KanColle – Kantai Collection – Anime Review
Synopsis: Fubuki is a Special Type Destroyer who has just been assigned to the Naval District. With a grand total of zero battles under her belt, she’s sure to sink fast under the pressure of expectation. Luckily, she’s grouped with Torpedo Squadron Three, and they’re ready to support their new comrade. Together, they’ll prove they have what it takes to defend the ocean and win it all for humanity! (Official Funimation Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Kantai Collection is an exception among video game to anime adaptations. Many expect some kind of familiarity with the source material, or skim over the game’s events, choosing to highlight the best moments in the story over presenting something comprehensible to new viewers. Kantai Collection however offers an approachable, if wholly bizarre world of anthropomorphized warships tackling an evil resurfacing aquatic menace, that doesn’t require knowledge or familiarity with this exclusively Japanese web browser game. I actually think it does an amazing job of adapting a mobile game and turning it into an entertaining anime for all audiences. Not only did it manage to find fun ways to incorporate or reference the in game mechanics but it also managed to flesh out the characters and story, aspects that, after familiarizing myself with the game, border on non-existent.
Linny: Kancolle is one of the more entertaining adaptations of a truly bizarre game concept in recent anime. The game mechanics are inserted into the story almost seamlessly, though they do still stick out just because of their innate bizarreness. The girls are given varying personalities with interesting interpretations of real life facts about each ship they’re based upon turned into personality quirks, alongside character designs that help make them stand out from each other even with such a massive cast. There’s also a lack of overt sexual exploitation of the girls and besides a few slightly busty female characters, there’s no parade of sleazy up-skirt shots and the likes.
Tom: The anime really does an incredible job of fleshing out the massive cast of girls, although only a handful get, what you might consider, meaningful amounts of screen time and emotional development (understandable when you have a total cast of at least thirty girls.) As Linny said, many of the character’s designs are wonderful, giving off loads of personality. And because the cast is so large there’s someone for everyone. Linny and I particularly enjoyed a number of the supporting cast, like Kongou and her liberal use of English words and poorly-emphasized Japanese phrasing to be just the best kind of fun. Sadly, not all the girls are quite so enjoyable. There’s a handful of bland characters, carried forward only by their unique character designs, and a couple who are perhaps outright annoying. Not to mention the lead girl herself, Fubuki, is rather underwhelming as leads go.
Linny: Fubuki is indeed a bland protagonist, as generic as one can get. She’s your standard sweet but lacking in confidence protagonist. Unless you have a soft spot for that archetype, it’s hard to care about her. Thankfully, the other girls offer a lot of varied personalities and some more than make up for Fubuki’s bland character with their own brand of vivacious energy and charm. While the show does avoid sleazy fan service, it offers a very heavy dose of moe oriented content, with characters that not only look and act cute but even have quirky speech impediments all for the sake of ‘moe.’ There’s also the stereotypical devoted lesbian-but-not-lesbian girl rampantly in love with her senpai. So if you’re not a fan of all those tropes, heads up!
Tom: Kantai Collection does fall into that pit of ‘moe is king’ from time to time, with several episodes squarely focused on such ‘moe bait’ characters. But I think, generally, the show balances its overt moe content with its more regular fare. The opening theme is a great indication of Kantai’s general tone, because even when the show does deal with death and other serious problems it never gets all that dark and generally episode to episode feels peppered with fun, or moe.
Linny: KanColle utilizes a heavy amount of CGI, especially when depicting the girls in combat out on the sea. The show puts in decent effort to make its CGI blend with the more traditionally animation and succeeds enough to be watchable. For those like me who are accepting of competent CGI, KanColle should be a decent watch, though like a lot of anime, the quality of animation does waver from episode to episode, with some standing far and above more mediocre outings.
Tom: The CGI is probably what made Kantai Collection doable in the first place. Without it there wouldn’t be a Kantai Collection anime as the ocean based combat would simply be too demanding for the production. While the CGI isn’t perfect and only occasionally blends seamlessly to the 2D shots, it overall does a decent job, at least early on. Sadly the CGI’s quality changes from episode to episode. It never gets bad but at the same time it rarely manages to marry the 2D images perfectly and that remains a shame.
Linny: The fact of the matter is that your enjoyment of KanColle is going to depend heavily on your interest in its main subject matter: the idea of battleships anthropomorphized as young girls with assorted personalities. KanColle is undoubtedly a show that had a fair amount of love and work put into adapting a video game and has enough merit to entertain anyone curious about the game or premise. But if you’re not intrigued by those things, you’ll likely to find yourself unimpressed by the deteriorating CGI and generic lead, and more likely to drop the show after an episode or two, particularly if you do not latch on to a ‘best girl’ early on.
Tom: Contrary to Linny, I found Kantai Collection to go above and beyond adapting the mobile game. They took the game and worked very hard to make something that wouldn’t just appeal to fans of the franchise but new audiences and I think they succeeded. It’s not perfect by any means, but I think provides enough quirky characters, combat, and hi-jinks that it makes for an overall enjoyable experience.