“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.