Note: Some of my comments are due to a lack of knowledge of the game and some due to specific WWII details that I wasn’t aware of. I thought about removing them when diakama explained some of them to me, but since I’m writing as the “anime only” reviewer I thought I’d leave them in and just refer the reader to the references section for the explanations.
Now up to this point, the story had analogies to events and locations from WWII such as Truk, Operation MO, and W island, but I’m not sure where things are going from here and if there is a correspondence to the real world anymore. Could the disappearance of the Admiral be analogous to the shooting down of Admiral Yamamoto by the American P-38’s? Seems like a stretch, but IDK at this point. Creates the same situation without actually having him killed by having him “disappear”.
Now how did I feel about the various parts of the episode? The reaction to Yuudachi’s remodel struck me as surprising. Fubuki and some of the others might be ignorant of an upgrade, but none of the destroyers seems to have been present when a ship was receiving one. Doesn’t seem likely to me, but be that as it may, their reaction was funny and cute. Of course we get our usual Ooi/Kitakami scene. Now I’m not sure what they’re talking about with “I liked the old ones” unless it’s their upgrade to torpedo cruiser with 40 tubes. They can’t be referring to a change in the torpedoes since AFAIK they only used the Type 93 Long Lance. Now Kongou having a romantic fantasy about the Admiral is definitely from the game from what diakama has said. (You know, the Admiral would have one hell of a harem if he doesn’t already :D). And then we get to see the upgraded Yuudaichi-chan. (Fleet girls sure go through puberty fast. ) 😀 The only thing I didn’t really care for in the upgrade is her hair style. Makes her look like she’s got dogs hears on the top of her head. Also didn’t grasp reason for the square sail on her rig (see references).
Now even before Fubuki gets the news about her and Yuudachi’s new assigments, she doesn’t look happy about her friends remodel. Of course it’s made even worse by Shimakaze pointing out that she thought Fubuki would be first because she’s the only destroyer flagship. Again, the director is making it all about Fubuki. Not only does she have to be the MC but she’s got to be better than all the other fleet-girls who have way more experience than she does. Even her talk with Yamato about how to get an upgrade seems more one of envy than trying to better herself. Of course Akagi’s pat on the head goes right to it. Damn girl, get a room, you’re getting as bad as Ooi in that department. I feel bad for poor Mutsuki, having to put up with all this fangirling. She’s a real (and patient) friend.
Now, of course, Fubuki’s ordered to return to the Naval District, which devastates her, and it comes without any explanation (how else could they manage to get both a retrospective and a nightmare dream sequence into the show?). One thing stands out for me here, and that’s how Kongou has really become Fubuki’s onee-chan. We’ve seen similar scenes before but this one really brought it home to me. Now if I could just get episode 4 out of my head…. Another problem I had is how quickly Fubuki’s attitude turns around by just hearing how Yuudaichi “worked hard”. Just too abrupt, but that’s partly due to the compression of the story IMO.
They do manage to squeeze another kanmusu that we haven’t seen in awhile for a cameo. Mogami is a cute fleet-girl but I don’t quite grasp the layout of her rigging with the deck across her chest (see references). Seems like it would get in the way in a fight and I don’t see what it might reference in the real world. I’d trade her for Naka anytime. The scenes at the Naval District seemed somewhat inconsistent from the first closeup image that they see as they are approaching. Looks like it’s totally flattened but they appear to clean it up rather quickly.
Another thing that appears inconsistent here is Fubuki’s remodel. When Yuudachi is remodeled she started glowing but Fubuki is just being remodeled just on the Admiral’s orders. I suppose there can be more than one method of receiving a remodel, and maybe they’ll explain things in the next episode, but right now it seems like a stretch.
Now to summarize, this episode seemed…disjointed. Almost like there were three plotlines (or maybe more) stitched together. We started with Yuudachi’s remodel which was, in turn, followed Fubuki’s devastation at losing out to Yuudachi for a slot in the Carrier Group One with her idol, Akagi. Finally we have the attack on the Naval District and it’s aftermath. Of course we’re now coming towards the end of the cour, and so many events seem like they’re crammed into just one episode that could have been spread over two or, even better, three if they’d had more time. Yuudachi’s remodel alone should have been one episode and could have been very humorous with her trying to adjust to her new body and capabilities. As it is, we have some humor followed by two dark sections, which I felt was rather jarring juxtaposed against the first part. I think it would have been much better to have split them up. Overall it was neither the best nor the worst and would have been a lot better if it hadn’t been so rushed.
That wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Ep. 09 was not the worse episode (I still think that dubious “honor” goes to Ep. 04), but it definitely wasn’t one of the best KanColle episodes either. In some aspects it represents a step backwards towards Ep. 01’s issues concerning pacing and game dialog/reference integration though perhaps not to the same degree. Frankly, I thought the presentation was a bit disjointed and overly “busy”. On the other hand, there were a couple of unexpected developments which, if nothing else, kept things from becoming too predictable.
I think for the most part the anime did a good enough, if not quite good, job with Yuudachi’s (aka Poi) Kai-ni (2nd) remodel (see below). The glowing part was… kind of odd (doesn’t happen in the game) and some specific details were lacking, but the anime did get the basic message across (i.e. “x amount of improvement/experience leads to a power-up”). While some hard-core Poi fans might be disgruntled, the show did a good job keeping anime Yuudachi Kai-ni consistent with her game persona and character design. The game does have a couple “Nightmare of the Solomons” (see below) battle lines, but her overall personality does not become the blood thirsty, all-powerful demon much of fandom portrays. Points as well for giving some explanation as to what a remodel means in terms of increased ability and better equipment.
Of course, Yuudachi is not the only Kanmusu getting a remodel. Despite the show trying to portray it as a “shocking” development, the announcement of Fubuki’s remodel was “as expected” rather than surprising. In fact, Shimakaze even told Fubuki: “I’m kind of surprised. I thought you would be first … You’re the only destroyer who’s also a flagship, right?” To be clear, I do not have any issue with Fubuki getting a remodel in the anime. However, I do think the show tried too hard to pass it off as a “shocking reveal”. Furthermore, the presentation was inconsistent when compared to Yuudachi’s remodel. Yuudachi’s remodel seemed natural whereas Fubuki’s was more “on demand/as desired”. Where are Fubuki’s glowing aura and other symptoms (and no, thinking about Akagi senpai doesn’t count 😛 )? A little more detail on the whole remodel thing would have been beneficial.
Ep. 09 found a way to include some hit and miss comedy along the way. The various DDs’ reaction at the beach was amusing, but I have no idea what Yuubari was trying to build. Frankly, I could have done without the requisite Kitakami x Ooi moment. Seriously, will the sun explode if every episode doesn’t have one of those? They even threw in a bit of Yuudachi fan service for good measure. In addition, Ep. 09 also introduced a new plot line. It seems the admiral is missing/dead/whatever. I’m sure some viewers’ reaction to that was “So what? It’s not like he/she was a real character.” Fair enough. However, I do not think the intended reaction was “OMG! The poor admiral! I hope he/she is alright!” The show is clearly focused on the Kanmusu (and rightfully so in my opinion).
Instead, I view it as another challenge the (ship)girls must overcome (i.e. a void in chain of command) as we head towards the season’s climactic end – a way to add drama/tension. Unfortunately, I don’t think it succeeded, due in no small part to the remarkably fortuitous finding of the admiral’s detailed notebook ‘o plans. Pretty amazing that survived the bombing. I suppose Nagato does have a pretty high luck stat in the game, but still… At any rate, with that plot device found, do you even need the admiral anymore? Sorry, but unless there’s some further, good plot development stemming from the admiral’s disappearance, I think the anime would have been better off skipping the whole thing.
My favorite part of Ep. 09 was the bombing of the naval base. That, I did not expect. In retrospect, the show did give viewers a small hint early on when Nagato said “It’s ill-advised to leave the rest of the battlefronts largely undefended because the main fleet is here.” Regardless, it’s a smart move by the Abyssal Fleet and one with significant ramifications. No, not the admiral missing, but it did force the Kanmusu to abandon “Operation FS” which most likely would have succeeded. The show even inserted a nice, surreptitious game reference in the form of “Black Wo Shooter” (gamers’ nickname for Standard Carrier Wo-Class Kai Flagship). A challenging opponent indeed. In the game, some Abyssal ships do have a remodeled version (Kai/1st remodel only so far), so there’s a tie-in with this episode’s remodeling theme. The attack also seems to be carried out by the same (but now upgraded) Abyssal Wo-class CV Fubuki damaged back in Ep. 07. Uh oh, Fubuki, looks like now it’s personal.
As for any historic/WWII references, I suppose one could consider the attack on the naval base a reference to the “Doolittle Raid” (see below). However, if that’s the intent, KanColle anime is moving the WWII timeline around since the Doolittle Raid took place prior to the Battle of the Coral Sea. And I’m perfectly fine with that. In fact, I like it because it makes the story less predictable. I think. Up until that point, with the continued emphasis on the capture of “MO” (Port Moresby) and “Operation FS”, I thought that perhaps the Battle of Midway was off the table. Now it seems the anime is right back on track for a Battle of Midway type finale. If so, Fubuki’s gonna need that Kai-ni remodel (she gets a big boost to AA stat + some nice AA equipment), and Akagi will definitely want Fubuki Kai-ni defending her. I’m betting that’s how things turn out.
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
Remodeling (Kai/Kai-ni versions):
- In the game, at certain experience levels, Kanmusu can be remodeled to “Kai” versions and some to “Kai-ni” versions. Remodeling has two effects. First, ships have higher maximum values for key stats, and second, the (usually) come equipped with better gear (can be weapons, radar, etc.).
- The degree of improvements (e.g. stats and equipment) varies, but as a general rule, ships with Kai-ni remodels are the most powerful in their respective class and come with the best equipment (BBs/Yamato class an exception of course).
- With her Kai-ni remodel, Yuudachi becomes arguably the most powerful destroyer in the game. Not only is her torpedo attack stat 2nd best among destroyers (Shimakaze Kai has the highest), but her firepower stat is actually slightly higher than some heavy cruisers!
- The massive stat boost along with her “ferocious beast” Kai-ni character design imagery (per artist tweet) is said to represents her IJN counterpart’s accomplishments during the various naval battles off Guadalcanal.
- Specifically, her Kai-ni’s heavy cruiser like base firepower stat is thought to represent Yuudachi damaging the heavy cruiser USS Portland during the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. However, In fact USS Portland was damaged astern after being struck by one of Yuudachi’s “long lance” torpedoes so… not sure what to say here. Ironically, the damaged, but not fully disabled, USS Portland ultimately sunk Yuudachi during that same battle.
- Her “Nightmare of the Solomons” battle lines are a reference to Gundam 0083.
- The white sail on her Kai-ni remodel rigging is actually somewhat controversial. After being damaged and losing power, supposedly Yuudachi’s captain ordered white sheets to be put up as “sails” in order to boost morale (i.e. the ship would keep fighting even though it lost propulsion). However, USN ships reportedly viewed the “sails” initially as a “white flag” of surrender.
- Fubuki received her Kai-ni remodel when the anime’s first episode aired back in January. I strongly suspect it the timing was not coincidental.
- Like other Kai-ni remodels, her offensive stats (firepower & torpedo) improve significantly though not nearly to the same extent as Yuudachi’s. However, most notably Fubuki Kai-ni gets a very large increase to her AA (anti-aircraft) stat along with some nice AA equipment.
Abyssal Standard Carrier Wo-Class Kai Flagship (aka “Black Wo(ck) Shooter”):
- One of the most player popular Abyssal ships, “Wo-chan” is also a formidable opponent – especially so in her Kai Flagship form which grants an increase of 66% for “HP”, 50% for armor and 50% in total plane capacity over the normal Wo Flagship version.
- The nickname is taken from the Black Rock Shooter franchise.
Partial List of WWII References
- On 18 April 1942, sixteen U.S. Army Air Force B-25B Mitchell medium bombers were launched from the USS Hornet (CV-8) deep in the Western Pacific Ocean and conducted an air raid on Tokyo and other places on Honshu island. It was the first air raid of WWII to strike the Japanese home islands and demonstrated that Japan itself was vulnerable to American carrier based air attack.
- The raid was planned and led by Lieutenant Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolittle, U.S. Army Air Forces, and thus was later known as the “Doolittle Raid”. For his efforts, Doolittle received the Medal of Honor and was promoted two steps to Brigadier General.
- Tactically, the raid was a failure as it it resulted in relatively negligible material damage (the converted light cruiser Ryūhō was damaged, however, delaying launch a few months).
- Strategically, however, the raid was a success well beyond expectations. First, it provided a great morale boost to US forces which at the time were sorely in need of positive news. Second, the raid had unanticipated consequences in terms of Imperial Japan’s high command. Not only did it reinforce Combined Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s decision to attack Midway Island in the Central Pacific, but it also lessened opposition to that very plan.