The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Kantai Collection

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.

Kantai Collection: Whole-series review and reflection

“We know now that in modern warfare, fought on any considerable scale, there can be no possible economic gain for any side. Win or lose, there is nothing but waste and destruction.” ―Lester B. Pearson

Kantai Collection has finally reached a conclusion: the final quarter sees Fubuki train tirelessly to gain upgrades. These come just in time for Operation MI, a massive offensive to capture Abyssal territory and push them back. Akagi’s misgivings about the battle are offset by a relatively relaxed period leading up until the operation, but once the combat begins, abnormally powerful enemies (in the form of a boss, the Airstrip princess and an upgraded Wo-class carrier), and Yamato’s delay, force the Kan-musume into a difficult position, with Akagi’s dream becoming nightmarishly real. Outnumbered and overpowered, Nagato herself joins the fray, and the girls learn that the Admiral is alive and well. However, even with their renewed spirit, their enemy shrugs off countless rounds the Kan-musume put downstream. It takes an unwavering persistence and sheer determination for the Kan-musume to defeat the Airstrip Princess and its support forces. The Kan-musume are triumphant, but their victory is empty: what was gained by wiping floor with the Abyssals? The final episodes seem distinctly out of place in a series that had previously been very light-hearted in nature, and as it stands, Kantai Collection just isn’t suited for the philosophical discussion of what fate is. However, this is a series that isn’t over yet; there’s a second season set to release somewhere in the future (probably a year from now).

One question worth considering is whether or not Kantai Collection’s animated adaptation can be sufficient in motivating viewers to at least consider trying the game. For instance, after Girls und Panzer concluded, I was quite interested to try my own hand in World of Tanks, the closest equivalent to Panzerfahren and see if I was able to surpass Miho as a tank commander. There were aspects of the game that led me to abandon this endeavour, but that is neither here nor there; the point is that Girls und Panzer was able to excite me about armoured warfare. Has Kantai Collection succeeded in doing the same? The answer is no: going solely from the anime, I am presented with a simple world with the Kan-musume and the Abyssals, and I would be locked to playing as one side. I have a roughly better idea of what the different ships are through the anime, but this is the extent of the anime’s contribution. Even within this scope, the characters are easier to remember for their idiosyncrasies rather than their role in supporting Fubuki’s growth as a Kan-musume. Fubuki herself, despite being the anime’s protagonist, evokes mannerisms and traits from the leads of similar anime (Miho Nishizumi of Girls und Panzer, Yoshika Miyafuji of Strike Witches and Nanako Usami of Locodol, to name a few), rather than exhibiting a personality that would distinguish her from those before her. Consequently, beyond showcasing some of the characters, Kantai Collection’s animated adaptation cannot be said to be particularly successful at elevating interest in the game.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I’ve finally trundled across the finish line for Kantai Collection, and one thing should be made abundantly clear: the anime’s overall contribution to the Kantai Collection francise as a whole is insubstantial, but nonetheless, even if this is something that I am unlikely to recommend, Kantai Collection is fun to watch if one disengages their cognitive faculties. A handful of the initial images in this post deal with Fubuki taking heavy fire, providing some visual imagery as to how some fans feel about the series as a whole.

  • Much of episode ten sees Fubuki getting her ass handed to her by her own single-minded determination to improve as a Kan-musume, and Mutsuki expresses concern for Fubuki after the latter very nearly sinks during a combat operation while trying to go for one more kill. As per speculation, the final quarter did attempt to make things more serious, but as noted previously, this was a series that likely wouldn’t have worked if things had been serious.

  • I’ve known long ago about the “marriage” system in Kantai Collection, which is supposed to confer advantages in-game. From a practical perspective (as far as how the Pacific War actually played out), marrying a carrier would be most useful; the Pacific War was decided by the aircraft carrier.

  • I’m noticing a fair number of discussions on Kantai Collection throwing around the phrase “wasted potential” or similar without ever going justifying themselves. This is not a sufficient argument against Kantai Collection. It’s laziness: this is because the discussion’s participants never address what a show could have been. If there’s “wasted potential”, what would they have liked to see? However, forcing participants to think about this may sometimes be met with hostility: it’s always easy to tear down and criticise, but it’s much tougher to stop and rationalise it: since disappointment is felt rather than quantified, articulating one’s thoughts can admittedly be challenging for some, although it never really hurts to contribute to the discussion in a meaningful way.

  • I won’t throw the phrase “wasted potential” around without justifying what stems my thoughts. I consider that Kantai Collection might have been able to differentiate itself from the anime by making use of its twelve episodes to build a rich world for the Kan-musume: this world-building would foster that attachment to the characters and motivate the Kan-musume’s necessity as a weapon against the Abyssals. Such a world building would need to focus on one aspect in order to be fully explored within the space of twelve episodes.

  • I was admittedly disappointed when Fubuki’s upgrades only appeared to give one tier’s worth of change, whereas Yuudachi appears to have gotten the full package. The changes are very subtle and include superior armaments, and perhaps in a bit of meta-humour, Fubuki herself is disappointed with the minimal change to her appearance and assets.

  • Kantai Collection was at its best with humour-driven moments, and when Akagi begins mentioning something about “overcoming fate”, it feels like a distant attempt to give the girls’ sorties some weight to them that comes too little, too late: the Kan-musume aim to “protect everyone”, but so far, this “everyone” is never shown.

  • So begins Operation MI to annihilate an Abyssal force: Operation MI’s real-world counterpart was part of Admiral Yamamoto’s strategy for the Battle of Midway. He intended to disperse his fleet and attack the American airfield in waves, employing deception to ensnare the US fleet. However, Yamamoto’s plan did not account for the fact that the Americans had already repaired the USS Yorktown, assuming they only had two operational carriers and the fact that their naval codes had been cracked.

  • The Battle of Midway itself opened with American forces launching light attacks against a Japanese escort group, and the Japanese forces launching to unsuccessfully bomb the Midway airfield. Douglas TBD Devastator groups were also launched, and although they were eliminated completely and inflicted no damage, did delay the Japanese forces’ ability to refuel and rearm their aircraft, leading them to leave ammunition on their carriers’ flight decks. This left them vulnerable to the Dauntless dive bombers, which wasted the Japanese carriers and crippling the IJN’s capacity to project air power for the remainder of the war.

  • The Kan-musume do not suffer the same fate in their Operation MI: despite losing her operational capacity, Akagi is saved by a well-timed shot from Fubuki, and Kaga lends her a bow. Later, Zuikaku makes and appearance and lends Kaga a bow, saying that they were half-expecting the First Carrier Group to run into trouble.

  • Despite squaring off with the airfield princess and coming under heavy fire, Kongou never loses her cheerful manner, casually laying down her usual pseudo-English phrases and artillery bombardments against the Abyssal forces. During the fight with the Abyssals, any semblence of a respect for the laws of physics go out the window as the Kan-musume resort to even melee attacks to take on the Abyssals.

  • Haruna and Hiei’s cannon configuration is identical to that of an X-Wing from Star Wars and also appears to be able to execute quad-fire, where every cannon is fired to inflict additional damage. I’ve seen Arpeggio of Blue Steel, and truth be told, while the former has a more focused story, the character designs from Kantai Collection are more appealing.

  • Discussions I’ve had here seemed to foreshadow that a Wo-class carrier would serve as the final boss for the series; but this was not the case, as Fubuki quickly wipes out the Wo-class that she’d damaged in an earlier sortie. That showdown was brief and quite anti-climatic, but yesterday was anything but; I picked up volume seven of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, and spent most of the day preparing to teach Java’s Swing API. The day ended with Korean BBQ chicken and a skewer of grilled shrimp as some Tuesdays and Thursdays are wont, given that my tutorials occur by evening this term.

  • Fortunately, the term’s almost over, and once I can finish the implementation of my agent-based system soon, my team can finally test it and submit it for the term assignment. After this comes the oral exam for multi-agent systems, and if I can survive that, the summer will be upon me. I’ve finally gotten some of the basic elements of my project imported into the Unreal Engine and will be acquiring a newer computer for development soon. Back to Kantai Collection, the airfield princess’ durability is such that the Admiral’s orders encompass bringing out every last Kan-musume to the fight, including Nagato, who has hitherto acted as a secretary and operated at command rather than fighting on the front lines.

  • While the IJN suffered a major defeat at Midway, the Kan-musume triumph over their adversaries. The Abyssals’ origins and stories are never officially explained in Kantai Collection, and fan speculation has varied greatly concerning how the Abyssals came to be: some theories claim that they’re supposed to be representations of the Allied vessels, while others take a leaf from Puella Magi Madoka Magica and suppose that the Abyssals are born of a downed Kan-musume’s grudge.

  • The first theory would suggest that Kantai Collection is an attempt to glorify and justify the IJN’s actions during the Second World War. Although I have a strong dislike of the IJN for their actions and do not condone their role in the Second World War, at the end of the day, Kantai Collection does not appear to be giving off a vibe that suggests it is advocating Imperial Japan’s beliefs or actions in any way: instead, Kantai Collection‘s popularity (for the browser game) stems from its attention to detail. On an unrelated note, here’s something I’m wondering: does Akagi resemble Girls und Panzer‘s Hana Isuzu from a physical perspective?

  • The second theory, on the other hand, is subtly endorsed by the anime: after Operation MI ends, a hair ornament not dissimilar to Kisuragi’s floats to the surface, suggesting that the souped-up Wo-class carrier might’ve been her. If this is indeed the case, there’s less explaining to do with respect to history, but such an outcome would also necessitate a better explanation of what this world constitutes exactly: is it an alternate history or just a game running on someone’s computer?

  • I admit that, as someone who’s not played the game or are likely to play the game in the foreseeable future (between Kantai Collection and Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, the former isn’t even an opponent), my own reflection on the series might not be as complete or representative of which audiences the Kantai Collection is suited for. With that being said, there are a few meaningful reviews out there that fans of the game have drafted, and from the looks of things, this series was so-so for them on average.

  • While Kantai Collection is unable to deliver a final product that sets it apart from the game, there is a single aspect that few can criticise. This is the soundtrack, a behemoth with sixty four tracks spanning hundred-and-fourty-five minutes that does a superb job of capturing and amplifying the emotional tenor of every moment in Kantai Collection, whether it be the majestic, militaristic songs for the Kan-musume, the Abyssal’s ominous motifs, and making use of strings to really bring out the right mood for the more emotional pieces. The soundtrack has an older feeling to it, reflecting on the Kan-musume’s origins, and I dare to say that soundtrack is so good that Kantai Collection doesn’t even deserve it: some of the best pieces on the soundtrack could be used in a far more serious film, such as Letters from Iwo Jima, and they’d still probably work.

  • A second season’s been announced, and I might just watch it because some days, inconsistent plots and flaws do not triumph over the eerily effective combination of moé and explosions. This is it for Kantai Collection posts from this blog as far as I can foresee, and over the next week, I will be striving to complete talks on Shirobako and SaeKano before the Spring 2015 season is officially upon us even as I gear up to wrap up the agent-based system I’m working on with my group, and finish grading for my students in a timely fashion.

As an anime, Kantai Collection is at its strongest when it chose to stick to Fubuki’s character and build the events from her perspective in the early episodes. This meant that there is always a familiar character to view events from: as a new destroyer when the series starts, other characters explain to Fubuki how various things work. As the series progresses, later episodes show deficiencies concerning how the universe of Kantai Collection is explored: is this strictly a simulated world that is intended to showcase what the game looks like from the Kan-musume’s perspective, or is there actually a reason the Abyssals are antagonising humanity? If it’s the latter, what about the Kan-musume make them more effective at combating the Abyssals then fully-trained Naval staff? What are the stakes of allowing the Abyssal threat to go uncontested? There is the possibility to give the Kan-musume’s campaign more weight (otherwise, this would simply be a full-blown slice-of-life anime), although this aspect never really is explored to any extent. Kantai Collection does have some good visuals, and a soundtrack that rivals those of a full-on war film in quality, but without giving the viewers a solid reason to support the Kan-musume, these elements ultimately are insufficient to counteract the overwhelming sense that the world of Kantai Collection feels very empty. This is an anime that’s difficult to recommend: from what mine ears have picked up, this is a series that left even its target audience (namely, those who’ve played the game) disappointed, and as such, Kantai Collection best suited for the most die-hard fans of the military moé genre, or those who have an uncommonly open mind.

Kantai Collection: Review and reflection at the ¾ mark

Hmm…upgrades.” —Neo, The Matrix Reloaded

We’re now three-quarters of the way into Kantai Collection, which has seen Fubuki take command of the fifth mobile carrier group and lead them to another successful mission even in Kaga’s absence, who had been damaged by enemy fire. The IJN Yamato also makes an appearance, with Fubuki befriending the pride of the IJN and trying to giver her an opportunity to sail the open waters, having known for herself what it’s like to remain idle. This quarter concludes with Fubuki being slated for upgrades after Yuudachi received some and was moved to the First Carrier Fleet. As the Kantai Collection‘s main protagonist, Fubuki has seen many major transformations, becoming a capable leader for her peers and also taking the initiative to help others out. This aspect forms the core of Kantai Collection, and although the series has retained its relaxed, Strike Witches-like atmosphere, Fubuki’s maturation as a Kan-musume (and her proposed upgrades) suggest that something big is likely to happen in the future episodes. Build-up elsewhere, especially pertaining to Nagato’s dialogues about Operation MO, also foreshadow what audiences can reasonably expect as Kantai Collection draws to an end.

Fubuki’s development drives the entirety of Kantai Collection, and from what I’ve heard, Fubuki is a starter vessel who is promptly abandoned in favour of more powerful and capable vessels once one progresses in the game. This was something that the anime needed to address, and while their chosen means of doing so is familiar, the impact is non-trivial: Fubuki is presented with a greater depth in the anime. Aside from her skill as a flagship, and friendly personality, she also serves as inspiration for some of the other vessels. Yuudachi imbibes Fubuki’s earnest attitude and constant strive for improvement, training continuously and is eventually chosen for upgrades. After this occurs, Fubuki’s character leads her to wonder about her own contributions as a Kan-musume. Even for the audience members who’ve not played the game, it’s relatively easy to empathise with Fubuki; she feels that she’s not working hard enough after Yuudachi manages to achieve the former’s dream of escorting Akagi. However, a conversation with Kongou and Fubuki’s own positive attitude allow her to strive to better her contributions as a Kan-musume, and in representing the significance of maintaining said attitude, Fubuki winds up being a well-written protagonist for Kantai Collection that allows the anime to explore avenues that the game’s players may not typically choose.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Kantai Collection has proven to be quite disciplined with respect to traditional fanservice, preferring to offer subtle callbacks to the game itself for the initiated. However, even though I’m not initiated, this series has been very enjoyable to watch. The seventh episode sees Kaga rendered combat ineffectual after she takes a torpedo for Zuikaku, and for the duration of the episode, Shoukaku is fielded in her stead.

  • Fubuki reminds me of Futsuu no Joshikousei ga Locodol Yatte Mita‘s Nanako, who occasionally finds herself overwhelmed by her circumstances. Like Nanako, Fubuki’s friends are there to offer support and allow her to continue moving forwards. Concerning the page quote, I wager that I am probably the only person to make a reference to The Matrix: Reloaded in a talk about Kantai Collection, although beyond providing a quote about upgrades, there’s actually very little relationship between The Matrix and Kantai Collection.

  • Compared to Kaga, Zuikaku has lower health and a smaller aircraft complement. Because this anime is designed with the expectation that the viewers are familiar with the game, many of the different mechanics are simply just things to be accepted. Kantai Collection is not something that will work for everyone, but more open-minded viewers will definitely find the merits of watching said anime.

  • Of course, this leads one to wonder who my favourite Kan-musume is within the anime. The answer is quite simple: it’s going to be Fubuki. Granted, the whole notion of “transfer girl who’s a little clumsy and has a lot of latent skill, befriends someone and takes time to warm up to everyone else” is so commonly presented in anime (Girls und PanzerStrike Witches) that it’s often seen as a stock characterisation. Anime such as Kantai Collection demonstrate that this type of stock character is remarkably flexible and remains credible in a variety of settings. If Fubuki isn’t a satisfactory answer, then I’ll go with Kongou, since she reminds me of Kiniro Mosaic‘s Karen Kujo.

  • I knew this because of my background in history, while I imagine that Kantai Collection fans will know this because of the game and then looked up the historical context. The IJN Yamato was often referred to as a “hotel” for its (comparatively) luxurious accommodations and mess hall, as well as the fact it never saw a proper combat mission until 1944; in the anime, Yamato dislikes this moniker, as she feels that it outlines her lack of combat experience.

  • Yamato is stationed at Chuuk Lagoon of the Federated States of Micronesia; this island was heavily fortified by Japanese forces during the Second World War, with the island garrison staffed by 27,856 IJN men and 16,737 IJA men. Said to be Japan’s equivalent of Pearl Harbour, the Americans initiated Operation Hailstone in 1944 and sunk twelve smaller Japanese warships over the course of three days (larger warships were withdrawn to Palau).

  • Episode eight is more relaxed in nature, and as such, features the series’ quota of beach episode content. However, this isn’t actually the main focus, and Fubuki’s concern for Yamato forms the basis for the episode’s story. As with the Yamato, Yamato of Kantai Collection is depicted as being immensely resource-intensive to operate despite her powers, and is kept as secret in-anime to prevent the Abyssals from learning of her existence.

  • The Yamato had the largest caliber main guns of any battleship in history; the 45 Caliber Type 94 guns could put rounds 42 kilometres (26 mi) downrange, although the lack of a good fire control system meant that the guns would not have been as accurate as those found on the Iowa-class. Simulations project that superior fire control and damage countermeasures would’ve allowed the USS Iowa to triumph over the IJN Yamato in a showdown, although historically, the Yamato was sunk by aircraft, outlining how the age of the battleship had ended with the advent of the aircraft carrier.

  • Fubuki is punished for taking Yamato on a night excursion and is sent digging for clams. Yamato decides to accompany her, and it is here that Fubuki learns of Yamato’s yearning to sortie, as well as her reasons for disliking being called a hotel.

  • Here’s a moment no one was expecting: apparently, Nagato has a love of small mammals and cuddles them when she thinks no-one is around. Of course, to further the comedic effect of this scene, Mutsu is present and observes this display, prompting Nagato to say that no one saw anything, ever.

  • After Abyssals are spotted, Yamato makes use of her vast arsenal to quickly shoot them down. The Yamato holds the record for the being able to 13141 kilograms worth of ordinance 42.0 kilometers down range with a single broadside salvo, while the next largest value comes from the USS Iowa-class, which could fire 11022 kilograms worth of ordinance 38.7 kilometers down range. With that being said, dem 18-inch shells ain’t so hot when they don’t hit nothing: as mentioned somewhere else, the Iowa-class vessels have better fire control and are more likely to hit their targets.

  • No discussion of Yamato would be complete without any screenshots of some of the dishes that are served (here, roast beef, rack of lamb and a light salad). Episode eight had a particular emphasis on food, show-casing what appears to be curry rice, omelette rice and plenty of deserts: like everything else in Kantai Collection, the artwork is solid.

  • Yuudachi takes on an angelic glow in episode nine’s opening, leading the others to wonder if she’s going to explode. Fortunately, this is not the case: an expert will have to step in and help clarify, but the glow signifies that a character has reached a sufficient level to be upgraded (or remodeled, going by in-game terminology). The upgrading process requires resources, and sometimes blueprints.

  • When completed, the upgrades boost a ship’s base stats and improve performance: some vessels can even be upgraded a second time. The process also alters a ship’s appearance, and as Fbuki and Mutsuki discover, the changes can be quite dramatic. Yuudachi’s upgrades are actually of the second tier: her first round of upgrades merely boost her stats.

  • Yuudachi quickly finds herself being admired by the other Kan-musume, although her tendency to append ~poi to the end of her sentences hasn’t changed at all. Some are trying (fruitlessly) to turn this into a meme of sorts, although the only effect it has is render what once poorly written into something unreadable. Hence, if one is looking for comprehensible talks on Kantai Collection for those who’ve not played the game, this is the place to be.

  • Fubuki goes into a euphoric state after Akagi compliments her and pats her. With her spirits in high order, she decides to go for a run, but is summoned by Nagato, who informs her that she is to be transferred back to the Naval District.

  • Since Kisaragi’s death and Mutsuki’s subsequent learning thereof, there hasn’t quite been an emotional moment in Kantai Collection, up until now. While Fubuki’s been giving her heart and soul into every battle, seeing Yuudachi with her upgrades does take a tool upon her, suggesting that the Kan-musume are very much human, even if they are spirits of naval vessels.

  • Kongou’s “No! Bucky!” is hilarious, but does little to diffuse the tensions in this moment. It seems that Kongou’s anime incarnation gets along exceptionally well with Fubuki and comforts her on more than several occasions. While Kongou is generally cheerful, her relationship with Fubuki appears to be that of a senior, helping Fubuki get through difficult times.

  • Upon seeing Yuudachi testing her new equipment, Fubuki recalls the sort of spirit that she strives to maintain as a Kan-musume and gets past her feelings of under-appreciation. Kantai Collection has thus far minimised the drama amongst the characters: rather than stretching them out for many episodes, they’re resolved fairly quickly, which contributes to the series’ consistent pacing.

  • Upon learning that the Naval District has been bombed by Abyssal forces, and with the Admiral MIA, the Kan-musume do their best to restore the base’s functionality. Fubuki is also set for upgrades now, and I’m quite excited to see how this affects her combat performance. Like Yuudachi, Fubuki can be upgraded twice, and presumably, the anime will depict the two upgrades. Like every other anime before it (most notably, Gundam 00Gundam Unicorn and Girls und Panzer), the upgrades hint at the increased ferocity of battle that occur in the final few episodes.

We’re now moving into the final quarter for Kantai Collection, and with Fubuki set for remodelling, the pressure to destroy the Abyssal forces and retake territory will form the basis for what’s left of this series. The Kan-musume will likely face a far fiercer opponent, and the atmosphere in Kantai Collection could very well darken. Up until the present, though, Kantai Collection has emphasised the dynamics between the Kan-musume themselves, rather than the implications of warfare (while there’s always an element of danger, no one ever stops to wonder about the Abyssal’s origins and objectives). By design, the Abyssals have served as cold, impersonal threat in-game to make it explicit that they’re the villains with no humanity within. While scuttlebutt has it that the Abyssals might be given backgrounds to challenge the viewer’s concept of warfare for the game, it’s still possible that the Abyssals will have their origins explored in the anime. Regardless of whether or not this occurs, attention will probably directed towards illustrating the importance of friendship and trust. These are traditional themes in such anime, as the Kan-musume work together to overcome challenges far tougher than any they’ve faced up until this point. Regardless of what the ending holds, though, I’m confident that it will be a solid conclusion to the series, which has been quite accessible even for those who’ve not played the game itself.

Kantai Collection: Review and reflection at the halfway point

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

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

Screenshots and Commentary

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

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

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

Kantai Collection: Review and Impressions After Three

This is the greatest sinking of all time.

We’re now three episodes into Kantai Collection, which sees Fubuki train tirelessly to improve her effiacy as a Kan-musume and sortie for another battle against the Abyssal fleet. While the second episode retains a typically light-hearted mood, the third episode introduces the audience to one of the more infamous mechanics in the Kantai Collection game: that the destruction of any vessel in a fleet is permanent. In this case, Kisaragi is sunk by the Abyssal’s equivalent of a 1000-pount bomb, and although the others are well aware that this has happened, they choose to withhold it from Mutsuki. This marks the first major death in the series, and anime veterans have already hinted that something like this was going to occur; a planned love confession is what they refer to as the so-called “death flags”, which are actions that almost always preceed death in a given story. While this is typically done to strengthen the impact of a character’s passing for the audience by (hastily) building a connection to them, the end result is remarkably easy to predict. The consequences of Kisaragi’s death will doubtlessly weight heavily upon Mutsuki in future episodes and also impact Fubuki’s capacity to wage war against the Abyssals.

Through setting up a death at the three-episode mark, Kantai Collection has differentiated itself from Strike Witches; injuries to the major characters are as severe as things get. In a series that was prima facie light-hearted, it is quite possible that Kantai Collection might be stepping towards a slightly more serious story about the nature of warfare with an unknown enemy. In particular, Kisaragi’s death could very well be a catalyst that forces each of the Kan-musume to re-evaluate their roles in the navy against the Abyssal threat, in turn driving character growth and unit cohension amongst each of the different battle groups. The end result of such a direction in the story would probably result in something like Sora no Woto, which struck a fine balance between the more serious implications of war and the more friendly depictions of everyday life as a Clocktower Maiden when there is no state of war. This is the preferred direction for Kantai Collection: the disjointness in the visual elements (namely the Kan-musume themselves) mean that any themes and messages about the nature of warfare would be quite difficult to convey in this setting to the same extent as something like Saving Private Ryan, for instance.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • If I do not have a meaningful quote, I will typically take a leaf from Cr1t1kal and say “this is the greatest (something) of all time”, since I’m not accustomed to a post without a quote of some sort now. I’m changing up the format of posts from here on out to improve on search engine visibility: “review” is a more widely searched for term than “reflection”. Here, the Kan-musume learn about their warship’s combat characteristics in a classroom setting, and Fubuki surprises all with her studious nature.

  • Nagato shares a voice actor with Sendai, Jintsuu and Naka, which could lead to some rather humourous implications. Nagato oversees operations and works in the command center, away from the front lines. Upon hearing Nagato for the first time, I was wondering if she shared the same voice actor as Infinite Stratos‘ Chifuyu, but it turns out that Ayane Sakura, Nagato’s voice actor, voiced Chloe Chronicle and Haganai‘s Yozora.

  • Fubuki’s main weakness is her low physical ability, and as such she does not perform all that well initially. She’s well aware of this limitation and trains constantly to improve. Fubuki’s voice actor, Sumire Uesaka, previously supplied the voices for Girls und Panzer‘s Nonna and Piyotan.

  • When one walks, one should walk with an upright posture and straighten their back, eliminating slouching and any possibility of this happening. Fubuki encounters Atago while searching for Akagi, and Atago is under the assumption that Fubuki sustained damage in their last battle. Apparently their campus’ hot springs are the “dry” docks for repair, which implies that the only times the Kan-musume would come here is if they took damage in battle and would probably go elsewhere to relax.

  • I’ve no familiarity with the game, but in the anime, damaged vessels take hours to regen fully. They can be insta-healed with some magical photoluminescent liquid, which is probably a special resource, and it is moment like these that necessitate a good pair of headphones or some peace: both Fubuki and Akagi rather take a great deal of pleasure to the restorative powers conferred by the hot springs.

  • Akagi’s plate of curry rice surpasses what is realistic even for a Man v. Food challenge. Now, I could go do a Fermi approximation on the mass of the food, and then assess whether or not it is feasible for Adam Richman to finish it within an hour, accounting for the effects of cooling on the palpability of the curry rice and jaw endurance, but that’d require a little more work than I’m willing to undertake just for a figure caption.

  • A second communications error leads Sendai, Jintsuu and Naka to simultaneously offer help for Fubuki, who goes through a vigourous training regiment that includes balance, target practise and curiously enough, confidence building through being an idol. Despite seeing failure after failure, Fubuki’s tenacity never wavers and she catches Nagato’s attention, who decides that, as Fubuki carries the spirit of a proper Kan-musume, she is ready to join their next operation.

  • Fubuki’s energy is sapped as a result of her training, leaving her sleepy for the remainder of the day. Thanks to Mutsuki and Yuudachi, they are able to settle things out with Sendai, Jintsuu and Naka. While I did not notice in the first episode, after three episodes, Yuudachi’s propensity to append “poi~” (っぽい) to the end of her sentences has caught on, and her dialogue sounds quite endearing as a result. Apparently, it’s supposed to denote resemblance, (directly translating to “-ish”).

  • This is the sort of attitude one must apply towards life itself: that determination to continue learning new things is a hugely useful mentality, and one of my biggest bete noirestars are people who purport to be experts about something and express a degree of arrogance in their knowledge, but when the time comes, they prove incompetent or inadequate for the job. I’m reasonably easy to get along with, and as such, I wouldn’t mind working with arrogant people if they were worth their salt, but the people who can’t walk the walk after talking the talk really draw my ire.

  • One has to wonder if a specialised combat armour like the Mjolnir Mk. VI equipped with specialised repulsors for gliding over the water would be more practical against the Abyssal Fleet. Similarly, the weapons the Kan-musume equip are of even lower calibre than pistols, and the torpedoes appear to deal damage consistent with man-portable weapons. If the Abyssals are so easily defeated by these weapons, one wonders why they are able to survive larger calibre and heavier weaponry.

  • Attempting to rationalise Kantai Collection‘s universe leaves me with a minor bit of lethargy, and although I do have several thoughts on Kantai Collection‘s implications, I’ll keep those to myself for the present. There might come a point, far out there, when I explain what my thoughts are, but for the present, these talks will strictly be about the anime. I’m happier talking about happy things, and my background in the Second World War’s history notwithstanding, I do think that the anime should be taken talis qualis.

  • Blueberries, touted to be an excellent anti-oxidant, are said to be excellent for eye health, preventing diseases of the eye when consumed with a moderate frequency. I prefer my blueberries on their own, although blueberry coffeecake is something I can’t say no to. Here, some of the other Kan-musume offer Fubuki some blueberries, parfaits and good luck charms for their first major mission.

  • Love confessions dominate a small portion of the third episode, after Fubuki and Akagi share a conversation about effort. Effort is something that TV Tropes’ writers don’t appear to possess: I’ve taken a glance at their page for Kantai Collection, and despite one of its contributors supposedly working on a Master’s in Creative Writing, the page is incoherent, incomprehensible. I don’t even have a Bachelor’s in writing, but at the minimum, can at least convey my ideas in a passable fashion: for a lack of a better term, this is disappointing.

  • This is the scene that triggered all sorts of death flags for veteran viewers. There are some elements that are so common in anime that for viewers, the element of surprise is lost because they’re able to pick up on patterns in the dialogue. In this case, Mutsuki’s comment that she’ll express her feelings properly after the battle has ended is a hint that something might just happen before the battle fully ends.

  • The water effects in Kantai Collection look quite nice: the lighter aqua colours of shallow water result from sunlight is reflecting off of the sand and reefs near the surface, and deeper water absorbs more light, giving it a darker colour. Here, the third torpedo squadron camp behind some rocks while trying to get a bearing on the enemy fleet. Jintsuu launches a reconaissance seaplane piloted by a faerie, and I remark that if I worked in a department with that sort of stuff, I’d probably be dusting off my resume and writing a cover letter.

  • The element of surprise is soon lost, and the third torpedo squadron finds itself under fire from Abyssal forces. Despite being out-numbered and lacking effective anti-air defenses, the girls manage to put up a reasonable fight overall.

  • One of the things I do hope to see in Kantai Collection is a little bit of exposition about the Abyssals: they’re the enemy in the game so players have opponents to fight if they desire not to challenge other players. It makes sense for a card game, but for an anime, it’s more meaningful to give the antagonists some background and motive, which could contribute to increasing the weight of the protagonists’ cause.

  • With her resolve and determination, Fubuki saves Mutsuki from certain death after an Abyssal decides to rush the latter, and also contributes to the destruction of one the Abyssal’s equivalents of an aircraft carrier.

  • Kisaragi is sunk at the battle’s end, similar her real-world counterpart at the Battle of Wake Island, and Mutsuki remains unaware of her fate. If Kantai Collection decides to go for historical accuracy, then death will be the norm in this anime, especially when recalling the fate of most of these vessels during the Second World War; the Battle of Midway would see Akagi, Kaga, Soryu and Hiryu put at the bottom of the ocean in June 1942, and if this were to happen in the anime, all I can say is that predicting Fubuki’s reaction is beyond my capacity.

  • Coming up next will be a talk on Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata‘s opening “fanservice” episode and after three episodes. In addition, I’ll do a talk on Shirobako‘s halfway point before Valentine’s day (assuming my paper on cooperation concepts in a multi-agent system is making good progress), and there will be a special talk on Valentine’s Day itself. Depending on what happens, I may also pick up The IdolM@ster: Cinderella Girls, but time will tell as to whether or not I blog it.

If I had been under the impression that Kantai Collection was going to be the sea-faring counterpart to Strike Witches, those impressions have since been displaced. With the death of a named character and its anticipated impact on Mutsuki, Kantai Collection has kicked things up a notch. If this is well-handled, Kantai Collection will be able to differentiate itself from the game and stand on its own: individuals grow attached to the game for the amount of time they spend cultivating their fleets, but since the anime does not require anywhere near that level of time investment, developing the characters and immersing viewers into their world is key in keeping the audience engaged. That is to say, besides seeing the characters of the third torpedo squad grow into capable combat units, I would also hope to see a greater degree of world building, especially where the Abyssal fleet is concerned. Sora no Woto explored their world’s history in small steps, while Strike Witches just outright stated that the Neuroi were of an unknown origin and presented a threat to humanity. The Alone in Vividred Operation challenged humanity’s right to make use of the Manifestation Engine (a clean energy source) and acted as antagonists to determine if the world was worthy of wielding such a system. However, in Kantai Collection, the Abyssal fleet’s relevance beyond an antagonist is still unknown and have even less development than the Neuroi of Strike Witches. Thus, I predict that the Abyssal fleet’s are a non-trivial antagonist. Their origins and history might either be presented in the end, as with Vividred Operation, or else be incrementally explored as it was in Sora no Woto, although Kantai Collection could go do something completely unexpected, and that would be quite acceptable, too.