Kantai Collection Episode 05 – Review

Kancolle Anime - Review Title“Don’t Compare Me to the Girls in Carrier Group Five!”

Impressions

Bear

Ok, it looks like they’ve settled into a pattern that we can expect to see for the rest of the cour based on what we’ve seen so far. The show is definitely geared towards the KanColle gamer, but there’s nothing wrong with that. I’d expect a baseball themed show to be directed at baseball enthusiasts too. Fubuki is obviously the lead character and the show will revolve around her, but to cater to the gamer’s, we can expect to see as many kanmusu as they can cram into the show.   It looks like the pattern will be Fubuki sent on a mission with either another group or one or more girls will be attached to hers. First part of the episode will be SoL with some getting to know the new girls followed by a battle. Since we’ve got the dock/bath scenes already, I don’t expect an onsen episode but I could see them doing a beach episode for R&R. J

Now what about this episode? Well, it’s an improvement over the previous one. The humor is more integrated into the story instead of a wacky add-on like the last one. I was sad to see them break up TS3 though. The girls had good chemistry. Well, maybe we’ll see less of Naka, which is a positive. Downside? The first of her new comrades are Kitakami and Ooi, our yuri duo.   Ooi, in my book, is even more annoying than Naka, if that’s possible. And, while Ooi is being nasty to Fubuki, the next pair, Kaga and Zuikaku, are busy sniping at each other. Finally, Kongou shows up and is the only one to treat her nicely. This version of Kongou is much better than the wacky one from the last episode. Still genki but not nuts. I have to agree with Fubuki. What was the Admiral thinking to put together such a dysfunctional group? I’ll not even comment on the types of ships in that group. The writer’s intent was more personalities than any attempt to make a realistic force. One destroyer? Gimme a break. Even Kaga agrees with me (and later the rest of the group admits it too).

Not sure what to make of the FS plan. The two Abyssal bases are beginning to sound like Australia and the US. The islands shown at the top might represent Midway and Hawaii. All that’s just conjecture, but given the title of the next episode (Curry Sea =>Coral Sea?) it fits with Japanese planning at the time. So it appears that we’ll see more of the same with battles that represent real WWII battles but just “sort of” without actually reenacting the actual battle.   Of course if they did go that way there would be a lot of kanmusu missing by the end of the show.

Now when they sortie to go after the Abyssal force things start to get a little ridiculous. Fubuki is lecturing her sempai’s on fleet tactics? Then she goes running off to draw their fire? Fubuki, remember what happened the last time you ran off by yourself? Kongou barely saved your ass. And while Fubuki’s directions might be doctrinaire, the other girls are probably right that this is not that big a deal. Now if they had shown that Fubuki was right and they were going to be ambushed by a bigger force or would otherwise be in trouble because they weren’t careful, then it might have made more sense. Also the lack of discipline by veteran kanmusu just seems silly even if they were disagreeing among themselves. Oh, and shouldn’t the Admiral or Nagato have been assigning a flagship? Of course this is all to make Fubuki the central character, but they’re ramping up her abilities way to fast.

Frankly, I think the writer’s would have done better to make Fubuki a “fill in” character. Since she’s new they could have had her act as a temporary replacement for kanmusu that are in for repair or where they need another ship. That way they could have showcased the various kanmusu and had Fubuki learning from the other girls as she met new groups. Then at the end they could have had her join with her closest friends as escorts for her idol, Akagi.

 daikama

OK, that was better. Much better. Actually, in my opinion the best episode thus far even with a shortened battle scene. Proper atmosphere, balanced/non-jarring presentation, no exacerbated character personalities, comedy that worked (for me), and better integration of game references. Yep, definitely an improvement.

The reorganization of the entire fleet comes as no surprise if you think about it. If you play the game or even just visit the right forums, KC Wiki, etc., you’ll know that every KanColle fan has their own favorite Kanmusu. With around 150 ships thus far and more on the way, KanColle, being the core fan base oriented anime it is, has to do something in order to move the spotlight around to various Kanmusu beyond the use of simple cameos. So goodbye Torpedo Squadron 3 (TS3) and hello “special fleet” Mobile Unit 5 – comprised of Kongou (FastBB), Kaga (CV), Zuikaku (CV), Kitakami (CLT), Ooi (CLT) and of course, Fubuki. After all, the anime revolves around Fubuki who is clearly the main character. And that’s fine. As I mentioned before, the semi-episodic, character focus approach taken is akin to how Strike Witches Season 1 had different episodes for several of the 501st JFW members. KanColle anime just needs to execute well within that framework.

Apart from a few moments, I think it did that for Ep. 05. TS3 members saying farewell under a moonlit night sky was a nice touch. It would have been odd and character inconsistent if everyone just went “Well, that’s the way it goes – see ya”. Points as well for not making their farewell overly dramatic or full of “wacky comedy” antics. It’s not like one of them sunk. Speaking of comedy (“wacky” or otherwise), the comedy in Ep. 05 worked much better for me than Ep. 04’s comedy. Frankly, Ep. 05 was the funniest (in a good way) KanColle episode thus far in my opinion. I LOL’d quite often – especially at the verbal sparring between the various member of Mobile Unit 5. Shoukaku’s “subtle” jab at Kaga being an “escort ship” was great, and Ooi was at her surly best with “Flight-Deck Chest”. Wait… is Ryuujou in the anime? XD (see below) See KanColle? You don’t need ill-timed “wacky comedy” hijinks based upon over-exaggerated personalities to have funny moments.

Seriously, good job on the comedy, and to my surprise, the game references were not obnoxiously apparent and forced. SO much better – not only in the reduced amount, but also the integration. Akagi still has her large appetite, but the show didn’t make a huge deal about it. A quick, unobtrusive visual gag with her oversized desert bowl and that’s it. Ooi throws in a comment about firing her 61cm (24”) torpedoes if she doesn’t room with Kitakami which fits in context. Heck, even the “poi” count was appropriately limited! O.o… did the show change directors after last episode? I’m not sure what happened, but I like the results. The game reference spamming was getting to the point that even some game players such as myself were growing tired of it.

Where things got a bit wonky in my opinion was during the battle at the end. I fully realize that Fubuki is the main character and the anime revolves around her, but the show pushed that concept a little too much for my tastes. It takes some suspension of disbelief to watch Fubuki, the least experienced member of the fleet – heck she just figured out how to sail properly, act like a wily, seasoned veteran barking out exactly the right orders without hesitation while the rest seem to have no real clue on what to do besides “charge!”  I think Fubuki’s ability (including tactical analysis and leadership) ramped up a bit too quickly here. The show did give some foreshadowing on this back in Ep 02 when showing Fubuki studied hard in class. However, textbook knowledge =/= real life experience. Something many a new “ninety–day wonder” officer learned the hard way during WWII.

That’s not to say that young leaders don’t emerge in times of war. They do. However, having read something like Company Commander, the actions of the other members of Mobile Unit 5 just don’t match up with what one would expect from long time veterans. Given how they acted at the start of the battle, one starts to wonder how all five managed to survive as long as they have.  So for me, it came across as too much of a forced plot line to make Fubuki a flagship. Perhaps not terribly done, but enough to be noticeable. Overall, the anime has done a fairly good job of making Fubuki’s improvements progressive in nature, but Ep. 05’s leadership power up seemed too rushed to me. Perhaps time limitations due to a one-cour run mandated the show speed things up a bit.

In terms of the battle itself, the Fubuki power up in general continued as she maneuvers with a level of expertise that would make Shimakaze (the fastest ship in the fleet and tied with Yukikaze for the highest evasion stat in the game) envious. It did look pretty good though on a purely visual level. In fact, in some respects I thought this was the best battle to so far. Finally, some fluid, almost non-stop action during a battle with the standing around coming after the battle was over. Even CGI integration was better. That being said, with Ooi jumping around at the end, I couldn’t help but think back to Kisaragi lowering her guard too early in Ep. 03. Ooi’s lucky there were no Abyssal CV(L) around. That or the battle didn’t take place in the South China Sea with Abyssal submarines nearby. 😉

Overall, I’m quite pleased with Episode 05, especially after what was a disappointing Episode 04. KanColle anime still some work left to do, but the show is finally getting closer to what I hoped for preseason.


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

  • Kaga and Zuikaku not getting along: This is really both a game and WWII reference – one I pointed out in the KanColle Franchise & Anime Primer post. During the early part of WWII, the 1st Carrier Division’s crew (who were considered elite) looked down upon the “newcomer” 5th Division (Shoukaku and Zuikaku). In addition, Shoukaku and Zuikaku were absent from the Battle of Midway due to the Battle of the Coral Sea. Since Kaga (along with Akagi, Souryuu and Hiryuu) sank at the Battle of Midway, Shoukaku & Zuikaku inherited the 1st Carrier Division title after that battle. So historically, Kaga has a few reasons not to like Zuikaku.
  • Admiral Reorganizing Fleets: This is done all the time in the game. One fleet composition does not work for all maps by any means. A main reason is what are called “branching rules”. Paths between nodes (dots on the map where enemy fleets, resources or “maelstroms” reside) are often dictated by fleet composition. A good example is Map 3-2 which requires an all DD fleet to reach the boss node. Have a different fleet composition and you’ll be sent to a dead end after a battle or two. Another primary reason is simply the enemies you face. For example, if the map has submarines, then you’ll need at least one DD, CL(T), etc. If a map has enemy carriers, then you’ll need one or more CV(L) to ensure air superiority which course is important.
  • Mobile Unit 5 and Fubuki as Flagship: This possibly is a game reference as well. One of the best leveling maps for DDs (and CL(T)s) is Map 4-3. The typical leveling fleet composition is the ship you want to level as flagship (flagships get 50% added XP bonus) + 2 CLTs + 2 CVL + BB(V). The anime substituted CV for CVL which doesn’t make much sense game-wise (unless you also want to level your CVs at the same time).  Even so, with Fubuki as flagship, Mobile Unit 5’s composition is close to what players would use to level up a DD (again, as flagship) at Map 4-3.  Whether this is an intentional game references or not is uncertain, but In my opinion, Mobile Unit 5’s composition had more to do with simply getting some different Kanmusu in the spotlight than anything else.
  • Ooi calling Zuikaku “Flight Deck Chest”: Here’s your pettanko (flat chested) joke. Ooi is saying that Zuikaku’s chest is as flat as an aircraft carrier’s flight deck… which is pretty much perfectly flat. In the game, Zuikaku is one of the most pettan ship-girls, probably second only to Ryuujou. Ryuujou’s character design actually has a historical basis for that particular trait. The IJN WWII CVL Ryuujou was in fact a flush-decked carrier without an island superstructure.
  • Mobile Unit 5’s Flagship MVP Competition: This is another possible surreptitious game reference which in my opinion was intentional. The five quick “battles” in the anime mirror PvP in the game. Unlike a lot of games, in KanColle PvP is designed to give players a quick and easy way to level up ships rather than another challenge or form of competition.  It’s impossible to sink a ship in PvP, and any damage taken is instantly healed.  You can fight up to 5 PvP matches every 12 hours (the list of 5 opponents resets twice per day).

Partial List of WWII References

  • IJN 1st & 5th Carrier Divisions: See note above under game references
  • Torpedo Cruisers Kitakami and Ōi:  In August 1941, the Kuma-Class light cruisers Ōi, Kitakami and Kiso were scheduled to undergo a conversion to torpedo cruisers to form a special torpedo attack squadron.  However, not enough Type 92 quadruple torpedo mounts were available so only the first two (Kitakami & Oi) were converted.  Both ships three aft turrets were replaced by ten quadruple torpedo mounts, five per side, with a total of 40 torpedoes. In the anime, notice how each kanmusu has multiple launchers on her legs.
  • Zuikaku in the eyecatch shows the originals side exhaust stacks

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6 thoughts on “Kantai Collection Episode 05 – Review

  1. Hmm… I was surprised to hear the two of you think Ep 5 was better. While I agree the factors you mentioned were there, I was much more annoyed. The whole episode seems dedicated to setting up Fubuki as the flagship, by character assassinating everyone else. Wacky personalities are dime a dozen in anime, but so far they have been consistent in saying “When the fighting starts, everyone gets sufficiently serious to get the job done.”

    Forget that this episode. They didn’t even bother showing how each ship managed to send everyone into the Repair Bath – just 5 Booms.

    Fubuki’s progression was actually reasonable. She just managed to stay calm (this is about her battle #9 if you count those 5 booms) and read out textbook tactics, which was sufficient against a much inferior threat. Then she took the lead (admittedly, in Japan this must have taken enormous courage) and survived long enough for everyone to follow her instructions and get out of it. If she looked like a real vet, it was because everyone else was nerfed.

    For the TS3 thing, frankly as a story there is no justification for breaking it up. While they’ve stuck with the 6-per-unit shtick, they are not following the game rules anyway with two or three fleets being easily (I know there were some events out there where they can “Combine” Fleets) able to participate in one battle (which conveniently made the fleet more balanced). I know we want to see more kanmusu, so just keep TS3 as a core, like a home, but reduce the time spent on them. Group them in battles with other destroyer squadrons and other heavy vessels. Let Fubuki meet more people that way.

    I’m not sure if I’m in the minority here, but the whole execution was frankly much more forced for me than Ep 4 ever was.

    Oh well, I guess different people weigh factors differently. Not to say in all this that these are bad reviews, so I’m looking forward to your next one.

    • @Kazuaki Shimazaki:

      Definitely personal perception plays a role in all of this. I’m sure that those who found the Kongou sisters’ antics in Ep. 04 really funny liked that episode more than I. As for wacky personalities in anime, no question they are common, but there are also different levels. To add to what Bear wrote, “genki” is one thing, outright silly idiocy is another. As one person commented for Ep. 04, “The Kongou sisters are geniuses. Their combined IQ is 200”. Again, comes down to personal viewpoint, but for me Ep. 04 simply took things too far in that regard. As I noted, it’s a matter of degree. “Ep. 05” Kongou was definitely closer to what I expected. I think there’s an appreciable, noticeable difference between “Ep. 05” Kongou and “Ep. 04” Kongou. Frankly, given how wacky the Kongou sisters were in Ep. 04, it was a bit tough to buy into the “but now we’re serious!” shift in personality. JMO though.

      Not sure if you read the “additional information” section, but I’m 99.9% sure those five “battles” were meant to represent practice exercises per the game (aka “PvP” in KanColle). That’s a pretty frequent remark in the player comments I’ve read. The fast “boom” sequence also matches how PvP works in the game. You can do all five much faster than normal battles because there’s no fatigue penalty with PvP. So it’s “boom, boom, boom” when you play – especially if you use the same fleet for all five PvP matches (you get 5 per 12 hour period). Problem for anime-only viewers is that it’s Another Game Reference™ – one not so readily apparent. Still, I think it was clear enough that the presentation was partly intended as humorous as well as moving forward the episode’s plot-line of “who should be flagship”. Have to admit, I LOL’d when someone (can’t remember who) said to Ooi (paraphrasing) “What’s with that Kitakami centered strategy?” XD

      Hopefully that helps to clarify the five “battles”. In effect, Fubuki really has 4 actual battles worth of experience + 5 practice exercises. Even if she did have 9 “battles-worth” of experience, the other members of Mobile Unit 5 should have had a lot more real battle experience. I agree with your statement of “If she [Fubuki] looked like a real vet, it was because everyone else was nerfed.” Yep, and again, to me the whole thing about Fubuki becoming the flagship felt conspicuously forced and rushed in terms of character development. :/

      “I know there were some events out there where they can “Combine” Fleets”

      A timely comment since the Winter 2015 event just started this past weekend. Both maps E-3 and “Extra Operations” map E-5 (which is brutal >__>) feature combined fleet mechanics.

      Anyway, in terms of TS3 breaking up I can see your point. I recall reading something about some ships typically paired together during WWII (can be more than 2). Then again, I also recall reading about fleet compositions changing during WWII. So for me the issue can go either way. Personally, at this point, I’m OK with KanColle anime changing fleets. Reason why I say “at this point” is because I do think it will become a problem if Fubuki keeps changing fleets. Once in 12 episodes is enough IMO. One problem with Fubuki remaining in TS3 is the plot line of her becoming a flagship. Jintsuu is already the flagship of TS3, and she’s good at it (we’ve seen that). I think it would be even more credibility straining/conspicuously forced plot line for Fubuki to boot Jintsuu out of the TS3 flagship role without a very good reason (more than “Fubuki improved”). Other than that, I have no problem with keeping Fubuki in TS3. As you suggest, the anime still could focus on/introduce other Kanmusu in that situation.

      Lastly, speaking of focusing on new Kanmusu, next episode will focus on the four Akatsuki-class DDs: Akatsuki, Hibiki, Ikazuchi, and Inazuma (aka DesDiv 6)

    • I think it depends on how you infer what the characters intentions are vis a vis their actions. I just didn’t give as much credit to the Kongou sisters acting that way by intent rather than personality than you did in episode 4. Here it seems it’s the reverse with the “booms”. They set up the fact that none of them would acknowledge the others as one they thought worthy to follow. Yes, they could have shown how each of them failed but the main point was that they just wouldn’t follow each other even if the one giving the orders was doing it right. We just see it differently. While you’d like to have seen how they failed, I wish I could have seen more growth in Fubuki on screen before they showed her so competent that the others would make her a flagship. The breakup of TS3 is more of a plot contrivance than anything else. The RL Fubuki stayed in Destroyer Division 11 throughout the war as far as I can tell. As I said, I think they could have come up with a better way of showing the other kanmusu, but I’m not overly upset about it. AYS, different people have different perspectives. I hope you enjoy our next review.

  2. Admiral – we need to talk. I’ve… met someone. She smart and beautiful and commanding and very mature even though she’s a bit younger than me. She has a really good heart and makes friends really easily and understands that everyone has their own talents and how to use them best. I love that. Sometimes, she needs cheering up or protecting or just holding whilst she cries and I’m okay with doing that. I want to do that, and she makes me feel like my feelings are accepted and important in exactly the way you don’t. She makes me happy, and I think I can make her happy…

    Admiral, I’m leaving you.

    – Kongou

  3. I enjoyed episode 5, overall, because it gave me the impression that the writers were going to focus on progressing the plot. Then episode 6 happened. Regardless, I didn’t think 5 had any glaring issues. If I had to complain about one thing, it’d be that it almost seemed like they were switching out the main cast, just because they wanted to introduce more characters. Other than that, everything went as expected. KTKM was (ridiculously) aloof as usual, Ooi was obsessive (to an excessive degree) as usual, and Kongou was a bongo. The conflict between Kaga and Zuikaku is interesting, and I hope that this issue carries on for a little longer (for some character/relationship development).

    If the writers had started off the show in a way that distributed screen time evenly among characters, I think I would’ve been fine with episode 6, but they didn’t. Instead, like episode 3, the timing for 6 didn’t feel right, because I was under the impression that they’d be focusing more on Fubuki’s development as a leader, and the new fleet working together. I’m not saying the destroyer girls don’t deserve attention, but I don’t think having a curry tournament was the best way to give them screen time.

    I’ve been looking at the lines that some of the girls say in the game (especially the sinking lines). While it may seem obvious from a historical standpoint, I doubt they will sink Akagi, without sinking Kaga first. I also doubt Akagi would sink at all, considering it makes little sense for them to scuttle her like the actual ship (I don’t even want to imagine the outrage that would result from destroyer kanmusus firing torps at Akagi as she sinks). Of course, they could just avoid using the lines.

    In other news, Strike Witches OVA volume 3’s trailer is out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6v5gSLJn-o

    • First off, thanks for the info on Strike Witches. I’ll post that up with a big hat tip to you.

      Now as for this episode, yeah Kongou was bongo :), but much less so than episode 4. Based on what daikama has said, she’s very genki in the game so I didn’t think she was too OTT here. As we commented in our post, it looks like they’re going to be highlighting different groups throughout the show. Maybe not the way I would have done it, but they’re catering to the gamers so I can see why they’ve taken that approach. AFA Kaga and Zuikaku goes, given the title of episode 7, you’re going to get your wish on that interaction continuing. Our post on episode 6 should be up in the next few days and it wasn’t what I was expecting it to be. Stay tuned.

      The only thing about Kaga and Akagi that leads me to believe they might be sunk is the OP. I hope they don’t do it in the show since they’re taking a light tone with the rest of it and it might be just too grim dark. Besides I like the characters. Now Ooi, OTOH….

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