Hast thou not gone against sincerity?
Hast thou not felt ashamed of thy words and deeds?
Hast thou not lacked vigor?
Hast thou exerted all possible efforts?
Hast thou become slothful?
[The Gosei – traditional subjects for daily meditation at Japan’s Naval Academy.]
From the depths of the oceans rise a mysterious fleet which drives mankind from the world’s seas. Only one thing can stand against this “Abyssal Fleet” – Kanmusu (‘ship-girl”), girls who possess the souls of warships from years past. Thus our introduction to KanColle anime begins with a brief battle between the two sides and we are introduced to some of the main characters – Akagi (fleet aircraft carrier), followed by the lead character, Fubuki (name ship of the Fubuki class destroyers, Special Type (see explanation below)), and the newest member of Torpedo Squadron 3. Fubuki is then introduced to the other squadron members: Mutsuki (name ship of the Mutsuki class destroyers, predecessor to the Fubuki class), Yuudachi (Shiratsuyu class destroyer), Sendai, Jintsui, and Naka (all Sendai class light cruisers). These and other Kanmusu will be the force which will take back the seas from the Abyssal Fleet under the leadership of the largely unseen Admiral and Fleet Flagship Nagato (name ship of the Nagato class battleships) while Fubuki tries to fulfill her dream to become strong enough to be Akagi’s escort destroyer.
At the end of this review, we have included additional information which may help to clarify things in the anime which anime-only viewers might find puzzling. There are also a couple reference links along with listing of the Kanmusu appearing in this episode (cameos included) and some of the WWII weapons we identified.
Sometimes you watch an anime and you immediately know that this is going to be something special, sometimes it takes a few episodes before you know whether you’ll even like it. Now how do I feel about KanColle? Frankly, I don’t know at this point. Part of my problem is that I had superhigh expectations for it and the delays and lack of a show of this type in the interim just exacerbated them. Do I like it? Yes. Is it great? Not as great as I’d hoped at this point, but it’s only been one episode.
Where is it lacking? My problems are in the actual battles and the enemy. I had hoped we’d see battles that, even if they didn’t replicate actual WWII battles, at least gave the feeling of them. Here we basically see melees with few tactics from either side. The Abyssals just attack randomly or stand around waiting to be attacked. Now, TBH, I don’t have a good grasp of naval tactics beyond “crossing the T” but I just don’t get the feel that I’m watching a naval battle here. Another negative is that Fubuki gets dumped into the fleet with no one coordinating her arrival nor explaining her situation to the rest of the kanmusu. But then Akagi knows about her from the Admiral so what are her special circumstances? Very contrived IMO. I also wish the “outfits” were a bit more realistic looking but that’s probably nitpicking. I’m just spoiled by Girls und Panzer.
One thing about this show is that the game references and the ship girls seems to be off-putting to the anime only viewers. I think this is partly because they are comparing it to shows like Strike Witches and Arpeggio. The actual shows to compare it to are more in the realm of Mahou Shoujou (magical girls). Think of the launch sequence in terms of the magical girl transformation rather than putting on say a mecha. The “outfits” are more symbolic of the magical girls wands than actual weaponry and their power is unrelated to their appearance. If you think of the show as more in that subgenre then you may find the show to be more enjoyable.
The SOL aspects are fine as is the characters and animation. I didn’t feel the girls had the same chemistry that I did with the girls in GuP though. Not bad, just not as good yet. The sequences of the girls being armed and launching as well as those of them sailing were well done and exciting to watch. The background music manages to not be intrusive but certainly enhances the “heroic” nature of the scenes. I could watch a whole show of just Akagi and Kaga’s archery.
One problem that an anime only watcher, such as myself, is going to have is that the inside jokes and references are going to go over our heads. The only reason I know about the penguin, for example, is because daikama explained it for me. Also Sendai-chan’s love of night fighting. Though some things that are related to the actual ships are things that a fan of WWII militaria might enjoy researching for themselves. To my mind that adds a bit of spice to the show. Another issue is going to be whether there are too many characters for the length of the show. A lot of them are going to get short shrift or the stories will be so spread out that we really don’t get to know any of them very well.
A decent start and I hope it gets better from here. I do think it has a lot of potential.
Those who read my KanColle Franchise and Anime Primer know that a primary concern of mine was how the anime adaptation would balance trying to please its core audience (i.e. those who play the game) and anime-only viewers such as Bear. After watching Ep. 01, I think it’s fair to say that the anime took the “safe route” and landed squarely on the “core audience” side. That’s not to say that anime-only viewers cannot or will not enjoy the show, but I definitely think those who play the game will get a lot more out of it if Ep. 01 is any indication.
Bear mentioned a couple game references in the anime (e.g fail penguin), but those were just the “tip of the iceberg”. There were a LOT of game references – including frequent use of game dialog. For the most part, I thought the game dialog was sufficiently integrated into the story, but there were also a couple of times I thought it was forced – included just for the sake of pandering to core audience. Fine I suppose if you are part of the “core audience”, but I do wonder whether anime-only viewers found some of the dialog misplaced or simply odd.
The battles in my opinion were pretty good for the most part. Obviously if one isn’t willing to buy into the Kanmusu concept (including “water skating”, equipment rigs, etc.), the battles will not go over well. At all. Frankly, I liked some of the weapon imagery – particularly CVs (aircraft carriers) as archers with the arrows transforming into planes. Still, there was one thing I thought did not transfer well to anime. I found Sendai’s, Jintsuu’s and Naka’s tiny gauntlet “cannons”, well, too tiny when seen in action (FYI – you don’t see that in the game. Game battle graphics are very basic). Not a big deal, but something I noticed. In other instances, I thought the anime again pushed the game references too far. For example, while I thought Hibiki’s battle start line was perfectly fine, Atago’s cameo went too far. I don’t mind if the staff/director felt her trademark “Pan-paka-pa~n!!” had to be included, but ditch the pose and at least have her guns, you know, actually aim at something.
Visual quality in general was pretty good – a noticeable step up from the norm with CGI handled fairly well apart from a few missteps. The docking sequence looked good, but it also had an odd part – specifically the chains dragging equipment from beneath the sea. Storing metal and wood items in seawater is generally a bad idea so I thought about it some more. If you consider that the Kanmusu represent the spirits of WWII IJN vessels (the vast majority of which sank during WWII), then bringing forth equipment/rigging from the sea symbolizes the spirit of those ships being raised from the depths to defend the homeland once again (well, defend in terms of the latter part of WWII anyway). Assuming that’s the intent, some very nice, appropriately subtle, symbolism on the anime’s part. Kudos for that. I very much enjoyed the background music, especially the piece around the 16:00min mark when Akagi and Kaga leave the docks. Definitely interested in the OST for this show.
In addition to the overabundance of game references, I think the anime tried to accomplish too much in too little time – especially character introduction. Despite my familiarity with the source material, the presentation still felt rushed. Also, I’m not really thrilled with Fubuki’s “clumsy rookie” plot line. The “rookie” part is fine, the “clumsy” part, not so much. I think they took that too far. Poor (ship)girl can’t even “sail” (OK – ski/skate), and the admiral knows this. Yet she’s sent up against a fierce “boss level” enemy because… why? Then again, it’s not that surprising since when anime goes the “underdog route” or “inept rookie route”, it tends to do so big time. At any rate, I’d rather they just left the “clumsy” part on the cutting room floor.
When the KanColle anime adaptation was first announced, I knew enough not to expect another Girls und Panzer (and warned potential viewers as much). The KanColle game concept is simply too different. I had hoped for something on the level of Strike Witches. Unfortunately, unlike Strike Witches (which I thought had a strong opening episode), KanColle anime did not have as strong of a start to the series. To be clear, I did enjoy the first episode – especially the first two minutes or so at the start. Very well done! Still, a large part of my overall enjoyment stems from playing the game (e.g. LOL at the part about Kaga & Akagi being victorious without getting damaged. I can only wish. Sure wasn’t the case for me with those two during the Fall 2014 Event). In the end, I have to agree with Bear on this. It was a decent start, perhaps even a good one from a game player’s perspective, but one with room for improvement.
Notes and Additional Information
Ship Class Abbreviations
Battleship (BB), Aviation Battleship (BBV), Armored/Regular/Fleet Aircraft Carrier (CV), Light Aircraft Carrier (CVL), Seaplane Tenders (AV), Amphibious Assault Ship (LHA), Escort Carrier (CVE), Heavy Cruiser (CA), Aviation Cruiser (CAV), Light Cruiser (CL), Torpedo Cruiser (CLT), Destroyer (DD), Repair Ship (AR), Submarine (SS), Submarine Aircraft Carrier (SSV), and Submarine Tender (AS).
Partial List of Game References
- A few examples of game dialog used in the anime:
- Yuudachi says “Poi” a lot in the game as well. It’s just what she does like Kuma says “Kuma!”, and Tama says “Nya~!” a lot. (From KC wiki). “Poi” is added onto the end of a word to signify a comparison or resemblance rather than the ‘valley girl’ version of like which is more like a verbal comma. For example kodomoppoi would mean something similar to child-like or childish.
- When Yuudachi told Fubuki “Come on, let’s have a wonderful party!” right before the battle, that’s a direct quote of her start of battle dialog in the game.
- Hibiki’s “The name “Phoenix” isn’t just for show” is her start of battle line.
- Kisaragi’s “This is damaging my hair” is taken from her library intro dialog – Nooo~ really …the sea breeze will ruin my hair.”
- Mogami’s “It looks like my back cannon broke.” loosely quotes her moderate damage repair docking line of “Dang, my stern cannons got damaged a little bit.” The variance could be a translation issue.
- Fubuki “sparkling” at “Café Mamiya” right before Yuudachi pokes her is a reference to “sparkling” where Kanmusu game pics literally sparkle (similar look) which indicates they have high morale and thus get significant bonuses to accuracy and evasion.
- Café Mamiya refers to the supply ship Mamiya (a real IJN food supply ship in WWII) who is an NPC. In the game, you can use Mamiya’s food item (the item icon looks kind of like a parfait) to boost fleet morale. The game also has Irako (also an WWII IJN food supply ship) who has a different food item though with the same effect. You can also use both at the same time for a bigger morale boost.
- Kitakami & Ooi – In the game Ooi is a total siscon for Kitakami (they are sister ships), and is very protective of their relationship to the point of being YANdere towards the admiral.
- The “chibi” pilot shown in the anime flying the “Kate” torpedo bomber refers to chibi’s” (know as “fairies” in the game) that accompany most, if not all, of the games equipment items. They are just there for “fun”.
- Naka the “idol” – Naka’s “idol status” stems from the similarity between her ship number and real life Japanese pop idol group AKB48.
- “Fail Penguin” – When you attempt to craft equipment in the game, not only is there a chance you won’t get what you’re trying to build (i.e. you get something else), but you might fail to build anything at all. The failure percentage can be high depending upon the formula used. When you fail, an image of a penguin in a box pops up on screen accompanied by appropriate music Thus “fail penguin”.
- What are Kanmusu/how did they become “spirits of WWII IJN ships”? As far as I know that’s never been clarified, and I think the ambiguity is on purpose.
- What is the Abyssal Fleet? Some players think they are the US WWII counterparts (there’s evidence of that from their equipment such as the “Abyssal Hellcat Fighter” and even enemy “boss” names such as “Midway Princess”), while Fubuki, Ganbarimasu! manga suggests that they are sunk Kanmusu transformed by anger and regret. Personally, I think it’s probably US WW II ships. Too many obvious hints towards that.
- Fubuki’s admiration (infatuation) with Akagi is entirely anime only/not from the game.
- Abyssal Ship Force Fields are not in the game. I’m not sure why that was added by the anime. In the game, as noted above, the Abyssal ships have WW II era type weaponry. No force fields, laser cannons, etc.
Partial List of WWII References
- Fubuki as a “Special Class Destroyer” – Launched in 1927, Fubuki (“Blizzard”) was the lead ship of twenty-four Fubuki-class destroyers, built for the IJN ( Imperial Japanese Navy) following World War I. When introduced into services, these ships were the most powerful destroyers in the world. So much so that they were designated Special Type destroyers”, which is why Fubuki is often called that in the anime. More information about the Fubuki-class destroyers here.
- Type 91 Armor Piercing (AP) shell
- Mitsubishi A6M Zero “Zeke”/”Zero”
- Nakajima B5N “Kate” torpedo bomber
- Aichi D3A “Val” dive bomber
- Type 93 torpedo “Long Lance” torpedo.
List of Kanmusu in Ep 01
- BB: Haruna, Kirishima, Nagato, Mutsu, Kongou, Hiei
- CV: Shoukaku, Akagi, Kaga, Hiryou, Souryuu
- CA/CAV: Atago, Tone, Mogami
- CL: Kuma, Tama, Ooyodo, Sendai, Jintsu, Naka, Kitakami, Ooi, Yuubari,
- DD: Fubuki, Mutsuki, Akatsuki, Hibiki, Ikazuchi, Inazuma, Wakaba, Shiratsuya, Shigure, Murasame, Yuudachi, Arashio, Kagerou, Samidare, Shimakaze, Kisaragi, Arare (or Ooshio), Michishio, Ayanami(?)
- Other: Mamiya