Kantai Collection: KanColle – 04

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We don’t see the actual moment Mutsuki learns of Kisaragi’s apparent fate, but we do see the immediate aftermath. Destroyer focus and morale plummets, and Mutsuki herself is in silent denial, putting her life on hold to spend every free moment at the wharf, waiting for her sister ship to return.

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But the war must go on. It would probably be best if Mutsuki had a battle to fight to take her mind off Kisaragi, but it’s Fubuki who gets picked to join super-destroyer Shimakaze and the four Kongou-class fast battleships in an attack in the “south-west sea zone.” Dutch East Indies, perhaps?

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Fubuki’s first impression of Kongou was of a cool, steely fleet maiden…an impression shattered by the reality that Kongou is a bit of a goofball, whose hyper antics are not only tolerated but admired by her sisters. All four sisters are voiced by the similarly hyper Touyama Nao., mixing four different delivery systems quite well. If she’s having these conversations with herself in real time in the recording studio, well, all I can say is kudos.

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The bubbly Kongous are a stark contrast to the mood in Fubuki’s dorm, with Mutsuki first out and last in, and Fubuki and Yuudachi unable to broach the subject of Kisaragi, and Mutsuki unwilling to let them.

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The road to the next battle also hits a bit of a detour that’s played for laughs, with the Kongou sisters coming up with increasingly ridiculous attempts to draw out the eccentric Shimakaze (In the end, tea and scones do the trick). Personally, I wasn’t really in the mood for such levity and was hoping for a prompter, more solemn shoving-off.

Still, it makes sense that the Kongou sisters are more laid back when it comes to imminent battles. They’ve been in lots, they have big guns, and most importantly, they have each other.

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The fleet’s disposition is, well, fleet, as in fast. With big storms in the battle area, the fleet carriers won’t be as much use as the fast battleships and faster destroyers that can swoop in, hit hard, and swoop out, regardless of weather.

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The show is keen to let us know that Shimakaze isn’t just fast (her namesake made 47 knots) but wears a g-string under her wisp of a skirt, in a bit of fairly shameless, if quick, Vividred-style fanservice.

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When the battle with the two Abyssal battleships commences, Fubuki ends up further out than she should be and is pinned down and her turret damaged. In a moment of fear (and worry about Mutsuki back home), she freezes up, but once again Kongou saves her, deflecting the enemy shell with her bare fist in a badass display, and showing Fubuki that cool, steely fleet maiden she first encountered.

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Kongou may not be the most serious or composed person off-duty, but she gets the job done out in the field, as do her sisters.

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Thanks to her, Fubuki is able to escape another brush with destruction and make it back home. She greets Mutsuki on the wharf at sundown and gathers her in a hug, and doesn’t let her go until Mutsuki lets it all out, which in turn causes her to let it all out. It’s an touching, cathartic moment the episode had been steadily building up to, and I felt it was earned. KanColle’s first two episodes lacked emotional resonance, but the last two have more than made up for it.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 16

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Parasyte presents a ratings-challenge this week. Perhaps you’re finding this a typical response for me on this show now but, honestly, I could rate it anywhere between a 6 and an 8 it was so all over the place in quality.

Let me clarify: the drawing, style and tone were consistent but it felt like two different episodes. Like it was split in the wrong place and half way through a totally different show emerged.

Gah… this is going to take a little Oigakkosan Brand Rambling™ to explain. So hold your horses and lets get at it!

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Shinichi and Migi pick up where last week left off: a showdown with a stronger, even more robust Parasyte. The entire first half of the episode is dedicated to the fight, more or less, and even though it ends without a conclusion, it’s satisfying in its own way.

That said, there’s something about the fighting that’s becoming unsatisfying to watch. Maybe it’s how the players stand still and flail at each other with bladey tentacle-arms or that the character design is very plain or that the action is often narrated by Migi or Shinichi or both and our only surprises are minor things like the bad guy not dying when they thought he would.

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That’s putting aside how goofy the action can be too. Seen above: Migi grabs a truck and pulls Shinichi through the air. This kind of thing is funny, and to be sure some of Migi has always been adorably weird, as much as creepy. Still, it had a certain Warner Bros vibe to it which…felt out of place?

Combined with the static nature of the fight, and the start/stop nature of running away to re-position in another background that looks very similar to the last one, the battle didn’t feel dramatic to me.

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Then the second half happens and maybe three or four times the normal number of events seen in a single episode are thrown at us all at once.

The P.I. goes to the cops and is ready to spill the beans on the Parasytes, then he freaks out and goes to take Ryoko down on his own, Ryoko posits humans are individuals that share a single mega brain of sorts, which confuses the other Parasytes and they then decide to go and kill her, but first she nurses her human baby and muses how weird it is and the P.I. is also going to kill her and it’s a cliffhanger with all of them coming together for a show down.

Also, Shinichi tells his dad to get out of the house and Murano is nudged into bringing his abandoned backpack to his house by her friends and AHHHHHH it’s just a lot of stuff and, especially in the case of Murano, I Just. Don’t. Care.

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I guess this has been my problem with the past few episodes. Shinichi is interesting, Migi is interesting AND adorable, and Ryoko makes for an introspective story forwarding villain…but no one else provides substance.

Maybe the Evil Council of Parasytes could, but they are ultimately focused on killing Ryoko (and probably her baby) so they aren’t even in Shinichi’s theatre of villains. So seeing them just distracts us from the unraveling mystery or risks over-exposing them to the point of feeling dull. No secrets to tell.

I guess I’ll give it a 7—a top-notch 7—but I don’t feel it being higher. It just isn’t emotionally gripping enough as an episode without relying on my long-term emotional investment in the series.

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Prestons take:

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I enjoyed the scenic forest setting of the battle with Miki, as well as all the new challenges of having to fight a parasyte far different from anything they’ve gone up against previously. I was also glad it ended in a rare stalemate, because Miki shouldn’t be that easy to kill (and Shinichi is just hella fast).

The remainder of the episode, as Franklin describes it, indeed sounds like a bit of a jumble, with incremental developments on many fronts and no distinct climaxes. But I guess I just didn’t mind that as much, and certainly was never overwhelmed or bored with any of it. I’m fine with a select few characters providing the substance while the others add flavor and texture, and variety. It helps that I still care about Murano.

Shinichi/Migi’s challenges are growing in number and complexity by the day, and soon it will be all he can do to keep his father and Murano from ending up like Kana or the P.I.’s family, to say nothing of his goals for saving humanity. The building of tension is unhurried and multi-directional, but also steady and robust.

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