Kantai Collection: KanColle Review

This is review number four hundred and sixty. This anime is part of the Winter 2015 lineup, and it’s called Kantai Collection: KanColle. It’s a twelve episode anime about a bunch of warships talking to each other. Yeah, let’s just read on.

Story

A bunch of alien ships threaten to take over the world, so a group of anthropomorphized warships set out to sea to stop them. That’s the overall plot, but majority of the show features the girls just being cute and having fun. Yeah, this is truly something.

Taking the Pants Off

It’s an anime about World War 2 warships, but they’re anthropomorphized into cute anime girls. I’m pretty sure this is a video game. Yeah, you just don’t see a lot of this bullsh*t in anime. Actually, the Kancolle series is a mobile app game so that’s actually a lot worse. There is no main story for mobile app games, and the whole point is to just get players addicted into playing whatever the hell it’s offering. The anime is honestly pretty rough. It suffers from a lot of faults you’d expect from an original anime, but the main offense is that it’s just a really bland anime. I love to hate on bad shows, since I get kicks from randomly ranting. A reviewer’s worst nightmare is a bland show that doesn’t really draw a reaction from its viewers. It just exists, and now I have to review it. Now, combined with my sudden stressful schedule, it took me two weeks to finish this anime. I’d often push myself to see one episode a day, but, man, this show just crushed me. Even now, as I finish it, I still don’t know what to write about it. It’s just a really boring show. Good gawd, how will I do this?

Floating War Machines

The initial premise honestly killed my excitement, because I have seen ships turned into cute anime girls with a stellar show to it. It’s called Argevollen, and I actually just want to watch that instead. If you’ve seen the game, the original source, there isn’t really much to do there. The gameplay is limited, and its main draw is the cute anime girls. It lacked world building to become the backbone of this show. For example, these girls are actually ships but the show’s world is never really clear about it. Take a look at this image:

It’s “boats” dragging a small boat with another “boat” riding it. How does this work, really? I’m serious. This bothered me to no end. Are they girls equipped with weapons embodying WW2 ships? Or are they actually the warships themselves? They go to baths and they call it the docks. They get instant repair buckets, or they soak for hours in the “docks” for repairs. They eat food, but it’s actually fuel for them? Yet when they go out to see, they are equipped with their weapons like a bunch of Centurions. What are they really? And how does their arrows turn into kamikaze planes out of nowhere? I just don’t get it. I can suspend disbelief if the storytelling is consistent, but the anime feels like it doesn’t know its own rules. They don’t play on the anthropomorphized nature of the girls, there is no reference to what they did in WW2, and they act like normal girls. Are they normal girls? How does one character get a flashback of meeting the admiral when she was young when they’re supposed to be ships? What the hell are they? It is a bad start when so many questions pile up, and the show doesn’t care to answer any of it.

It’s not like the anthropomorphized bit hasn’t been done before. For f*cks sake, Hetalia made the horrors of WW2 cute. I seriously wanted to slap one student once when she asked me who I prefer to ship with Italy: Germany or Japan. There is no real reason for this anime to fail, and yet it did because you don’t really adapt mobile games out of nowhere. Even Hetalia is a manga first. Without proper direction, the show is just an aimless series about talking war boats. Given how Argevollen made talking ships cool though, you just know this particular anime was made just to cash in on the Kancolle series’ popularity. It’s a paycheck project for everyone involved, and you can feel it.

Torpedo Girls

The show does have a little plot it follows about the newly joined Fubuki girl doing her best to become one of the best ships in the fleet. It’s generic at best, but it’s at least something. In the first few episodes, we follow this Fubuki girl train and grow as a person or war ship or whatever the hell she is. Throughout this plot point, the anime hammers us with the various girls found in the game. I believe the mobile game had 95 ships when it first came out, and the show tried to cram as many death ships as it can. To be fair to the show though, it did not put girls on the show for no reason. As much as possible, there is method to the madness and girls are smartly introduced to slowly make a thriving naval base for the anime. I actually do like some episodes of the anime, because it just focuses on random slice of life stuff featuring the different girls. These episodes often feature the quirky side of the floating death metals, and you also get fan service since they are popular characters in the mobile game. I remember Girlfriend Kari with its retarded French girl kinda had the same approach. Girlfriend Kari crammed a lot of girls in the episodes though, and it was an attempt to feature the hundreds of girls in the game. Kancolle had the same approach, but it was a lot neater and organized in its execution. While some of the girls really are just background characters, there are some that stands out for being the zany characters that they are. I believe one of them is a small girl with bunny ears and a black thong, which ruins my head a bit because why does a World War 2 ship sport butt floss? What the hell are these girls?

I realized I got sidetracked talking about the random episodes and not the main story featuring the Fubuki girl, and that’s not on accident. The consistent narrative of the show is pretty bland. I kinda had a trip seeing the girls turn CG while floating in the water, but it kinda dawned on me that these are battleships. Why is Fubuki training to become a battleship? Why is a ship training? You soon realize this story is really just filler. It’s a boring story that is not only stupidly predictable, but also really uninteresting. Fubuki didn’t really do anything special to triumph in this world of warships, because she’s a floating gawddamn ship. I get it though. She is basically trying to level up and become one of the best girls there. The problem goes back to the world building. How exactly does a ship lack balance and why does she need to train to gain balance? It’s not like there’s a special meter that announces she levels up. The show just goes through the motion of ham fisting a training episode for no real reason. I mean, if the world building had other girls train to get better and girls are rewarded for their training then Fubuki’s story wouldn’t feel so out of place. Instead, it’s just her. She just trains and she apparently gets better overtime. No one else had the same drive as her though, so she just honestly looks stupid. I don’t want to cheer on a battleship that looks stupid.

Aliens

Apparently, these cute anime girls are battling alien ships and that’s about it. I think from the original source itself, there isn’t really much about the enemy ships. They are just anthropomorphized ships as well, but they’re aliens too. I would say this is the central premise of the show, but it’s really not. There is no real substance with the aliens. They appear, the girls fight them, the aliens sink and that’s it. They are not fleshed out in any way, since the game itself doesn’t give much importance to them. The show would dedicate time to show the girls devise plans to bring down the alien ships, or attack their base, but it’s a really shallow aspect of the show. The secretary ship would just say attack this base, or destroy this ship, but the actual war between the ships and the girls aren’t really given much importance. This, again, goes back to world building. We spent too much time on the girls cooking curry or bathing in the docks that there is no real threat established. What are the aliens? Why did they come here? Why must they be eradicated? Throughout the show, you only really see the floating gun girls attack the aliens. You never see them destroy cities or sink other cute anime girls. There’s one or two instance, but it was never build up on. For all we know, the aliens are just bad and the ships that helped massacre the Asian side of WW2 are good. For f*cks sake, this is all too much.

This sloppy storytelling does bite the anime in the ass, since it did crawl into a very forced ending. With the lack of proper world building, any real stakes or any real reason for fight the aliens, we witness a final episode that is just bafflingly stupid but also really boring. It did feature a ton of girls, but it is also just the equivalent of a pile up in a busy highway. It looks cool, but it is horrific with proper context. If the aliens were just introduced properly as villains of the show, then we could’ve done something with the ending. Instead, one cute alien girl is apparently the ultimate bad guy and she must be defeated now. Yup, original screenplay checklist at work here. Short sighted storytelling, useless characters and a forced ending. Gawd, it sucks to be me sometimes.

Character Showcase

At its heart, this anime just really want to feature the girls and all of their quirky personalities. I do think the show achieved this goal. We got all kinds of girls here, and the show did its best to feature them in the different episodes. Some of them are annoyingly generic though, but they are pretty endearing. I still had to cringe at the amount of characters that goes around ending their sentences with random sounds like poi and nyan. Also, the Russian character is still a silent one liner girl. Why are all Russian girls in anime built like that? I think this series even has its own retarded girl like Girlfriend Kari, except she’s a lot cuter here. I actually like the loud girl that speaks random English, since she stands out naturally. It reminds me of this random episode where girls are put into teams, and Fubuki was put in a dysfunctional one with the loud girl. Her group also includes the lesbian couples, which hurts my head again knowing two warships are gay for each other, and a couple of carriers that shoot arrows that turns into ships. I do think the best part of the series is not the characters or their personality, but it’s all about their design. It is probably the greatest thing about this series. From the killing metals that litter the series to the alien bad guys, their design is pretty awesome and the anime tried to feature as much of it.

Gawd, I struggled so much writing this review. What else is there with this show? I don’t think there’s anything else here. This is the best review I could do with a bland show like this one. Even the review sucks. I hate it so much. Let’s just end it already and talk about the rest of the stuff in a TPAB review.

Kusakawa, Hanada and Diomedia

The director of this unfortunate shipwreck is Keizou Kusakawa, and he does have a track record with dumb shows like this. He also helmed the Nanoha series and Ro Kyu Bu. Both shows doesn’t have much stories to them as well, and it’s all about the visuals and fan service. I think one of them is also just pure pedo bait, or is it both? Oh gawd, what has he done? Jukki Hanada is known for the Love Live series, so it’s pretty surprising that some competent people was put to work in this series. I just think they were just given a really bad project to work with. This happens sometimes, because there’s not much to squeeze out of a mobile app. I remember Diomedia for giving us that squid girl anime. Looking back, they did release a lot in 2014 but a lot of them are underwhelming and forgettable. I’m pretty sure this one is just as underwhelming and forgettable. They did give us Gingetsune, and I love that anime. A show like Kancolle is par for the course for this underwhelming studio though. I honestly don’t want to see what else they offered beyond Kancolle. I hope they’re at least digestible.

Sight and Sound

I love the original character design in the mobile app. You can expect the best visuals for a game that doesn’t really do much. Some of them are as great as most visual novel covers, and I believe it gets even better when these girls are turn CG for the players to ogle. It’s no secret the Kancolle series got an anime to mark its big success as a money making franchise. That’s pretty easy to do when you have awesomely designed girls in fantastic visuals. The characters also have wide range from simple school girls to shrine maidens to even girls in weird costumes. I’m pretty sure these girls have alternate costumes in the game as well to feature some fan service. In the anime, the designs are pretty decent. It is the best part of the show as well. The gigantic cast, that all stands out because of their design, is the biggest draw of the show. You can tell the anime was trying to capture the visuals of the game as much as possible. I think they did a great job. Some of the girls are just amazing to look at, and the variety of colors and costumes in the show just gives a vibrant atmosphere that does make you want to know each girl even if they’re just background characters.

Animation is pretty decent as well. It’s too good for the series, to be honest, since it feature smooth animation despite the awful story. I love the sudden CG shift when the girls are in the water, and I love their everyday movements. The battles at sea are really nice and I also love the small details of the arrows that turns into planes. I guess I do wish the show would’ve given us more fan service to bulk up the anime, since the animation is consistently on point. As it is though, the animation is decent but it’s brought down by the lack of real substance for the series.

The anime’s OP is “Miiro” by AKINO with bless4. I’m pretty sure the singer yelled “wanker” at the first few seconds of the song. What’s up with that? I do love bless4’s voice though. It’s powerful and commanding. The song itself is pretty generic though, and it is a nice representation of the anime itself. The song is generic, but the OP sequence is amazing. It features all the girls in cool poses, a short montage of Fubuki’s story and the great animation of the series. See, bland song set to great visuals. This is Kancolle. The anime’s ED is “Fubuki” by Shiena Nishizawa. This song I do like. Shiena’s voice is commanding as well and the song itself has some body to it. Again, the ED sequence is pretty great. I love the camera pans and the different shots featured. It features the great animation for Fubuki and her friends. It also has a nice shot of Fubuki ending the show. It think it’s a nice touch.

Overall Score

5/10 “It’s a bland show despite its many opportunities not to be.”

There is really not much here to enjoy. I’d say just play the game instead. The anime had decent visuals and animation, but the game probably has more of that. The anime lacked a story, and it doesn’t have enough content to justify a twelve episode run. I don’t recommend it.

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2 thoughts on “Kantai Collection: KanColle Review

  1. Pingback: Alphabetical List – The Pantless Anime Blogger

  2. Kantai Collection is a web browser game, not a mobile app game. The game also does not have a proper world building: no explanation for both allied ships and the Abyssal Fleet (the aliens you were referring to) and how they came to be. It is just stated in the game that the Abyssal Fleet are here and you are ordered to destroy them. The anime was catered mostly for the fans of the game but for the uninitiated, one can see the show as a blatant desperate attempt of right wing ultra-nationalists of trying to revise history with this ship wreck of a show. The movie does explain why there are Abyssal ships, but it feels like a passing afterthought ripped from Madoka Magica.

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