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Annotated Anime: Kantai Collection episodes 5-6

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Two Fleet Girls, One Teacup

Kantai Collection has an identity crisis. It's trying to split the difference between a splashy, substance-free fan-service fiesta for existing fans of the game it's based on, a more sedate genre piece featuring girls being way too nice to each other, and a weighty war drama befitting the violent and arguably tragic history of the real-life warships the characters channel the souls of.

That's been the apparent narrative of the show's in the first four episodes, as the sudden and unexpected loss of Kisaragi in episode three threw many expectations for a loop. Followed up with the overwhelming antics of episode four, no one was sure just where the pendulum would swing in the following episodes.

Now that we've approached the halfway mark, though, it seems that Kan Colle has picked its path.

And of the two sea lanes that diverged in an ocean, the one Diomedea seems to have picked is whichever one is wackiest

Indeed, fans hoping for more emotion after the teary grapple with grief Mutsuki went through in episode four (amid the scene-stealing distractions of the Kongou sisters) may find themselves disappointed by the last two weeks of Kan Colle, where the truth was revealed: The Kongou Sisters are the main event. Or rather, not the sisters, but their screwball exploits and light tone. Kisaragi's loss was a tragic mistake.

I imagine Kisaragi fans might not want to take that lying down, but I can't help but think the show is better off for having drifted off the tragedy course. I don't think anyone in their right mind was signing onto Kan Colle for the drama, and while there's something to be said for the benefits of the unpredictable, it was always doubtful that Diomedea had the will or wherewithal to commit to the kinds of maneuvers needed to make Kan Colle the Madoka Magica of mecha musume shows.

Long story short: Dumb fun is the rule of the day for episodes five and six, as Fubuki gets roomed in with a bunch of other, older, meaner girls (plus Kongou), and then takes the backseat completely as the Akatsuki-class destroyers compete in a curry-cooking contest.

One could argue that this is the way Kan Colle should've been from the start. I did mention early on that it behaved too much like it was the only show in its genre, when titles like Girls und Panzer and Uppote!! cut through the narrative fat with an efficiency and militarily precise "punchiness". Kan Colle now seems to be hitting its stride, leaning into things like the Fleet Girls speaking their catchphrases, being catty with each other (Kaga and Ooi are particularly brutal), and making thinly veiled jokes about game mechanics like expeditions and Akagi's hunger for Bauxite.

Even historical jokes aren't gone from the show's quiver. Shoukaku tends to find herself in compromising positions, referencing her history of taking major damage in battles while her sister carrier Zuikaku remained untouched for the majority of the war. Shimakaze's obsession with speed (her being one of the fastest WW2 destroyers ever built) filters down into her taste for instant food. 

I wouldn't go so far as to suggest that the show's better off for having shunted its main character to the sidelines, but it has managed to recapture my interest by focusing not on several boring characters (sorry, Fubuki), but on a bigger picture of the full cast. It's simply folly to expect depth from these kinds of characterizations, so having Kan Colle embrace that one dimensionality has come out a net positive. 

 

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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures


 


 


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