Azur Lane – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Azur Lane, a combination of all the different Camps in the world, was once successful in repelling the underwater menace, the Siren. Now splintered, they must face a new threat in Red Axis, former allies who crave to wield this otherworldly Siren technology for their own nefarious desires! Who will be victorious in the never-ending war between these battleship girls!? (Official Funimation Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: If you’re familiar with Kantai Collection, the video game or the anime, get ready for a round of serious deja vu. Not only does Azur Lane revolve around and feature a cast of anthropomorphic ship girls just like KanColle, it also mentions ethereal, alien, evil creatures of unknown origins named Sirens who share a lot of physical and origin similarities with the villains of KanColle, the Abyssal Fleet. The only ‘unique’ feature of Azur Lane is that instead of focusing on the ship girls battling the Sirens, it’s about how the various groups of ship girls have divided into two factions and are now battling each other, having long defeated the Sirens themselves. To the show’s credit, it does mix in some mythological elements; such as the Nine tailed Fox of Japanese folklore to produce some unique designs and impressive imagery during the episode’s ultimate battle sequence. This not only makes it look visually appealing but also helps to give it more of the unique charm it is desperately lacking otherwise.
Tom: How exactly Azur Lane still exists when it pulls so much from Kantai, without offering anything new, is beyond me. This first episode of its anime adaptation doesn’t do it many favors either, hardly making the series feel like anything more than the off-brand version of Kantai Collection. Things are weighed down by overly repetitive dialogue and lackluster lead characters that are both uninteresting in personality and unappealing in design, making it difficult to get sucked in. Things do improve however once the action gets going and the visuals take center stage, so there’s that.
Linny: The anthropomorphic ship girls in Azur Lane are varied in age, some looking to be your standard ‘adult’ anime women while others look to be preteen. Why do I bring this up? Because the presence of these preteen girls makes the show super uncomfortable when it decides to do a short but nevertheless obvious upskirt shot gag with one of them. And it’s highly likely that its entire cast is meant to be flaunted for a bit of fan service as almost every single older woman in the show so far is extremely busty and/or dressed in a revealing outfit.
Tom: Outside of the skeevy designs I’d argue the visual design sense for near all the girls pales in comparison to the original Kantai series and game. So often we see girls that really just look like typical moe anime characters with ship parts tacked on, losing the unique costume and visual flare that made quite a few of the Kantai girls stand out. Here we get only a handful of visually stunning designs and they’re mostly for characters who aren’t the central focus. That said, what’s here isn’t terrible, it’s just uninspired. From lifting the central idea of Kantai Collection, doing little to reinvent it, and failing to offer up compelling main characters, Azur Lane seems poised as the poor man’s version. Not that Kantai Collection was exactly top tier anime to begin with. If you’re desperate for more ship girls you truly have few other options, and truth be told as ho-hum as Azur Lane is, it’s hardly the worst game to anime adaptation we’ve seen.
Linny: Undermining the battle and doing away with any possible tension is the fact that it’s made clear that these girls are near indestructible, bordering on immortal. One of the characters is shot point blank, through the chest, with a powerful weapon and yet all it really seems to do is piss her off. So, thanks to all the various issues we’ve discussed so far, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I also feel Azur Lane is best left to the starved Kantai Collection fan. I don’t think this show is unwatchable (aside from the preteen character content that could get real sketchy) but if you aren’t already enamored by the thought of anthropomorphic ship girls battling each other, it doesn’t contain anything worthwhile beyond that.
Azur Lane is available for streaming via Funimation.