Kantai Collection Episode 1 [First Impression]
Greetings, fellow teitokus! It’s happening, and the hype is real!
Firstly, I have to admit that I don’t actually play Kancolle, at least not yet. I did try once, some time ago, but the whole lottery ticket process and the need to mess around with VPNs put me off a bit. So I ended up jumping on the bandwagon through the absurdly high number of Kancolle doujinshi that exist out there. It’s terrifying, seriously. Oh, and I’ve seen stuff like drama CDs as well, like the one where it’s just Touyama Nao talking to herself… uh, I mean playing all the Kongou sisters and then some. I’m so glad they milked both her and Sakura Ayane for all they’re worth in this franchise, they’re such great seiyuu. But yeah, so my knowledge is very skewed in that I only really know about the popular kanmusu – like Kongou, Atago, Tenryuu, Shimakaze, Kaga or Akagi. Nevertheless, Shimakaze is my eternal ship daughter, and admittedly I quite like Kongou and Mutsu as well. I can be a teitoku in spirit.
For the uninitiated, Kancolle is basically an online browser game that has experienced a scary surge in popularity in recent years. Its domestic fanbase is huge, and if you go by how much space it takes up in Comiket it soars past both Kuroko and Touhou Project. Considering it’s basically a game with a plethora of possible different waifus, I’m not surprised – just like the 2D waifu simulator that is Fire Emblem: Awakening, except that’s not browser-based, free-to-play and automated. Anyway, an anime really wasn’t surprising – it was almost inevitable, and it will equally inevitably cater to its fanbase first and foremost, which is both good and bad as I know barely enough to understand it. So I hope it has a good plot, because that’s what I’m gunning for here, but it can probably go to shit and still top this season’s DVD/BD pre-order rankings, which it’s already doing. This franchise is the finest example of a cash cow I’ve seen since Saber.
I remember reading somewhere that this will be about 70% slice-of-life and 30% action, and we got a bit of both for this pilot episode. It does look like it’s set to follow in the footsteps of similar predecessors like Strike Witches and Girls und Panzer – so with Kancolle, military moe now rules the land, sea and sky! This is practically an original anime series, so they could have done whatever they wanted – but the parallels to Strike Witches were quite strong, and if they’re going to take that kind of direction I don’t really mind. There was surprisingly little ecchi, but yuri exists, at least on the Kitakami x Ooi front. And they’re setting up Akagi as a senpai-crush for Fubuki as well. I don’t know if that’s a ship (ha ha ha) especially as many of the doujins are basically teitoku x kanmusu, but I can guarantee it will be one from now on. Actually, about Fubuki – the fact that they made her the protagonist is a great indicator of how they’re taking this forward. They’ve gone down the route of having a fresh new kanmusu join the base, make new friends and learn how to be the best kanmusu ever, so that promises a light and fluffy sort of setting. And Fubuki is one of those nice, quiet girls who tries her best, and doesn’t have any distinguishing characteristics as far as I can see. I think this is the one concession they’re making to people who don’t actually play the game, like me – it’s not much, but we can learn about stuff through Fubuki, because she doesn’t know shit either. Like how she struggled with the water skating – it was unfamiliar to both us and her.
Speaking of unfamiliar things, I had fun playing spot the kanmusu! I don’t think I did very well. The very first one we saw should be Haruna, and I saw glimpses of Atago and Shimakaze too. Why did she only get a few seconds on screen?! The unseen teitoku’s waifu seems to be Nagato in the control room, and Mutsu was next to her. And I recognized Kongou, Hibiki and Hiei from the sortie, as well as Akagi and Kaga who I think are being made out to be distinguished veterans and aces whom Fubuki will end up looking up to and wanting to be like, even though… she’s not an aircraft carrier. To be honest, I actually had no idea who Fubuki was until this anime happened, even though I knew about Sendai and Yuudachi from her division-poi. Sorry Fubuki. Poi. I don’t know how I feel about her as a protagonist itself – I find that I tend to like the kanmusu who have some sort of distinguishing feature – be that an eccentricity or whatever, like a cute character design or an odd way of speaking like Yuudachi or Kongou (you either love or hate that Kujou Karen-style Engrish, and I love it). Fubuki just seems a bit… bland for now.
The plot was fairly paper-thin. We got the bare basics, but I’m hoping something more unfolds soon – a la Strike Witches we’re never going to get straight answers as to the Abyssals, but I’d like a bit of a story at least. It was kinda excusable this week though – they had to introduce a plot, the setting, lots of characters as well as stick in a battle at the end in order not to bore people to death. Although it felt forced in the sense that it was a shit decision to send a Lv 1 Fubuki out to fight a boss. Pull yourself together teitoku. The battle itself was surprisingly fluid, and they did lots of nice in-out switching with the CGI. Reminds me of those Sidonia days! And those monstrosities were quite unnerving when you realize that it’s a bunch of cute girls going up against them. These naval battles will definitely be an upgrade compared to the in-game experience though, purely because they’re so dynamic – game battles are pretty much automated with limited movement if I remember right, so we’re better off here so long as you can get used to the skating. It’s not new however – it’s been used in other Kancolle media before, like that one manga with Asashio and Shimakaze. From the character designs to the battle scenes, you can tell Diomedia are at least taking this seriously – if only because they’d otherwise be mauled by an army of unsatisfied fans. Also, money.
So yeah. I hope there’s plot, because that’ll influence my decision on whether to blog this or not – it’s hard to strike a deal with slice-of-life sometimes. I’m still very excited for this though, enough to stick with it for another few episodes at least – and no way am I jumping ship until Shimakaze gets some proper screen time. Let’s see what they can do.
Possibility of Watching: Guaranteed
Possibility of Blogging: Very High