Shoot true, never miss
So much for the light hearted battle anime with cute girls. With this episode we’re left to wonder how grimdark this might get. Though we’re only confronted with one loss, it was rather devastating, though it could have been done in a way that was much worse for the viewer. In one regard, the last episode and this one are closely tied together. So much so that we almost reviewed them in the same post. Because the post was getting impossibly long we decided to split them apart, but the events of the former episode are a prelude and a setup to this one and actually that prelude overflows into the first part of this one. The theme of love of ones comrades and friends is repeated over and over here, centering on Mutsuki and Fubuki as well as Mustuki and Kisaragi. Depending on how you want to interpret certain scenes you can assume the director is going for a yuri vibe or just trying to show a “Band of Brothers” type of comradeship, though with a more feminine feel to it. One of the issues with this episode is that “overkill” of the theme. I just want to yell at the director “OK! I got it!” Also, though I know that the shows main character is Fubuki, the solicitude everyone shows for her is overdone. Ooi, even if for the wrong reasons, at least treats Fubuki more as a raw recruit would normally be treated. Especially one that might be a detriment to the survival of the rest of the Kanmuse. The show lacks the “tough as nails” noncom to whip Fubuki into shape. This is not to say that I was totally unhappy with the way things were presented. There were some very good moments. Chief among them was the discussion Fubuki had with Akagi on the range.
My steel rigging is for fighting
My passionate blood is for protecting
My hidden heart is to love
Thank you, I love you
You’re wonderful, I’m so happy
I found that a really moving sentiment. The best dialog so far in the show.
The battle was a marked improvement over the ones in the first episode. I think I feel this way because there was more context to the fighting and probably I have become more familiar with the action. We see more tactics with TS3 changing formation and the use of TS4 in a blocking action to keep them from being surrounded and caught in a cross fire between the carriers and the enemy torpedo squadron. Fubuki jumping in to save Matsuki showed how far Fubuki has come in this short time. No hesitation, no fumbling, just action to save her comrade while putting herself in harms way. Making her too competent at this stage though would be a real mistake on the director’s part. She needs to have to grow some more at least. The arrival of the “cavalry” was also exciting but could have done with a bit of a setup. Just having an “oh the Second Fleet was in the area” makes it something of an asspull. There were also a number of WWII references such as the Type 0 scout planes that Jintsuu and Sendai launch and the shells (Type 3 and Type 91 AP) which was an added “benny”.
Now comes the hard part. What do I think of Kisaragi’s sinking? There were so many death flags flying around in the previous episode, and this one, that you knew somebody was not going to survive. The constant love references, Akagi talking about “…who knows how many of the fleet girls will be ok… they may not be there tomorrow.”
The only question was who. It became obvious before the battle that either Mutsuki or Kisaragi was going to die. Especially when Mutsuki told Kisaragi that she had something to tell her. Com’mon director, don’t beat the viewers over the head with it. Even the actual death scene was telegraphed with Kisaragi saying “I’m glad…it’s okay now” followed by her signature line “Oh no…my hair will get messed up.” Now none of this criticism is to say that I wasn’t affected by Kisaragi’s sinking. I was. It’s just that I think it would have been more effective emotionally if it wasn’t so telegraphed. If anyone has seen Madoka Magica, they know how a death can create maximum emotional impact if you least expect it but it’s consistent with the story. It also might have been more affecting if it had been Matsuki who had been sunk even after being saved by Fubuki. It would have been more unexpected and would have had a direct impact on the main character. Possibly, that would have been too dark at this stage of the anime and Mutsuki may have plot armor by her close association with Fubuki. Based on the part of the OP that I mentioned in the previous review though, I wouldn’t depend on that plot armor to protect me.
I do hope that the show is not going down a grimdark path. Conversely, I hope that Kisaragi is not going to be salvaged which would negate the emotional impact her loss had on the other characters and the viewers. OTOH, it might be better if she was to keep the story from becoming too dark. The majority of the WWII ships were lost so I hope they’re not going to recreate that.
OK, I admit it. Given the show’s light-hearted atmosphere I didn’t think they would actually sink a Kanmusu. While it’s possible to sink a Kanmusu in the game, it is also completely avoidable as long as one pays sufficient attention and does not take excessive risks. For that reason, in “game speak” players who sink a Kanmusu are often referred to as “kuso teitokus” or “shit admirals”. Like anyone knowledgeable about IJN WWII ships or the Pacific War, as soon as I saw that Kisaragi was to take part in the operation to capture “W Island” (clearly a reference to Wake Island), my first thought was “Uh oh… that is NOT good” since IJN DD Kisaragi sunk during that Battle of Wake Island after being struck by a bomb from a damaged US F-4 “Wildcat” fighter (see more below). Of course there were many other death flags, a number of which did not require any WWII or game knowledge. In fact, there were so many death flags that I honestly started to think it was all a troll by the anime staff. Nope. Kisaragi did in fact sink and die.
For me, the one major issue with Episode 03 was the spammed, overly conspicuous death flags – again to the point I started to suspect it was all a troll. While some death flags could be viewed for Mutsuki, for me it was pretty clear Kisaragi’s days were numbered. Too clear, and the emotional impact lessened accordingly. Maybe it was done intentionally to lessen the blow for those who like her, especially KanColle game players. There seems to be a number of KanColle fans upset about what happened. One forum post I read contains a tweet from Kisaragi’s game character artist which tells upset Kisaragi fans to consider the anime a type of alternate reality – (paraphrasing) “Your own Kisaragi is safe. Please continue to watch over her.” I have no idea if that was the actual intent, but whatever the reason, I think the show simply went too far with all the death flags. Not only did they take away a lot of the emotional impact, but it got to the point of just plain silly. “Death Flags – The Anime.” Regardless, I think most viewers would agree that Kisaragi’s death does make the war setting more “real”, giving some added tension to future battles. In that respect, mission accomplished.
As for her sinking scene itself, I didn’t mind Kisaragai thinking the battle was over before it actually was. Certainly plenty of soldiers have died over the ages because they let up their guard a little too early. In fact, except for the death flags, overall I thought the show did a good job with Kisaragi’s death – including using her game sinking line of “Please don’t forget about Kisaragi” as she slowly sank beneath the waves, hand outstretched towards the fading light. While Kisaragi’s death didn’t evoke a strong emotional response, the end scene with Mutsuki and Fubuki eagerly awaiting Kisaragi’s return did make me feel a little sad. I think the emotional impact here isn’t derived from the character that died, but rather seeing how that character’s death affects one or more of the main characters a viewer did get a chance to know. In that sense this mirrors what happened in Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio anime with Iona and her two “sister” ships, though frankly, I felt more from Kisaragi’s death than I did from I-400 and I-402 in Arpeggio. I also liked Tone’s statement of about how it might be crueler to let Mutsuki and Fubuki keep false hope than tell them the truth right away.
The rest of the episode, again excluding the death flags, was probably the best one to date. The show did a good job limiting the comedic moments and setting the appropriate atmosphere. The comedy moments that were included worked for the most part. When Fubuki thanked Mutsuki profusely in their room, I thought “what about Yuudachi?” Sure enough, immediately thereafter a pouty Poi (Yuudachi’s game nickname) complained about Fubuki ignoring her. Sendai remains a favorite, and I did LOL when, to Jintsuu’s dismay, she got so excited after Nagato mentioned night battle. Poor Jintsuu, it must be hard with Sendai and Naka for sisters.
The anime still struggles at times with integrating game dialog, but for once Hibiki’s “khoroso” actually made sense in context! Progress has been made. Visually, the animated parts are good, but degrades noticeably at times when CGI is used. I wish they would fix that. The battle itself was the best to date in my opinion. It’s still not as quite as fluid and dynamic as it could (or should) be, but still a noticeable improvement from earlier battles. While I don’t expect much in the way of tactics from the show, the diamond formation was a nice addition (also in the game and used for better AA defense). One small complaint I have concerns Fubuki. To me she was a little too competent in this battle. Also, when she fired her torpedoes at the enemy CVL, I wondered why none of the Abyssal planes tried to shoot those torpedoes like they did with all the torpedoes launched before. The Kongou class BB cavalry arriving to save the day was a bit too convenient, but I did like the attention to detail with the Sanshiki (Type 3 AA shell) and Type 91 AP shells. Lastly, the show did a fine job replicating how the real life IJN DD Kisaragi was sunk.
The question now is how will KanColle proceed from here? First of all, I do not expect some sort of Deus Ex Game Item where Kisaragi survives. Second, the almost exact replication of Kisaragi’s sinking to her WWII IJN counterpart has sparked speculation that more Kanmusu are slated to die – Akagi being frequently mentioned when the show reaches the Battle of Midway. While I can’t say that Kisaragi’s death will be the only one, I cannot imagine the show following WWII events very closely. If so, I guess humanity is doomed since the vast majority of the cast would be at the bottom of the sea. Besides, doing so would be even worse than the spammed death flags in this episode. Want to know what happens the entire season? Read Wiki’s entry on the Pacific War. If there are future Kanmusu deaths, I hope they do NOT follow WWII. The show would be far too predictable and boring.
Frankly, a death spammed, “grim-dark” KanColle doesn’t work for me at all. This isn’t some uber-serious war drama (after all you do have water skiing ship-girls, chibi “fairies” flying planes, etc.) nor does it need to be. It would be like spamming death in Girls und Panzer or Strike Witches. Besides, character death can be overdone to the point it loses much, if not all, of its effect. In my opinion, I think Kisaragi’s death is sufficient to make the show’s war setting sufficiently “real” and provide an additional basis for future character development. As I said before, mission accomplished.
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/Explanations
- Kisaragi sinking:
- In the game, Kisaragi would not have sunk. Ships can only be sunk if they proceed to a new battle when heavily damaged (indicted by red warning), and during that next battle are damaged to zero HP (hit points). If they are at medium (“orange”) damage or less, a ship cannot be sunk in any one battle (including if a player continues to fight in night battle phase). They can only be reduced to 1 HP.
- Thus, the anime actually deviated from the game. In the game. Kisaragi would have been reduced to 1HP at worst. Now if the admiral decided to continue to sortie rather than return to base, then Kisaragi could, and probably would, be sunk during the next battle.
- Yuubari’s line of “Don’t leave me behind, okay, everybody”: In the game, Yuubari’s joining a fleet line is “Heading out! W-wait, I’m the slowest here, don’t leave me behind!”
- According to KC English Wiki, supposedly this is a reference to Yuubari’s propulsion system which was similar to a DD.
- However, with a flank (top) speed of 35.5 kn (40.9 mph; 65.7 km/h;), Yuubari was as fast as other IJN light cruisers – Kuma-class and Nagara-class (36 kn; 41 mph; 67 km/h), Sendai-class (35.25 kn; 40.56 mph; 65.28 km/h) and the Agano-class (35 kn; 40 mph; 65 km/h). She was actually faster than the older Tenryū-class (33 kn; 38 mph; 61 km/h).
- In short, that line is probably a reference to something other than Yuubari’s flank speed. My guess is that she fell behind during some mission in WWII.
- Tama’s line of “It’s okay, nya~. Nya-o problem”: 100% game dialog nya~! Reason I mention this is because it’s an example of game dialog in the anime that works in context. Tama says “nya~” (“meow~”) because Tama is a popular name for a cat in Japan.
Partial List of WWII References
- Kisaragi sunk at the Battle of Wake Island: As noted above, during WWII, IJN DD Kisaragi was sunk during that battle The ship was sailing away from the engagement when it came under air attack by four F4F Wildcat fighter planes from Wake armed with 100-pound bombs. One Wildcat, piloted by Henry “Hammering Hank” Elrod, dropped its bombs on Kisaragi’s stern which was packed with depth charges. This caused the ship to explode and sink with all hands about 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Wake Island. The sinking of Kisaragi would contribute to Elrod being posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
- A fast ship going in harms way: (from the WWII movie “In Harms Way”)
“A new AA cruiser going out to join Halsey.”
“She’s a tiger.”
“A fast ship going in harm’s way.”
A rephrasing of a John Paul Jones quote: “I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.”
- Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane (scout plane): Aichi E13A (aka “Jake)
- Type 3 “San-shiki” AA (anti-aircraft) shell
- Type 91 AP (armor piercing) shell