As an anime fan, there are times when you’ll get caught up in the fandom and end up liking a show despite of all its faults. This is how I feel about Kantai Collection.
Kantai Collection, or KanColle as it is better known, started out as a free-to-play web browser game that allowed the player to collect “Kanmusu” (Fleet Girls) which are represented as cards and use them to fight against the Abyssal Fleet, a fearsome naval force that has conquered the world’s seas. It was adapted into a 12-episode anime series titled “Kantai Collection” by Japanese Animation Studio Diomedéa (Shinryaku! Ika Musume, Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu). The series started airing on January 8, 2015 and ended on March 26, 2015.
The anime series follows the same setting as the game where girls bearing the spirit of historical naval ships are assembled into a fighting force to combat the invasion of the Abyssal Fleet. Despite this premise, the anime comes off as a slice of life story with episodes showing how the Fleet Girls live their everyday lives while training and preparing for enemy encounters. The show is full of light hearted comedy in the tradition of “cute girls doing silly things” anime like K~ON! or Azumanga Daioh. That being said, the story itself is incredibly flawed and forces the viewers to just accept how things work because… that’s how things work. There are a number of points that were not explained in the anime:
– how did the girls come to possess the spirit of naval war ships?
– how do the fleet girls repair themselves by soaking in the bath?
– where did the Abyssal Fleet come from?
– what are the Abyssal Fleet’s intentions/motives?
– why are there no other people shown in the anime except for Kanmusu and the Abyssal Fleet (no civilians or other non-Kanmusu naval officers)?
All we know is that the Abyssal Fleet has conquered the seas all over the world. However, it’s hard to feel how the Abyssal Fleet is a threat to peace when all they are ever shown to do is fight against the Fleet Girls (and lose). For people who did not play the game or do not know Kantai Collection’s origins, it is easy to get confused and wonder why the girls are fighting. This is especially disturbing when the girls are faced with the sinking (death) of one of their comrades. What did this Kanmusu sink for exactly? And it doesn’t help that the anime doesn’t show the Admiral at all, a quirk from the game that the anime retained. The Admiral, the supreme leader of the Kanmusu Forces, is a silent off-screen character that passes orders to his/her Secretary, the Naval Warship Nagato. With the amount of love and praise that the Admiral is getting from his/her Kanmusu Harem, it’s hard to believe that he/she did not make a single appearance in the show. His/her presence is only hinted at when the Kanmusu acknowledge it.
Even the animation is nothing amazing. It’s as standard-fare as it gets. It’s hard to recall a moment that was breathtaking and remarkable in the anime. The animation switches to 3D during naval battles. This works well for the show because of how complicated each girl’s armaments are and how it would be a pain to animate in traditional cel animation. The movements are still somewhat awkward especially when the anime tries to show how clumsy Fubuki, the main character, was at the beginning of the series.
The voice acting was great with Sumire Uesaka leading the helm as main character Fubuki. It’s hard not to empathize with the characters as they experienced their joys and sorrows because of the terrific voice acting. This would have to be one of the most important aspects, along with character design, for this genre of anime that showcases a lot of cute girls. Their personalities and quirks need to be fleshed out without having to rely too much on character development. Voice acting helps a lot in this regard and it worked for Kantai Collection. Rina Hidaka’s portrayal of Mutsuki is especially endearing because of the range of emotions she had to act out through the course of the story.
The soundtrack is catchy but not memorable. The opening song “Miiro” was sung by Akino from bless4 and the ending theme “Fubuki” was sung by Shiena Nishizawa.
The only thing that the show has going for it are its girls. Kantai Collection is a fan service anime that was seemingly made for the fans of the game. It’s not exactly a terrible show and it could work for anyone who likes anime that have a lot of cute girls in it. Some may compare it to Strike Witches and Girls Und Panzer, but those shows have far more substance than this one does. Overall, I give this show a rating of “Average”.