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KanColle: Itsuka Ano Umi de – Review and Reflections At The Finale

“Holding on is believing that there’s a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future.” –Daphne Rose Kingma

With the Abyssal offensive impending, the Kan-musume learn that Operation Kita was success; the convoy had managed to reach Taiwan from Syonan and will be bringing back critical supplies, including enough fuel to allow a counteroffensive with Yamato. Mogami’s been given upgrades to improve her combat effectiveness, and ahead of the operation, the Second Torpedo Squadron conduct night reconnaissance. The admiral decides to refrain from sending Shigure out on this assignment: he believes the time has come for Shigure to receive some upgrades of her own. After her upgrades, Shigure prepares to join the Second Torpedo Squadron on their final assignment, and promises to both conduct herself in a manner so their contributions and actions won’t be forgotten, as well as return from the operation in one piece. While the main fleet strikes at the heart of the Abyssal force, the Second Torpedo Squadron diverts to sink a fleet carrying supplies for the Abyssals. Shigure and the others are successful in sinking this fleet, but when they move to attack the Abyssal carriers, they are overwhelmed by their adversary’s numbers and begin sustaining damage. Before anyone comes to harm, American and British Kan-musume appear to provide support, and spurred on, Shigure finds the resolve to take on an Abyssal head-on, although she is sunk in the process. Some time later, the Kan-musume are seen in present-day Japan, and Shigure herself is reclining on a sailboat – the Kan-musume have evidently triumphed over the Abyssals, and the world has managed to rebuild following the war. This brings Itsuka Ano Umi de to an end, and here at the conclusion, it becomes clear that in the war between Kan-musume and the Abyssals, there is a victor. Through force of will and resolve, good prevails over evil, allowing the world to finally move on from the ravages of conflict. From an animated standpoint, Kantai Collection‘s story is resolved in full.

Unlike its predecessor, Itsuka Ano Umi de is significantly more focused, and with Shigure as the story’s focal point, Itsuka Ano Umi de strives to present the idea of carrying on and fighting for the future even in light of the loss one experiences, and the attendent despair this loss brings. Throughout Itsuka Ano Umi de, Shigure is shown as being deeply impacted by the fact that many of her fellow Kan-musume are no longer with her, and in downtime, Shigure tends to look back on things. However, despite this seemingly gloomy, brooding manner, Shigure also knows when to smile, and continues to make an effort to fight for those around her. Meeting Yukikaze reiterates this: Shigure gets along with Yukikaze without any issues, and when the pair sortie, Shigure’s past never slows her down; she simply does her best and contributes to her squadron’s successes. Shigure’s temperament is of someone who’s clearly experienced loss and despair, but remains resolute enough to remain focused on the present: she knows that, as important as it is to remember those that came before, it’s equally important to never lose sight of one’s long-term goals, and as a result, since her resolve never wavers in Itsuka Ano Umi de, Shigure comes across as being a stoic hero who takes adversity on the chin. Combined with the melancholy, yet determined tenour that is present throughout Itsuka Ano Umi de, it appears that this anime speaks to the sentiment that it is preferable to accept one’s feet on their feet, rather than give up on their knees. The outcome of Itsuka Ano Umi de is decidedly optimistic as a result, and seeing all of the Kan-musume making the most of their lives following the war shows that for their troubles, their efforts were worth it. In particular, seeing Shigure on a boat, at peace, speaks volumes to Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s intention at closing up Kantai Collection: Itsuka Ano Umi de was plagued with production issues and took nearly six months to finish, and the first season had aired eight years ago. To see the Kan-musume assured to peace and normalcy in their lives after all this time, then, was the surest sign that Kantai Collection‘s animated adaptation sought to decisively conclude things on a positive and reassuring note.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Itsuka Ano Umi de is probably 2022’s most unfairly treated series – after it ran into production issues, the remaining episodes were essentially squeezed in into any available slots, and this resulted in Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s remaining three episodes airing in 2023. Despite having only eight episodes and a condensed runtime compared to its predecessor, Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s delays meant that any momentum the series could have built up was swiftly stopped in its tracks, and as a result, excitement surrounding this Kantai Collection continuation was extremely limited.

  • This was extremely unfortunate because Itsuka Ano Umi de was everything its predecessor was not: all of the game-like elements Fubuki saw in Kantai Collection is replaced by a much more credible portrayal of things, and while slice-of-life aspects of what being a Kan-musume entails is still shown, it never overshadows the more dramatic elements to the point of diminishing them as Kantai Collection had done in its 2015 run. In particular, by focusing on the Kan-musume‘s eccentricities, the 2015 anime completely took away from the gravity of the fight against the Abyssals.

  • Kantai Collection: The Movie had rectified this, and also left a cautiously optimistic message about how the war against the Abyssals could only be won if one accepted their own inner darkness and learnt to manage it, as Fubuki had done. As a result of the film’s outcomes, strictly speaking, Itsuka Ano Umi de was not necessary because the film had left viewers on the note that prevailing over the Abyssals could be possible, leaving things open enough so that anyone who still played the game could continue their campaigns without the anime implying that the franchise could come to an end at some point. On the other hand, the outcome of Itsuka Ano Umi de is such that viewers are left with the impression that their efforts in the game will be met with a happy ending.

  • Here, Akebono passes through the frame as the Kan-musume prepare for a final offensive in the aftermath of a successful resupply operation. Akebono is a bit of an interesting character, being verbally abrasive and harsh. According to fans, this is a reflection of her namesake, a Fubuki-class that was said to be unfortunate. This side of Akebono is never seen in Itsuka Ano Umi de, nor is her appearance after sustaining some damage: the official art suggests that Akebono has a nice posterior, and as memory serves, Kantai Collection did show some of this during its original run. On the other hand, Itsuka Ano Umi de completely omits these elements – this was ultimately a wise move considering the anime’s runtime.

  • Although I don’t play Kantai Collection, I do have a few Kan-musume that I have a fondness for. Besides Akebono, I’d been quite fond of Shigure and Hamakaze prior to Itsuka Ano Umi de, so it was nice to see them given an animated appearance in this long-awaited continuation. As memory serves, Itsuka Ano Umi de had actually been announced immediately after Kantai Collection finished airing back in March 2015, a time when I’d been wrapping up my first year of graduate studies. After some initial hype, all news of the continuation faded as attention turned towards Kantai Collection: The Movie a year later.

  • In January 2021, some four years after the movie had released, a tweet from C2 Staff clarified that a sequel was indeed in the works, and that it would be scheduled for release sometime in 2022. This would be the only indicator that Itsuka Ano Umi de existed, and by January 2022, Itsuka Ano Umi de finally had a release date: November 2022. The timeframes meant that all but the most die-hard of fans would have moved on, and to no one’s surprise, when Itsuka Ano Umi de was announced, excitement was very limited.

  • This was unfortunate because, on the merits of its execution and presentation, Itsuka Ano Umi de is a cut above its predecessor in every way. The atmosphere fully conveys the gravity surrounding the war between the Abyssals and the Kan-musume, the context of the Kan-musume‘s actions is given to viewers, and the animation is gorgeous. However, between the fact that it’s been almost eight years since Kantai Collection aired, and the delays in Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s production, very few fans would’ve watched this one to completion, and if the goal of Itsuka Ano Umi de was to promote the series amongst prospective players, the anime’s excellence is unlikely to be sufficient as a form of encouragement.

  • Readers will have noticed that, although I generally try to see the best of everything, there are a few topics where even I struggle to remain positive. Kantai Collection is one of those rare topics: normally, I try to make sense of a given work and determine who it best appeals to. In the case of Kantai Collection, however, I was unable to figure this out. Although the game’s emphasis on World War Two-era naval vessels means folks interested in kawaii girls and military history would gravitate towards Kantai Collection, the game’s UX and mechanics are so poorly-implemented that, at least on paper, the game should never have been as successful as it was.

  • Besides Kantai Collection, I’ve never heard of a game’s developers going to such extraordinary means of locking players out of their system, and for those who are determined enough to get in, there is very little to speak of in terms of gameplay. Skill isn’t a component of Kantai Collection, since the best put-together fleets and prepared players can still find themselves frustrated by the random number generator. Studies have been done on why Japanese developers insist on an element of randomness in their games: it’s an element that’s ingrained into the gachapon culture, and players in Japan embrace this because since there’s only a certain chance one could get something, spending enough money to land on something one liked was a show of their dedication to a character or idea.

  • Having an explanation for this behaviour doesn’t make it any less puzzling, and while I am of the mind that people are free to spend their money however they’d like so long as their actions don’t harm others, the fact that enough people do this has led to the increasingly harmful industry practises of lootboxes. Games like Kantai Collection have set the trend, and this has influenced other games so that cosmetics become more important than creating an environment for having fun. As a result, I do not see any positives in games like Kantai Collection, whose entire game loop is based around chance and luck. Having said this, I am not denigrating the folks who do enjoy Kantai Collection: everyone is free to enjoy what they wish.

  • Towards the end of the penultimate episode, Shigure receives a request to undergo her second upgrade from the Admiral on account of her combat experience and exemplary conduct. Seeing this process in Itsuka Ano Umi de was the surest sign that this series was the culmination of learnings resulting from Kantai Collection: game elements here are woven seamlessly into the story, similarly to how Uma Musume Pretty Derby had done things, and this meant that the anime didn’t feel like a crude transposition of the game into the animated format.

  • When it comes to anime adapted from games, one of the challenges that must be overcome is presenting the game world in a manner that’s natural and fluid. Seeing the bauxite ore and repair buckets in the 2015 Kantai Collection was quite jarring because, as a non-player, I had no idea what anything was supposed to mean. On the other hand, Itsuka Ano Umi de dispenses with the premise that Kantai Collection‘s world is one built on game rules, and instead, chooses to run with the mechanics as aspects that are simply a part of the world.

  • Thus, when Shigure gets her upgrade, the rationale is simply that the sum of her experiences has become sufficient so that she’s able to gain access to a wider range of equipment, and the process is shown as one that involves effort to carry out. In Kantai Collection‘s 2015 anime, characters simply glowed and transformed into their upgraded forms: as memory serves, Fubuki was quite disappointed to learn that outside of improvements to her performance, she still more or less looks the same as she had prior to the upgrade.

  • On the other hand, the upgraded Shigure seems to have become a shade better endowed. As a protagonist, Shigure’s perspective on the Kantai Collection world gives viewers a far greater insight into what the stakes were, and what the Kan-musume were fighting to protect. This aspect of Itsuka Ano Umi de is one of the series largest improvements over its predecessor, as it gives weight to every engagement. Further to this, Shigure’s disposition means that she’s the sort of protagonist one can root for: she’s not a klutz or careless, and she’s not excessively dramatic, either.

  • Knowing that Shigure has seen her share of losses, but remains determined to get the job done nonetheless means that Itsuka Ano Umi de is grounded, and without the need to sort out interpersonal conflicts (right out of the gates, when Yamashiro inadvertently insults her previous teammates, besides an imperceptible tensing up, Shigure doesn’t lash out at her), Itsuka Ano Umi de is able to focus on other aspects of the universe to a much greater extent. It is fair to say that, had 2015’s Kantai Collection aired with the same style and focus as Itsuka Ano Umi de did, it would’ve been better received.

  • Shigure’s act of placing down some tangerines before setting off for her final battle was meant to symbolise the desire to return from this final defense, and it was simple gestures like these that really spoke to Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s ability to convey emotions in a manner that Kantai Collection originally could not. There are numerous small details throughout Itsuka Ano Umi de that demonstrate the writing team’s finesse in bringing Kantai Collection to life, and whenever I consider what Itsuka Ano Umi de does well, I experience a twinge of melancholy; outside of Japan, interest in Kantai Collection has waned almost entirely.

  • Thus, while Itsuka Ano Umi de is technically an excellent anime that delivers everything its predecessor had not, low interest and how the networks in Japan treated it meant this sequel is unlikely to have gotten the recognition it deserves. Further to storytelling elements, the combat sequences in Itsuka Ano Umi de are also a cut above its predecessor, and ENGI had gone above and beyond to bring battles to life, showing the ferocity, desperation and uncertainty surrounding every sortie. Abyssal air forces are presented as an overwhelming force that the Kan-musume have nearly no answer to.

  • The portrayal of air power in Itsuka Ano Umi de was a mirror of how towards the end of World War Two, aircraft carriers had largely displaced battleships as the new mainstay of navies. This largely stemmed from the fact that carriers had a superior range and could deliver ordnance as far as their ship-borne aircraft could fly, with a much higher degree of versatility: aircraft could be outfitted for anti-air defense, anti-ship warfare or even conduct support missions inland. In the present, aircraft carriers are seen as a symbol of power projection and unlikely to become obsolete any time soon, although increasingly powerful anti-ship missile systems do render carriers more vulnerable than they were previously.

  • For the final battle of Itsuka Ano Umi de, Shigure and the Second Torpedo Squadron participate in what would have been analogous to a final defense of the Japanese Home Islands. In reality, the need for such an invasion never materialised, as the Soviet invasion, coupled use of atomic weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, compelled the Imperial Japanese leadership to surrender. Experts agree that had a land invasion occurred, casualties would’ve been tremendous. In Kantai Collection, dialogue suggests that the Kan-musume have done a sufficient job of taking the fight to the Abyssals so that their numbers are whittled down to the point where they’ve also hedged their bets on one massive strike against Japan.

  • Given the overall tone of Itsuka Ano Umi de, it is fair to say that, regardless of who actually came out on top, a Pyrrhic victory would have been the outcome for either side. From the Kan-musume‘s perspective, they’d be able to save Japan if they won, even if they themselves were sunk in the process. On the other hand, the Abyssals would probably have left Japan in ruins if they managed to achieve their goals, but at the same time, lose enough of their forces so that they could never again pose a threat to humanity. One aspect that Itsuka Ano Umi de did leave untouched were the Abyssals’ motivations for destroying Japan and waging war.

  • Kantai Collection: The Movie had provided some answers to this question, suggesting that Abyssals and Kan-musume were two sides of the same coin: the former were grudges born of sunken ships and hopes, desiring to lash out and exact terrible vengeance against a world that wronged them, while the latter manifested as a desire to continue protecting what was dear to the world. One can also assuming this also holds true in Itsuka Ano Umi de, since after the final engagement, it would appear as though both Abyssals and Kan-musume are wiped out.

  • The final battle of Itsuka Ano Umi de is a night battle, which serves to enhance the tension and gravity that is befitting of the season finale. While such a composition makes sense to convey the mood, the main downside about doing so is that the combat becomes much more difficult to see on-screen. Shigure and her fellow Kan-musume put in everything they’ve got on this occasion, and the first half of their assignment is successful – they are able to sink the Abyssal transports, and subsequently set their sights on the Abyssal fleet. However, despite their determination, the Second Torpedo Squadron is unprepared for the Abyssal fleet’s size.

  • As they begin sustaining more damage, and hope for returning home begins fading, elements of the American and British navies appear to reinforce them. This marks the first time Kan-musume outside of Japan are seen, and the presence of ship-girls from different nations beyond Japan serves to send an important message for the series: some critics have claimed that Kantai Collection is “revisionist”, but with the inclusion of Kan-musume like Iowa indicates that all ships have spirits and stories to tell. In reality, the USS Iowa (BB-61) is the most iconic American battleship of the Second World War, and although smaller than the Yamato in terms of size and firepower, historians agree that superior fire control systems, damage control and crew meant that the Iowa was actually more effective as a battleship.

  • I’m not sure if there was any rivalry between British and American navies, especially since they primarily fought in different theatres, but when two allied Kan-musume begin having a go at one another, it added some much-needed levity to an otherwise serious moment. With this additional firepower, Shigure and Yukikaze are given some room to breathe. Even with the support, however, the Abyssal numbers are overwhelming, and it becomes clear that despite their efforts, this battle is not one the Kan-musume are going to win.

  • In previous Kantai Collection adaptations, viewers who were familiar with the game inevitably drew comparisons between the anime’s portrayal of things and how the game did things. Fans of the game had eagerly tried to spot every reference that made it into the anime back in 2015, but here in Itsuka Ano Umi de, the lack of viewers has meant discussions surrounding this series has been significantly quieter, to the point where it feels like I’m the only game in town for Itsuka Ano Umi de. This is a shame, since Itsuka Ano Umi de had surpassed its predecessor in every way: unlike Kantai Collection, Itsuka Ano Umi de is very focused and has a clear aim. Kantai Collection and Azur Lane had both suffered from trying to portray the serious side of war with themes of friendship and teamwork, with the result being that neither topic could be adequately covered.

  • I’d been skeptical that Kantai Collection would work with a more serious setup, but here at the ending, I found myself eating crow: a serious story can work so long as the characters don’t wallow in self-pity and pessimism, and Shigure herself ended up being the perfect protagonist for such a story precisely because, although the past does weigh heavily on her, she also doggedly presses forwards in the hopes of doing good. I’ve never been a fan of characters who create drama and act indecisively, so someone like Shigure taking charge and doing what she could with the hand she is dealt is what allowed Itsuka Ano Umi de to succeed with its chosen direction.

  • In the end, Shigure accepts her fate in this battle, and charges one of the Abyssals head-on for the kill. She’s sunk as a result, but the manner of this sinking feels far removed  from Kisaragi’s sinking – what’s shown in Itsuka Ano Umi de doesn’t appear to contradict what Kantai Collection: The Movie had established, and I’d hazard a guess that if a Kan-musume sinks while at peace with themselves, their spirits would simply move on. In Shigure’s case, she realises she’s done everything she could for those around her and has no regrets. If everyone here in Second Torpedo Squadron had been sunk while at peace, having done all they can, then it’s conceivable that the war with the Abyssals would come to an end.

  • The fact that familiar faces like Yamashiro, Fusō, Hamakaze, Mogami and the others appear in modern Japan leads credence towards this bit of speculation, and one can reasonably conclude that at Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s final battle, the Kan-musume had done enough damage to the Abyssals so that they simply ceased to be, and in the aftermath, their spirits finally found peace. Shigure herself is seen on a sailboat out in the blue of the ocean. The exaggerated water effects here are reminiscent of Crysis: Remastered‘s portrayal of water, and here, I remark that a few weeks ago, I ended up picking this game up for five dollars during the Spring sale purely to see if my machine could handle it.

  • For now, all readers need to know is that I’m averaging 75 FPS on the “Can it run Crysis” settings at 1080p, and that I’ll be writing about the game at some point during the summer. Back in Itsuka Ano Umi de, Shigure is seen with a pair of tangerines and is wearing a white dress. I’d imagine this white dress signifies rebirth and purity: this Shigure is freed from her past life’s shackles and is at peace with herself. The tangerines, on the other hand, I’ve already discussed at length in my first post for this series – in the context of Kantai Collection, they symbolise promise and certainty. With this being said, my own talk on Itsuka Ano Umi de draws to a close.

  • Overall, Itsuka Ano Umi de is what Kantai Collection should have been; I found this series highly enjoyable for how it portrayed the Kan-musume, their world and conflicts. The only drawback about Itsuka Ano Umi de was the fact that from a production and distribution standpoint, the series had struggled, and delays in its airing broke any momentum episodes had previously built up. This gave the impression that, in spite of the effort ENGI had put into producing Itsuka Ano Umi de, the series was regarded as little more than an afterthought in a time where Kantai Collection‘s relevance wanes, and this is a shame, since Itsuka Ano Umi de did address all of the shortcomings of its predecessor to create a compelling story.

Although a storytelling triumph and a satisfactory addition to Kantai Collection, Itsuka Ano Umi de‘s entry into the franchise comes as being too little, too late: an excellent and compelling story, with respectable characters would normally drive up interest in the source material, but unlike something like Uma Musume Pretty Derby, whose game is going very strong owing to its low barrier of entry and effortless onboarding process, Kantai Collection remains very cumbersome to get into. Further to this, the game’s aging mechanics, dependence on gatcha mechanics and limited, probability-driven gameplay means that the game was unlike to ever gain widespread popularity – players of Kantai Collection characterise the game as being more painful than work, and even after one gets past the ludicrous onboarding process (one needs a VPN to trick the servers into believing one is connecting from Japan, and then hopefuls who manage to circumvent the game’s Japan-only constraints are granted accounts based on the archaic lottery system). Even after getting in, playing the game is a chore, and there is no payoff for playing well, since one’s success in the game usually comes from being favoured by the game’s random number generator, and extensively planning out one’s every move on a spreadsheet. The appeal of such a time-consuming endeavour with no tangible returns remains foreign to me, and for this reason, even though Itsuka Ano Umi de was a strong series, it did very little to persuade viewers that the game is worthwhile to try: the extremely poor design decisions in Kantai Collection‘s browser game mean that the game is more frustration than fun, even after eight years’ worth of upgrades (one wonders why the developers are so determined to make such a convoluted onboarding process and sticking to an evidently-flawed random number generator approach), but on the other hand, Itsuka Ano Umi de was a meaningful watch that wholly conveys the nuances within the Kantai Collection world far more effectively than its predecessor did.

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

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

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

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

Screenshots and Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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