching Rin and Misa win the Kandagawa Cup shows that Misa’s rediscovered her confidence in Jet Ski racing, while Rin’s found her own way. Team Dress and Suiryukai are in second and third place, respectively, and while perhaps a bit disappointed, they are also happy for Rin and Misa. The episode concludes with Kaguya and Kuromaru heading off into the sunset and train even harder than before; Kaguya is pleased to have gotten her wish of facing off against a properly determined and prepared Misa, and now realises that the two will only improve as time goes on.

  • Ultimately, Kandagawa Jet Girls showcased all but one team: Grindcore never made an appearance in the anime, and they’re supposed to race with a custom-built Jet Ski made out of mining equipment. Given the delays in Kandagawa Jet Girls and the series’ tendency to focus on quieter moments over racing towards the end, I imagine that there may have been challenges encountered during production that precluded Grindcore’s appearance. While it would’ve been nice to see Grindcore race, Kandagawa Jet Girls is not diminished to a noticeable extent in their absence.

  • For being an unexpected surprise and impressing more than I’d initially anticipated, Kandagawa Jet Girls is a B+ in my books (eight of ten). Reception to Kandagawa Jet Girls has been surprisingly positive; while there are the critics who feel the anime to be beneath them, there are actually also a fair number of people who enjoyed the series for what it did succeed in doing. With this, I’ve wrapped up the first of the anime that aired during the final season of 2019. I’ll be wrapping up Rifle is Beautiful soon, and as for Azur Lane, I will be dropping by to provide an update on what happened there. Of all the shows I’d watched last season, all of them suffered from delays in production to some extent – I’ll have a better idea of Rifle is Beautiful come next week, but for now, Kandagawa Jet Girls is in the books, and I’m glad to have taken the time to write about this one in depth.

Ultimately, while Kandagawa Jet Girls is not something I can readily recommend to all viewers, the anime itself remains a rather enjoyable watch in that it exceeded my initial expectations: after the first episode aired, I stated that the series would be satisfactory if it presented Rin and Misa’s growth as a team to a reasonable extent, as well as properly introducing viewers to the mechanics that would appear in Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ game. At the series’ end, the development I saw from the characters was more nuanced and engaging than I’d anticipated, having both Rin and Misa making discoveries that enhanced their abilities as a team. The anime also gives a fair amount of insight into how the game will work: each team will have their own unique characteristics that make them suited for different race courses and styles, the scoring and mechanics are explored in sufficient detail, and Kiriko’s upgrading of the Orcano suggests at the presence of a progression system that allow players to improve their jet ski (and perhaps weapons). As a tool to promote the upcoming game, Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ anime has done a respectable job of giving viewers a solid background entering the game, and even for folks who do not intend to purchase the game, Kandagawa Jet Girls is a respectable anime in spite of its brazen anatomy lessons, derivative themes and an ending that was unsurprising (though well-deserved, to be sure). In this regard, the series accomplished what it set out to do, and mirroring the girls’ remarks during the finale, having fun is the first and foremost aspect about racing; that the series does allow its viewers to have fun in watching it indicates that Kandagawa Jet Girls is faithful to its messages. Folks who do end up picking up the game after watching Kandagawa Jet Girls will feel right at home with the characters, mechanics and environment as they race their way to victory the same way Rin and Misa do; this certainly isn’t bad for a series whose reputation as being fanservice-driven endures above all of its other positive traits.

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