Impression – Kantai Collection, Episode 01

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Episode 01 – “Hello, Commander!”

It’s finally here. After being pushed back from summer of 2014, the anime adaptation of the wildly popular online browser bishoujo collector game, Kantai Collection, has made its triumphant splash in the 2015 winter anime season, almost exactly one year after I started playing the game. Does it manage to afloat atop the massive wave of anticipation and fame? Does it sink under its own self-generated hype? Will I stop making these stupid puns? Find out next time now!

KanColle is set in a world in which humanity is pushed back to land, due to the marine terror known as the Abyssal, fearsome biotic-looking warships. The only ones capable of fighting these creatures are the kanmusu, girls that have inherited the spirits of historic warships (ranging from small destroyers to large aircraft carriers). If this sounds incredibly ridiculous to you, then you’re probably a fairly normal person. But let’s face it, this isn’t the type of series one gets into if one thought it were completely normal. The incredulous nature of KanColle is something I love about it, and most anime in general, but if it’s not your cup of tea, there’s probably not much I can say to change your mind.

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While the game doesn’t particularly have any main protagonist, other than the player posing as the fleet’s Admiral, the anime has chosen to make the destroyer Fubuki the main character of the series, perhaps only because she’s on the front of the game’s logo. The clumsy greenhorn personality that she’s given in the anime is perfect for the role and great for introducing viewers to the world of KanColle. In light of her shortcomings, she’s someone you want to cheer for, and she reminds me a lot of Haruka Amami from The iDOLM@STER franchise.

One thing I kept wondering about the anime adaptation was how they would handle creating the Admiral character. A possible route they could have taken would have been The iDOLM@STER route where they simply made a character with personality from scratch, which turned out okay in my opinion. But considering that the KanColle Admiral has a much less central role in the game, I like that they took him out completely, leaving him a faceless, voiceless commander who manages to still have a personality and still be important. Hell, we don’t even know the Admiral’s gender, but for ease of writing I’ll refer to the Admiral as a “he.” Through the dialogue of the kanmusu, we get the sense that he’s a caring, capable leader with some reckless tendencies in terms of his decision making (like letting Fubuki sortie with zero experience). In his stead, it seems that the battleship Nagato, who happens to be the secretary ship here, will be taking on the duties as the leader of the naval base. I love how Nagato is portrayed here; she’s super cool.

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Other than the Admiral thing, I was apprehensive about the amount of CG used ever since I saw the first trailer for the anime. Like I’m sure most people do, I greatly prefer animation over CG, and I was afraid that it would totally ruin the anime. While I won’t say it ruins the anime, it definitely the weakest point for me. As usual, it’s jarring and compared to the great animation style seen everywhere else, it just doesn’t look as good. However, since the CG is limited to scenes with lots of machinery and given how complicated those are, I can forgive this as a necessary evil, especially if it means that other scenes look better due to the budget saved by using CG.

The thing I was most impressed with were the pseudo-mahou shoujo transformation sequences. I suppose I could refer to them as kikai shoujo (mechanical girls). This explanation for how they equip their armaments is never shown in the game, so this is a completely original idea from the animation studio. I love the mechanical style to the sequence, as the girls receive their armaments via huge chains rushing to bring them their artillery and flight decks. There are all sorts of little details as well, such as the glowing pad that says 出撃 (deployment) and the flipping name cards for each kanmusu (backwards, as per naval tradition).

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The last thing I want to talk about is all of the possible shipping (yes, I know there’s a bad pun there). First of all, fans and the game itself have typically paired ships of the same class with each other, i.e. the sister ships. Whether incest counts for ships, I can’t really say but that’s how it is in the world of KanColle. Though, it seems that the biggest pair that the anime is pushing is Fubuki with the aircraft carrier Akagi, which will be interesting because Kaga is very possessive of her sister.

Will this be the game-adapted anime to break the streak of crappy game-adapted anime? The one thing KanColle has going for it is that the actual game has no real plot to speak. Well, this could have been good or bad depending on the studio’s aptitude for adaptation, but so far, I’m liking what Diomedea has done with the story and it’s looking promising. Fans of the game like myself will love this series. Fans of cute girls with heavy weaponry like myself will love this series. Fans with open minds may find something worth watching here, just for the incredibly imaginative concept and the massive cast of characters.

“Akagi-senpai… If I could fight like that someday…” ~ Fubuki

B.W.

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