Kantai Collection – the popular browser game about Fleet Girls, girls who are supposed to possess the souls (and weaponry) of historical warships – has received an anime adaptation which has just completed its maiden voyage.
This maiden voyage focused on Light Destroyer Fubuki, a timid but earnest girl who just wants to be given the chance to fight. Never adept at the physical aspect of her role, she wasn’t permitted off the base while at her previous home… but now she’s been transferred to a new base of operations and the Admiral – a faceless figure meant to represent the person playing the game – seems to have plans for her. But how could he possibly expect anything out of this clumsy, seemingly useless girl?
Simple. Plot convenience. KanColle is an expert at abusing plot convenience to prod matters forward. Fubuki deprives herself of sleep and trains day and night and somehow this doesn’t destroy her… but rather forces her to suddenly, over the course of a few days, level up. All because she is told she has the ‘Soul of a Torpedo Girl’ – whatever that is. Her sudden transformations continue through the series, with her personality undergoing miraculous alterations, her abilities suddenly improving – usually through a training montage that feels awkward and out of place – and her position within the fleet progressing at a rate that could only be described as ‘favouritism’.
And if a main character completely lacking in depth, development, or any unique redeeming qualities wasn’t enough to pique your interest; we have a full cast of characters who are walking one-liners. We have a girl who is obsessed with ‘being a lady’, one whose entire personality is ‘being an idol’, and another who is so desperately and jealously in love with her long-time companion that she even threatens the moon at one point for intervening on their time together. We have three or four different characters whose sole defining feature is that they include a specific ‘word'(and I use the term loosely) in every sentence they say.
The cast, despite featuring some star voice actors, is so broad and so hollow that it is hard to care about any of these characters. There are two relatively relatable characters – Mutsuki and Akagi – from among a cast of over 45 characters. And due to the size of the cast, these two characters don’t get the development they need to feel important – in fact, one of the show’s most dramatic moments has virtually no emotional impact because you simply don’t have time to build the attachment to those involved.
Developmental issues are a common trend within the show – the core story suffers as well. You get a lot of talk about fighting abyssals, but not a lot of plot. There is one hint of a plotline that could have turned into something fascinating, but throughout the rest of the series only a few subtle hints were ever given. And, in stead of building off of that potentially interesting plotline, they focused on some absurd overcoming fate story that simply seemed nonsensical.
Let’s take a break from this litany of the show’s faults though, and talk about the one good element. The sea battles were, mostly, quite entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the Carriers who used bows to launch arrows that turned into planes to attack the enemies. It is an interesting way to transform an aircraft carrier into, well, a girl. It was remarkably fun watching these girls with their ship-like rigging fighting.
It is hard for me to say who this show was designed to appeal for. I’m sure their primary intent was to cater to the game’s existing fanbase, however I doubt that there is enough good here to appeal even to them. Use of the same voice actors and art style along with a few inside jokes and references will likely not be enough to override the poor storytelling and atrocious character development for all but the most diehard fans. To anyone else, just stay away. This is not worth your time.