Kantai Collection: KanColle – 02

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Character names link out to wiki pages for their real-world historic counterparts.

This was a pleasant fall-down/get-up training episode that explored more of how the strange world of pretty anthropomorphic ships works, and inched Fubuki a little further towards respectability.  No battles with Abyssals this week, but Secretary Ship Nagato has plans for one soon, of which Fubuki will be an important part. The only problem is, while she impresses her peers in classroom theory, she’s an absolute disaster in the water.

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After witnessing a bit of Fubuki’s flailing, Nagato warns Fubuki’s light cruiser senpais Sendai, Jintsuu and Naka that if the lil’ destroyer can’t cut it, she’ll recommend the admiral strike her from the fleet. It may sound harsh, but there’s no point in sending a destroyer out there that’s just going to get herself destroyed, is there?

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Fubuki tracks down Fleet Carrier Akagi, who is having a 15-hour repair bath when the admiral sends along an “instant repair wash”. Afterwards they have lunch, and Akagi repairs Fubuki’s confidence just by being awesome, but when Fubuki settles in for the night, she becomes the recipient of some more direct assistance, courtesy of her cruiser senpais.

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Sendai gives her balance training, Jintsuu target practice, and Naka…er…idol practice? Charisma? The thing is, the three sister ships train her in consecutive sessions, and end up exhausting her. Fubuki’s friend Mutsuki suspects bullying or hazing is afoot and steps up to defend her (worried they’ll “sink” her if they continue. Turns out the sister ships failed to coordinate their individual plans to help Fubuki improve; no sinister senpais here.

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Yet even as Mutsuki stands up for Fubuki, Fubuki herself is back out of bed and outside, training hard; a gesture that convinces the cruisers that Fubuki has “the soul of a torpedo girl”; she just needs their help to blossom as a warship. An exhaustive and exhausting training regimen ensues, documented via montage.

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It’s often the case that such montages start with failure and end with the protagonist suddenly great at everything she trained for. Refreshingly, that’s not the case here. When she must perform in a training exercise, Fubuki is certainly better than she was, but she’s still far form full combat readiness, which is what the cruisers report to Nagato.

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However, they also report that Fubuki isn’t going to give up, and if she falls, she gets back up and tries again. She’s got “the right stuff” as it were. It’s probably the reason the still-unseen admiral invited her into the fleet to begin with.

He knew she’d charm and inspire the other fleet girls into take her under their wing and show her the ropes. Satisfied with her progress, Nagato assigns the three cruisers, plus Fubuki, Mutsuki and Yuudachi, to an upcoming battle that will be theirs to win or lose.

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Kantai Collection: KanColle – 01 (First Impressions)

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So far the Winter has given us magical guys, bears in human form, and now, some bizarre hybrid of high school girls, traditional warriors, and naval vessels. It’s as if someone pulled three random things from a hat and just went with it. There’s an underlying sincerity and pluckiness to the whole operation that kept me watching.

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But there isn’t much else underlying this show’s very slick and snappy skin. It falls victim to a common plague among intro episodes: trying to do and show too much. If you blink you’ll miss the introductions of half a dozen technicolor characters. The only ones who made any impression at all were the underdog protagonist Fubuki and the perfect senpai Akagi, but both are pretty dull achetypes.

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Still, the premiere gets by compensating for its narrative depth (good vs. evil; new girl wants to get stronger…that’s about it) with some really nifty action, though I won’t deny I chortled a little bit at the first sight of girls wearing bits of the ships they represent like clothing accessories. They could easily come off as goofy halloween costumes, but the sequence of Fubuki getting equipped was a nice bit of WTF spectacle.

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I may still prefer the heft of the full-size ships the avatar characters in Arpeggio of Blue Steel ‘rode’ into battle…even if they looked like reanimated corpses. In KanColle, characters are usually animated normally, while their CGI versions are very close in appearance; only a little stiff.

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Fubuki is thrown right into the deep end, as her comrades assume she’s been in more battles than they have, since she came highly recommended by the fleet commander. But she’s woefully unready for real battle, and must be rescued by the ‘First Carrier Fleet’ led by Akagi and Kaga. Like the Fubuki-equipping scene prior, the show exhibits some cleverness by having Akagi’s arrows turn into warplanes – the arrows being a symbol of the catapults carriers use to launch planes at sea.

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As for the baddies, called ‘Abyssals’, they kinda just stand around and let themselves get whooped. They don’t even say anything. Considering all the dark clouds and badass get-ups, I was expecting more. That being said, the more beast-like Abyssals are a effectively stark aesthetic contrast to Fubuki’s bright, shiny, civilized world. I just don’t really care about them in any way.

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This intro, dizzying as it often was, at least kept most of the focus on Fukubi, and in a way, everything it threw at us was a parallel to her own newbie experience. After Bahamut, I’m no longer one to laugh off adaptations online card games. KanColle never embarrassed itself, looked great, and had some clever details, it suffered from a glut of bland characters and a dearth of emotional depth.

Then again, it’s better than Gundam G. Faint praise, but better than scorn.

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One-Minute Research: KanColle is directed by Kusakawa Keizo (Akuma no Riddle) with series composition by Hanada Jukki (Chu2Koi, Kyoutai no Kanata, Steins;Gate). Fukubi is voiced by Uesaka Sumire (Dekomori Sanae, Chu2Koi).