“To achieve anything in this game, you must be prepare to dabble in the boundary of disaster.” –Stirling Moss
Rin Namiki decides to move from the countryside to Asakusa Tokyo to pursue her dreams, transferring to Asakusa Girls’ High. Shortly after her arrival in Tokyo, she is taken aback at the crowds and very nearly forgets about registering at the dormitory that she will stay at during her time in Tokyo. When a thief makes off with her bag, Rin chases after him, running into Misa Aoi, who stops the thief cold in his tracks. When Rin finally makes it to the dormitory, she is surprised to learn that Misa is there, and moreover, that she will be roommates with Misa. The next day, Rin does her best to befriend Misa, who coldly rebuffs her. When one of Rin’s classmates asks her about jet skis, Rin reveals that she’s fond of riding jet skis. Later, Rin finds Misa fishing by a pier, and when students of Musashino Girls High School appear, claiming the pier and river to be their turf, Rin boldly accepts a challenge from Kaguya Shinjūin and Kuromaru Manpuku, two of the school’s racers. Misa later reveals that she has a jet ski dubbed the Orcano. On the day of the race, Rin and Misa take an early lead, but Kaguya and Kuromaru even things up when one of the latter’s shots blows off Misa’s skirt during the race. This is Kandagawa Jet Girls after one, an anime that was launched to promote a PlayStation 4 title of the same name. Produced with Senran Kagura‘s very own Kenichirō Takaki, this series has already begun showing elements that are common to Senran Kagura, featuring gratuitous closeups of the characters’ bodies and might be seen as using jet ski racing as a thinly-veiled attempt to wrap a story around what is ultimately an exercise in anatomy lessons. However, looking past these aspects, some familiar elements of sportsmanship and competition are also present: Kandagawa Jet Girls, being more or less a slice-of-life anime with sports components, could also deliver thematic elements common to such series, dealing with topics such as rivalry and personal improvement as Harukana Receive and Girls und Panzer did.
Kandagawa Jet Girls drops viewers straight into how Rin comes to take up jet ski racing, the sport that her mother once participated in as a professional competitor. The entire premise is built around jet ski racing, a sport that has become very widespread in Kandagawa Jet Girls. In order for viewers to follow along, the mechanics and rules of jet ski racing would need to be explained. So far, the particulars of jet ski racing have not yet been established to any major level of detail – while audiences know that racing involves a driver and gunner, victory conditions, penalties and other specifics have not been defined. This makes Rin and Misa’s race with Kaguya and Kuromaru rather more harrowing: besides not knowing the outcome of this race with any certainty, viewers also will not know what Rin and Misa must do during their race. While seemingly illogical, the choice to not outline how jet ski racing works has the effect of forcing the story to focus on the dynamic that builds up between the cheerful, impulsive Rin and stoic, reserved Misa. It is shown that Rin already has some experience with operating a jet ski and comes from a family background familiar with jet ski racing. Misa, on the other hand, is implied to have been a competitor in jet ski racing but dropped out for reasons unknown. As such, the characters’ meeting and Rin’s immediate choice to accept a challenge is meant to suggest that the characters, rather than the sport, form the core of Kandagawa Jet Girls; jet ski racing itself is merely a means to an end, and consequently, I expect that Kandagawa Jet Girls will deal with how Rin and Misa will develop as a team through training and competition, with a healthy dose of papilla mammaria and crotch close-ups to be the norm, if the first episode was anything to go by.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Rin and Misa are briefly shown as a full-fledged team at Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ beginning, which means that the series will be about the journey rather than the destination. Out of the gates, the series feels like an amalgamation of Senran Kagura‘s ecchi elements with Harukana Receive‘s partner setup, the high tech of Rinne no Lagrange and Sora no Woto‘s characters. That such a comparison is being made gives a hint as to how long around I’ve been in the anime blogging game for.
- When Rin arrives in Tokyo, she’s immediately overwhelmed by the sights and sounds, promptly getting distracted from her goal of locating the dormitory that she will reside at while in high school and running into a variety of colourful characters, including other jet ski racers. She soon finds herself robbed by an unknown thief, and is remarkably slow on the uptake, reflecting on her rural background. However, despite a delayed reaction, Rin nonetheless manages to keep up with the thief, who is bewildered at her stamina.
- Things turn around when Misa trips the thief, and subsequently proceeds to give him a death glare worthy of Mordor since her shins still smart from kicking her VR simulator earlier. It turns out that Rin’s bag is carrying a large stuffed dolphin that she’s is fond of, and she notes that she can’t sleep without it. I surmise that this particular stuffed dolphin is special to Rin because it’s a momento of her mother; the same dolphin is seen in Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ beginning scenes.
- Rin is blown away by Misa’s appearance – the camera takes special care to highlight Misa’s features. She has characteristics of a bishōjo, standing in stark contrast with the decidedly more plain-looking Rin. Their introductions are cut short when Rin is distracted by a pair of jet ski racers practising in the river canal below. The combination of Misa’s dissatisfaction with the racing simulator and her cold reception to the racers suggests that she is not fond of the sport.
- While Rin is fawning over the racers, Misa leaves. They encounter one another again later at the dormitory, and when Rin warmly greets Misa, the other residents squeal in excitement. As it turns out, Misa’s the only one at the dormitory who doesn’t have a roommate, and so, Rin is assigned to share a room with her, much to Misa’s displeasure.
- The presence of T ‘n A in anime is something of a point of contention in the anime community. In general, I am not bothered by it when it does not interfere with the flow of the story. Rin and her short shorts here is one such example: while her pantsu might be visible, it’s not slowing down Kandagawa Jet Girls in any way. Conversely, if an anime takes the time to create scenarios that are low probability (such as face planting into someone’s chest from a collision), then that does detract from the flow somewhat.
- The next day, Rin bothers Misa to no end, even following her to the bathroom on one occasion. Rin is presented as being more of a country bumpkin, unaccustomed to the high-tech and fast-paced world that is Tokyo. She also has a pronounced accent: official translations give her rendering of “cute” as “adorbs”, which viewers have taken kindly to. Rin’s voice is provided by Yū Sasahara, a relatively new voice actress whose first role as a lead character was Akari Amano of Tonari no Kyūketsuki-san.
- With her open and cheerful personality, Rin quickly becomes closer to her classmates, one of whom feel that Rin’s bothered by something. While Rin generally puts on a smile for those around her, it seems that Misa’s cold reception has weighed on her mind. She reveals to her classmate that she used to use a jet ski to get between school and home, greatly enjoying the experience. Misa overhears the conversation and heads off.
- Rin later finds Misa fishing at a dock and messes with her. While trying to strike a conversation with Misa about fishing, students from the Musashino Academy appear and ask the two to vacate the area. These students are possibly from the area of the same name, which is around twenty one kilometres away from Asakusa and the Sumida River. Misa promptly peaces out, clearly not wishing for a confrontation.
- However, Rin, not familiar with anyone, confronts Kaguya and accepts her challenge to a jet ski race despite having no experience in a formal race. This is akin to Haruka challenging Ayasa and Narumi in Harukana Receive, not knowing that the pair were Japan’s top-ranked volleyball pair. In Kandagawa Jet Girls, Kaguya and Kuromaru’s stats as jet ski racers are not known, but give their smug attitudes, one must surmise they are of a reasonable calibre.
- After accepting the challenge, Misa and Rin change into the attire required for racing in a small shack on the river that also housed Misa’s simulation rig. The separation seems to indicate that Misa dislikes the sport because of her performance in it. I believe this is the second time that I’ve featured papilla mammaria openly here: depth of field and blur meant that I decided to only feature one of Misa. When Rin is changing, it’s a little too blurry for a sharp screenshot, and I will have to rectify this later.
- The suits for jet ski racing seem rather sophisticated, being capable of adjusting itself to the wearer’s morphology and zipping themselves automatically. Given what Kandagawa Jet Girls presents, I imagine the suits to be at least a little more advanced than Tony Stark’s earlier suits, which required stationary machinery in order to fit the suit: Stark’s later Iron Man suits are capable of assembling themselves dynamically, and the versions seen in Infinity War and later use nanomachines.
- When Rin’s suit has trouble fitting itself to her chest, an irate Misa manually overrides it. Misa’s envy is not well-justified, since the character sheets give Rin’s specs as 89-56-80 to Misa’s 84-58-87. Conversely, the two racers from Musashino are clearly bigger than Rin: Kaguya is 96-59-89, and Kuromaru given as 111-70-97, making them the most full-figured of anyone in Kandagawa Jet Girls.
- When the race starts, Misa responds to the trash talk from Kuromaru with the remark that they might be disappointed with the outcome of their race. Given Kuromaru and Kaguya’s determination to face off against Misa, one can surmise that Misa was once a great jet ski gunner who bested them at every turn, rather similar to Kanata Hiiga of Harukana Receive. Like Kanata, Misa ended up quitting her sport of choice from unknown reasons, and it is only with the introduction of an optimistic, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer character like Haruka and Rin to get them back into the game.
- A bit of digging into supplementary materials finds that Kaguya and Kuromaru form Team Dress, with Kaguya being the driver and Kuromaru being the gunner. Said resources mention Kaguya as being from a wealthy background, while Kuromaru appears to have a bodyguard position and is trained in ninpō. The latter carries a long-range rifle for marksman shooting.
- When the race begins, Rin appears quite unconcerned with winning, marvelling at the Orcano’s acceleration and handling. She and Misa take an early lead as Rin figures out the mechanics behind operating this jet ski, which is probably much higher performing than the smaller jet ski she’d previously used to get to school. The setup brings to mind both Gundam Unicorn, where Banagher is able to operate the Unicorn Gundam within minutes of getting into the cockpit, as well as A New Hope, where Luke finds the X-Wing’s flight controls to be similar to the T-16 Skyhopper and immediately acclimatises to the starfighter’s properties.
- With Rin at the wheel, Misa is the gunner. Unlike Kuromaru, Misa uses a submachine gun style weapon modelled after the Heckler and Koch MP5-A3. Submachine guns and PDWs are smaller calibre weapons that form the gap between intermediate cartridge firing weapons and pistols: being more compact in nature, such weapons are lightweight, have controllable recoil and are relatively straightforwards to use. Misa thus appears to prefer close quarters engagements, and could hold the advantage over Kuromaru if the two teams are to remain in close range.
- So far, I admit that I am enjoying Kandagawa Jet Girls, although a cursory search on Google finds that more biased sites have already gotten their perspectives onto the first page. In these reviews, it is claimed that the fanservice piece is “exhausting”. I wonder why folks would deliberately watch anime clearly outside of their interests with the goal of telling people not to watch it, as well as attempting to inject identity politics into things as justification why one should listen to such balderdash.
- I’ll never tell readers what to think, and note that if Kandagawa Jet Girls is not up your alley, that is totally fine: there are plenty of other series out there that suit different tastes, after all. Back in Kandagawa Jet Girls, as Rin pulls ahead, Kuromaru aims for Misa’s backside, and after two shots, blows her shorts off. Again, why this is a mechanic has not yet been explored yet, and I am hoping that jet ski racing will be explained so viewers can follow along come later episodes.
- After one episode, Kandagawa Jet Girls has me curious to see more about the jet ski racing, and while the animation is inconsistent in places, the world overall is rendered in a colourful manner. While I originally intended to write about Rifle is Beautiful, after watching the first episode, which aired yesterday, I conclude that at present, there isn’t enough material to do a first episode impressions on. The anime itself is still quite enjoyable, and I’m sure I’ll have thoughts on it after three episodes have passed.
As Kandagawa Jet Girls progresses, I imagine that more mechanics behind jet ski racing will be presented, making it easier to follow along in the races and root for Rin and Misa. The two lead characters, and their meeting, feel distinctly similar to how 2010’s Sora no Woto opened, with a cheerful and somewhat scatter-brained protagonist becoming enamoured in the sights and sounds of a new locale before coming across someone serious who knows the area and winds up making their acquaintance. Sora no Woto had Kanata become delayed by the Water Festival and encountering Rio, who turned out to be her superior officer with an initially cold personality. In Kandagawa Jet Girls, Rin takes on Kanata’s role: both sport an optimistic personality and possess an open mind, becoming easily distracted by things in their world. Arriving in Tokyo, she wastes no time in getting lost amongst the crowds and even loses her bag in the process, before running into Misa, who gets her out of a bind. Kanata had similarly been bailed out when Rio finds her drenched in the dyed water during the Water Festival, and pulled her aside for a bath and reprimand. In terms of appearances, Rin is a shapelier version of Kanata, and Misa shares Rio’s long, dark hair and severe expressions. The parallels between Kandagawa Jet Girls and Sora no Woto are, in short, quite striking – while the premise of jet ski racing might be new, seeing familiar characters means that I had no difficulty in feeling at home in Kandagawa Jet Girls. I am curious to see Rin and Misa develop and grow as Kandagawa Jet Girls continues: the anatomy lessons notwithstanding, Kandagawa Jet Girls is something that could end up being surprisingly enjoyable because of the combination of character growth, in conjunction with a vibrant and vividly depicted world. Of course, this is all speculation – for the time being, the outcome of Rin and Misa’s race with Kaguya and Kuromaru remains anyone’s guess and will continue come the second episode.