Random Curiosity

SHIROBAKO – Dreams Do Come True »« Akatsuki no Yona – Fantasy

Kantai Collection -KanColle- – Fanservice


Save a penguin, dropkick an orca.

 

I was actually intending to drop Kantai Collection -KanColle- fairly early on, because it was fairly obvious that I was not in its target audience. I wrote about some of my concerns when I introduced the show at the start of the season. But I thought, hey, this would make for a pretty interesting exercise. Surely it’s possible to be outside the intended audience and still enjoy a show. I mean, Japan still does gender distinctions as parts of its genres, but it’s not like shoujo is secret women’s business taboo to males (I wrote about Akatsuki no Yona just yesterday). So I decided to stick with it. For science. I even did some flimsy research on general mechanics of the original game so that chibi faerie things didn’t look completely stupid. I really wanted to like KanColle, because it has such hype and popularity in Japan, and I wanted to experience their buzz.

I wrote about my reactions to episode 03 here, on that other blog I purport to keep. It’s not exactly the most flattering piece, and it’s mostly downhill from there. There were some blips of promise; I thought episode 05 was going in the right direction, for example, but then episode 06 came around and proved me wrong. And, really, I’m not too sure which parts of my disapproval is due to the show actively alienating non-fans, or due to bad writing. I’ve already talked about the fan-pandering issues before, so I’ll skimp on that discussion this time. In fact, I’m going to start positive.

The Good

As far as production goes, KanColle actually looks pretty good. Sure, the CGI was still a bit stilted for me, but I can appreciate what they were doing and it was a good try. Otherwise it was a very shiny series—characters generally stayed on-model, animation never froze too long, there were lots of explosions. All this was accentuated the main point of the show: cute girls doing things, and sometimes those cute things involve firing some guns or something. The designs were mostly pleasing, and I do understand the work put into building those WWII homages, even if they do make characters act and dress arbitrarily dopey. In fact I wanted more of WWII. The start of the first episode, with the recitation of the Gosei, was an excellent opener, and a reminder of Japanese military discipline. Girls lounging around eating ice cream? Less so. I guess that’s why I enjoyed the soundtrack, because a lot the bombastic orchestral score is perfect for sailing off to war to. When KanColle tries hard to build an atmosphere, sometimes I can feel it. Yeah, it’s the sea! They’re sailing! I get it! Because the ship girls can be so metaphorical sometimes, this kind of background work is required to keep it all together.

The Bad

Alas, while many pieces of KanColle can be considered good, they come together rather messily. When watching it, sometimes it felt like that KanColle wasn’t really sure what to do with itself, tried to do all sort of things at once, and organised those pieces poorly. The mood swung back and forth without proper transition, action and slice-of-life segments were less meshed together and more stitched haphazardly. Story elements are introduced ad hoc and then promptly discarded, then suddenly picked up again when convenient. A character is killed in episode 03. Some people cry about it. Then death becomes an insignificant passing thought again. And then they bring it up again in the final episode! KanColle never manages to really hang onto a central theme because it’s all over the place. It’s a problem that it suffers on a smaller scale too, in the battle scenes. Perhaps I was expecting more along the lines of the careful tactical maneuverings and cautious long range engagements of actual naval battles, but KanColle looked like a mess. A mess, but not an interesting mess. Far too often all our protagonists are arrayed on essentially a flat surface, they take turns either calling attacks or spouting catchphrases, and then fire in some direction. That’s Final Fantasy I, guys. I can’t tell how the actions of each character relate to each other without someone saying it out loud, and have no idea about the greater context of the battle visually. There seems to be an endemic problem with KanColle production: neither the direction nor the scenario seem to be able to maintain coherence for extended periods of time.

The Ugly

There are eight words that no writer ever wants to hear about their work:

‘I don’t care what happens to these people.’

It’s not about making characters likeable. Many of KanColle‘s characters are likeable on a subjective level; that’s the franchise’s main schtick. It’s about making the conflict of each character feel personal to the audience. Whether it’s the villain or the hero, us or them, love them or hate them, I want to feel invested in the outcome—success or failure—of what they’re doing. Only a small portion of KanColle‘s cast is actually afforded significant development; the rest could be scripted automatons and I wouldn’t know the difference. I know that there is a game franchise behind all this, but you can’t rely on that for an adaptation, especially if your original game had little in the way of writing to begin with. In the context of this story we have here there just isn’t enough reason to care about everyone involved. A lot of the heroes just have catchphrases and nothing else. All of the villains are just Things that Shoot. One of the Abyssals finally says something, but all that comes out is generic bad guy garbling. At most it sabotages the air of aloof mystique they had about them, and that was all they had going for them.

The most egregious example of this problem is the so-called ‘Admiral’. He purportedly has a master plan behind what everyone is doing. He is purportedly well loved at the base. He purportedly convinces everyone that Fubuki is important. He purportedly supports Fubuki based on some creepy dream he had. But he doesn’t even exist. He’s not a character. He’s a device that manhandles the plot to the convenience of the writers. He’s at best a painfully awkward in-joke made at the expense of giving him substance. He’s not anyone, he can hardly be me. I don’t care about him. But KanColle keeps trying to make me, shoving their soggy cardboard, bland and ill textured, down my throat. Worse than sour or bitter is the taste of nothing. It’s not even filling.

All of this poor scenario management comes from writers getting too excited and trying to throw on more and more characters and plot elements without properly developing what they already have. Just look at these final few episodes that comprise the final campaign and our ending for this season. A basic rule for endings: don’t introduce new stuff, you need to sort out your old stuff as a priority. Yet here’s this Taihou person. Who in the blazes is she supposed to be? And this ‘fight fate’ thing that crops up. It wasn’t even a theme until your last two episodes; where did that come from? Wait, so the Abyssals are Allies? Are the shipgirls fighting them over a questionable imperialistic agenda? Am I allowed to root for them anymore? Gah! I know a second season has been greenlighted, but when one’s wrapping up the season (and the story arc) one shouldn’t introduce even more characters and more elements and then leave them hanging. That’s not just bad writing, that’s bad manners.

Enough, enough

…Have I really been going on for a thousand words? Wow, this thing is long. I should have just added a second picture. Sorry.

Look, I don’t ‘hate’ Kantai Collection -KanColle-. What I actually have is an abiding sense of apathy. I really wanted to like this anime, but now that I’ve come out of the 12 episodes and found that I can’t, it makes me feel bad. I wish I did hate it, then I can go full hyperbolic and lampoon it. Instead, it’s like a perfectly healthy young patient who’s inexplicably dying in ICU. How do you explain it to the family? It’s an unpleasant job.

I’m still acutely aware that the target audience of the KanColle anime are ardent fans of the game, and that I am not its point, but I’ve tried to discuss what is objectively problematic about the show. Yes, there could still be subjective factors clouding my eyes, and if only I were drinking the Flavor Aid I would see the light. There really is no reason, though, why the KanColle anime couldn’t be written tightly, couldn’t be more self-aware, and couldn’t have general appeal. They can do that and still high five the established fans. The pure fanservice anime is a completely unnecessary indulgence. If they had focused on making something good instead of something marketed the fans would still have respected them for it, I’m sure.

With all that in mind, join me in two days when I talk about how THE IDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls, while not at all doing everything perfectly, at least does it better.

(For even more anime-from-games discussion, I also recently wrote something about the Persona 3 Movie #2: Midsummer Knight’s Dream. Check it out if you want here)

March 26, 2015 at 10:49 am
45 comments »
  • March 26, 2015 at 11:11 amJif

    The fanbase is actually far more disappointed. A non-academic survey conducted on a Japanese site revealed the stinging reality that over 97% of respondents had no intention on purchasing BR-DVDs, and about 90%(?) didn’t even support the announcement of a second season. As someone who has invested the better portion of my last year into Kancolle and its fandom, I can safely say that the didn’t even succeed at marketing to the fans.

    Stated bluntly, the anime felt like a rush job, a smorgasbord of various attempts to satisfy as much of the fanbase as possible with as little effort as possible. Haphazard references to ingame lines, haphazard references to fanbase-generated memes and characterizations, haphazard silhouettes of everyone’s favorite girls. Nobody quite got enough of what they wanted, for one thing. Now the larger issue is just how fragmented the show is. There’s no plot. There’s no overarching conflict. The whole theme about abyssals pushing back mankind is a backstory that has short of no relevance in the actual scope of the anime. And admittedly, a lot of that comes from the game, which is fairly plot-neutral and does’t really have a campaign. At this point you really have to ask yourself – how “faithful” do you want to be to the game to the point where you sacrifice the powers of the television-animated medium?

    And that brings me to my next point- the adaptation is not even faithful to the game. While some cute references are made, particularly in episode 6, which is widely considered by fans to be the best episode of the series, the cherry-picked aspects of the game are quite frustrating to watch. And even worse, they cherry-picked the worst of the bunch. Take the anime teitoku for example, who is supposed to represent the player. I guess because they didn’t want to break immersion or NTR people by putting in a named admiral, they didn’t even show anything but his silhouette. The fanbase, on other hand, has provided plenty of ways of creating relatable, interesting teitoku characters without alienating other players. T-head, female admiral, animal teitokus, I mean come on, you could even do a generic cute-out guy and have his hair or his hat cover his eyes. Really easy stuff to do that dramatically improves the quality of the show.

    What should the show have been like? Well, the answer is ANYTHING. Us fans just wanted the show to have an identity and stick to it – literally anything would have been fine. They could have adapted the 4-koma and made it 100% slice of life/comedy with historical and ingame references. We love the 4-koma. They could have based it upon one of the more serious LNs like On the Wings of Cranes. Hell, they could even have made it a World War II documentary but replaced the ships with cute girls (dying). Anything. Literally anything. Instead we get this misconceived, jumbled mass that is pretty much the anime equivalent of Hiei’s curry.

    Us fans are mad. I hope they are ready to do whatever it takes to appease us for the next season.

    • March 26, 2015 at 1:08 pmShiden

      This is pretty much my reaction to the series. I was actually pretty happy with it until episode 5 (6 was good though), when they suddenly broke up all the fleets; then it kind of muddled along until episode 10, and all of Fubuki’s supposedly resolved inferiority issues came up again, and it was just downhill to the end.

      In general, as a fan of the game, I’m okay with the anime as a whole, because I went into it with high hopes and low expectations. I am also, however, quite disappointed because it could have been a heck of a lot better with only minor changes here and there.

      That said, I don’t think Diomedea did themselves any favors by trying to do four shows this season.

      • March 26, 2015 at 2:30 pmJif

        Right? And isn’t that sad, because I honestly expected nothing out of the anime except to see some of my favorite characters moving around on screen. With the huge commercial success that Kancolle enjoys already from the game and existing merchandise, they could have at least done a better job animating the stuff. CG was a bit awkward as well, since they would put drawn characters on one side of the screen and then a CG character on the other side (and the difference was really glaring). If me hovering around here continuously is any indication, I’m really passionate about Kancolle and wish they would do it right ><

    • March 26, 2015 at 6:55 pmPasserby

      I thought the point of this anime was to give the plot of the game some flesh, with an actual narrative and characterisation. Or at least I was hoping for that.

      Curiously, as an anime-only viewer, I found episode 05 promising and episode 06 disappointing. This was not because 05 was particularly brilliant or 06 was particularly bad, but because with 05 and the fleets being rearranged and Fubuki securing an important position for Reasons, I thought KanColle finally had a clear idea about where it was heading and was re-establishing a core cast to revolve around. Then episode 06 came around and, while not being especially unenjoyable, went back to the hijinks and all these other faces that meant nothing to me. And, indeed, KanColle remained extremely jittery even to the end.

      • March 26, 2015 at 9:54 pmIncognito

        “I thought the point of this anime was to give the plot of the game some flesh, with an actual narrative and characterisation. Or at least I was hoping for that.”

        Where was that quote… Oh, here it is:

        “Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.”

        Warhammer 40K quote aside, the thing about the game itself is that it deliberately makes the origin(s) of the Abyssal Fleet ambiguous. Some say that the Abyssals are sunken Kanmusu or their dark personas (according to a few special events in the game). Others say the Abyssals are the representation of the US Navy that haunt the Kanmusus.

        Those theories are implied somewhat in the anime, but not outright confirmed (though for the latter, that’s probably to avoid unfortunate implications). And of course, the gamemakers are downright mum about the Abyssal Fleet’s origin(s), so it is kinda hard to make an anime narrative out of that–much less give a higher purpose for the Kanmusus besides “sink the Abyssal Fleet.” (Maybe coming to terms with how and why they were sunk in WWII?)

        I guess it’s a good thing I walked into this show not expecting it to be great. I’m actually looking forward to watching the Arpeggio of Blue Steel movies now…

      • March 27, 2015 at 12:37 amHalfDemonInuyasha

        @Incog

        “Some say that the Abyssals are sunken Kanmusu or their dark personas (according to a few special events in the game).”

        The anime definitely gave the biggest hint to that thanks to the end of the battle in the last episode since that was Kisaragi’s hairpin seen floating in the water after they all leave following the death of the “Airfield Princess”.

        I also had a pretty low bar when going into it, not because I expected it to be bad or sub-par, but simply because I never played the games or read a bunch of the other material, so I literally had nothing to go on. The most I had were the countless fanarts, lol. Maybe that’s why it was easy for me to turn off my brain and just go with the flow, saving a lot of the criticism for until after the episode was over.

      • March 27, 2015 at 3:30 amPasserby

        @Incognito
        So the game had thin plot. Everyone knew that. But isn’t that why they have writers? Isn’t giving shape to a plot their job? Couldn’t they have just made up something that fitted and looked compelling? They’re paid storytellers, you’d expected them to be better at telling stories.

      • March 27, 2015 at 11:21 pmIncognito

        @HDI:
        Show Spoiler ▼

        *takes three deep breaths*

        “It’s only an anime; I should really just relax…”

        @Passerby:
        Heck, even an excuse plot on the level of Dynasty Warriors Gundam would have been interesting as long as it was well-executed (and, more importantly, the production team had fun with it). Here’s a couple they could have gone with:

        Excuse plot 1 (serious):
        The war against the Abyssals is actually a global one with multiple fronts (similar to the war against the Neuroi in Strike Witches). The kanmusu we see (based on the IJN and a bit of the Kriegsmarine) are part of one front. There are other fronts composed of shipgirls from the US and UK and contingents from the French and Italians. Despite the historical animosity between the Allies and Axis during WWII, the spirits of the ships that once fought against each other during the war now work together (albeit with teeth clenched) against the Abyssals.

        Excuse plot 2 (comedy):
        Mostly focuses on the antics of the kanmusu (and the occasional guests like Bismarck and Prinz Eugen) with historical in-jokes galore. (Basically, an animated Fubuki, Ganbarimasu!) The Admiral actually appears in the show and while he** tries his darndest on the outside to resist being attracted to any of the kanmusu under his command (especially the loli destroyers like Kisaragi and Yuudachi), he actually cares a lot about them and is a bro on the level of The iDOLM@STER‘s Producer.

        (** – Yes, I went with the Male Admiral for this one. Problem?)

        Oh well, there’s no use dwelling on what could have been… *sighs*

    • March 27, 2015 at 2:36 amdaikama

      I agree with much of what you say (see my comment below), but not quite everything.

      “And that brings me to my next point- the adaptation is not even faithful to the game.”

      There are definitely moments the show deviated in which I agree with you – particularly Ep. 12 (multiple) and Ep. 08 where Kanmusu could suddenly equip rigging and weapons at whim. On the other hand, while Kisaragi sinking in the same battle isn’t faithful to game mechanics, I thought that was a good decision on the show’s part. Frankly, at times the anime was too faithful. For example, as a game player, the chibi-pilots are OK, but that’s something which is probably better left out in consideration of anime-only viewers. Not like they added anything to the story. Without question, I would have ditched the bad (IMO) “waifu” (i.e. “marriage”) game reference. You mention “cherry picking”, so what other game aspect(s) would you want included?

      “The fanbase, on other hand, has provided plenty of ways of creating relatable, interesting teitoku characters without alienating other players. T-head, female admiral, animal teitokus, I mean come on, you could even do a generic cute-out guy and have his hair or his hat cover his eyes. Really easy stuff to do that dramatically improves the quality of the show.”

      “Interesting” is subjective (same goes for “alienating” for that matter). I’ve skimmed a KanColle doujinshi with a dog teitoku/admiral (TTK). Rather than “interesting” I’d say it was… different (odd to put it bluntly). The “T-head” TTK (literally a capital “T” for the admiral’s head) is simply a way to have a gender, age, and race neutral TTK. Don’t see anything particularly more “interesting” about that. IMO, it would have been a disaster for the anime to use either one of those two options (animal or “T-head”). As for human variations, the decision to use an off-screen admiral makes sense given that, invariably, some group will find the admiral too short, tall, fat, thin, old, young, “bishoujou”, not “bishoujou” enough, wrong gender, wrong race, wrong species (I guess), etc.

      I’ll be honest, I’m in the group which thought an off-screen admiral was a good idea. However, the reason is NOT because it would break immersion or somehow be “NTR” (I can separate games/fictional stories, etc. from reality just fine). The reason is that I think the focus should be squarely on the Kanmusu, not the admiral. IMO the show does not need a main character TTK – especially given the already (too) large cast. This isn’t Id@lmaster on the high seas nor does it have to be be. You don’t see a TTK in Fubuki, Ganbarimasu! official manga, and I have yet to see any reader complaints about that. In fact, you even suggest basing the anime off Fubuki, Ganbarimasu! as a better alternative (FWIW, I like the manga as well and would be fine with that).

      As many have noted here and elsewhere, KanColle anime is very similar to Strike Witches which did not have a main character “general” type constantly overseeing the girls. Once in while they got orders from high command (similar to the admiral in KanColle), and then Minna & Mio handled the rest. Minna and Mio filled whatever “enabler” role was necessary for Yoshika just fine, and Fubuki is a very similar character to Yoshika. They are both nice, earnest, hardworking/”try our best” rookie characters. In KanColle, Fubuki has plenty of senpai/senior officer “enablers” (Nagato, Kongou, Akagi, Sendai sisters, etc.) to act in Minna’s and Mio’s type of role. The big difference is that Strike Witches handled Yoshika’s character much better. Well, more than just Yoshika, but that’s another issue. Like Fubuki, where I think the show erred is how it handled the TTK.

      • March 27, 2015 at 3:27 amPasserby

        KanColle is totally Idolm@ster on the high seas ;). I’ll get to that tomorrow.

        Unlike the Strike Witches example, KanColle treats the admiral as a character. He’s not just some order from on high; he’s supposed to be some person interacting with people directly, except we neither hear nor see him doing it. Usually when things happen off screen they are done that way to conserve time and detail for things on screen; the admiral was off screen to deny him a set personality. So they’re trying to make a character, but deliberately not giving him character. Instead there’s just people going around talking about how clever/inspiring/awesome he’s suppose to be, and it just sounds like a farce.

        Incidentally, KanColle is a much more interesting show if one pretends that the ‘admiral’ is the naval base’s collective hallucination, and all his ‘subordinates’ are either being deceived or completely mad.

  • March 26, 2015 at 11:50 amWorldwideDepp

    Yeah, the Final Episode was not right. They wanted to stuff it with all Ships, but they magical forgotten fast the “Idol” Ship, and i am not meaning the 48 Sing star. I mean the skimpy Fast Girl with her Turrets Pets. She is very fast. They forgotten about her to fast.

    Error they made (in my eyes) in the final Episode:

    They make every “Nagato” Fan into their Enemy’s. The Lovely Dovely of her Sister ship on the “BATTLEFIELD”, and the Death Strike the Flowers in the End from her…

    Well, we was used to this Yuri Torpedo “sisters”. But Nagato and her Sister cachet many by surprise. Even me

    The Animation was off. You see this when the New “Armored Carrier” appeared, and began to speak. you see just her Mouth moving and a Animation Loop…

    And let us not talk about the “Cliffhanger” from Episdoe 11. They removed the Bomb and magic happen again, and Fubuki was there to save the day. I would expected Yamato or Kongo to deflect the Bomb like happen to Fubuki. But, no. They removed it complete

    The Episode 12 telling was confusing. And to bring all “well someone was forgotten. Wonder why” Girls onscreen

    They go down with all Guns ablaze and with a Bamm. i wonder in how they want to fill the future. Perhaps some OVAs

    And there they gone and made heavy PR in Animeexpo 2015… i saw many Pictures with Kancolle Girls.. Looks like it was all for nothing

    • March 26, 2015 at 11:54 amWorldwideDepp

      oh, i am one of the Anime watching fans. Not the Game otakus

    • March 27, 2015 at 5:57 amKarmafan

      I am an anime only watcher of the show and even with all its faults I STILL liked the show and am looking forward to a sequel.

  • March 26, 2015 at 12:43 pmPancakes

    As mentioned during the first episode, Kancolle is pure fan service, nothing more, nothing less. Surprisingly I stuck through with it until the end, but there is preciously little in the way of accolades to flatter the show with. It seemed to want to go the SoL route, but that was haphazard and spent more time with game-specific idioms and references. The show also seemed to want to go the semi-serious Strike Witches route with an actual plot, but that never got out the gates very far before the SoL elements returned to their dominating role.

    Then we get to the characters themselves. Most SoL (focused) shows don’t have strong characters barring some exceptional examples, but Kancolle needed a robust character base in order to make up for the aforementioned discrepancies. Sadly the show failed even more thoroughly in this regard. The small VA cast deserves credit for making work what little they had so well, but it cannot make up for what ultimately are a group of flat characters defined entirely by their game-specific personae. Even Fubuki–the bloody MC–never advanced beyond the stereotypical “screw up and improve” formula.

    Kancolle really needed a better writer and likely director at the helm here to produce something with actual staying power, because what we got in this show was hardly better than a half hearted cash grab which I’m still convinced was the entire purpose; considering this looks to be renewed for another season, it almost certainly is as a change in format is unlikely at this stage. It just remains to be seen now how well the show sells among its intended (Japanese) audience because the claims are all over the place at the moment in terms of Kancolle’s success.

    As an aside though there is a plus to the whole clusterf*ck, it has turned the World of Warships closed beta into a shout box of poi, poi, and more poi.

    • March 26, 2015 at 2:14 pmJif

      I was debating with Seishun and some others before Kancolle aired – it was evident to me that the anime would do pretty well financially regardless of how bad it was. I just didn’t expect how egregious their cash-grabbing antics would be. If you follow Kancolle fanart on pixiv/danbooru/twitter/etc, nothing in the anime really stuck at all except for Hibiki wearing a pot on her head, and of course, Poi. When you can adapt a full anime and then utterly fail to even make an impact on fanart, I think that says something pretty damning.

    • March 26, 2015 at 7:12 pmPasserby

      I actually consider Slice-of-Lifes to generally have, or at least should have, strong characters, not in that the characters are impressive, but that the characters are well developed. If all a slice-of-life aspires to do is show a bunch of characters going through their daily routine, then we better learn something about these people before we’re through. In fact, a lot of character development is done simply with ‘slice-of-life’ segment, because showing people having a life is humanising.

      That said, I’m from the school that considers characterisation to be one of the most important cores to any traditional story (sit down, postmodernists). People want stories about people. And no, simply ‘poi’ is not characterisation. That started to annoy me very fast.

  • March 26, 2015 at 12:44 pmMormegil

    It’s very bland and dull. But hey, at least there’s Kongou.

    • March 27, 2015 at 12:34 amHalfDemonInuyasha

      Yeah, I was glad to see Kongou got to stay in the spotlight, but disappointed that her sisters barely got any. The times when they were all together in their whackiness were among my favorite of the series.

    • March 28, 2015 at 9:27 pmHoHo

      I fully agree with you. Kongou sisters are the only reason why I can watch it to the end. It’s really sad that they didn’t have that much screen time together.

  • March 26, 2015 at 2:46 pmJusuchin (Military Otaku)

    Been awhile since I added my own comments to this.

    I always knew it was going to be a hard sell. There are just so many wildly divergent official and fan interpretations of the game. From the distinctly slice of life Fubuki, Ganbarimasu! 4koma, depressing and grimdark Kagerou, Setting Sail!, to the setting-confused and time/budget restricted Bonds of the Wings of Cranes; all these serve as different interpretations of the game. Fan culture has distinctively injected itself into the series, to the point that any line that Naka utters has me going “shut up Naka-chan”.

    There was just so much the writers can do, so many it can please, that even with three writing teams, they weren’t even on the same page. The only consistencies I found in the series was the fact the fated Battle of Midway was reversed, that Fubuki was at least a good attempt in injecting some personality into a bland and thoroughly vanilla character, the poi was overused (like seriously, it even got a kotaku article), and that we have kanmusu doing cute kanmusu things (6th DesDiv anyone?).

    A sequel has been announced, though if it wants to wash off the rather confusing stain that was this season, they need to do a few things. Mainly stave off the fan anger over the ending and a lot of other reasons why fans are up in arms, they really to decide on a course. Slice of Life, Grimdark, a healthy mixture of both? Make people care about the characters?

    Because the Anime just opened up the game to people, the whole franchise actually. There are a lot of work done by paid writers and artists, as well as fan-made stuff from artists, writers, musicians, and everyone else. They can’t include everyone, it’s best if they found something and stuck with it. References to fan favorites and memes is fine, but trying to include everything just fails.

    I’d keep only some episodes for rewatching, and lament the awesomeness that could’ve been for the last episode. The Anime still gave us a pretty impressive soundtrack, with the ED ‘Fubuki’ been on repeat on my Galaxy S5 when I’m on my way to work on the employee shuttle. So they do have a chance of salvaging the animated media. All other works and the game really not being too badly touched by this rather poor attempt.

  • March 26, 2015 at 4:53 pmtrunkmonkey

    All of the stories showed promise that never was fulfilled and had all of these weaknesses and those that you spelled out well.
    Even the final scenario, operation MI (the battle of Midway,) had a great deal of potential that was just not picked up.
    All in all the story lines showed hope at the beginning and ended in a rush job succumbing to lazy or just plan uninspired writing.

    It was very, very flawed but, I still enjoyed watching it all with a hope that it would improve.
    I pray that they change writers or find the key to unlock the chains that are holding it down for the next series.

  • March 26, 2015 at 6:05 pmJuan

    I pretty much agree with the review. I don’t find the series good or bad.

    One thing I would like to point out though. If you noticed the little easter egg at the end of the fight, it actually seems like they decided to make this first season basically an introduction season with the story coming in the following season. Well at least that’s the impression I got

  • March 26, 2015 at 6:32 pmflCer

    The bad part of this series was the overused punch lines. Kongou’s Engrish was very fun to hear, for about 2 episodes. After that, I started cringing more and more. If they used those punchlines less frequently it’s seriously improve my impression of the show.

    It’s clear to me that their primary objective is not to create a good story or adhere to any concrete theme; Their goal is to give a back story and screentime to as many Kan musu as possible. As a result, the story was really decentralized.

    But you know what, I still looked forward to the next episode each week.

  • March 26, 2015 at 7:11 pmReikakou

    Jesus… They even announced a season 2…

    Rather want a season 2 of Arpeggio of Blue Steel -Ars Nova- after their 2 OVAs than this cringe inducing anime. Good thing Akatsuki no Yona washed away that bad taste left in my mouth by KanColle.

  • March 26, 2015 at 8:27 pmstarss

    This was made by people who didn’t know how to or couldn’t figure out how to adapt a game with no story into a narrative 12-episode anime. Plain and simple. This was a poorly-written show that quite frankly never deserves a second season.

  • March 26, 2015 at 11:24 pmfragb85

    I have no experience with the franchise so I felt like I can give some perspective on what I fely. It was…okay. Just okay. That’s probaly the worst position to be in, since its a popular franchise and there really isn’t strong opinion to come from it whether good or bad.

    First lets talk about Fubuki. She certainly has her detractors, mostly calling her bland, but I felt like she was the perfect MC for this. As the most down to earth character, she serves as a the perfect audience surrogate for a large cast of characters. Furthermore she helps serves the role of the Straight Man, one of the most unappreciated roles in ensemble casts, who can contrast the more colorful characters. Kongou for example wouldn’t be half as funny if Buki wasn’t around with visible exasperation at her antics.

    As for the plot, there are two that are present. The first is the war with Abysals. Quite frankly it was barely given lip service and as a consequence, not very interesting. It serves as backdrop for the setting and not much else. And that’s perfectly fine because it would complement the other plot.

    The second plot is the core of the story which is the growth and Fubuki. Derivative yes, but its simple enough to make us root of for Fubuki and its difficult to screw up. And she does develop well. The best part was on episode 5 when Fubuki gets to lead her own fleet which I thought was a great move to develop Fubuki as a character. She gets to handed the most dysfunctional fleet of the base, and everyone has group dynamic: Kongou was Buki’s closest ally and friend. The Zuikaku/Kaga animosity is a bit of tension the Buki has a to deal with to get her team to work. And Ooi and Kitakami… well they get to justify their flirting screentime instead of interrupting the episode with their antics. Basically it felt like the show was finally hitting its stride.

    Then all of a sudden, this entire plot is scuttled (no pun intended) in favor of the Kai Ni subplot. The execution of this plot was just poor. All of a sudden Buki’s fleet is disbanded, and then she goes full retard and start angsting. This is where it started to fall part, because Fubuki suddenly forgot her entire character growth and it was such a disservice to the overall narrative. All this of course serves to go back to the war with the Abyssal, which as I pointed out, not very intresting and the whole finale just felt anti-climatic.

    Its unfortunate it was handles so poorly, because it looked like it would suddenly get good then suddenly it gets itself stuck in the rut of mediocrity.

  • March 26, 2015 at 11:42 pmdaikama

    Personally, I consider Ep. 12 the worst episode of an uneven first season. W…T…F… “Ship-fu”!? Should I now expect a “melee cut-in” introduced with the next event? That sort of thing works fine for Fubuki, Ganbarimasu! 4-Koma comedy manga, but not for an anime that purports to be at least somewhat serious in nature. The moment Ooi flying kicked that Abyssal DD was the moment Ep. 12 proverbially jumped the shark for me. An ill-suited moment of “comedy” in the middle of what’s supposed to be a climactic battle. Then of course we segue into yet another forced Kitakami x Ooi yuri moment. That makes 12/12 episodes for that. “Good job”, show. *sigh* Game reference spamming came back with a vengeance. Forced Kanmusu dialog, together with “cool” poses, killed the flow of the battle (waaay to much talking and standing around). Kanmusu dialog is just the tip of the reference iceberg. Airfield Hime morphing into Midway Hime = change in final boss form for the “final kill” to clear event and other maps. Multiple kills = having to kill the bose X number of times to clear a map. Kaga’s magic bow repair (notice the fairy) = repair team/goddess (consumable item in the game). There’s also Taihou showing up at the last minute. The mystery of the admiral’s disappearance is now solved. He/she was off doing LSC (Large Ship Construction) when the naval base was bombed. It also explains why the naval district was low on resources. Fortunately for them, they have better luck with LSC than I do.

    Frankly, I’m not surprised Kadokawa (KDKW) decided to focus on the core fan base. With over 2,500,000 game players alone, if just 3% buy the BDs, that’s 75,000 in BD sales. While JMO, I do not think they could make a KanColle anime which would satisfy a large percentage of both core fans and “anime-only” viewers. That is NOT, to say the show couldn’t have done a better job (unquestionably it could have in my opinion). However, game players such as myself would expect (and want) at least some game references/”inside jokes”, and a lot game player comments I’ve read support that. It’s no surprise that the 100% SoL Ep. 06 is one of the, if not the, most popular episode among the core audience. Rather, KDKW had a herculean task in just trying to satisfy most core fans. Well before the anime even aired, I read numerous comments from game players about which Kanmusu “must” be in the anime. There was also debate about the admiral, whether the anime should be light-hearted SoL or grim-dark and serious – you name it, and without much general consensus. KDKW tried to appease as many of the core fans as it could, and there indeed lies a major problem with the anime in my opinion. They tried too hard.

    As a result, the anime suffered from an overabundance of characters, game references and a marked lack of focus. It tried to both “serious” and “light-hearted” and failed. It tried to please everybody and ended up pleasing few. The anime gives the impression of the staff never fully deciding exactly what it wanted in terms of general atmosphere and tone. Combining comedy with more serious elements requires firm direction, good execution, and proper focus. KanColle lacked those. Proper scene transition between the two (noticeably bad in Ep. 04) was also sub-par, and at times, jarring. Frankly, I think they squandered Kisaragi’s death. Spamming game references was another issue. Some of that is fine/expected, but it got ridiculous at times and hurt storytelling. Lack of focus was another issue. Too many “plot lines” here and there to fit in yet another game reference, character or whatnot.

    That’s not say that it was all bad. There were definitely some enjoyable moments for me (particularly Ep. 05 & 06). While less than ideal, I think a few characters got sufficient introduction/screen time. Kongou, for one, seems to be quite popular among anime-only viewers. Personally, I ended up liking Mutsuki and even Kisaragi (short screen time be damned) more than I did from playing the game alone (both were faaaar down my list of favorite Kanmusu). Fubuki definitely had character development despite execution and plot woes. The music, background and OP/ED, was very good IMO. At times visual quality was quite good, but to be fair, too often visually quality dropped considerably. They need to work on CGI for one thing. Some of the battles were fun to watch, and there were definitely “LOL worthy” moments along the way. In terms of WWII references, have to disagree with Passerby’s assessment. In fact, a concern I had at one point was that the show was following the “WWII script” too closely and thus would become too predictable (and overly grim dark). As it was, almost every episode contained a few “WWII Easter egg” references (if anyone is interested in those – see spoiler below).

    Long story short, up until Ep. 12, the show for me waffled between “OK” and “pretty good”. I didn’t hate it. Ep. 12 is a different story, however. Based upon the comments I’ve read, I think a bad finish significantly influenced how many viewed the anime adaptation as a whole. I’m in for Season 2 (with much tempered expectations), but I sincerely hope the staff makes a concerted effort to note and address Season 1′s short comings.

    Examples of WWII references in KanColle Anime Show Spoiler ▼

  • March 26, 2015 at 11:44 pmZiko577

    I couldn’t get into the series despite the fact that I’ve done all my research on it plus the historical stuff as well. The anime I thought was a waste of time because of the poor CG, inconsistent plot, and the thing that bothered me the most was that Fubuki was the protagonist though technically any one of them could’ve been. I mean the weakest ship in the game and they chose her?! Face it, they screwed up with this series and a second season is like wading through an already deep swamp near overflowing.

    • March 26, 2015 at 11:57 pmdaikama

      @Ziko577: I mean the weakest ship in the game and they chose her?!”

      Actually, that’s wrong. Fubuki, especially Fubuki Kai-ni is not the weakest ship in the game. Fubuki Kai-ni has across the board above average stats (firepower, torps, AA, ASW and LoS). Of those, she has the highest LoS (Line of Sight) stat for destroyers and the 3rd highest AA stat (1pt away from tying 2nd best). For those who don’t have Akizuki, Fubuki Kai-ni is probably the best choice of DD for an AA-cut in setup. Even if you have Akizuki, there are times where Fubuki Kai-ni makes more sense to use than Akazuki given Akazuki’s nerfed torp stat (i.e. Fubuki is a better all around ship). Even before her Kai-ni remodel, Fubuki has average stats. The Mutsuki-class DD are without question are the weakest DD in the game and among the, if not the, weakest ships in the game.

      The most likely reason Fubuki was picked as MC is that she’s the default starter ship for the game. She’s one of the game’s icon ships. I suspect that’s due to her being the lead ship of the Fubuki-class destroyers which were a big deal when they were launched (see my spoiler above). So Fubuki is a logical, and importantly, “neutral” choice of MC for the anime. She’s not the most popular ship, but no matter who the show picked for MC, there would disgruntled fans.

  • March 27, 2015 at 1:00 amHalfDemonInuyasha

    In simpler thinking, one could compare the way the anime was done to a whacked lottery – rather than a small number of people winning hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars while others end up disappointed, but understanding that they didn’t “win”, you have everybody “winning”, but only getting something like twenty dollars each which results in everybody being pissed off and feeling cheated even though they were among all the “winners”.

    If they wanted to please everyone, the series would have to be as long as ones like Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Detective Conan, etc.

    • March 27, 2015 at 3:00 amPasserby

      To extend your metaphor further, imagine if the lottery was run by Elagabalus of ancient Rome, so instead of $20 sometimes you get a box full of bees, you realise lotteries are just ways to monetise the selling of hope, and you didn’t want a lottery ticket anyway, you were trying to buy a movie ticket, and then the metaphor comes all the way around.

  • March 27, 2015 at 2:16 amLonghaul

    Zun is a smart man to not allow a Touhou anime.

  • March 27, 2015 at 2:29 amNgai-Han

    I thought it was kinda fun… Characters were a little endearing xD and the Ed was pretty good.

  • March 27, 2015 at 8:03 amArche

    Did I enjoy this show, as someone who paid no attention to the franchise up to this point? Yes.
    Could I recommend it to someone while keeping a straight face? Not even if I was a legendary poker player.

  • March 27, 2015 at 8:35 amArp2341

    Totally expected, back to glorious Touhou, praise Zun for being the smart guy and not being a sell out like DMM.

    • March 27, 2015 at 7:55 pmShiden

      DMM and Kadokawa Games are companies. Zun is a single person.

      Other than relative popularity, there’s nothing to compare.

      • March 27, 2015 at 8:08 pmPasserby

        Corporations are people too! /laugh track

        Honestly, there’s nothing stopping a Touhou anime from being good, in the same way there was nothing stopping a KanColle anime from being good; they just dropped the ball here. ZUN just seems to be wary of going ‘mainstream’, I think.

  • March 27, 2015 at 1:38 pmYanDaMan

    I was hoping to see what Kancolle was all about since its supposedly a huge thing in Japan and I know jack about it. This anime…didnt help. I got bored pretty quickly and dropped the show :\

  • March 28, 2015 at 5:54 amPacket

    I thought Battleship was more entertaining than this.

  • March 28, 2015 at 4:06 pmchromenova

    Did not expect such backlash on kantai collection. I enjoyed it somewhat, but I can agree with the criticisms with the show. It certainly did feel like the show did not know what direction to take. The last episode was also somewhat disappointing…it was basically just everyone gathering together and winning with the power of friendship and belief, and coming back home all happy. Well, I understand that with only one episode left, they wouldn’t want to do something risky as kill off some of the ship girls, but I think it would of been an interesting turn of events to see some of them fall.

    The visuals were nice, and I’m glad that some characters did get some character development. It was definitely fan service panderment, but I think a few episodes were enjoyable, and I wouldn’t write it down as completely terrible.

  • March 28, 2015 at 8:02 pmDS

    I enjoyed the anime, but it was really disorganized and really needed more fine tuning.

  • March 29, 2015 at 2:22 pmSolaris

    A lot of people compared this to Strike Witches, and as a matter of fact, the two anime developed the same way initially. But Kantai came from a game, and had no real plot to stick with except its characters to rely on. So having it develop into cute (ship) girls doing cute (ship) things was going to develop maybe in something making better sense than Strike Witches in that regard. Instead they tried to add a back story following WWII events and it was a great Idea. The plot the game never had was added seamlessly and fitting. Moreover the overused clichè of wanting to fight destiny by winning the battle historically doomed Japan to it own demise in the Pacific War was also a nice touch and fitting the game. Isn’t a game made to rewrite what was written with blood and iron once upon a time, unless for the sake of fantasy?
    I didn’t like Strike Witches indulging in its moe antics and fanservice disregarding the light novel plot and WWII history element that much, to the point its plot made no sense at all. So when I got that Kancolle was really following WWII history I was overjoyed. Kancolle was succeeding in what Strike Witches failed miserably.
    In this scenario having a char like Fubuki strife to change destiny (note that she was the only ship always misplaced in any WWII re-enacted scenario and always the char who drives a change in the events). It was also meaningful of the choice of the admiral to have her at the central role till… the 12th episode. Man, that made no sense at all. I expected Fubuki to drive some change and save the day somehow, but not that. That coral striking back in forces came out of nowhere and what’s more it wasn’t even thank to Fubuki. She played no real deciding role in the last battle except being there. The problem is now they screwed history so hard, how do they think to advance the plot?
    So fail. But not cause supposed lack of originality or cause they didn’t develop all of the ships beyond the cardboard level. They chose a direction and disregarded it at the very end, and trashed the only char they invested upon after 11 episodes worth of development, Fubuki, i so pity you.

  • March 29, 2015 at 2:55 pmFighterdoken

    It’s sad that the series ran and ended as it did, since i am sure most of us felt it could have been most (or at least “something” instead of “everything and nothing”). If they do a second season, i hope they do a reboot and either base it on Fubuki’s 4-koma, or just pick up a single line of thought instead of making it a series of disjointed “single-chapters”.

    I wanted to like it, but just couldn’t. Guess i am back to run world 1-5 and try to get Fubuki/Yuudachi up to Kai-ni cause screw world 3-2 :P

  • March 30, 2015 at 2:57 amtheirs

    I actually enjoyed the show. I had zero expectations and my exposure to the franchise was from art work (blame Arpeggio)and a 4-koma. Maybe that helped a little. That death scene and then the Kongou sisters helped me stay with this. Of course after that I still had zero expectations.

    Personally speaking, I believe this show should’ve focused on either the carrier girls (serious business, trying to prevent history from repeating) or the Kongou class (comedy). A good mix ala Galaxy Angel would’ve been nice too. Alas this didn’t reach that level of greatness.

    My only real problems with this show was the CGI and Mr Admiral (unless Kongou swings the other way). Fubukis model was noticeably different. Ignoring fashion, they look really different compared to the anime character design. Not all of them were bad, Shoukaku looks very good. Hence why I wouldn’t mind them focusing on the carriers. While the Admiral should really just be 100% there, or not at all. His specter doesn’t help the story, it only distracts from it.

    In the end, it was a fun ride, but I wouldn’t recommend this show to anyone. Let’s see how the second season does.

    • April 1, 2015 at 2:04 pmMagnus Tancred

      I agree that the admiral “should really just be 100% there, or not at all.”

      Having the admiral as the viewer’s surrogate only works if the viewers can successfully delve into the character, and support the reasons behind the decisions and orders he makes.

      By making him give less-than-sensical orders (sending Fubuki into battle despite her still being unfamiliar with her equipment), that out-of-nowhere “I want Fubuki to be my wife”, the unexplained disappearance and return, the viewers are left in a “WTF?” state instead.

      I think showing a little internal monologue from the admiral might have helped in this regard.

      >> Personally speaking, I believe this show should’ve focused on either the carrier girls
      I think the underlying issue here is that Fubuki is not “main character material”. :P
      At many points in the series I was rolling my eyes and asking “why is she the main character again?”

      Simply put, the writers put an unusual amount of focus on Fubuki right at the start, despite not showing anything that would warrant it in the first place.

      It takes good writing to make a main character out of a nondescript (ship)girl, and this series is not an example.
      I think it would have helped, even just a little, if they showed Fubuki training with her sisters, then getting assigned to Torpedo Squad 3 because her scores were good enough, though not the highest in her training class. Bonus points if the Admiral was watching a mock battle and saw a rough diamond in her.

      But nooooooo, the only diamond he saw was on a wedding ring. :P

      Personally, I think Kantai Collection could work better as a series of OVAs, with sets of 2-3 episodes focusing on one ship girl and her squad, then a 2-episode final battle featuring all of them. This approach will result in an ensemble of evenly fleshed-out characters that viewers will root for in the final battle, whether they survive or not. :O

      >> serious business, trying to prevent history from repeating
      A good idea is to make it a recurring theme among different characters, but manifest in different ways. Case in point:

      Shigure has memories of being the sole survivor of the Battle of Surigao Strait. As a result, she vows to protect her squadmates, all members of the Nishimura Fleet that participated in that battle. She recklessly shields her fellow ship-girls from incoming attacks, and repeatedly gets badly damaged, causing some friction with her squadmates over her near-suicidal behavior. It’s from .