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Category Archives: Kantai Collection

KanColle: Itsuka Ano Umi de – Review and Reflection at the ¾ mark

“We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.” –Joan Didion

After reviewing Yamashiro’s post-battle report, Yahagi determines that the Kan-musume are still combat-capable. The next day, Shigure shares a conversation with Isokaze and Hamakaze, learning in the process that to them, being sunk in combat isn’t quite as frightening as being forgotten, and Shigure promises to never forget their accomplishments. When the newly-formed Second Torpedo Squadron neet, Yahagi announces a BLUFOR/OPFOR training exercise to test everyone’s readiness. Shigure and Yukikaze end up assigned to the same team, and despite unexpected surprises appearing during the exercise, the pair manage to score hits on Yahagi herself. With confidence that the remaining Kan-musume can perform, the Second Torpedo Squadron is tasked with escort missions, defending convoys from Abyssal attack as they transport critical supplies. Shigure is happy to see an old friend, Ryūhō, and although Yukikaze develops stomach problems that end up requiring her to return to Kure for engine repairs, leaving their group down one defender, the escort mission continues. Shigure, Hamakaze and Isokaze manage to destroy the initial waves of Abyssal submarines, but things look grim after their store of depth charges is depleted. Fortunately, coastal defense Kan-musume are nearby, and they manage to repel the remaining Abyssal submarines, allowing Ryūhō and her escorts to safely reach their destination. With this, Itsuka Ano Umi de finally reaches its three-quarters mark; only two episodes remain, and Shigure’s nascent friendship with Yukikaze means that Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s theme is slowly starting to manifest in a series that has otherwise been quite melancholy, a consequence of a lengthy conflict that has been gradually eroding at the Kan-musume‘s numbers.

At first glance, Yukikaze appears to be better suited for Kantai Collection‘s first season rather than Itsuka Ano Umi de: she’s cheerful, easygoing and hardly anything appears to dampen her spirits. This stands in stark contrast with the reserved and stoic Shigure, who’s weighted down by the losses she’s experienced over the years, and Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s aesthetic appears to be in keeping with Shigure’s feelings; the use of lighting and music conveys her general feeling of melancholy and introspectiveness, but where Shigure experiences happiness, the music relaxes, and during battle, the soundtrack similarly becomes tense. After Yukikaze’s introduction, Shigure appears to be smiling more, and it is plain that she admires how Yukikaze is able to still find cheer even during more difficult times. Meeting Yukikaze, then, serves to drive change in Shigure: while this won’t change the fact she’s lost friends previously, being able to fight alongside someone so optimistic gives Shigure hope, and a reason to return after battle. The approach that Itsuka Ano Umi de is taking, in short, looks like it’s progressing exactly as I’d imagined it would. Anime generally seek to tell a story of growth and optimism; since Shigure had started her story burdened by losses and the prospect of fighting a war people would forget, it was logical that a new encounter would help change her perspective. On this reasoning, it appears that Itsuka Ano Umi de will likely wrap up with a difficult, but hard-won battle that shows Shigure that it is sufficient for her to always remember those she fought alongside, while at the same time, doing her best for the people in her present.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s production woes meant that, owing to scheduling conflicts, the sixth episode was only able to air in January after its episodes were delayed. Kantai Collection isn’t especially noteworthy, and even though Itsuka Ano Umi de has above-average production values, it’s difficult to say that the delays are worth it; Girls und Panzer had been an instance of an anime where it’d been worth the wait – the story and characters, coupled with the incredible attention paid to detail, had made it a series deserving of a proper conclusion.

  • Kantai Collection‘s second season is superior to its predecessor in tone and story, but it hasn’t given viewers quite the same opportunity to connect to the characters and root for them because delays in result in the unfortunate effect of making it easy to forget what’s happened, even though we’ve now reached Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s halfway point. While I have only good things to say about Itsuka Ano Umi de, it isn’t the case that this series is one where I’d say the wait for individual episodes are worth it.

  • While war is evidently a tragedy that leaves its mark on all involved, portrayal of its effects on individuals is something that requires a bit more time to capture – the decision in Itsuka Ano Umi de to go with with eight episodes rather than twelve, in conjunction with the delays, has meant that the Kantai Collection sequel hasn’t left quite as strong of an impression on me as I was originally anticipating. Elsewhere, I’ve noticed that reviews about Itsuka Ano Umi de has been similarly limited: a Google search finds that besides myself, there’s only one other site that’s actively writing about this series (excluding Reddit and MyAnimeList).

  • It’s fair to say that interest in Kantai Collection isn’t anywhere close to what it’d been seven years earlier, and while the franchise still has a dedicated following in Japan, that it’s been seven years since the original series aired means that this series was probably unlikely to have done well from the start owing to declining interest. This is lamentable, because Itsuka Ano Umi de is otherwise an overall improvement to Kantai Collection. Having a longer runtime, and a more consistent release pattern would’ve been to the series’ benefit, allowing the series to show the side of Kantai Collection that the first season had failed to convey.

  • Having said this, what Itsuka Ano Umi de does convey to viewers is well-done: the series has done a satisfactory job of striking a balance between the naval combat and slice-of-life pieces. I’ve long held that in any given series colloquially referred to as “cute girls doing cute things”, the ordinary moments spent away from said work’s main premise are equally as important as the moments portraying the characters advancing their craft. The reason for this is that it shows the characters as having more depth beyond their activity of choice, and because it also provides an opportunity to show how mundane experiences may unexpectedly provide a stroke of inspiration.

  • In the case of Itsuka Ano Umi de, showing the Kan-musume‘s lives outside of battle serves to humanise them and remind viewers that even the spirits of naval vessels share the same desires as people do, preferring peace and normalcy over warfare and destruction. The Kan-musume might be fighting a fierce war against a foe dead-set on humanity’s annihilation, but they’re doing so precisely because it gives humanity a chance to live on. By choosing to show what’s at stake in Itsuka Ano Umi de, there’s a stronger reason for the Kan-musume to sortie here in the second season, than there had been in the first.

  • Adding Yukikaze into things and having her pick up the mikan that Shigure are so fond of is to create a bond; while Yamashiro and Fusō have retired, and the number of active Kan-musume dwindles, the positive spirits that the remaining vessels to the newly-formed Second Torpedo Squadron gives viewers the sense that, even though it looks like the Kan-musume are on the backfoot, so long as everyone’s got one another, hope still remains.

  • To ensure that this disparate group of Kan-musume are able to work as a team, group leader Yahagi decides to organise a training exercise to see how everyone cooperates and respond to unexpected circumstances on the open seas. The admiral himself is present, and traditionally, shows like Itsuka Ano Umi de have always invited political discussions to some extent because of their historical associations, but so far, viewers are fortunate that those elements of the fanbase are absent. I’ve never been fond of those who shoehorn politics into everything, and on this note, I’ve got a brief update about one infamous military-moé fan, “Toukairin”. I had this individual banned from AnimeSuki some years earlier owing to their radical opinions about current events, and had hoped this ban would force him to re-evaluate his life decisions.

  • Unfortunately for me, Toukairin simply fell back on his old habits through Twitter, posting insults and hateful messages as “@AKDNManUtd2010”. I managed to find this account by pure luck, and have since been working towards getting him suspended from Twitter. There’s no place for people who believe that petty insults constitutes as intelligent political discourse, and just today, I managed to get the AKDNManUtd2010 account temporarily locked. Although this lock will expire in a week, Toukairin has already lost a number of followers since his account was temporarily locked. I doubt AKDNManUtd2010 will check his tone once his account’s reinstated, but I will continue to report him for as long as necessary until AKDNManUtd2010 is permanently banned: Toukairin may be entitled to an opinion, but owing to his attitudes and actions, he certainly isn’t entitled to an audience or agreement. Returning back to Itsuka Ano Umi de, the training exercise begins shortly after the objectives are outlined, and everyone becomes fired up.

  • With the Admiral having a tangible presence in Itsuka Ano Umi de, the world of Kantai Collection becomes a lot more plausible. One of my biggest grievances about Kantai Collection‘s first season had been that it was too game-like, which in turn diminished the world’s ability to immerse viewers. One example of a game-turned-anime with excellent world-building and immersion is Uma Musume: Pretty Derby – all game elements have been removed from the anime, and instead, compelling stories are told about the characters. At the same time, the characters’ experiences take place in a world with a lived-in feeling, giving things significantly more depth.

  • In taking this approach, Itsuka Ano Umi de shows that yes, it is possible to tell good stories so long as the world is properly fleshed out. On an unrelated note, after doing some digging around, I’ve found nothing about the music in Itsuka Ano Umi de, save the fact that the incidental pieces are composed by Kaori Ohkoshi, who had worked on the music to the game. This is a shame, since the music in Itsuka Ano Umi de is excellent, and similarly, the opening song exudes World War Two vibes. There’s been nothing on whether or not a soundtrack exists at all for Itsuka Ano Umi de, and I imagine that things could go the same way as they had for Luminous Witches, where the original soundtrack had remained unreleased long after the series had ended.

  • For some of my military moé posts, a large part of the joy comes from being able to look at the hardware and tactics, and using real-world specifications, try to speculate on how something might end up. This is one of the things that made Girls und Panzer so enjoyable, but in Kantai Collection, the Kan-musume themselves are only modelled after their real-world counterparts, and the foes they fight have unknown properties, so trying to guess at the outcome of a battle isn’t something that can be reliably done.

  • While Kantai Collection players would probably have a better idea of how the different Kan-musume would perform in battle, as well as against one another during mock battles, my lack of familiarity with the ships’ in-game statistics leaves me ill-equipped to ponder how battles turn out. As such, I am content to simply watch things unfold: for my part, I don’t recognise half of the Kan-musume that appear, and it’s times like these where I do wish that they’d do as Shirobako had and provide name tags for characters making their first appearance.

  • Unlike the frenzy of a night battle, doing a training exercise by day under calm seas allows for the animation team at ENGI to really show viewers what they’ve got. ENGI has previously worked on Uzaki-chan Wants To Hang Out! and its sequel; although Itsuka Ano Umi de is more detailed than Uzaki-chan Wants To Hang Out!, both series are characterised by extremely sharp lines and a more faded colour palette.

  • In the end, despite surprise attacks from aerial and sub-surface foes, Yukikaze and Shigure end up working together to reach Yahagi and “sink” her in the exercise, leaving Yahagi with a better measure of what the  Second Torpedo Squadron can do. Viewers have some reassurance that, despite the internal struggles Shigure faces, she’s still a team player and can cooperate with those around her.

  • Post-exercise, the Kan-musume maintain and clean their gear. Actions like these were absent in Kantai Collection‘s first season, so showing them here in Itsuka Ano Umi de serves to enhance the feeling of immersion. I get the sense that the first season had been rushed out as a means of promoting the game by fitting in the largest number of characters possible, and this had come at the expense of giving viewers a chance to connect with Kantai Collection‘s story and world. On the other hand, Itsuka Ano Umi de has made a more concerted effort towards giving viewers a chance to see why the Kan-musume are fighting, even as the tide of battle begins shifting against them.

  • Yukikaze’s cheerful, happy-go-lucky demeanour is prima facie better-suited for the likes of the original Kantai Collection, or perhaps Azur Lane: Slow Ahead!. However, on closer inspection, she’s precisely the sort of person that Shigure needs: since Shigure has seen many losses on the open oceans, she’s become quite reserved and jaded; having someone like Yukikaze in her corner would liven her world up and show that even though many of her allies and friends have retired from active service or were lost at sea, there’s still things worth fighting for.

  • Hence, when Yukikaze shows up and immediately helps herself to the onigiri and tangerines that Hamakaze’s brought, Shigure smiles while Hamakaze and Isokaze look on with surprised expressions. Small moments like these do much to remind viewers that even though Shigure is serious for the most part, there are things in the world that bring her joy, and as such, she still retains a reason for heading out into battle and returning alive. With characters that are written to have little left to live for, they often push themselves in battle and fight with little regard for their own safety.

  • In series like those, writers often have said characters developing a friendship or discovering something worth living for, which alters their mindset. Itsuka Ano Umi de doesn’t portray Shigure in this light and instead, has taken a more incremental route. Shigure may be rendered grim and taciturn from what she’s seen, but at the same time, she also understands there’s value in her commitment. In battle, Shigure fights with determination and caution. Outside of battle, there are still things she enjoys, and here, seeing Shigure interacting with the sprites maintaining one of Ryūhō’s aircraft show that Shigure’s able to value the smaller moments in life. It helps that Ryūhō is on excellent terms with Shigure: the pair have fought alongside one another previously.

  • When Yukikaze unexpectedly experiences stomach problems and is brought to her knees by the intensity of the pain, I was left wondering if Itsuka Ano Umi de was going to take a darker route to things, but these concerns were quite unnecessary: as a result of having eaten too many tangerines, Yukikaze is rendered unable to participate in the next assignment, to escort Ryūhō, and instead, requires repair work to be done. This leaves the escort ships down to three: Shigure, Isokaze and Hamakaze must carry out their task without Yukikaze.

  • The smaller team sizes and relative absence of secondary characters in Itsuka Ano Umi de makes things a little easier to follow, and most of the introduced characters do have a more substantial role, whereas in Kantai Collection, it could become difficult to keep track of everyone. Anime with a large number of characters will always have this challenge, and while some series will provide labels identifying the characters, I’ve always found that my preferred approach for handling this is to remember the names of the central characters and focus on their experiences.

  • In a briefing with Yahagi, the assignment is defined – the Second Torpedo Squadron is to follow a course that will see them escort Ryūhō over to the island of Taiwan to resupply forces there. The observant reader will note that the route the Kan-musume are taking hugs the coast of China, with red markers presumably denoting areas of Abyssal activity. I am glad that Ituska Ano Umi de returns things to Japan, since it gives the Kan-musume‘s fight greater weight – when Kantai Collection had set things in a generic location that was plainly not tropical (deciduous trees are visible), it felt as though the Kan-musume were fighting in a vacuum.

  • Separating the characters from the homeland they’re fighting for took away from the impact of their actions, and as such, while I felt that Fubuki and her goals were noble, Kantai Collection never quite succeeded in conveying this to viewers. Kantai Collection: The Movie was when the series began utilising setting more seriously – the Kan-musume were based out of the Solomon Islands, and the mystique of a tropical jungle in the remote reaches of the Pacific contributed to the feeling of unease the film had sought to convey.

  • Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s sixth episode spends quite a bit of time showcasing the launch of the Second Torpedo Squadron. Moments like these accentuate the fact that the Kan-musume are naval vessels – in contrast with the original Kantai Collection, where the Kan-musume‘s launches felt more like the deployment of Iron Man suits, things happen much more slowly, suggesting at the mass and power of each vessel.

  • A quick look at Ryūhō finds that the original had been a light aircraft carrier that was primarily used as an aircraft transport and training carrier owing to her small size, poor speed and weaker construction. As the Pacific War turned against Japan, the Ryūhō would see increasing combat assignments, and in December of 1944, the Ryūhō was assigned on a run to Taiwan with Shigure, Isokaze and Hamakaze. History has Ryūhō reaching her destination and surviving American airstrikes before successfully returning home to Kure.

  • Assuming that Itsuka Ano Umi de uses this assignment as the final assignment, one can readily predict what will happen in the series: Ryūhō will reach Taiwan with Hamakaze, Isokaze and Shigure, where they will get hammered by Abyssal forces. A combination of teamwork and luck will allow them to survive and return home. Of course, if Itsuka Ano Umi de goes for the historical route, Ryūhō was attacked while in harbour in March of 1945 and mission-killed. Hamakaze was sunk outside of Nagasaki, and Isokaze would be scuttled after sustaining heavy damage while escorting the Yamato a month later.  Seeing everyone sunk or decommissioned would likely go against the themes Itsuka Ano Umi de is seeking to convey, and ending the story on an optimistic note seems more likely.

  • Here, after running out of depth charges, Shigure pulls out a box and throws two reserves into the water, successfully sinking another Abyssal submarine in the process. By this point in time, the fierce enemy counteroffensive means that everyone’s running out of anti-submarine options, but fortunately, they’re close enough to their destination so that coastal patrol Kan-musume can help them deal with the remaining enemies.

  • I’ve never seen Kan-musume of this sort previously, and I’d expect that had they been in Kantai Collection, the episode would’ve likely had a more slice-of-life focus. Speaking to the gravity of the situation in Itsuka Ano Umi de, the newly-arrived coastal patrol team is all-serious as they dump their depth charges to take out the remaining Abyssal submarines giving Shigure and her team trouble.

  • The dark weather and rainy seas means another battle set under moody conditions, where the combat isn’t quite as visible to viewers as something that occurs during the light of day, but once the friendly patrols arrive, breaks in the cloud signify the end of a difficult stage of Shigure and her compatriots’ journey, giving viewers a chance to breathe again as the threat posed by the Abyssals are eradicated for the time being. It was lucky that this episode ends on a positive note, since there’s now a bit of a wait before the seventh episode. Without a cliffhanger, the wait will be significantly more manageable.

  • While the breaks mean that Itsuka Ano Umi de will have a tough time maintaining its momentum, one of the big positives is that this actually makes my blogging schedule a little more manageable. Had Itsuka Ano Umi de aired with more regularity, I would’ve found difficulty in getting Mō Ippon! and Bofuri into my schedule. These are the next two anime-related posts I’ve got planned for January, and I’m also eyeing a post on Kaginado!‘s second season; this had aired back during the spring, but owing to timing, I never did get around to watching it back then.

Itsuka Ano Umi de continues to demonstrate that it is the Kantai Collection viewers deserved back in 2015: character progression is meaningful, and the aesthetic is authentic. Coupled with world-building that hints at a much richer world, Itsuka Ano Umi de has proven to be enjoyable on all front save one: owing to production delays, the entire airing schedule for Itsuka Ano Umi de has been thrown off. Scuttlebutt has it that the delays meant that broadcasters were left trying to fit the remaining episodes in with currently airing shows, and because slots are limited, the anime continues to be pushed back. The delays between episodes is understandable, but it does give the feeling that Itsuka Ano Umi de has been given the shaft. I imagine that at the height of its popularity, broadcasters would’ve ensured that Kantai Collection got a reasonable time slot to ensure viewers were happy, but given that it’s been over seven years since Kantai Collection was a popular topic, it is fair to suppose that diminished interest in the series means that the consequences of pushing Itsuka Ano Umi de back are minimal. This is a little disappointing, since the long gaps between episodes breaks the momentum within the story; a consistent schedule helps to maintain engagement, and if a story is too broken up, it does require a bit more effort to recall the previous episode’s events, and excitement is diminished as other things come up. While I expect Itsuka Ano Umi de to deliver a good experience to viewers, the next episode’s release date is February 12, and this suggests that Kantai Collection isn’t something that people are especially interested in. In spite of this, I am looking forwards to seeing Itsuka Ano Umi de send off the franchise in a respectful manner.

KanColle: Itsuka Ano Umi de – Review and Reflections at the Halfway Point

“What’s past is past. For both of us.” –Maverick, Top Gun: Maverick

After the third section enters Surigao Strait, Mogami’s spotter aircraft identify Abyssal patrol boats, signifying an ambush. Moments later, Abyssal forces strike the third section from the skies, but Shigure and the others are able to repel this attack and press forward deeper into the strait. Upon nightfall, Mogami, Yamagumo, Asagumo, and Michishio break off to engage Abyssal patrol boats. However, this leaves Shigure, Yamashiro and Fusō to come under fire from additional Abyssal forces. Mogami and the destroyers return just in time to provide covering fire, while the second fleet begin to advance towards the Abyssal fleet. During the combat, Fusō sustains damage from an Abyssal torpedo and is damaged, but Yamashiro orders the remainder of the third section to continue advancing. They reach the heart of the Abyssal fleet, where a pair of Night Strait Princesses await them. Although their firepower is inadequate to deal with this threat, the first fleet arrive and begin bombarding one of the Princesses, leaving Yamashiro to dispatch their remaining foe. In the aftermath, Fusō and Yamashiro are decommissioned, having sustained too much damage to remain sea-worthy. Shigure and Mogami both managed to survive with minor injuries, and although Shigure is saddened to see Fusō and Yamashiro retire, she promises to keep fighting for everyone’s sake. Shigure is reassigned to the Second Torpedo Squadron, learns that their contributions have delayed the Abyssal invasion of the Japanese mainland, and given orders to take some time off. She visits a ryokan and meets Yukikaze. The pair share time together, and Shigure hardly believes that even amidst a war, she is still able to rest up and enjoy something as luxurious as an onsen. The next day, she returns to base and meets the remainder of the Second Torpedo Squadron, which is placed under Yahagi’s command. Itsuka Ano Umi de was supposed to reach this point three weeks earlier, but unexpected challenges in production ultimate lead the fourth episode, the series’ halfway point, to be delayed until today.

Now that half of Itsuka Ano Umi de is in the books, it is evident that this is the Kantai Collection anime fans were waiting for. Between the grim gravity of the Kan-musume‘s situation, vividly-rendered battle sequences and significantly improved world-building, Itsuka Ano Umi de captures the emotional tenour of every moment more effectively than its predecessors did. The stakes are plainly laid out for viewers: the Abyssal’s objective is the attrition and destruction of Japan, and to this end, are preparing for an invasion. Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s version of Operation Shō-Gō, then, was to cripple the Abyssal fleet’s fighting capability, and thanks to the contributions of each fleet, including Shigure and the third section, enough damage was done so that the Abyssals won’t be directly attacking Japan any time soon. This in turn allows for the Kan-musume and their Admiral to repair their forces, rearm and reorganise for the difficult path ahead. After two full episodes of continuous combat, the fourth episode is deliberately paced to give viewers insight into the Shōwa era. Civilians are seen browsing through their local shopping district, and peaceful ryokan exist in rural areas, giving Shigure a chance to unwind and meet a peer, Yukikaze. Watching ordinary people live out their lives is a subtle reminder to viewers of what the Kan-musume are fighting for; they’re here to protect their homeland and its people. Seeing these elements coming together in Itsuka Ano Umi de makes this second season of Kantai Collection a dramatic improvement over its predecessor – there’s a clear reason why the Kan-musume must fight the Abyssals. This time around, Shigure and the others aren’t fighting to define the purpose of their existence, but rather, they’re fighting to protect what is dear to them. However, just because the Abyssals have taken a loss doesn’t mean the war is over yet, and at present, despite having sustained heavy damage to their own fleet, the Abyssals still have a largely-intact submarine force, which necessitates additional action in the name of protecting Japan and its people.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Having now seen the combat sequences, it is plain that the visuals in Itsuka Ano Umi de are a step above from those of its predecessors with respect to small details like the anti-air guns on each Kan-musume and the færies, which are more prominent than they’d been in earlier instalments. Similarly, Abyssals attack in larger groups, which, in conjunction with improved visuals and cinematography, means that battles tend to feel more dynamic and chaotic.

  • One aspect that Itsuka Ano Umi de will need to address is how the Abyssals fit into things in light of what Kantai Collection: The Movie had revealed; Kantai Collection had left the Abyssals purely as a foe to fight against, but the film clarified that they’re the negative manifestations of a given vessel’s spirits, and showed that Fubuki was the first to understand that rather than fighting those feelings, she should accept them because they were a part of her. In Itsuka Ano Umi de, Fubuki is absent, and the anime’s portrayal of the Battle of Leyte Gulf doesn’t have much context.

  • All that was shown thus far, is that command is launching a major offensive with the remaining assets that were available to them in a bid to wipe out the Abyssals. However, from the dialogue and overall mood in Itsuka Ano Umi de, things aren’t going well for the Kan-musume, standing in stark contrast with the cautious optimism that was seen at the film’s end. Because the film had portrayed the events of the Guadalcanal campaign in 1943, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf took place in 1944, it stands to reason that following the movie’s events, the Kan-musume continued to sustain losses even with the newfound hope gained from Fubuki’s experiences.

  • Because the Pacific War ended with Imperial Japan’s defeat, if Itsuka Ano Umi de were to maintain a historically accurate portrayal of things, it would ultimately end with every Kan-musume in the First Strike Force’s Third Section except for Shigure being sunk. Because Shigure had already been shown as having seen the loss of her fellow Kan-musume earlier, taking the historically accurate route would mean that Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s outcomes would be quite grim, leaving viewers to contemplate on the futility of war.

  • Such a theme would stand contrary to the messages the film left behind, and also suggest that the browser game itself is ultimately meaningless: if the fleets players have painstakingly worked to build and maintain are to be offered up as sacrifices, it would demotivate players from continuing to invest time and effort into the game. Assuming that this isn’t the case, Itsuka Ano Umi de needs to have things turn out differently for the the First Strike Force’s Third Section, and it wouldn’t be the first time Kantai Collection altered the outcome of a historical battle to better fit the story.

  • The first season of Kantai Collection had Fubuki and her friends come out on top at the Battle of Midway, whereas in reality, Japan suffered the loss of key assets that irrevocably altered the course of the Pacific War and tipped it in the Allies’ favour. I have heard that some folks consider Kantai Collection to be “revisionist” for this reason, but because Kantai Collection is simply a conflict involving the spirits of World War Two era vessels against a manifestation of their darker selves, the story can, and should be allowed to progress in a way that ensures the themes can be consistent.

  • This is why Jonathan Gad’s VICE article decrying the presence of miltary moé anime is invalid: Gad claims that series like Kantai Collection and Strike Witches are increasingly painting military forces as “cute” and harmless in an attempt to bury what’s happened historically. In the same article, Gad is also suggesting that the Japanese government is encouraging the production of such anime and games in an attempt to push this narrative. However, this conclusion is only reached if one hasn’t made an attempt to understand a given work. Kantai Collection‘s original run had strove to do two things: portray Fubuki’s journey to improve as a Kan-musume, and suggest that people have the agency to do good even in the face of overwhelming odds.

  • From a numbers perspective, one anime, about one online game, is not an attempt at whitewashing history, and together with the themes that were present in Kantai Collection, I can say with confidence that criticisms about Kantai Collection‘s first season being a weaker series because it couldn’t pin down its intended direction are more valid than suggestions that things like military moé is inherently harmful. Itsuka Ano Umi de appears to have stepped away from its predecessor’s approach entirely; insofar, the series has been a lot more focused and compelling.

  • In previous Kantai Collection posts, I tended to steer clear of night battle shots simply because they’re hard to take screenshots for. Night battles are excellent for conveying a sense of urgency because most operations in the Kantai Collection anime usually begin by day, and having conflict stretch into the night shows the Kan-musume‘s determination. Similarly, the darkness night confers corresponds to decreased visibility, and this increases the danger that Kan-musume face. As the Third Section’s battle wears on, Fusō sustains damage as the Abyssals relentlessly hammer them.

  • There’s the faintest hint of resignation in Fusō’s character here in Itsuka Ano Umi de: although she’s kinder than Yamashiro and does her best to reassure everyone, the way she sounds in speech suggests that she’s aware of her impending demise and is at peace with things. Mogami and the Asashio-class destroyers act more similarly to military moé characters, and this creates a bit of a contrast, even during battle.

  • As the night wears on, the Abyssals begin sending heavier forces: the patrol boats that Shigure have been fending off are soon replaced by destroyers and cruisers. Having already been pushed to their limits, and with Fusō damaged, the Third Section appears to be completely overwhelmed, especially when what appears to be the Abyssal versions of Fusō and Yamashiro appear. The spider lilies make a return, blooming at the feet of the Kan-musume‘s foe, but they take on an unearthly blue hue. In reality, blue spider lilies do not appear with such a deep shade of blue. The Lycoris sprengeri (Electric Blue Spider Lily) is the closest equivalent, but it has more of a lilac colour, and their flowers have a different shape.

  • The timely arrival of other vessels allow the Third Section to live to fight another day: they provide covering fire thin out the number of guns firing at Fusō and Yamashiro. Because of the sheer number of characters in Kantai Collection, I have no objections to admitting that I’m not going to be able to recognise most of the vessels in the series beyond my personal favourites and central characters. As new vessels show up to pick up the slack, the Abyssal flagship, controlled by the doppelgänger Fusō and Yamashiro, increase the ferocity of their assault in turn.

  • I rarely provide any screenshots of the Abyssals because of their grotesque appearance, and because for the most part, their appearance on screen is usually limited to them exploding after being fired upon. I believe that the Abyssal specters of Fusō and Yamashiro here would be what’s known as event bosses, which are uncommonly tough and require careful preparation and special tactics to beat. I remember a time when the English-speaking Kantai Collection community griped about how difficult these events could be, requiring a combination of luck and time investment to overcome, but in the present, I’m not sure if large numbers of English-speakers still play Kantai Collection.

  • The game and franchise remain popular in Japan: the main reason why Kantai Collection never gained widespread popularity was simply because Kadokawa only intended for the game to be played by a domestic audience. However, this approach does mean that there is little incentive to adopt improved technologies: Kantai Collection didn’t make the jump over to HTML5 from Flash until 2018, and by then, longtime overseas players had grown bored of the fact that beyond the events, Kantai Collection hadn’t been offering them with anything new.

  • Kongō and Haruna subsequently appear, and I am immediately reminded of Kiniro Mosaic‘s Karen Kujō whenever Kongō speaks: both are voiced by Nao Tōyama, a renowned voice actress that I know best as Yuru Camp△‘s very own Shimarin. Unlike Rin, Karen and Kongō are energetic, spirited and lively – I’ve heard that Tōyama’s personality is more similar to Karen and Kongō’s than she is Rin, while Yumuri Hanamori, who voices Nadeshiko, is actually more similar to Rin. It was nice to see familiar faces returning in Itsuka Ano Umi de, and I welcome hearing Kongō returning to the party.

  • Another old friend, Yamato, returns: the presence of the IJN’s most powerful battleship here suggests to me that the original operation must’ve been successful, since everyone’s now being redirected to save the Third Section from certain death. While writing for this post, I learnt that Yamato is voiced by none other than Ayana Taketatsu, another star voice actress known for her roles as K-On!‘s Azu-nyan, Fū Sawatari of TamayruaOreImo‘s very own Kirino Kōsaka, The Quintessential Quintuplets‘ Nino Nakano and even Sword Art Online‘s Suguha Kirigaya.

  • Encouraged by the show of support from her fellow Kan-musume, Yamashiro prepares for one final attack on the Abyssal’s flagship, firing on its weak spot in a show of acrobatics as Shigure provides covering fire. In the ensuing explosion, Yamashiro’s fate is not shown, but the resulting shot does take out the flagship moments before sunrise. Here, I will remark that the music in Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s soundtrack and opening song are both excellent, but I’ve not found anything on either. By this point in the season, most anime will have already released the opening song.

  • When I reached this point in Itsuka Ano Umi de four weeks earlier, I had been hoping that viewers would have the chance to see the aftermath, but instead, the Kantai Collection anime’s official Twitter announced that owing to production issues, the anime would take a four-week hiatus before continuing. While it is true that Itsuka Ano Umi de is a cut above its predecessor, especially with respect to its character development and world-building, the fact that there’s only eight episodes meant that at least in theory, production would be a little more manageable than that of a twelve episode series.

  • Admittedly, the delay has allowed me to write about other things, and in this way, I was able to finish a more difficult post on Top Gun: Maverick before November drew to a close. Back in Itsuka Ano Umi de, Fusō and Yamashiro prepare to take their final leave: although they’d survived the battle, they’re no longer combat-worthy. They bid Shigure and the admiral farewell. The admiral had remained a nameless and faceless in the original Kantai Collection, so bringing him to the party as a character with speaking roles serves to remove the game-like nature the first season had.

  • The slower pacing throughout Itsuka Ano Umi de is to the series’ advantage, forcing viewers to consider the costs of warfare and its all-consuming nature. Rather than driving home this point with the subtlety of a thrown brick, Itsuka Ano Umi de has instead opted for a more open-ended approach: a melancholy permeates every aspect of this series, even during more light-hearted moments, and this stands in stark contrast to how the first season had presented things. The melancholy throughout Itsuka Ano Umi de also is, inadvertently, a reflection of how Kantai Collection is no longer as big as it’d been seven years earlier.

  • Seven years ago, one could hardly go anywhere online without encountering people discussing how to get into Kantai Collection‘s browser game if they were overseas, and those who did figure it out played obsessively, sometimes to the detriment of their careers and real-world obligations. I do remember one player expressing the belief that a GTX 980 Ti was needed to get optimal frame rates in this browser game at Reddit, and in today’s terms, it’d be equivalent to stating as fact that, if one didn’t have an RTX 4090, they wouldn’t be able to play Kantai Collection.

  • In reality, if a browser game was so demanding that one needed an i9 13900k and RTX 4090 to run, then Kadokawa’s developers are clearly sub-par: at its core, Kantai Collection is merely a random number generator that pulls information from a hash table and rendering the results as 2D graphics. With this in mind, I have heard that Kantai Collection is poorly optimised and can cause memory leaks can slow down any machine with less than 32 GB of RAM, and given that Kadokawa thought acquiring Anime News Network was a good idea, I wouldn’t be surprised if their Kantai Collection team consisted of third-rate developers who can’t tell the difference between a method override and a method overload.

  • Outside of her combat roles, Shigure dresses in a more conservative outfit that is styled after women’s clothing from the Shōwa era. The intersection of the fantastical elements of Kantai Collection intersect with a more authentic portrayal of Japan here in Itsuka Ano Umi de, and it was seeing Shigure’s journey from the naval base in Sasebo (incidentally, where Brave Witches‘ Hikari and Takami were from) to the rural ryokan that helped provide an answer to why Itsuka Ano Umi de has proven to be more compelling than its predecessor.

  • The reason is simple enough: by showing the world as being inhabited, and that the war against the Abyssals does have material consequences should the Kan-musume lose, it gives viewers a better idea of why the Kan-musume are fighting to begin with. The original Kantai Collection had been lacking this, placing the Kan-musume in a vacuum and omitting their battle’s significance. This made it difficult to root for the characters and their struggles: beyond sinking, it felt that their fight was inconsequential, being set in a remote part of the South Pacific.

  • One aspect of Itsuka Ano Umi de that really drives home the gravity of this situation was how, even though Shigure is allowed a chance to unwind and recuperate following her contributions to the latest operation, these scenes have a more muted tone to them. The cost of the ongoing war with the Abyssals is constantly weighing on her mind, and now, with both Fusō and Yamashiro retired, it does feel as though Shigure is continuing to lose the people around her. As such, whereas Kantai Collection would have originally taken this chance to show Shigure off a little, Itsuka Ano Umi de dispenses with this entirely.

  • I imagine that the dramatic shift in tone was probably in response to both the precedence that Kantai Collection: The Movie had set, as well as how Azur Lane came to prominence in the years afterward. Azur Lane had also tried to mix the introspective and melancholy elements with slice-of-life comedy moments and similarly struggled to deliver a cohesive story, so when they released the Slow Ahead! spin-off and found that there was much that could be done to lighten things up, it seemed natural that Itsuka Ano Umi de would need to go in the opposite direction to differentiate itself from its competitor.

  • Halfway through Itsuka Ano Umi de, it should be clear that this approach is working, and insofar, has succeeded in giving viewers a reason to watch Shigure’s journey. For anime like Kantai Collection, I imagine the aim was originally to drive interest in the game, but considering how long it’s been, I cannot help but get the feeling that Itsuka Ano Umi de was produced so Kadokawa could fulfil their original promise of delivering a second Kantai Collection season (albeit seven years later). Had something like Itsuka Ano Umi de been made back in 2015, it may have succeeded in promoting the game, but in the present, this second season, as enjoyable as it’s been, feels more like a Hail Mary.

  • In any other anime, moments like Shigure and Yukikaze spending time to know one another, before swapping ghost stories and clutching one another when the lights flicker, would be portrayed in greater detail to show viewers the bonding. The decision to truncate it is deliberate, meant to mirror how this is a war, and during wartime, the things that are normally taken for granted become scarcer. While these moments are short, however, they do much to show how even despite the losses she’s experienced already, Shigure still makes an effort to open up to those around her.

  • As a result, although the third section is no more, the Second Torpedo Squadron, Shigure’s new teammates, will almost certainly have a much bigger role to play, both in repelling the Abyssal attempts at an invasion, and in helping Shigure to accept the losses in her past and make the most of the present. After she returns to base with Yukikaze, viewers have a chance to see the newly-formed Second Torpedo Squadron, and here, I will note that Hamakaze is visible. It is good to see her with the potential of getting more screen time, along with Hibiki, a familiar face returning from the first season. I suppose that hoping Fubuki would return in some form was too much to ask for here in Itsuka Ano Umi de, but beyond this, the series has held my attention in a way the original Kantai Collection did not.

  • Having now reached the second season’s halfway point, I am hoping that the release schedule for Itsuka Ano Umi de will be a little more consistent from here on out; there’s only four episodes left, and I do plan on returning at the three-quarters mark to offer some thoughts on where things have headed. In the meantime, my work year has come to a close. Owing to the fact I had thirteen-and-a-half vacation days unused, I determined it would be a good idea to use this time and catch up on some rest of my own as the winter holidays draw near. This rest can come later: later tonight, I’ve got a Christmas party with the office, and we’re set to return to the Italian restaurant we went to last year. Their food’s amazing, and this year, I now know to pace myself and not become full before the entrée shows up.

Itsuka Ano Umi de is what Kantai Collection‘s 2015 run should have been: rather than attempting to treat the animated adaptation as a video game, complete with mechanics and no apparent objective to mimic the game’s endless gameplay, Itsuka Ano Umi de instead gives the antagonists’ actions and intentions significantly more weight, which in turn provides a stronger, more tangible motivation for Shigure and the other Kan-musume. Moreover, each battle is presented as being a matter of life and death; even the small Abyssal Patrol boats are presented as threats that must be taken seriously, and every successful sortie comes with a cost, even if no one is outright sunk. Similarly, every single Kan-musume that comes home from battle is celebrated. The overall presentation of warfare in Itsuka Ano Umi de is vastly more mature than that of its predecessor, and presents a story that better represents the Kantai Collection universe in animated format. Itsuka Ano Umi de does not hold the viewer’s hand or explain its mechanics, and instead, chooses to focus purely on its story. While assuming that viewers are somewhat familiar with Kantai Collection and how things work in game means leaving out some aspects, Itsuka Ano Umi de is able to trade exposition for telling a more compelling story about Shigure and the other Kan-musume that are still around to fight the Abyssals. Despite what is likely to be an extremely difficult journey up ahead, the halfway point shows that despite the odds remaining firmly against the Kan-musume, everyone is willing to stand up and fight to protect the most precious things in their world. Following a three-week delay, one hopes that Itsuka Ano Umi de will continue maintaining a smarter pacing: there are only four episodes left, and the setup in Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s first half creates a compelling reason to watch the second half to see what outcomes result, as well as what learnings can be derived from Shigure’s experiences.

Sortie Day – KanColle: Itsuka Ano Umi de First Episode Review and Reflections

“A long time ago, I was in Burma. My friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with tangerines. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a tangerine. So, we went looking for the tangerines. But in six months, we never met anybody who traded with him. One day, I saw a child playing with a tangerine the size of a tangerine. The tangerine had been the tangerine.” –Michael Caine, The Tangerine Knight

While Shigure contemplates the loss of her allies in recent battles and recalls old memories with her sister ship, especially Kawakaze, Hamakaze appears and asks her to go take a look at the new assignments following a fleet reorganisation. As it turns out, Shigure’s been assigned to the First Strike Force, Section Three (1YB3H) ahead of a massive operation. This reorganisation speaks to how poorly the war’s been going for the Kan-musume: the fleet here is the remainder of all allied forces. She meets the heavy cruiser, Mogami, and the pair set off to meet her fellow compatriots, Shigure is surprised when Yamashiro immediately berates her for being late. While it appears that Yamashiro has crossed the line with her insults, the Asashio-class destroyers, Michishio, Asagumo and Yamagumo show up, demanding to know what beef Yamashiro has with destroyers. Shigure decides to bring out her tangerines and share them. Fusō thanks Shigure for having defused the tension, and mentions that their current assignment will be their only one: they’re to act as the diversionary force in a massive operation. However, despite the prospect of being sent out on a suicide mission, the destroyers begin singing, and everyone resolves to make it out of their assignment together. On the day of the operation, Shigure’s group prepare to sortie. Yamashiro passes some scout aircraft to Mogami, believing that she could make use of them, and Fusō asks Shigure to look after Yamashiro. She gives Shigure a special hairpin, and the group await orders to set sail. When the order is given, Shigure and the others take off, with Shigure remarking to herself that no rainfall lasts forever. Seven years after Kantai Collection‘s second season was announced, Itsuka Ano Umi de has finally aired, and right out of the gates, it is plain that this series is going to be a serious one. A feeling of melancholy and grim determination permeates every scene; even though the Asashio-class destroyers bring a bit of light-hearted humour into things, the overall assignment and atmospherics surrounding Itsuka Ano Umi de is unlike anything that Kantai Collection‘s first season had conveyed.

While such a setup prima facie sets the stage for tragedy and loss, Itsuka Ano Umi de also suggests that history will not repeat itself. Having lost Kawakaze in an earlier engagement, Shigure continues to eat her tangerine oranges. These tangerines are smaller than oranges, easier to peel and have a sweeter taste than oranges. They are high in vitamin C and anti-oxidants, which improves the immune system, heart health and even provides some resilience against cancer. In Japan, tangerines are known as mikan and are a common fruit seen during the winter, as quintessential as the venerable kotatsu. As in Chinese culture, where tangerine are eaten during the Lunar New Year, tangerine are a symbol of prosperity and happiness. In a series that opens the gate with a very muted colour palette, and a subdued tenour, the presence of tangerine in Itsuka Ano Umi de is significant. These fruits are juxtaposed sharply with the aesthetic in Itsuka Ano Umi de, being a splash of vibrant colour in an otherwise grey, washed-out environment. In conjunction with the fact that flashbacks suggest that Kawakaze was fond of tangerines, and shared them often with Shigure, Shigure sees tangerines as a source of comfort and camaraderie. Despite being insulted by Yamashiro, Shigure still shares her tangerines with her new battle group to break the water, feeling it to be an appropriate gesture of friendship. In this way, while Itsuka Ano Umi de lacks the same light-heartedness as its predecessor, tangerines have been utilised to show that even when the war has reached dire straits for the Kan-musume, there remains some hope yet. In the context of Itsuka Ano Umi de, tangerines come to represent fortitude and hope: traditionally, tangerines come in very large boxes in Japan, and are therefore eaten over time. To share tangerines with companions, then, is to symbolise that everyone will have the opportunity to continue spending time together as they fight hard to protect one another, and the values they stand for.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Shigure is voiced by Yumi Tanibe, who is better known for her role as Yūdachi. Unlike Kantai Collection, however, Itsuka Ano Umi de is all business. Yūdachi and her trademark ~poi is completely absent here, and the overall aesthetic is more similar to Kantai Collection: The Movie, being more focused on the warfare elements than the slice-of-life piece. As far as characters go, Shigure and her background are more suited for a war drama type story; mirroring her real-world counterpart, which emerged from numerous battles as the sole survivor.

  • Right out of the gates, it’s clear that in seven years, animation techniques have improved greatly, and the Kan-musume now have access to anti-air guns in addition to their primary armaments. Battle scenes are rendered in greater detail, and the animation is crisper than before. Overall, the visuals in Itsuka Ano Umi de are significant improvement over Kantai Collection‘s, and even Kantai Collection: The Movie, which had improved artwork and animation over the 2015 anime, feels dated in comparison. Both story and artwork come together to give Itsuka Ano Umi de merit.

  • However, one aspect of Itsuka Ano Umi de that weighs on my mind is the fact that it comes seven years too late; a second season to Kantai Collection was announced as early as March 2015, and while excitement surrounding what a potential continuation would entail was high when Kantai Collection was still fresh on viewer’s minds, excitement tapered off after the series ended, and no new news of a second season materialised. In fact, after Kantai Collection: The Movie, it wasn’t until January 2021 where news of a continuation appeared, and even then, it was only a vague comment that Itsuka Ano Umi de was being worked on.

  • By 2021, even viewers who’d found Kantai Collection somewhat enjoyable were skeptical that a second season would happen at all. In the past five years, despite losing almost all interest amongst the international community, Kantai Collection retains a healthy, if slowly declining, player base amongst people in Japan. The dōjin scene is still strong, and fanart of Kantai Collection is still being produced at a regular rate. Kantai Collection was always intended to be produced for a domestic market, and in this area, the franchise has done very well.

  • Kantai Collection was never intended to be played outside of Japan: anyone overseas attempting to register will not be successful unless they use a VPN. Back in the day, some folks determined that there was a way of using Kantai Collection‘s API to bypass the web client’s registration limitations and were able to play the game. These early adopters also popularised the term “API link” in the process, using the term in their guides. Back in the day, I never understood what these guides was referring to, but as it turns out, an “API link” refers to the endpoints that Kantai Collection‘s developers had exposed for their web clients to consume.

  • In computing, an API is an “Abstract Programming Interface”, which exposes parts of a system for other applications to use or consume. For instance, if I were writing a server for hosting and viewing images, my API would include method calls for retrieving and storing images. These method calls would be accessed by providing a URL that points to a RESTful request, and these are known as the endpoints. Quite simply, it was possible to forge a registration for a Kantai Collection account by making use of API endpoints that were not otherwise exposed to users in the web client’s UI and pass in the requisite parameters. In this way, players were able to get into the game; although I now understand what the guides refer to, I nonetheless contend that the phrase “API link” is nonsensical.

  • At present, I’m still deciding whether or not I’d like to blog about Itsuka Ano Umi de episodically, since Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s direction has proven quite promising so far. While Kantai Collection‘s second season required a seven year wait and English-speaking fans of the series lost interest in it, I imagine that in Japan, folks who enjoyed the anime wouldn’t find this series’ arrival in 2022 to be unexpected in any way, being merely a long-awaited continuation to the series.

  • I have a fondness for Shigure already – unlike the stock military moé character, Shigure’s significantly more reserved and is haunted by her past losses. Further to this, Shigure feels like a competent Kan-musume, having more combat experience than Fubuki had. This allows the story to advance more quickly than Kantai Collection‘s did; there’s no need for Shigure to familiarise herself with Kan-musume or how things work, and moreover, Shigure’s losses means that she has a concrete reason to fight.

  • I am surprised that in the aftermath of the first episode’s airing, discussions haven’t turned towards the tangerines. Folks have been wondering why they featured so prominently in the trailers, and while they don’t have any specific meaning on their own, Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s first episode does hint at the fact that they’re a representation of camaraderie. I personally see tangerines as a symbol of consistency; when I was a student, my parents would buy them and ask that I eat one every day to keep my fruit intake up. This practise has persisted after I graduated (I used to eat them during my mid-morning break, and this moved into the afternoon after I began working from home), and in the present, I buy tangerines every time I go grocery shopping.

  • Although starting a new posting would be exciting in any other anime, Itsuka Ano Umi de establishes immediately that things here are going to be more grim in nature: after getting an earful from Yamashiro, Shigure only just manages to maintain her composure, and ends up learning that their group is to act as a diversionary force for what feels like a desperate, all-out attack on the Abyssals. I did find this to be a little strange, since Kantai Collection: The Movie‘s outcome had implied the Kan-musume gained the upper hand following Fubuki’s discovery that Kan-musume and Abyssals were two sides of the same coin.

  • A quick glance at the remaining roster in Itsuka Ano Umi de suggests that even Fubuki has been sunk, and the carriers are noticeably absent. It is possible that they’re being kept in reserve, but the overall atmosphere in Itsuka Ano Umi de is gloomier than it’d been, even in the film. This does eliminate any hopes I had about Itsuka Ano Umi de presenting a slice-of-life story as Azur Lane: Slow Ahead! did, but on the flipside, a more focused story here in Itsuka Ano Umi de would demonstrate that the genre is indeed capable of making the more serious aesthetic work.

  • Besides Itsuka Ano Umi de, this season’s other military moé offering is Arknights, an animated adaptation of the Chinese free-to-play game. I ended up giving the first episode a go, but the story drops viewers right into things without any context, leaving me totally lost. Consequently, I have no plans to actively watch, or write about Arknights; it seems more prudent for me to wait for a few more episodes to come out before giving this series a go. Of course, folks who’ve played the game find the series to be more enjoyable.

  • I find that anime adaptations of games need to make an effort to ensure that the game world can fit neatly into a standalone story if the anime is to succeed. Uma Musume Pretty Derby is probably the best example of a game whose animated adaptation does this well: even though I’ve never played the game before, the anime was fantastic and actually gave me a desire to play the game. Back in Itsuka Ano Ume de, once Shigure helps their team to settle down, everyone resolves to carry out their assignment successfully and come back to one another.

  • The visuals in Itsuka Ano Umi de are of such a high standard that this series feels more like a film. The Kan-musume‘s forward operating base is located in the South Pacific’s Melanesia region, and while the Kan-musume live in simple huts constructed from reeds, the base facilities appear quite sophisticated. The war may be turning against the Kan-musume, but it appears that from a resource standpoint, they’ve not completely been depleted yet, so there’s still a glimmer of hope left. Subtle cues like these can be used to estimate where a story is.

  • So far, I’ve not seen any faces from the original Kantai Collection returning to Itsuka Ano Umi de, but despite the (presumably) significant losses the Kan-musume have faced, Kantai Collection‘s second season still offers plenty of ships to portray. I’ve taken a liking to Hamakaze, and Akebono is still on the active roster, so I’m hoping she’ll have speaking lines in Itsuka Ano Umi de. The preparation scenes in Itsuka Ano Umi de are more detailed than those of their predecessor, and together with the improved combat sequences, I am rather excited to see how naval battles unfold here.

  • Ahead of the operation, Yamashiro hands support aircraft to Mogami, who accepts them with joy. Her real-world counterpart was originally classified as light cruiser that conformed with the London Naval Treaty, but were designed to accept 8-inch guns. Despite suffering from construction problems, the Mogami-class would become some of the best cruisers Japan had available to them in World War Two. Originally capable of carrying three Aichi E13A seaplanes, the upgraded Mogami would have a capacity for eleven, allowing them to carry out reconnaissance, as well.

  • Prior to leaving port, Shigure receives her trademark hair ornament from Fusō. For now, the significance of this hair ornament is not mentioned, but fielding an educated guess (and my guesses tend to be reasonably accurate most of the time), I’d suggest that the ornament is a physical reminder of the promise she’s making to Fusō about looking after Yamashiro: it’s the case that despite her blunt manner and tough-talking attitude, Yamashiro is perhaps the most vulnerable of the Kan-musume in this group. In history, the Yamashiro were sunk during the Battle of Leyte Gulf trying to cover for the Shigure.

  • Knowing what’s happened in history, and the fact that Isuka Ano Umi de seems to be focusing on this particular battle, gives the anime a strong sense of melancholy: if Isuka Ano Umi de is going to be true to historical events, the themes here would be decidedly more pessimistic. In reality, the destruction of the IJN marked a major turning point in World War Two and provided the Allied forces with open seas, setting the stage for the final campaigns that brought the Pacific War to a close. However, the Abyssals in Kantai Collection aren’t analogs of the Allied forces and instead, represent the Kan-musume‘s own inner darkness, so if the Abyssals are allowed to triumph, Kantai Collection‘s anime would imply that Nihilism and pessimism prevails over optimism and effort (something I vehemently disagree with).

  • Assuming that themes from Kantai Collection: The Movie are still relevant here in Itsuka Ano Umi de, there is a possibility that Shigure will have to find another way to make peace with what she’s experienced. At this point in time, however, no one knows how Itsuka Ano Umi de will unfold, and as such, a part of my curiosity in Kantai Collection‘s second season lies in seeing what lies ahead for viewers. In this way, Itsuka Ano Umi de represents a chance for Kantai Collection‘s anime adaptation to show viewers that the series is capable of telling an impactful story about the nature of warfare in a mature, measured manner.

  • We are now into November, and with Itsuka Ano Umi de finally starting, it means that all of the anime I’m intending to follow are now airing. I’ve hit my stride for this season: Yama no Susume: Next SummitBocchi The RockMobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From MercuryUzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out and Kancolle: Itsuka Ano Ume de are the shows I’m going to be actively watching. The year is beginning to entire its final months, and today, I decided to step out and grab a burger for lunch. Since it’d snowed this week, things were a bit slippery outside, but the burger was quite hearty (I’m always game for a burger with Applewood smoked bacon and onion rings). Looking ahead, I’ll be focused on writing about Next Summit and Itsuka Ano Ume de this month, although I’ll also have a few special topics posts here and there; the Yuru Camp△ movie is now out on Amazon Prime Japan, and I’m making fair progress through Modern Warfare II.

With the first episode of Itsuka Ano Umi de now in the books, it is clear that writers have decided to take Kantai Collection in a different direction than Azur Lane had. When Azur Lane‘s original run was plagued by an inconsistent tone that compromised the story’s coherence and left viewers with mixed feelings, Azur Lane ended up pivoting to a slice-of-life setup with Slow Ahead!. This comedy proved to be well-received, conveying Azur Lane‘s themes as effectively as the original series did, but without adding in elements that would detract from the ordinary, everyday antics their ship-girls experienced. Kantai Collection‘s 2015 run suffered from the same flaws, and while 2016’s Kantai Collection: The Movie, attempted to rectify this, viewers remain quite dissatisfied with things. In response to the reception, Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s writers have taken things in the opposite direction, stripping out the comedic aspects of being a Kan-musume entirely in favour of showing a story of loss, acceptance and using these experiences as a source of strength. Shigure has suffered loss in her past and as a result, is more taciturn than the other Kan-musume. However, she’s still resolute and determined, and where the moment is appropriate, shows a happier side to her, as well. As such, Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s direction is clear: as a result of her experiences with Mogami, Yamashiro, Fusō, Michishio, Asagumo and Yamagumo, Shigure will contribute towards giving the Kan-musume newfound hope in their seemingly unending battle against the Abyssal, and in time, will come to find that her closest friends will continue sharing tangerines with her. If Itsuka Ano Umi de can stick the course and portray Shigure’s journey in a convincing manner, focusing on her growth over light-hearted slice-of-life antics, Kantai Collection‘s second season will demonstrate that anime of this sort can indeed be written to tell a meaningful story.

Revisiting Kantai Collection: The Movie, Remarks On Duality and Accepting One’s Inner Darkness Through Introspection At The Quinquennial

“To become better, you have to admit your ignorance, at least to yourself.” –William A. Pasmore

On this day in 2017, Kantai Collection: The Movie finally became available to overseas viewers after a nine month long wait. While I had been enthusiastic to watch the film, upon finishing my experience, I found that the film had been technically excellent: the animation is superb, and the music was, in my own words, worthy of a feature film such as Letters From Iwo Jima or Isoroku Yamamoto. However, I had been left a shade disappointed with respect to the story, which appeared to leave aspects of Kantai Collection unanswered. As such, with Kantai Collection: The Movie approaching its five year anniversary and Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s release set for November 2022, I felt it was appropriate to give Kantai Collection: The Movie a revisit with a fresh set of eyes. Almost immediately, I found that the me of five years earlier had not been watching the film with both eyes open. Kantai Collection: The Movie makes a meaningful contribution to the franchise through its story, and this aspect is ultimately something that sets it apart from Azur Lane. Throughout Kantai Collection: The Movie, the Kan-musume face a new challenge in the form of an enigmatic voice emanating from Ironbottom Sound, which coincides with Kisaragi’s surprise return, seemingly from the dead. As the film progresses, Kaga reveals that Kan-musume and Abyssals share a close relationship; when one is sunk in combat, they are reborn in the other form, and are cursed to existing in an unending cycle of violence and struggle. While the Kan-musume reason that if they can survive while whittling down the Abyssal’s number, they can end the conflict, this approach actually implies the Kan-musume can only achieve their goal by extermination. In this way, the Kan-musume would become no better than their foe, resorting to force to achieve their aims. This is where Fubuki comes in: while she’s regarded as special in Kantai Collection, no evidence has ever been given of this. In Kantai Collection: The Movie, Fubuki’s single largest contribution is her climactic confrontation with her Abyssal self. Although her Abyssal self attempts to persuade Fubuki that in a world born of suffering, the only recourse is to inflict equivalent suffering unto others, Fubuki rejects this mode of thinking, but also acknowledges that while a changing world can be frightening, the endless cycle of violence can be broken if one accepts that existence is the sum of both joy and sorrow, tranquility and anger, and hope and despair. In short, Fubuki accepts something the other Kan-musume do not: one must accept, and embrace their inner darkness, in order to become whole. This is the acknowledgement that as an individual, one has both positive and negative traits, but rather than attempting to reject one’s negative traits, life is a matter of taking ownership of them and recognising how to manage and work with them. This willingness to understand her own dark side is what makes Fubuki special: she sees her Abyssal self as another part of her, not to be feared or shunned, but to be accepted. In this way, Kantai Collection: The Movie gives Kantai Collection new purpose: winning this war, and breaking the loop, entails giving the other Kan-musume the strength to do the same.

Kantai Collection thus becomes a story of overcoming internal strife through acceptance, and self-empowerment through introspection, which provides the series with a significant amount of depth, far beyond endlessly grinding maps and collecting ships for kicks. While Kantai Collection‘s television series had been an inconsistent amalgamation of comedy and drama, introspection and adventure, Kantai Collection: The Movie dramatically improved on its predecessor’s consistency and messaging. The largest indicator of this is through the film’s incidental music. In the television series, Kantai Collection‘s soundtrack had been an eclectic mix of whimsical slice-of-life pieces, grand combat accompaniments and emotional flourishes, mirroring the series’ portrayal of a wide range of moments in Fubuki and the other Kan-musume‘s lives. Conversely, here in Kantai Collection: The Movie, the entire soundtrack conveys a sense of melancholy and longing. In turn, the whole of the film is an emotional, moving experience, speaking to the isolation that Kisaragi feels after returning, the unsettling feelings associated with the mystery surrounding Ironbottom Sound, and Fubuki’s own journey in coming to terms with who she is. In fact, melancholy permeates the whole of Kantai Collection: The Movie: there is a sense of sadness surrounding what the Kan-musume and Abyssals do, and this aspect of the film speaks to the horrors and desolation that was the Pacific War. The Kan-musume and Abyssals are halves of a whole, of the spirit that went into every destroyer, battleship, aircraft carrier and frigate that was ever commissioned. From the engineers, to the pilots, command craft and crew, each vessel was a home away from home, a friend that looked after its crew in exchange for being cared for, and so, when a ship was sunk in battle, these feelings manifested in the form of a grudge, decrying the unfairness of this world and at how easily so much effort and respect could be undone. Kantai Collection: The Movie forces viewers to be made aware of this fact, and in conjunction with Fubuki’s special nature, the film suggests that it is possible to move on from these injustices by first forgiving oneself and accepting one’s own inner darkness as the starting point. Five years after Kantai Collection: The Movie‘s home release and my subsequent review of the film, it becomes clear that the movie is remarkably mature, and back then, I lacked the maturity and wisdom to pick these messages up.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • My revisit of Kantai Collection: The Movie comes as a result of Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s imminent release, and this me to rewatch the film. This time around, I’m rolling the Director’s Cut, which features three more minutes of footage depicting the sprites assisting the Kan-musume. Right out of the gates, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia when starting the film, which opens with a night battle that sees the Kan-musume succeed over their adversaries, the Abyssals. The scene is set to Natsumi Kameoka’s compositions, which added considerable audio depth to the film and series as a whole.

  • I found Azur Lane‘s music to be of a comparable quality, and generally speaking, both Kantai Collection and Azur Lane are distinct in their own way. One aspect about Kantai Collection I did prefer over Azur Lane is the attention paid to detail in the Kan-musume: their loadouts and gear are more consistent and thoughtfully designed compared to their counterparts in Azur Lane. However, Azur Lane‘s charm is that ships from a larger range of navies are shown, and the resulting factions opens the floor to a different kind of story, whereas here in Kantai Collection, the conflict is strictly Kan-musume versus Abyssals.

  • On the weekend after Kantai Collection: The Movie was released five years earlier, I went to the local mall and drove out to the town over to take a stroll in their historical Ranche Park. I recall revisiting the park again a few months later; during this time, my first start-up was showing signs of failure, and I wanted to take a step back. As I sat on the hillside overlooking the park, I promised myself that I would return to this park in the future, under better circumstances. Over the past few years, between a busy schedule and the global health crisis, plans to revisit this park were put on hold.

  • However, with the vacation time I’ve had available to me this year, I was able to capitalise on an opportunity to return. After four years since I’d set foot at the historic Ranche Park, I thus returned, under tremendously sunny skies, to the viewpoint overlooking the town where I gazed across the valley as I had done four years earlier; the park has remained unchanged since I was here last, and a feeling of nostalgia washed over me. I allowed myself to live in the moment, in the realisation that I’d fulfilled a promise to better myself and revisit the park again. A week later, I would head over to the mall again. As I had done five years earlier, I enjoyed New York Fries’ Premium Chili-Cheese-and-Bacon Dog and Poutine Combo before heading off to pick up a foam pillow.

  • Upon revisiting the things I’d done five years earlier, under completely different circumstances, it dawned on me that with this additional life experience, rewatching Kantai Collection: The Movie again might’ve been a worthwhile endeavour because I would return with a fresh set of eyes. Since finishing the movie in 2017, I set down Kantai Collection and never returned to it. As such, all of my remarks surrounding the series in my later posts on Uma Musume Pretty Derby and Azur Lane were based on opinions that stem back from this time.

  • While some of my thoughts and impressions haven’t changed (I still feel that there’s a mystique surrounding the southern Pacific Islands that Kantai Collection: The Movie captures perfectly), my appreciation of the film’s main themes and intentions have increased. This is because back in 2017, I hadn’t quite been watching the film with an effort of trying to understand what the creators were trying to say. As it was, while Kantai Collection: The Movie was superb from an audio and visual perspective, I felt disappointed because the film hadn’t appeared to answer the questions I sought about the series or show its contributions to the franchise.

  • As it turns out, had I made a more sincere attempt in understanding things, I would’ve found Kantai Collection: The Movie to act as a conclusive presentation of how Kantai Collection works. Granted, there are some abstract moments in the theme, but these weren’t intended to willingly obscure or obfuscate the film’s main themes. In the present day, I make an attempt to see what a film wants to say with its narrative, and if a work has a cohesive message that is relevant, I am satisfied. Some folks believe that works of fiction must necessarily do more than this to succeed, but for me, the starting point of enjoying any work is the presence of a clear theme.

  • Throughout Kantai Collection, Fubuki had been presented as being special, but the television series never quite explored what this was. From the television series alone, one might gain the impression that Fubuki was special because, as a seemingly-generic individual with no distinct identifying traits in her personality, she could adapt and grow into whatever role was asked of her. However, Kantai Collection: The Movie suggests that Fubuki’s personality makes her uniquely suited for facing the problem that Kan-musume and Abyssals face.

  • This is because, once every character’s endless cycle between Kan-musume and Abyssal state is known, the Kan-musume determine that they can win the war by eliminating the Abyssals at a much greater rate than they themselves are sunk. On this logic, if no new Abyssals are created, then only Kan-musume will remain, and peace is attained in this fashion. However, given Kan-musume and Abyssals exist as a result of the unanswered feelings from the original World War Two naval vessels, the Kan-musume‘s plan would be akin to completely dismissing and suppressing the negative emotions within oneself.

  • This is, of course, a very unhealthy way of life, and in the context of Kantai Collection, the Kan-musume would be waging a war of extermination against the Abyssals. The Abyssals, being born from feelings of regret, hatred and pain, seek to destroy the Kan-musume, but the Kan-musume are supposed to represent optimism, hope and compassion. As such, while the idea of fighting the Abyssals to extinction works from a functional perspective, it would actually contradict the values that the Kan-musume themselves embody – annihilating one’s foes outright, rather than accepting their existence and reaching a mutual co-existence, usually will not lead to the solution one desires.

  • This is the sort of thing that period discussions surrounding Kantai Collection: The Movie were generally missing – a quick Google search for reviews of this movie will actually find my review, along with several others, topping the results. All of these reviews, mine included, conclude the series is best suited for fans of the series and is beautifully animated, but the story was confusing. Similarly, folks at AnimeSuki weren’t convinced that the film’s narrative could stand of its own accord and concluded the film had no emotional weight because the film focused purely on Fubuki. Some forum members suggest that Fubuki’s role as being special was naught more than a convenient plot device, and that the film should’ve had everyone fight Kisaragi or similar in order to have any depth.

  • However, to fight Kisaragi would be to promote destruction over understanding, and as I’d noted earlier, this would stand against the thing that the Kan-musume are supposed to represent. Since AnimeSuki nowadays appears adverse to perspectives that are not their own, I imagine I’d probably incur a ban for suggesting that these interpretations of the film are incomplete, and that the version of the film their members preferred to see would only reinforce the message that one’s foes should be destroyed. This mindset is precisely why the world is so divided: thanks in no small part to polarising media and social media, the world has increasingly trended towards an “us versus them” mindset, as opposed to acknowledging that problems can (and should) be solved by accepting the fact that other sides will exist, and that a solution in the middle, more often than not, can be reached.

  • At Tango-Victor-Tango, the forum-goers similarly characterised this movie as being poorly explained and hollow. Prima facie, my original review agreed with these perspectives. However, these perspectives, mine included, fail to take into account all of the design choices within Kantai Collection: The Movieboth the melancholy tenour that permeates the film, and the lingering sense of mystery come together to act as an analogy for the inner conflict between one’s best and worst self. I concede that it takes reading between the lines to draw this conclusion, but when everything in Kantai Collection: The Movie is summed up, it looks like the film had strove to convey how a real-world challenge that people face can drive the mechanisms behind those of a fictional world, enough to provide a plausible explanation for how players can collect ships and why they must fight the Abyssals.

  • As it stands, Kantai Collection had begun life as a game, and the game’s goals had proven to be quite simple. Attempting to fit a story around everything demands uncommon creativity from the writers, doubly so because Kantai Collection had been designed around the moé aesthetic. Azur Lane, when it came out five years later, found itself succumbing to the same problems that affected Kantai Collection, but when it released a spin-off, Slow Ahead, the problems vanished. This is because the mood in Slow Ahead matched the general vibe from the game more closely than the original series had. Had Kantai Collection originally aired as a light-hearted slice-of-life akin to Slow Ahead, it may have been considerably more accessible and effective in introducing the characters.

  • I’ve been a longtime defender of Fubuki and Yoshika-like characters in military-moé series, and the reason why this is the case is simple – providing a common archetype, the tabula rosa, allows for a naïve character to become shaped by their experiences and develop their potential. Without any other identifying traits, such characters become worth rooting for because they have nothing more than their effort and grit to go on. Because every world has different attributes, the same archetypes end up completely different as a result of their journeys.

  • The last segments of Kantai Collection: The Movie is the most significant part of the film, and also the least discussed. It is here that what makes Fubuki unique is explored: she alone doesn’t carry lingering feelings of resentment and hatred against her other half, or her fate, as the other Kan-musume do, and so, she is able to sail Ironbottom Sound without suffering the damaging effects from the area’s unusual waters. The phenomenon might be see as the combined grudges of the ships sunk here manifesting in physical form, compelling Kan-musume to give in to their negative feelings, and the damage to their gear is a visual metaphor for how being surrounded by negativity can chip at one’s well-being and confidence.

  • Whereas I missed this previously, Kantai Collection: The Movie makes it clear that Fubuki and her Abyssal self are two sides of the same coin. During the catastrophes of the Pacific War, the spirits imbibed by each vessel, the sum of the sailors, officers and engineers that ran each ship, eventually split in two from the torment and injustice of defeat. The positive feelings would become the Kan-musume, and the negative feelings became the Abyssals. Since then, these two sides have been at odds with one another, seeking to extinguish the other. However, the reality is that light cannot exist without darkness.

  • It is similarly unrealistic to eliminate negative feelings in oneself; when people say to “embrace their darkness”, they are referring to having enough emotional maturity to acknowledge that there are things that make one insecure, weak, et cetera. However, rather than trying to evade it, one becomes empowered by facing them head on. For instance, I’m impatient and quick to anger, quick to deal out judgement. I manage this by turning my impatience into an exercise of patience, of willing myself to take a step back and come back to something later. If later, my feelings of negativity go away, then it becomes clear that whatever had been bothering me was of no consequence. Conversely, if the feelings persist, I turn that restlessness and channel it towards something positive.

  • In confronting her Abyssal self, Fubuki demonstrates a sort of maturity that the other Kan-musume have not. She believes that having hope for the future is what allows one to put their best foot forward, and unsurprisingly, Fubuki’s Abyssal self cannot see why this is. Negative emotions can be all-consuming, and it takes strength to manage them. An exercise folks suggest is to write out the things that bothers one, and see if they can’t find any instances where those negative emotions led one to do something positive: this is supposed to help one understand that negativity is not dominating, and that there is nothing wrong with being human.

  • Because there’d been so little discussion of Kantai Collection: The Movie, one talk that did bring up the symbolism and imagery within the film still stands out to me. While I recognise the effort made towards interpreting these elements, their conclusion only merits partial credit. I can’t quite remember where I read this, but it was suggested that, when Fubuki finally faces her Abyssal self mano-a-mano, the red Spider Lilies that bloom were meant to represent reincarnation. However, the scene in Kantai Collection: The Movie unfolds as follows: Fubuki approaches her other half, and crumbles away from the effort. However, her Abyssal self also crumbles. In spite of this, Fubuki persists and manages to limp to her other half, embracing her tearfully and reassuring her that no one is going to be forgotten, that in spite of what’s happened, people will still be there for them.

  • According to hanakotoba, red Spider Lilies represent a final farewell, and bloom when people part ways permanently. While their usage in funerals led to their being associated with death, originally, red Spider Lilies simply refer to a parting of ways. What’s happened here is something similar to what I’ve experienced. In Chinese culture, killing black moths that enter one’s home is verboten because it is believed these moths house the spirits of the deceased. When a black moth entered my home, my parents told me to leave it be, and I later asked for clarification. From my grasp of Cantonese, I gathered they housed spirits, but missed the specific detail that these spirits may belong to one’s ancestors.

  • If I were to explain this to someone else, I would’ve probably butchered the story and concluded that moths are cursed. It is not surprising, then, that meanings can be lost over time, and similarly, anime are fond of using red Spider Lilies to symbolise death, when in reality, they were used by farmers to keep vermin away before being used at funerals for their distinct appearance: the red Spider Lily, Lycoris radiata, is poisonous. Kantai Collection: The Movie chooses to utilise the red Spider Lily correctly, rendering a field of them blooming as Fubuki bids her Abyssal form farewell before preparing to merge with her.

  • I don’t consider this a rebirth because what happens here is ultimately the restoration of two halves back into its original form. Reincarnation is best described as the process by which an individual’s soul is transplanted to another physical body. While one might then make the case that Fubuki is reborn in a metaphoric sense, the reality is that Fubuki herself prior to this merger still believed in accepting her other half. There is no significant change to her personality, and she’s not imbibing a lesson or experience that leaves her in a different place. On the other hand, a final farewell is an appropriate descriptor because by accepting her Abyssal self, Fubuki becomes whole again with an entity that had, until now, been an independent being with her own agency.

  • This entire scene is set to the track “Hope” (希望, Hepburn kibо̄), the single most moving and touching song on the Kantai Collection: The Movie soundtrack. Whenever I hear this song, my mind immediately whisks me back to the Ranche Park, and in this song, every emotion from Kantai Collection: The Movie is captured in a single, succinct track lasting a minute and forty-five seconds. In this track, the use of piano, string and woodwind simultaneously creates a feeling of wistfulness and empathy, of longing for a better future.

  • Far more than the red Spider Lilies, the true significance of the flower field scene in Kantai Collection: The Movie actually occurs when Fubuki finally embraces her Abyssal self. This is a very literal form of embracing one’s dark side, and shows how there’s nothing to fear. In doing this, Fubuki demonstrates that she’s overcome what troubles the other ship girls, and this acceptance liberates Abyssal Fubuki from her torment; her Abyssal self had existed in loneliness, so being accepted by someone, least of all the person who matters most to her, would show Fubuki’s Abyssal self that there is indeed hope, and that it is time to let go. With the farewell over, the entire scene dissolves.

  • Without Abyssal Fubuki’s grudge driving the opposing forces, Abyssal forces begin to disappear, and the film hits its dénouement. In the aftermath, Kisaragi and Mutsuki share a tearful moment before parting ways. Although Kisaragi’s return is a large part of the story, it ultimately became secondary to Fubuki’s journey, but, despite lacking more detail, I saw it as a show of how Abyssal or not, Kisaragi’s choices is what makes her a Kan-musume. While the film saw her slowly consumed by Abyssal traits owing to her lingering feelings of regret, in her heart, she still wants to return to the others. Seeing this is a cathartic release following the film’s build-up, and with the Abyssal presence neutralised, the Abyssal Kisaragi vanishes.

  • This exercise, in revisiting Kantai Collection: The Movie, represented a chance for me to reflect on how I’ve changed as a blogger. While the film still remains unable to convince me to play the browser game, I now see the movie as a sincere effort to give more weight to the world that Fubuki and the Kan-musume inhabit. In this function, Kantai Collection: The Movie is successful. Looking back, going back and revisiting a work after some time has passed, especially a work one has already written about, is a fantastic exercise for bloggers. Doing this allows one to reflect on how their thoughts and opinions change over time, and how life experiences may shape their experiences of something, potentially helping one to be a more consistent and confident writer.

  • In this way, I’ve come to remind myself that opinions certainly aren’t immutable, and works that I’ve disagreed with previously do have more merit to them than I’d initially thought. Kantai Collection: The Movie is one such example, and it was quite instructive to go back and revisit the film: while my original review was still somewhat positive, I have noticed that of late, I’ve been increasingly unfair towards Kantai Collection in my other posts. Returning to watch the movie anew, with a fresh set of eyes, has helped me greatly in remembering what Kantai Collection had been going for by the time its movie was released.

  • Having revisited Kantai Collection: The Movie, it becomes clear that Fubuki’s story is over. Itsuka Ano Umi de is going to focus on Shigure, and all of the promotional materials have suggested that this second season of Kantai Collection is going to be more serious than its predecessor. Set for release in November, I’m currently still working out how I’d like to write about this one, since Itsuka Ano Umi de airs during the same season as Yama no Susume: Next Summit. While it’s great to be seeing more Kantai Collection after all this time, I admit that, like the wistfulness conveyed here in Kantai Collection: The Movie, there is a bit of melancholy surrounding Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s release: five years have passed since the film’s release, and a nontrivial number of this series’ fans likely would’ve already moved on.

  • While Kantai Collection: The Movie had been all-business, Mutsuki does get a happy ending: Kisaragi returns to her in full, appearing to be fully cured of her previous affliction. If I had to guess, assuming that Itsuka Ano Umi de is set after Kantai Collection: The Movie, it is possible that the story could focus on Shigure coming to terms with her own inner darkness. The original IJN Shigure’s story is a tragic one: originally dubbed “invincible”, the Shigure was sunk after being hit by a torpedo from the submarine, USS Blackfin, at Gulf of Siam in January 1945. As such, with my curiosity in this sequel piqued, I am interested to see what directions Kantai Collection will take next. In the meantime, we are on the doorsteps of September: this is going to be the last post for the month, and since I am hosting Jon’s Creator Showcase, I am presently working on making this showcase one worthy of the community.

Revisiting Kantai Collection: The Movie thus becomes an important exercise for myself and this blog, because it shows how important it is to look inward and understand oneself, as well as accept how one’s life experiences can shift their opinions over time. In reflecting on these changes, one becomes more informed of their own values, and comes out a stronger individual as a result. I’ve never believed in clinging onto old opinions as absolute, and acknowledge that over time, things do change. In 2017, I was of the mind that Cocoapods was little more than bloatware that made it difficult to modify and update an iOS app. However, had I stuck with this belief, I would be a lesser developer for it. My experiences would subsequently show me that I was wrong, and I’ve never been too proud to own up to the fact I made a mistake. After taking the plunge and accepting Cocoapods, I became a better iOS developer, integrating new libraries into my project more elegantly and recognising that there are other excellent developers out there whose existing efforts can both inform me of how to improve myself, and save me time on a project. Similarly, with Kantai Collection: The Movie, I now see a series that strove to remind viewers that beyond the game’s mechanics, a very inspiring tale was told to give the characters’ experiences more weight and moreover, this tale holds applicability even now. Kantai Collection: The Movie has therefore aged very gracefully, presenting messages that remain relevant to this day. As such, I am not so proud that I won’t redact my earlier commentary about this series: Kantai Collection, through its movie, did say something meaningful, and despite over six years having elapsed since the film’s original screening in Japan, Itsuka Ano Umi de still remains relevant, as this second season may potentially expand upon the film’s themes and show the sort of change that Fubuki had laid down the groundwork for. Itsuka Ano Umi de will consist of eight episodes and begin airing in November, and while Kantai Collection may not be as popular as it had been back in 2017, the series still has life in it yet, with Itsuka Ano Umi de possessing the potential of reminding viewers why a six year wait for Kantai Collection‘s second season was completely worthwhile.

Kantai Collection: The Movie- Review and Reflection

 “Where the hell have you been?”
“Enjoying death. 007 reporting for duty.”

—M and James Bond, Skyfall

While the Kan-musume celebrate their recent victory at Ironbottom Sound, Fubuki notices a strange voice emanating from the ocean. This observation is mirrored by other Kan-musume, although Secretary Nagato has another matter on her hands; Kisaragi has seemingly returned back from the dead. It is revealed that Kan-musume and the Abyssals share an unusual relationship – Kan-musume become Abyssals when sunk, while destroyed Abyssals are reborn as Kan-musume. Kaga herself retains her memories as an Abyssal, remarking on the intense obsessions Abyssals experience, but notes that the cycle can be broken if Abyssals are eliminated, forcing them to be reborn as Kan-musume. Mutsuki is saddened to learn of this truth and resolves to remain by Kisaragi’s side even as Kisaragi undergoes a slow transformation into an Abyssal vessel. The area surrounding Ironbottom sound has also taken on an unusual character; the ocean waters have become crimson and slowly degrades the Kan-musume‘s equipment. As this region is expanding, Nagato organises an offensive to stop the phenomenon. As Fubuki is seemingly immune to this degrading, she’s assigned to punch through the frontlines and reach the portal at the centre of Ironbottom Sound. The intense combat forces most of the Kan-musume to retreat, leaving Yamato, Mutsuki and Fubuki to press forwards. When Yamato and Mutsuki sustain heavy damage, Kisaragi arrives to save them. This provides Fubuki the opening she needs to enter the portal; she reaches the other side and comes face-to-face with her Abyssal form, learning that Kan-musume and Abyssals formed from the spirits of sunken World War Two vessels. The optimistic, hopeful elements and feelings of hatred and regret split into separate beings: the original Fubuki had sunk here during the Battle of Cape Esperance in October 1942. Since then, the separation has resulted in the cycle of fighting between the Kan-musume and Abyssals. The Abyssal form of Fubuki compels Fubuki to give in to her darkness, but Fubuki refuses, being driven on by her determination to push forward as a symbol of hope. The strength of these feelings destroys the remaining Abyssals in the area, including the Abyssal Kisaragi. Fubuki reunites with her friends, launching with new Kan-musume on a training exercise, while Mutsuki meets up with Kisaagi, who has returned as a Kan-musume in full.

Unlike its predecessor, Kantai Collection: The Movie focuses on the origin of the Abyssals and explores what drives the war between them and the Kan-musume. With this particular aspect now in the open, it should dispel any misconceptions that Kantai Collection is an exercise in propaganda: simply put, the vessels of the IJN and the USN were both constructed with a particular goal in mind, and sinking is the ultimate form of death for a ship. Sinking in battle, then, is to die with strong lingering emotions, which subsequently separate into their negative (the Abyssals) and positive incarnations (the Kan-musume). These elements, while not particularly novel or impressive (the concept of cycles is rather similar to the Witches and Magical Girls of Puella Magi Madoka Magica), provide a reasonable explanation for what drives the conflict in Kantai Collection: some rationale is preferable to no rationale, and the movie’s done a passable job of doing so. Like its predecessor, however, Kantai Collection: The Movie falls into the trap of introducing an attempt at philosophical elements late in its presentation. In Kantai Collection: The Movie, there is an effort to present anti-Nihilism messages. The negative feelings that Abyssals embody attempt to overpower Fubuki and suggest that effort is meaningless in death, but when Fubuki learns of her original vessel’s own role in the IJN, she decides to choose a path that entails making something meaningful even if there is no meaning. While optimistic and certainly not the worst conceivable ending for Kantai Collection: The Movie, the messages also were added much later in the movie, precluding exploration of the thematic elements in adequate detail as to explain what makes it worthwhile for the Kan-musume to keep fighting (conversely, the Abyssal’s motivations are simple enough; they fight for revenge, aiming to bring suffering to a world that had constructed their suffering).

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I originally had eighty five screenshots ready for this post, but in the name of conciseness, I pared the number down to thirty. As such, while I may have the internet’s first collection of high quality screenshots, it is inevitable that a more comprehensive set of screenshots will become available in the upcoming days. My choice to reduce the number of screenshots means that moments such as the Mikawa Fleet battle are not featured in this discussion, which opens with Mutsuki anxious to see Kisaragi now that she’s returned to the Kan-musume.

  • Immediately apparent in Kantai Collection: The Movie is the visual fidelity and the incredible use of colours and lighting in its environments. Kisaragi and Mutsuki embrace after their separation, and after looking around, it seems that if one loses a ship in combat, it is possible to re-roll that ship and start again. Kisaragi’s return prompts the page quote, although beyond seemingly coming back from the dead, there’s very little in Kantai Collection: The Movie that is similar to 2012’s Skyfall.

  • Hiei, Kongo, Nagato, Mutsu, Akagi and Kaga see Kisaragi off after she debriefs with them. They note the gravity of the situation and after discussion, consider Kisaragi’s return as classified. It’s quite some time since the likes of Kantai Collection‘s characters graced this blog with their presence: the movie was released in November 2016 and only became available on home release since August 30.

  • Here, Yuudachi enjoys a gelato amidst the celebrations; she’s best known for appending ~poi to almost all of her dialogue. Approximating to “maybe” or “perhaps”, its use in Japanese is to denote a certain degree of uncertainty, and for English-speakers, is most similar to the interjection “like”, which, while originating with the Valley Girl stereotype of the 1980s, has permeated spoken English to a considerable extent. Developers have noted Yuudachi’s speech patterns is meant to mirror the fact that the original Yuudachi’s role in Battle of Guadalcanal remains unclear, as the ship’s credited kills were never clearly recorded amidst the chaos of battle.

  • During the celebrations, Yamato is seen manning the carving station and is exasperated when the other Kan-musume calls her the Hotel Yamato. A useless bit of trivial that has nothing to do with Kantai Collection – I’m big on carving stations at buffets and will always drop by for prime rib au jus. In Kantai Collection‘s game incarnation, the Yamato is immensely resource intensive but has enough firepower to lessen the odds of failure. Players consider this a reasonable trade-off and will field the Yamato-class when engaged in difficult battles.

  • Fun and games are short-lived in Kantai Collection: The Movie once Fubuki begins discussing the unusual voices she’s been hearing with her friends. A quick glance at the history books finds that Ironbottom Sound, the Allied name for Savo Sound, is a stretch of ocean where dozens of Allied and Japanese vessels were sunk during the Second World War. Sailors will observe silence as they sail through these waters, and the real Yuudachi, Fubuki and Hiei met there ends here. As a major ship graveyard, it forms the perfect focal point for the source of disruption in Kantai Collection: The Movie.

  • The South Pacific seems the perfect place for narratives, even of the sort seen in Kantai Collection. A great many texts I read for literature class during my secondary education are set in tropical islands, as well, including Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game (1924) and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (1954). The differences in time periods between the two serve to underline the prevailing attitudes in society of the period; The Most Dangerous Game speaks of the justifiably of murder for survival, a question born from the First World War, while in Lord of the Flies, one of the great ironies is that the sailor who ends up landing on the island is disgusted that a group of British boys have devolved from civilised thought, while himself is part of a greater war that speaks of the gradually increasing tensions in the world following the end of the Second World War.

  • The next morning, aberrations begin appearing in Kisaragi. She blanks out and opens fire on base facilities. The oddities in Kisaragi’s return, coupled with the appearance of a scale-like buildup on her arms and the fact that she can only remember Mutsuki shows that Kisaragi has not returned in full. These observations perplex Fubuki and the others, while the higher-ups, including Nagato and Kaga, appear to know something about this phenomenon.

  • In the game, Kisaragi sports a very vain personality, whereas in the anime, she’s more mature, fulfilling an elder sister role for Mutsuki. After sinking in the third episode, the anime suggested that she was reborn as an Abyssal, with the film clearing things up considerably. She’s much more withdrawn and sad in Kantai Collection: The Movie; retaining her old memories, she feels that things are different and is fearful that she might attack the others.

  • After receiving clearance, Kaga explains that she was once an Abyssal vessel, consumed with longing and hatred. She retains vivid memories of these experiences, and her story finally clarifies what the Abyssals’ origins are. It’s actually surprisingly similar to the dynamics of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, although there are distinctions: Kantai Collection presents the transition between Abyssals and Kan-musume as being a natural cycle, while in Madoka Magica, the transformation is seemingly one-way prior to Madoka’s intervention. Mutsuki resolves to protect and look after Kisaragi, and Kaga notes that the cycle can be broken if they eliminate the Abyssals, offering a glimmer of hope.

  • While Nagato, Yamato and the others consider their next actions in light of an expanding area, Fanservice in Kantai Collection: The Movie is very limited, and beyond a moment of one of the Kan-musume trying to strip Fubuki here with the goal of getting her to relax, Kantai Collection is remarkably disciplined where fanservice goes. This moment also underlines by lack of familiarity with Kantai Collection‘s full lineup: I can’t recognise the two Kan-musume with Fubuki here. In the game, there are at least 150 ships, and unlike Battlefield, where it is possible to unlock everything with enough patience and determination, Kantai Collection players only have enough free slots to store up to 100 vessels.

  • Akagi and Kaga decide to have a word with Fubuki after learning that Fubuki is immune to the damaging effects encountered in the section of ocean near Ironbottom sound. Players of the game expressed their disappointment that Fubuki was given such a substantial role in the anime and movie, when she is otherwise quite unremarkable in the game. The first season hinted at her role in future events when the other Kan-musume were surprised at the brass’ decision to transfer Fubuki to the front line despite her lack of experience, so the movie is merely following up on this.

  • Kisaragi suffers a minor breakdown upon seeing the extent that she’s transforming into an Abyssal. She begins wearing a hoodie to cover her horns, and in a manner reminiscent of Lady MacBeth’s slipping sanity in Shakespeare’s MacBeth, where she scrubs at non-existent bloodstains in guilt at having driven her husband to murder King Duncan. In spite of everything that has happened, Mutsuki stays by her side and does her utmost to assuage Kisaragi’s fears.

  • Yamato and Fubuki share a conversation in the deep breath before the plunge: Nagato has authorised a mission to investigate the waters of Ironbottom Sound. While an unlikely friendship (the Yamato and Fubuki never fought together in World War II), it’s a dynamic I’ve grown rather fond of. In the months after Kantai Collection‘s anime began airing, numerous blog posts appeared claiming that Kantai Collection had “unfortunate implications”. While I’ve never been a fan of Imperial Japan’s actions in history, the Kantai Collection franchise as a whole is not intended to garner sympathy or support for the IJN: the addition of the Iowa and Bismark show that Kantai Collection is about personifying ships in general for entertainment purposes.

  • Inclusion of USN vessels, and with the film offering an account of what the Abyssals are mean that there is now sufficient evidence to suggest that folks who believe Kantai Collection to be IJN propaganda are overthinking things. Back in Kantai Collection: The Movie, Nagato briefs the participating Kan-musume on their upcoming assignment.

  • Zuikaku apologises to Kaga for her earlier remarks, and in a rare moment where the two are not at the others’ throat, Kaga reassures Zuikaku, as they both have a duty to perform. The operation begins in earnest soon after, and similar to Girls und Panzer: Der Film, a large section of Kantai Collection: The Movie is dedicated to the final battle. However, for the visual quality of the combat shown on screen, I did not find the fighting in Kantai Collection: The Movie to be quite as intense or exhilarating to watch as I did for Girls und Panzer: Der Film or Captain America: Civil War.

  • I’ve now been around the block to have my own favourite Kan-musume; Kongou definitely counts as my favourite for more or less channeling Kiniro Mosaic‘s Karen Kujō. Their personalities are very similar, mirroring their shared connections to England. I’ve finally decided to take a look at why Kongou calls Fubuki “Bucky”: it’s actually not an English name, but rather, similar to how shortening of names is a common practise in English. So, Fubuki simply becomes -buki, which phonetically similar to “Bucky”. This means Fubuki has nothing to do with James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes.

  • By any standard, I am a scrub as far as Kantai Collection goes, and some folks, including one Myssa Rei, would probably consider it sacrilegious that someone who’s never played the game before has their nose into the Kantai Collection universe. On my end, I’m impressed that people can put in that sort of dedication into playing Kantai Collection, spending time outside of games building spreadsheets to optimise play, and discussing endless stats on forums. Kantai Collection is also very much driven by chance; there’s always a possibility for frustration, so I hold Kantai Collection‘s player-base in a begrudging admiration for being able to play something that I wouldn’t have the patience for.

  • Having said this, I’m not sure if it would be wise to delay one’s degree or deprioritise one’s relationships for a browser-based flash game to the same extent as Myssa Rei has. There’s a ways more to life than playing flash games and as such, I don’t think becoming one of the ‘net’s most respected Kantai Collection authorities would be worth the costs – it seems to me that enjoying the pleasant summer weather in a park, such as the short walk I took yesterday in the nearby Ranche Park, is a superior use of time. Back in Kantai Collection: The Movie, Fubuki joins in the firefight against the Abyssals, firing her main weapon. This particular frame exemplifies the sort of visual effects present in the movie, and overall, I’ve got no complaints about the artwork or animation.

  • Mutsuki folds under the heavy fire, and is nearly dealt a killing blow when at the last moment, she is saved by the Abyssal form of Kisaragi. When I learned of the film’s home release date back in early July, my expectations were not particularly high. One of my friends were taken aback to learn that there was a movie at all: he’d just finished the first season at the time, and immediately asked me to send a link to a webpage with screening dates. The answer is that there are no screening dates for Kantai Collection: The Movie in our area, even in our city’s largest theatre that had previously done anime screenings – interest in the military-moé genre on this side of the world is very limited, and as far as authoritative voices on things like Girls und Panzer and Kantai Collection go in the prairie provinces of Canada go, I’m it.

  • While ostensibly an Abyssal, Kisaragi fights on the Kan-musume‘s side, returning fire and keeping the others safe long enough for Fubuki to complete her goal. Not quite as feral looking as a full Abyssal, Kisaragi retains her uniform and naval weapons, in contrast to the more organic-looking weapons of the Abyssals.

  • According to folks who’ve played the game, the portal seen in Kantai Collection: The Movie is a copy of the designs from the final map in Kantai Collection‘s PlayStation Vita game. Now that Fubuki is here for herself, staring down the opening to another world, I’m forcibly reminded of Gundam 00: Awakening of the Trailblazer, where there is a similar struggle to reach a target point through heavy fighting.

  • Mutsuki is given a chance to fight alongside Kisaragi again during the darkest hours of their operation: the Abyssal counterattack has been fierce enough to heavily damage the other Kan-musume, leaving just Mutsuki, Yamato and Fubuki. Despite being surrounded, Mutsuki and Kisaragi do their utmost to fight and give Fubuki a clear shot at entering the portal. Some Abyssals can be seen here: their equipment is organic in nature, and they seem to shun ornate clothing. In spite of the film’s revelations invalidating existing fan theories about the Abyssals, I’m a little surprised that there’s not more discussions surrounding the film.

  • To give an idea of just how intense the combat was, even Yamato sustains heavy damage, losing most of her weapons in the process while trying her hardest to keep Fubuki’s path to the portal open. She makes a final stand, engaging enemies with what remains of her vast arsenal, but even Yamato folds against numbers, reminiscent of how the real Yamato was defeated not by a single equal, but rather, large numbers of dive bombers and torpedo bombers. Historians generally find that had the Yamato and Iowa engaged one another in single combat, without their escorts and air support, the resulting battle would have favoured the Iowa slightly. Despite having less armour overall and a smaller broadside output, the Iowa had a formidable fire control system, better projectile engineering, superior speed and superior damage control. In actual combat, the Iowa’s crew would have kept moving while hammering the Yamato to damage it, evading the Yamato’s shells, although any hits from the Yamato would have been devastating to the Iowa.

  • Fubuki faces a dimension similar to that of Interstellar when crossing through. The voices she’s long heard become more persuasive and persistent, until at long last, she reaches a reconstruction of a classroom hallway and meets her Abyssal counterpart. Here, Fubuki learns that, in a manner similar to how Rick and Morty’s toxic selves are excised from their body during the third season’s sixth episode, the Kan-musume and Abyssals split off from their ships after sinking. The ships’ desires to defend and hopes for a better future manifest as the Kan-musume, while their anger and resentment became the Abyssals.

  • The space that Fubuki finds herself in resembles the Witches’ Labyrinths of Madoka Magic to some extent, with sinking ship motifs in the background and a sinister colouration to further enhance the audience’s sense of unease in this area. Fubuki’s beliefs are challenged when her Abyssal counterpart asks of her as to what the point is when all they’ve known is suffering, and she faces certain death in the depths of this portal when the Abyssal Fubuki ensnares her, but her recollections give her a second wind, allowing her to break free of her chains.

  • Fubuki decides that there is a point to living even in a world where the deck is stacked against them, that there are meaningful things worth fighting for, and embraces her Abyssal self. The final fight of the movie is decided through a peaceful resolution rather than a violent confrontation, and having come to terms with her Abyssal self, the other Abyssals in the area begin disappearing. In game, Abyssals disappear after what are known as “event maps” are cleared, but here, I imagine it’s more similar to what was seen in The Avengers after the Chitauri’s flagship was hit by a nuclear warhead.

  • The fighting comes to an end – before disappearing as an Abyssal, Kisaragi shares one final moment with Mutsuki, and with this, my thoughts on the movie also reach their terminus. Overall, the movie represents an hour and a half of fun. The efforts to add in something thought-provoking fall short, but recalling my own low expectations entering the movie, I wasn’t too bothered by this particular aspect.

  • Following the events of Ironbottom Sound, the atmosphere in Kantai Collection: The Movie becomes noticeably less tense. Fubuki is gearing up to train the new arrivals, while Yuudachi is lounging around. The Kantai Collection: The Movie review was admittedly a bit trickier to write for, since I cannot draw on anything beyond my experiences with the film itself; with this in mind, one could suppose that this discussion is useful for folks who only have knowledge of Kantai Collection‘s anime form.

  • It turns out that the onigiri that Mutsuki were preparing were for Kisaragi, who has fully returned as a Kan-musume at the film’s ending.With Kantai Collection: The Movie in the books, the next major film I’ll be writing about is Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni (In A Corner of This World), which is slated for home release on September 15. Dealing with life in Hiroshima and Kure in the decade leading to the dropping of the atom bomb, and the events ten in the following decade, I’ve heard the film is of an exceptional standard and greatly look forwards to writing about it. Besides In a Corner of this World, the other major posts for this month will include those for Battlefield 1, which may get more than one post owing to just how extensive the upcoming DLC are, New Game!!Sakura Quest and Gundam: The Origin‘s fifth OVA.

It’s been two years since I watched Kantai Collection – when I finished the original anime, I felt that the anime had not succeeded in inspiring me to pick up the game. The movie is much stronger than the anime with respect to world-building and in presentation of its narrative (the final battle is the result of a clearly-defined purpose, for one), but similar to the anime, hardly provides any inspiration for me to begin playing Kantai Collection. This reaction comes as a consequence of the immensely challenging set up process (I believe that setting up a game should be as simple as buying it, installing it and if needed, create a new account, before dropping into the game world), as well as for the fact that I’ve got a vast collection of games that keep me occupied. With this being said, like the anime, Kantai Collection: The Movie is a technically excellent film, featuring high quality animation and a soundtrack that is worthy of being used in a feature film such as Letters from Iwo Jima or the 2011 film, Isoroku Yamamoto. It certainly was a fun watch even if the narrative elements are not at their strongest. While I find that Kantai Collection could conclude at Kantai Collection: The Movie without any further continuation, I imagine that a second season could remain within the realm of possibility as Fubuki and the others now have a known raison d’être for fighting. For the present, we return discussion to whether or not this movie is worthwhile as a watch; my personal assessment is that Kantai Collection: The Movie is primarily for the Kantai Collection fans who enjoyed the original anime to some extent. In spite of a top-tier soundtrack and solid visuals, Kantai Collection: The Movie is not the introduction to Kantai Collection‘s world that inspires folks to give the game a shot, nor is it able to capture all of the elements that Kantai Collection‘s players have come to enjoy about the online game. With this being said, I still found the movie modestly enjoyable, although not everyone will share this particular opinion.