Frankly, I’m having a hard time digesting all that happens in this episode and that’s both from a purely anime viewpoint and from the analogs to actual WWII events. Events seem to be going in a grimdark direction. The opening scene was just painful to watch. Maikaze preparing to sink Akagi was probably the emotional low point of the show for me. Just the look on Maikaze’s face. But then we find it’s a dream and Akagi has the sense that they are repeating something that happened in the past. Now, we know that the kanmusu possess the souls of the ships that they represent so this fits with that theme. So do we see an ending that follows what actually happened at Midway or will our girls manage to prevent a reenactment of the results of that battle? Akagi seemed to raise her own death flag back in Episode 3 with this line from where she was talking to Fubuki and Mutsuki: Don’t hesitate to tell the people you love that you care about the feelings you have for them. Because they may not be there tomorrow. Now, that was the episode where Kisaragi was sunk, but it seems to be leading towards Akagi’s demise also.
Both Akagi nor Nagato are uneasy about the operation so Akagi’s recommendations are readily accepted and the order of battle, based on Akagi’s recommendation, is only partly close to the RL order of battle. In the First Carrier Striking Force, Akagi, Kaga, Hiryū, and Soryū are the same, but Kongou and Hiei were not with the carriers. Haruna and Kirashima were the BB’s. CA’s Tone and Chikuma are in both, but Yuudachi wasn’t nor was Fubuki. The thing is, Nagato’s Main Force wasn’t that close to RL except for Yamato. Of course, Mutsu and Nagato were in the RL Main Force too. I’m somewhat surprised that they’re not involved (or maybe they are and we haven’t seen them yet?).
Now one thing that annoys me is that Nagato tells Akagi that she won’t take Fubuki out of the First Carrier Strike Force because the Admiral ordered the remodeled Fubuki to be in it. Why did they go on in the last episode about Akagi wanting Fubuki as her escort if they were going to make it a requirement from the Admiral anyway? We could have avoided that whole scenario of Akagi picking a newbie as her escort when she had the remodeled Yuudachi. Damn, Yuudachi gets no respect in this show.
Nagato and Akagi both use the term “doki doki” (the sound of a beating heart/ being nervous) but the TL doesn’t seem to be anything like that. I wish I knew what the literal translation would be. More and more the show is wrapped in a sense of predestination and fate. Of course with those of us who are familiar with the RL battle that really ratchets up the tension. Will/Could they actually go down that dark path?
Of course we have our our required Kitakami/Ooi scene (thank you director /sarcasm), but this time Ooi is dumbstruck when Kitakami doesn’t have a problem with them being separated. Given the previous scene (with Nagato laying her head on Mutsu’s chest), I don’t think Ooi has anything to worry about with Nagato being interested in Kitakami. Natago’s already taken. I declare them an official couple now.
As dawn breaks we get a remembrance of Kisaragi (ye of so little screen time). A nice touch but is this meant to be another death flag? The fact that Mutuski is not part of the strike force has me wondering about that. That and Fubuki and Yuudachi saying that they’ll be back. If the OP is any indication, then Fubuki and Kongou survive, but they were separated from the Carrier Strike Force. Can’t believe that all of the rest are lost though.
As I rewatch it I’m wondering “what are the orders of the fleet heading to AL that Nachi has?” Could this be the change in plans that will really affect the outcome? There is also a fleeting glimpse of something during Yamato’s launch sequence that leads me to believe that there is a surprise coming. And who is the kanmusu shown in silhouette on the cliff?
Now on the surface, the planning seems abysmal for this operation. They’re worried about being discovered before they can join up with Yamato’s force. WHY didn’t you rendezvous with them before you were in range!? Akagi states that they need to work together with Yamato’s fleet. Truer words were never spoken, but then she further divides her force by leaving behind not one, but two kanmusu.
The separation of the two forces does mirror the RL situation where Yamato’s force was not with the Carrier Strike Force. If Yamato hadn’t broken up his available ships into separate groups in RL the outcome might have been different. Now there is enough blame to go around, and Nagumo certainly warrants a share, but I’m not sure if Yamato deserves the credit he seems to have, given the lack of success his battles had. Sure he had surprise at Pearl, but it didn’t really accomplish much in the long term. Even Coral Sea was not decisive tactically and a failure from a strategic point of view. And Midway…
As the battle commences we’re somewhat in uncharted territory. The RL carriers did strike Midway and Nagumo didn’t know where the US carriers were for similar reasons to the anime. Midway did strike at the carriers but were ineffective, though we don’t see a similar scene in the anime. I have no idea what the spheres that the Airfield Princess launched were supposed to represent. AA? Aircraft? Surface ships attacking with torpedoes? Ok, now they’ve really gone off the RL script. I’m not even sure if Kitakami was hit or not. Her look right before the explosion leads me to believe she was hit, but it’s inconclusive. Three of the carriers have also taken damage and we are left with a bomb heading towards Akagi and her name being shouted. I can’t believe at this point that they can not have someone sink. It just would just be wrong to suddenly switch to a “sweetness and light” ending. I also can’t believe that it will be totally grimdark. The game players would be outraged for one thing.
More than any episode thus far, I have mixed feelings about Episode 11. Perhaps that’s not too surprising as the viewer commentary I’ve read seems more polarized than any previous episode – from both player and “anime-only” viewer perspective. For some, Ep. 11 was the best episode so far yet for others the worst. For me it’s neither, but where it ranks compared to the previous ten episodes is hard to say.
Like Ep. 01, I thought the show did a good job with the opening scene. Certainly for game players, the introduction of Kanmusu residual memories should not be anything surprising or new. That concept is thoroughly woven throughout the game via dialog. It’s at the heart of the Kanmusu concept – “girls with the souls of IJN WWII warships”. So Akagi’s stating that she’s had that dream ever since Operation MI was decided makes perfect sense in context, and I found the introductory scene a good way to start the episode. Kudos as well for including Akagi’s game sinking line along with a tearful Maikaze (see below). Nice attention to detail there. Same goes for the framed Gosei (which was recited at the start of Ep. 01) in Nagato’s office along with Nagato & Mutsu giving a nod to RL history when mentioning that the original plan was to include other destroyers such as the aforementioned Maikaze. They even included a couple of good, subtle “Battle of Midway Easter eggs” later on in the form of Tone’s comment about her catapult not working and the “kawa, kawa, kawa” code phrase.
Another plus for me was Mutsuki, Fubuki and Yuudachi remembering Kisaragi. It’s a short, but efficient scene which not only illustrates that Kisaragi is not forgotten, but also reminds viewers that “yes, someone can die in this show”. Quite appropriate as lead-in to the start of the final, climactic battle. I also liked the use of the subtitled time line (“X hours until Operation MI”) together with bass drum sound effect. It lent a bit of gravitas to the overall atmosphere.
On the downside, Ep. 11 reminded me of Ep. 01 in that I found it overly “busy”, trying to cram in a lot of things including SoL moments with, of course, the requisite Kitakami x Ooi scene. This time around it was okay due in part to the fact that it actually had some significance later in the episode. Still, I can help but feel that some of the SoL stuff was a bit forced, and one occasion, a little jarring in tone. We go from a serious conversation with Akagi and Nagato concerning the order of battle (see below) to “16 hours until Operation MI” subtitle with bass drum sound effect, and then… a DesDiv 6 SoL moment about the benefits of drinking milk with comedy style background music. The show has struggled at times with scene/atmosphere transition, and while not to the extent of say Ep. 04, I think Ep. 11 suffered a bit from that as well.
That wasn’t a major issue, but one thing that did irritate me was the half-assed, “idol-esque” (complete with spotlights) Yamato troll “transformation” scene (i.e. equipment/rigging). I cannot help but recall back to Ep. 08 when we saw Yamato (and others) fully equip their rigging & weapons at whim. I thought that was a bad decision back then and think it’s even worse now. It rendered the established dock equipping (“transformation”) scenes meaningless. So if you’re gonna include one of those solely for the “Wow! Cool!” visual factor, at least do it right like we saw in Ep. 01 (i.e. the whole thing). However, that scene did provide an interesting “hint”. Notice the two silhouettes in the background to the side of Yamato – Shoukaku (right) and Zuikaku (left)! Guess they found a couple instant repair buckets. Right after that, we see a black silhouette of someone. My first thought was that it’s Mutsuki, but after reading comments and looking more closely, it seems to be Taihou (CV) – a brand new character! With only one episode to go, it’s just a “tad” late to be introducing new characters if indeed that is the case. Maybe it’s just another random, forced game reference.
Ep. 11 also introduced the new plot line of the Kanmusu “fighting fate”. On a conceptual level, I’m fine with the idea though one could argue it’s a bit late at this stage. Perhaps the idea would have come across better if it wasn’t a primary source of frustration with Ep. 11. Akagi talks a good game, but when it came down to actions, she follows the Battle of Midway script to the point I’m mentally calling her “(Admr.) Nagumo” when she gave the order to launch the 2nd attack wave against “Midway”. I understand the nod to history here, but the problem I have is that Akagi makes such a big deal about breaking away from “fate” and then… does pretty much the exactly same damn thing. Saying “this time it will be different” just makes it worse. Forehead, meet palm. At least throw up some CAP (Combat Air Patrol). Nagumo did that much.
I’m also not sure about the “wisdom” of splitting up forces (i.e. leaving Fubuki & Kongou behind), especially when the show explicitly states that “both fleets are necessary for victory”. I suppose it allows for Fubuki as MC-chan to have a more dramatic rescue entrance (to the extent there is one), but it also comes across as a bit of a forced plot line setup. The decision not to break radio silence is an interesting one from a historic perspective because Admr. Nagumo did break radio silence once en route to Midway due to inclement weather. There’s also the historical debate surrounding Yamamoto’s refusal to break radio silence when erroneously assuming Nagumo aboard Akagi received important intelligence updates (e.g. cancellation of planned IJN long range flying boat reconnaissance).
Questionable tactical decisions aside, the latter part of battle itself was pretty good – one of the better ones visually in my opinion. The flow of the battle was fairly smooth and fast paced along with some noticeable tension. Certainly, the girls are in quite the “dai pinchi”, and thanks to Kisaragi’s plot driven sacrifice, it’s questionable whether all of them survive. To be honest, I’m not sure who, if anyone, will sink, and I think the show deserves credit for creating that uncertainty. Akagi, for one, definitely has a death flag (and bomb 😛 ) hanging over her head. Kitakami is another possible sinking casualty. She seemed resigned to her fate right before that torpedo struck. Too bad she didn’t learn Ise’s patented torpedo avoidance maneuver. Jokes aside, there are a few different ways this could play out. Fubuki to the rescue ala Ep. 07 is certainly one of them. Nachi and her secret orders (i.e. don’t continue with Operation AL, but return and reinforce Operation MI) is another possibility as is the “main force” with Yamato and her two “secret” companions coming to the rescue. I’m definitely looking forward to next week’s final episode.
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
- Abyssal Airfield Princess: For whatever reason, the anime deviated from the expected “boss” – Midway Princess and went with the Airfield Princess (a reference to Henderson Field) instead.
- Akagi’s line “I’m sorry. Please scuttle me” in her dream: This is taken directly from Akagi’s game sinking line of “My apologies… Please… scuttle me with the torpedoes.”, which references the actual sinking of Akagi on June 5th. (See WWII References below)
- Operations AL & MI were the basis for the KanColle Summer 2014 Event.
Partial List of WWII References
- The Battle of Midway:IJN plans for the Battle of Midway had two components. Operation AL and Operation MI
- Operation AL: Whether the Japanese operations in the Aleutian Islands (Operation AL) were a feint to draw American forces away or a separately planned operation supposed to be launched simultaneously with the attack on Midway is debated by historians. Whatever the reason, it did further dilute the number of available ships available for the planned assault on Midway Island.
- Operation MI:Yamamoto’s primary strategic goal was the elimination of America’s Pacific carrier forces in one “great, decisive battle” (a doctrine well entrenched within the IJN). In addition, capture of Midway would greatly extend the IJN’s Pacific defensive perimeter. That being said, maintaining a Japanese base at Midway would have severe logistic issues to overcome.
- Order of Battle – WWII Midway vs. KanColle Ep. 11
- First Carrier Striking Force (“Assault Force” in anime)
- Ep. 11 (per Nagato’s announcement): Akagi & Kaga (CarDiv 1), Hiryuu & Souryuu (CarDiv 2), Kongou & Hiei (3rd Battleship Div.) Tone & Chikuma (8th Cruiser Div.), Kitakami, Fubuki & Yuudachi.
- WWII Battle of Midway: Car Div 1 & 2, 8th Cruiser Div., Haruna & Kirishima (3rd Battleship Div.) plus the 10th Destroyer Squadron as Screening Force:
- Nagara (CL)
- 4th Destroyer Division – Nowaki, Arashi, Hagikaze & Maikaze
- 10th Destroyer Division – Kazagumo, Yūgumo, Makigumo
- 17th Destroyer Division – Urakaze, Isokaze, Tanikaze, Hamakaze
- Kongou and Hiei were part of the Midway Invasion Force during the actual Battle of Midway.
- Main Force
- Ep. 11 (per Nagato’s announcement) = Haruna & Kirishima (3rd Battleship Div.), Ooi plus a fleet from Truk lead by Yamato.
- WWII Battle of Midway = 1st Battleship Div. (Yamato, Nagato & Mutsu), Hōshō (CVL), Yukikaze (DD), Chiyoda (AV), Nisshin (AV), and Screening Force 3rd Destroyer Squadron:
- Sendai (CL)
- 11th Destroyer Division – Fubuki, Shirayuki, Hatsuyuki, Murakumo
- 19th Destroyer Division – Isonami, Uranami, Shikinami, Ayanami
- Northern Area Force (i.e. Operation AL or “decoy fleet” in Ep. 11)
- Ep. 11 (per Nagato’s announcement) = Junyou (CVL) & Ryuujou (CVL) “from another naval district”, Nachi (CA), Kuma (CL), Tama (CL) and DesDiv 6 (Akatsuki, Hibiki, Inazuma and Ikazuchi)
- WWII Battle of Midway (partial list) = Nachi, Akatsuki, Hibiki, Inazuma, Ikazuchi, Kitakami, Ooi, Tama, Junyou & Ryuujou
- As noted this is an abbreviated list.
- Note: Kuma (CL) did not take part in Operations AL or MI. For Operation AL, Tama was paired with another Kuma-class CL, Kiso, who is not on the anime. The anime swapped Kiso with Kuma.
- Nagato’s initial order of battle: Not 100% accurate, but mostly.
- As noted above, Battleship “Group 1” should have Nagato & Mutsu rather than Kongou & Hiei.
- Mogami & Mikuma were paired together along with Suzuya and Kumano in the 7th Cruiser Div.
- Kitakami & Ooi were together in Operation AL as part of the Aleutian Support Force.
- Samidare, Harusame, Murasame and Yuudachi were together as the 3rd Destroyer Division and part of the Midway Invasion Force.
- First Carrier Striking Force (“Assault Force” in anime)
- “Henderson Field”: Though the best known “Henderson Field” during WWII was the captured and completed airfield on Guadalcanal, there was also a “Henderson Field” on Midway Island Both were named after Major Lofton R. Henderson who was killed during the Battle of Midway.
- Tone’s Catapult Issues: IJN reconnaissance plans for the battle centered around using float-planes launched from heavy cruisers such as Chikuma and Tone rather than “waste” carrier aircraft for recon (unlike the US). Like many things that day for the IJN, things didn’t go as planned. For some reason, presumably an issue with the catapult, Tone’s #4 scout plane’s launch was delayed. As it turns out, Tone’s #4 scout was the first IJN scout plane to spot USN forces that day. Whether it would have made a material difference if that plane had launched on time is the subject of much debate.
- “Kawa, Kawa, Kawa” (“river, river, river”) code phrase for 2nd strike on Midway. Tomonaga , the leader of the first strike, sent this coded message to Nagumo after having realized that “the seventy-odd bombers had, indeed, been insufficient to put Midway out of business.” (Shattered Sword: the Untold Story of the Battle of Midway).
- Nagumo’s Dilemma:
- After the initial strike on Midway, though the IJN had inflicted significant damage (incl. decimating Midway’s fighter aircraft), the first attack wave had failed to completely disable the US base (e.g. the runway was still usable). Thus, a second strike was recommended. Yamato had ordered Nagumo to keep half of his carrier aircraft on standby in case USN carriers unexpectedly appeared, and initially Nagumo complied with that order, leaving his best attack squadrons in reserve and armed with anti-ship weapons. However, at this point, Nagumo had no idea that any US ships were in the area. So far, his scout planes had not reported any sightings of US ships nor had he received any IJN intelligence updates (due to Akagi’s limited radio reception) regarding USN fleet movement.
- So Nagumo had a fateful decision to make. Continue to follow Yamamoto’s orders in case there actually were unexpected US ships in the area, or rearm his reserve planes for a land based attack and launch a strike at Midway before remaining US aircraft could refuel, rearm and take another shot at Nagumo’s ships. He decided to ignore Yamamoto’s orders and go with the latter option. In order to catch US aircraft while they were on the ground, his second wave had to be launch before the first wave landed. Rearming the planes carrying torpedoes with bombs was a lengthy process and needed to be started quickly. It also left him without the ability to quickly strike at the American carriers with the first strike returning and the second strike being rearmed.
- Akagi scuttled: After being struck by dive bombers during the Battle of Midway and hopelessly on fire, Akagi was evacuated. Yamamoto then ordered her to be scuttled. Four Japanese destroyers, Arashi, Hagikaze, Maikaze and Nowaki, each fired one torpedo sinking Akagi bow first.