Kantai Collection: KanColle – 03

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In her first mission briefing, Fubaki and her fellow ships learn that after their recent and successful attack on the Abyssals’ base, a massive enemy counterattack is expected. Before that happens, the Admiral is sending Torpedo Squadrons Three and Four to capture “W” Island in a surprise attack.

On a personal level, Fubaki is very uneasy and worried she’ll slow everyone down, and feels undeserving of her senpais’ tokens and words of support.

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One night before the battle, it is Mutsuki who puts Fubuki at ease, saying she believes in her, just as Mutsuki’s sister ship Kisaragi believed in her. In a touching flashback, we see Mutsuki take damage in a battle, but Kisaragi stays with her until help arrives and throughout her repairs, forming a bond that goes beyond respect and appreciation and into love.

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At dawn, Fubuki goes out to train a little more before the big night battle. She runs into Akagi in the harbor, who hits a bull’s-eye with her eyes closed and imparts the words “Shoot true, never miss.” It turns out Mutsuki was the one who brought Akagi to Fubuki.

Both Mutsuki and Fubuki express frustration and being unable to ever repay their friends and senpais who have helped them. Akagi assures them no one expects nor needs to be repaid; a simple “thank you” will suffice, and for the recipients of their goodwill to “shoot true” and “never miss.”

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Akagi’s words weren’t just meant to guide Fubuki’s conduct in battle, but in life as well.

“Don’t hesitate to tell the people you care about the feelings you have for them. Because they may not be there tomorrow.”

They’re simple words, but easily overlooked, and beautifully stated. Akagi says this as the morning sun rises out of the horizon, just as the power of her words dawn on Fubuki and Mutsuki, who promptly thank and express their love to one another on the spot. Fubuki also voices her respect for Akagi and her hope they’ll fight in the same fleet one day.

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As for Mutsuki, well, the death flags fly free for the majority of this episode, especially when she tells her sister ship Kisaragi “she needs to tell her something” when they get back from the battle. The bittersweet tone of the music, the words by Akagi, Mutsuki’s flags: they all point to something sinister; the coming battle won’t be a cakewalk.

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Once at the island, the Sendai-class light cruisers launch their Type-0 recon seaplanes, but the element of surprise is almost immediately lost, and Squad Three retreats from an enemy torpedo squad right into the jaws of two enemy carriers launching swarms of fighters.

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Well and truly in the shit, Squad Three takes a defensive formation and fights for survival as they attempt to meet up with squad four. For a hot second, it looked like Mutsuki’s death flags were going to strike true, when Fubuki swoops in at the last second, aims true, and doesn’t miss.

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Everyone stays alive long enough for the the big guns of the Second Fleet (including the fast battleships Kongou and Hiei) to shoo the enemy squadrons away. “W” Island wasn’t taken, but the Fleet Girls suffered no major losses…

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…Until a solitary, straggling Abyssal fighter catches a relieved Kisaragi unawares, firing a bomb right into her stern before blowing up himself. Kisaragi explodes and sinks into the deep dark sea.

KanColle got me for two reasons: One, I was distracted by all of Mutsuki’s death flags to notice it was really Kisaragi in the crosshairs.

Two, I’m not well-versed in naval history enough to know that in real life, the Mutsuki-class Kisaragi was the second warship sunk during the war, in the Battle of Wake Island (hence the “W”. The island on Nagato’s map even resembles the Pacific atoll). FYI, Kisaragi was sunk by USMC aviator Capt. Henry T. Elrod on Dec. 11, 1941, by detonating the depth charge stores in her stern with small-caliber bombs.

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Also, even though Mutsuki (“January”) was the first ship of her class, Kisaragi (“February”) was actually launched and commissioned before her, making her Mutsuki’s “big-sis”. I had no idea the story would hew this close to history. It’s strange, but so far, it’s pretty historically accurate in terms of what went down during the first attempt to take Wake.

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Having nothing to do with history is the fact that, in KanColle, Mutsuki is not just a ship, but a girl who just lost someone more dear to her than anyone else, whom she was planning to confess her love to. But while we’re aware of the tragedy that has befallen them, Mutuski and Fubuki remain unaware of the sinking through the end of the episode. They race out to the cape at sunset, waiting for Torpedo Squadron Four, and Mutsuki’s love, to return. Excuse me…but…sniff…does anyone have a goddamn tissue?

This episode basically fixed all of the drawbacks of the first two episodes: the reliance on fancy visuals, cute character designs, and novelty of the fleet girls (though all were still present), and the lack of a tough enemy or heavy stakes. The affection and camaraderie of the girls was stronger than ever here, and while she was only a minor character and it was a bit telegraphed, Kisaragi’s loss was still palpable and her demise shocking in its practical portrayal. KanColle has my full attention.

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Stray Observations:

  • It’s hard to tell without checking MAL, but a mere handful of seiyus are voicing several characters each. For example, all three Sendai-class cruisers and Nagato are voiced by Sakura Ayane, while Suzuki Aya voices all three Akatsuki-class destroyers. That’s some nice range right there!
  • While Mutsuki, Kisaragi, and other ships with fleet girl characters were involved in the Battle of Wake Island, Fubuki was not (it was in Hainan then French Indochina), which suggests events will not unfold precisely as they did in the real-life Pacific War.
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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

12 thoughts on “Kantai Collection: KanColle – 03”

  1. While it could be a fakeout (it probably isn’t), Kisaragi’s last line is also what she says when she sinks in the game apparently, which probably seals the deal on her being dead.

  2. It’s fascinating how differently this type of show can hit people. To me, episode 3 encapsulates everything sickening about the revisionist nationalism and victim-feigning of the genre.

    As you say above, its obviously a candy-coated parallel to WW2, to which Japan deserves no moral high ground nor empathy for its military losses… however, this is strictly designed to do just that. There’s nothing legitimate about framing the US Navy as the Abyssals nor the Japanese Navy as hopeful, out classed little girls.

    I have worked for a survivor of the Japanese concentration camps in Indonesia, and gotten to see her family’s photos and the fantastic number of civilians who were put to death because they could be, I find it reprehensible.

    1. With a full appreciation and solemnity of what went down seventy years ago, and all due respect to your position, this is obviously an overt work of fiction, not revisionist history, and I shall treat it as such.

      I think it’s important not to automatically dismiss something as insidious propaganda simply because it employs the trappings of a troubled age, or because past shows one has watched (that have nothing to do with this one) were indeed revisionist propaganda, and in some cases, perhaps proud of it. Context and intent matter.

      I maintain that the only explicit message this episode intended is stated clearly by Akagi in the quote above: It’s important as humans (or warships in human form) not to hesitate to express their feelings for one another, because war can snatch away those we love far too soon.

      1. my aim is not to change your opinion, nor is your response to it in the context as a show any less valid. the show works as you say. It’s just distasteful and plays into an ongoing move by Japanese culture to sweep WW2 under the rug.

    1. This episode made me want to dive (however shallowly) into the history, even if this is an alternate (but not disrespectful) re-telling of history.

      I probably watched a documentary on Wake Island with my bro years ago, but I certainly didn’t recall which ships were involved lost in that battle when watching the episode.

      The fact that Kisaragi sinks here, in just the third episode, made me curious about what happened to the real-life warship, leading to a most educational wiki-dive.

      1. I was just glad to know that there was some history involved. All I really know about the show going in was that is based on an online browser game (I think…). I was a little surprised that Kisaragi sank so early on in the show, but it was pretty heavily foreshadowed throughout the episode.

  3. I think Oigakkosan is right. Both the game and anime are creating a crop of semi educated fan boys whose view of the Imperial Japanese Navy is rather skewed. “Man those ships and girls were awesome, it is sad they were sunk” is one such fanboy riff often read around the net. Forget why they were sunk, forget the massive suffering they helped produce

    On the other hand.I quite liked the episode it played out well, the training Akagi scene was affecting and the battle scene played out well with its tragic conclusion. But when I think that W Island is a thinly disguised Wake Island and the Abysalls (or whatever) are therefore thinly disguised US Navy ships etc, it all takes on the tone of some kind of anime whitewash. There is no sense of consequence and we are encouraged to think of the ‘Abyssals’ as a nightmarish other pitted against an attractive all girl, all cute (aggressor) force who can do no wrong. To be honest I’ve been suspicious of KC from the beginning . Its been subject to a massive marketing hype from day 1 and really all it is a marketing tool for a game. I’ll give it one more episode and if it continues to disturb It’s gone. I’ll stick with Isuca in that case because, when all is said and done… at least it is honest in its intentions…

    1. Our inter-office argument is basically this: KC, as a show, and this individual episode, was totally fine. Good even. It’s sincere emotionally, has solid (if not goofy) action and tells a cohesive story from start to finish.

      However, my take is that as a cultural statement that expands upon Japan’s move to revise history, and as a property that uses our love of military history/hardware and the emotional struggles of young, optimist, hard working girls, KC is a cynical, if not sinister, product.

      Reconciling those two realities is difficult and, because the meta-debate is complicated (and deeply negative), tempers can flair pretty easily.

      For me, the meta statement is inescapable and I’m not watching any more of it. For Hannah, the show is compelling on it’s own, and upper middle of the season’s quality band so she’s staying with it.

      Honestly? I am deeply curious what will happen when (or if?) this show tackles coral sea, midway, etc. or if it flips later and the girls become aware that they are the aggressors? Given the fannish nature of it all, I doubt it will but I’ll keep an eye on my fellow reviewer’s reviews ;)

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