With the seas under constant threat from the hostile "Abyssal Fleet," a specialized naval base is established to counter them. Rather than standard naval weaponry, however, the base is armed with "Kanmusu"—girls who harbor the spirits of Japanese warships—possessing the ability to don weaponized gear that allows them to harness the powerful souls within themselves. Fubuki, a young Destroyer-type Kanmusu, joins the base as a new recruit; unfortunately for her, despite her inexperience and timid nature, she is assigned to the famous Third Torpedo Squadron and quickly thrust into the heat of battle. When she is rescued from near annihilation, the rookie warship resolves to become as strong as the one who saved her.
Ever wondered why Touhou doesn't have an anime? This is why.
There are two perspectives you can watch this show from: Either you played the game, or you haven't. This show is clearly designed to appeal to the former, and does a great job at failing in everything because of that. The thing about making an animated series of something like Kancolle is that, aside from having the fans seeing their favorite characters being animated, it also gives a chance for them to see the characters develop beyond their limited personality trait in the game.
What happens in this 12-episode odyssey is the complete opposite
of that idea.
Before going any further into this series' embarrassing writing that makes Boku no Pico Shakespearean in comparison, there are several other notable aspects of this show that warrant mentioning: Music, for the most part, is pretty decent. Apparently there seems to be an unspoken rule that terrible shows must have a decent/good soundtrack. Though, having claimed that, it's actually pretty difficult to hear most of the soundtrack because the battle scenes barely last more than a single minute. And yes, I'm being pretty lenient with the term "battle scenes" because the visuals are legitimately worse than something from a Toei show. It's not even like YYY where 3DCG scenes were hardly noticeable- It's just literally everywhere in every battle scene in this show, and they're all so incredibly poorly choreographed that it makes you wonder whether a properly functioning human being was responsible for them.
As mentioned previously, this show is something that tries too hard to appeal to the existing fanbase with the smallest effort possible that it fails at its job completely- First, the characters. There are way too fucking many. How did Diomedea manage to include all these 50+ characters in this 12-episode show? The answer is, they didn't. None of them end up being actual characters, and all they get for lines is repetition of the same throwaway line they babble in the game ad infinitum. See, this is the difference between a game and an animated series that tells a story- In games like Kancolle, it's pretty difficult to actually express characters' personality aside from their throwaway lines, so to keep the game interesting, more characters are added to compensate for the lack of further development from the existing characters. But when you're trying to tell a story, that no longer applies- The more characters there are, the harder it is to focus on a certain character(s), and thus, it makes them as bland as they would be in the game when the point of telling a story is the complete opposite: Developing them beyond what would've been feasible in a simple click-and-win game.
These characters' gimmicks are also influenced by the fanon- Such as Akagi being a big eater in the show due to her consuming lots of resources in-game. Completely necessary addition, I'm sure. Fubuki, the MC, is incredibly boring and breaks personality several times in-series just to create unnecessary drama, which makes you wonder why the Admiral favors this particular character in the first place outside of her status as the main character. Everyone else can be summed up with a single sentence: Shimakaze likes going fast. Kongou likes speaking in broken English. Hibiki says one Russian word every chance she gets. Yuudaichi likes -poi more than -desu. Sendai really loves night battles. Naka won't shut the fuck up. Calling these protagonists cardboard cutouts would be an insult to cardboard cutouts from Akame ga Kill, so I'm not sure what to call them.
What about the antagonists, though? If you expected anything other than "incompetent mute cyborg zombies," then god damn is this show happy to disappoint. I'm not sure what the trend is with all these silent villains that have no real motives, but I guess writing any form of conflict outside of badly animated/choreographed battle scenes was beyond Diomedea's capability. And if that wasn't enough, the Abyssals are pretty pathetic at their job and manage to be as threatening as moving dartboards. I guess they manage to finally sink a character who had a total screen time of less than a minute, who happens to be a friend of a boring friend of the boring MC with a last-second sneak attack. Oh, the horror. It's especially hilarious when the show cuts to Abyssals looking ominous and evil with spooky music playing in the background when they're a complete non-threat.
And finally, the Admiral. It's pretty obvious that this Admiral character was designed to represent the viewer/player, which is why this character is never truly shown on the screen. Therefore, the character's motives/personality/appearance are all completely unknown because it's supposed to be “you.” I'm not sure why this is even necessary considering this character plays a very little role, but apparently it was- Which is why Diomedea decides to fuck that up too by giving this character an identity. Apparently the reason why the Admiral favors Fubuki (the boring MC) so much is that he has a boner for this character. Well, that's great. Now everyone knows that the Admiral is this guy who has a boner for Fubuki, who is the most boring character in a show full of characters solely identified by throwaway lines. What happened to ambiguity, again? Honestly, Wo-class is a much better representation of the viewer- Looking bored and stoned as fuck throughout the entire fucking show pretty much sums up my experience.
Aside from the poorly written characters with no effort put into them, there are two other things Diomedea decided to do to “appeal” to the existing fanbase of this series. One is tying in in-game mechanics like repair docks, buckets, upgrades, and etc. Not exactly necessary or hindering, but I'd think that alone should have been enough for references from the game instead of making every character what they are in this show. The second thing is "historical reenactment"- Since all the characters are based off of real life ships, the idea is that they would meet the same fate at the same time at the same place. This is sort of "foreshadowed" in the opening sequence where you can briefly see the real Akagi ship sinking and is a “major” plot point in the latter part of the series. I'm not exactly sure how this is supposed to be an appeal, however. Knowing what's going to happen in the show based on real life events seems completely uninteresting especially considering the flat characters and setting, and if it was any more focused by the series, it would just be yet another cliche'd "fighting against fate" plot line that's been done million times over, so I really don't get it. I guess it makes some people feel smug for knowing that this one character that may have been in the background in one episode will sink before other people do.
So outside of Diomedea's blatantly embarrassing fanservice, what else is there? I guess there's supposed to be a plot somewhere, but the pacing is so horrendous that it's actually difficult to remember what actually happened in this show. That being said, this show does few things that could be considered two of the worst things one can do when writing a story. The first is lack of focus- Just like several other shows, this show cannot decide what kind of a show it wants to be. It could be either a fun show about wacky hijinx, or a serious show with drama that may or may not be forced. If it stuck with one, and did just that, then it would have been fine. Unfortunately, Kancolle attempts to do both, and fails at both- I'm not sure why so many shows do this when both drama and comedy hinder each other most of the time, thus making their simultaaneous inclusion counter productive. I'd assume it probably sounded good on that used toilet paper they used for the storyboard for this show. The amount of sudden mood shifts in this show is transcendent, and this is made even worse with piss-poor pacing. For example, there would be a forced drama scene with Fubuki and her friends. Then it would immediately cut to Ooi and Kitakami doing their usual comedy routine. Then immediately cut back to the drama scene. Flawless.
The second problem ties into the first- Even the drama is completely forced. And even then, these supposedly sad scenes aren't even relevant or impactful. Because by the end of the episode, it turns out everything was fine all along, which makes the characters seem idiotic for worrying about it in the first place. This problem is especially notable with Fubuki breaking character and doing something reckless against the enemy because suddenly she decided that she wanted to feel important and have a personality. She obviously fails at everything noted above, but this scene itself has also failed at having any lasting impact. No one ends up getting hurt in the end, and everything was daijobu. Then she goes to train with moving targets, which really are as threatening as Abyssals considering how much damage Fubuki came out of it in the end. What a joke.
But wait, there's more. In the last episode, where everything seems "hopeless" because that one mean Abyssal just won't die despite it being only able to shoot out nearly harmless white balls in the protagonists' general direction as its masterful strategy, Nagato suddenly shows up to the rescue- It was all according to plan, apparently. Then when it doesn't work, a new shipgirl appears out of nowhere that got a brief "foreshadowing" (using this term extremely loosely) in the previous episode and comes to save the day- Then the Admiral literally uses repair buckets out of nowhere to get more shipgirls in the battle, and the show doesn't even try to hide its Deus ex Machina garbage writing at this point. Then Black Rock Shooter and Fubuki stare at each other before the former realizes this writing is fucking retarded and goes back down the ocean.
Basically, every single episode in this show can be summed down to this: 20 minutes of filler that may or may not include poorly written drama that ends up resolving itself the same god damn episode, and 2 minutes of poorly choreographed battle scene where victory is solely decided by shooting at things a lot with no strategy involved.
It's incredibly ironic that this show tried so hard to appeal to the existing fanbase that it only alienated them as a result, and ended up appealing to an entirely different group of people who watches shows based on anything but quality. Now, I think it's pretty notable to mention that some people seem to defend this show with claims like "What did you expect?" But that sort of claim would only be valid if someone criticized something like Hamtaro for its lack of drama. It's completely invalid here because it doesn't do either drama or comedy because it tries to do both and fails at both. Most criticisms for this show do not come from complaining about what this show doesn't have- It comes from what this show does have and that is fucking awful. Some might also claim "It's a game advertisement show so it obviously wouldn't be good!" What about Rage of Bahamut: Genesis? That was a show based on a Mobage, and it was one of the best shows of its season, so that excuse isn't valid either. Any show, no matter what it's based on or which studio's doing it, can have actual effort put into it, and that alone would make any show significantly better than this garbage. The fact is, this show is just a lazy, half-assed attempt to make money off a popular franchise while putting as little effort as possible. And just to emphasize on the point of "striking while the iron is hot," a second season is immediately announced by the end of the last episode. Subtle.
The best way to describe Kancolle would be that it's basically anti-Touhou. It's everything that Touhou isn't- Kadokawa also apparently decided that it didn't want to put any effort into their “game,” so they decided to forbid any Kancolle doujin game whatsoever because having to make anything that's more than a clicking simulator would be far beyond their talents. And then they get this show made just to make sure they can rake in as much money as possible before the popularity wears off. Considering how this show turned out, and how many of its existing fans reacted to it, I think it's pretty safe to say that ZUN made the proper decision. And I think it's pretty worrisome if all this makes a drunken man who can't even get human anatomy correct after nearly a decade seem like Albert fucking Einstein.
*Warning: Very lengthy and informative review. Ctrl+F and search @TL;DR: if you so desire. If not, read!*
For those unfamiliar with Kantai Collection, it is a Japanese web-browser card collection game developed by Kadokawa Games. In KanColle, all of the characters are Imperial Japanese Navy ships of World War 2 personified as girls and thrown into their own little universe, known as 'kanmusu', or ship girls. They are treated as normal people, with the added aspect of possessing the spirit of a World War 2 ship and having the will to fight. For example, the main character, Fubuki, is a special-type destroyer ship who grows throughout
the anime and improves herself, in social activities and combat. Kantai Collection is so popular, if you Google Fubuki, for example, the first thing you will see is her article in the Kantai Collection wiki, and second the article of historical Destroyer Fubuki in Wikipedia. It's even more popular than Wikipedia, and that's pretty amazing, to be honest.
I tried to write this review in the most open-minded, un-biased way I could. Keep in mind that I, personally, am not too picky with my anime, and I'll be willing to watch anything so long as it keeps be entertained. I am also not a super otaku. I am also willing to overlook a few things if needed. You may not be the same, but try to be versatile with your viewpoints, and use that to better understand the anime as you read this review. Without further ado, allow me to explain my scoring. Be warned, it is lengthy. There is a TL;DR at the end of each section, minus the "Overall" section, so read that.
Story: 5 / 10 (Mediocre)
This anime was made to target the KanColle fan base. If you don't know anything about the KanColle universe, you are going to make as much sense as a guy without a job would. However, it is enjoyable nonetheless. It's got that splice-of-life aspect, with some action to remind you that these girls are warships, as there is a war going on between the ship girls and the Abyssal fleet. There is more splice-of-life than fighting, but it's hard to piece together if you don't know about the game. It's a little awkward too, seeing little girls go out and blast aliens to bits. Maybe the older girls are okay with it. Reminds me of Black Bullet, although not as grim. I was surprised the characters bled at certain points too...but that's a whole other thing.
There are two things I'd like to cover about the "storyline" of KanColle. One, the whole idea of ship girls and whatnot, and two, the historical references. Mind you, there's not really a story here...just a line of events. I guess that's a story, but it's more of a plot of some sort.
To begin, I'll talk about the general idea of KanColle and all the ship girls and the universe they are in. Before you Kantai Collection fans begin to bash with the lowest score to start off the review, you need to understand that most games that involve unit collection generally do not have an actual plot to follow by. In these types of games, the story is generally very broad and almost vague, for example, mysterious bad guys invade place, good guys are recruited to fight, and in this case, by assembling squads that take many forms. Same here in Kantai Collection. The Abyssal fleet (the other creepy looking ship girls) "suddenly show up" and the only way to retaliate against them are the kanmusu, or our beloved ship daughters. Sure, the whole idea of the Abyssal fleet is mentioned in the anime's description, but it isn't elaborately laid out or is truly expanded on. After providing one piece of exposition, the anime could take millions of branches of different plotlines.
However, in attempt to redeem itself from the broad exposition, it incorporates real history. I won't delve deep into what actually happens, you can research that for yourself (this is where I protect myself from not spoiling, you do it yourself if you so desire). Lots of actual historical places appear, and they are the actual places where IJN ships have fought, existing in the universe that the ship girls live. Mind you, the actual game of Kantai Collection is not afraid to sink your ship daughters. It will send them to the depths of the ocean to rot in the abyss. I myself haven't sunk any yet, and I hope I never will, but just be prepared for that, and contemplate on that dark fate if some ship girl were to sink.
Overall, the plot is kind of just like a splatter of poop on the sidewalk. It's just there, and things are happening in it (biologically and chemically anyway, don't think about it too much, please).
The ending...well...you can judge for yourself when you get there.
[STORY] @TL;DR: Plot is broad anyway since it's a collect-a-thon game adaptation, but there's some neat history references involved. Hard to really grasp, even if you play KanColle. That's really it, nothing elaborate and extravagant like Code Geass.
Character: 6 / 10 (Fair)
Oh no, another low score. KanColle fans unite! Bash this scrub! These girls are the ultimate waiiifuuusss!!! It's at least one point higher than the story section! Jokes aside, be serious about this score. Just think of any character of a fictional series you really love. Allow me to choose two, one from KanColle, and one from a totally different universe. To make it easier, I'll pick two of the same sex with as many similar characteristics: Atago from KanColle, and Ahri from League of Legends. You may or may not know much about the two of them, but let me tell you this: Once you actually get involved with the character(s), i.e. use them or develop that fan-base clingy-ness, you will understand them more. Unfortunately, KanColle cannot do that. Three reasons: Not a lot of people actually play KanColle, as the registration process is a lottery-system and you have to set up connection to Japan from wherever you are, the fact that there is no time and there is too much you need to know, and the attachment factor.
First point: As mentioned in the three reasons, not a lot of people actually play the game. Can you get to know a character without actually seeing them in action? Exactly. Pick any franchise. KanColle isn't exactly the most highly-accessible game on the planet for people in any country other than Japan. It's a game only for certain kind of people who can enjoy the game style, that's for sure, but actually signing up is a crazy process. You have to win a lottery, connect to Japan, and all that. In short, there's a huge gap between people that have "heard of it" and those that "know it." You can "hear about" Naruto and know off the bat, oh yeah that's Naruto, I know that guy. Versus all these ship girls, you'd be completely clueless as to who is who. I myself don't have an accurate picture of how large the KanColle fan base is, but I know the way the anime adaptation is made, it won't get far.
Second point: There's not enough budget for these anime series to personally introduce and get deep into each character's storyline. Each girl is a WW2 ship, for almighty-being-of-any-religion's sake. There is development history, design history, service history, sinking/scuttling/scrapping history, commanding captain history, all sorts of history. That would be way too much exposition, and the whole anime would turn into sentimental feels-rides for everyone, one time too many. Even if the developers tried to squeeze in a bit of history for each girl, that's probably a good 2 seasons worth of screen time. If I can fill up half my ship capacity in the game 50/100 ship girls each a unique ship, imagine how much would have to be explained. This is simply a factor that is difficult to present to a broad audience. Knowledge is half the battle, my friend. You'd have to play the game for a while to actually know anything. Even if you are a WW2 naval junkie with knowledge of every battle and ship, it'd still be difficult to get accustomed to the anime, because these awesome giant steel behemoths suddenly become ... girls. Hard to get attached to if it's such a huge change. That brings me to the third point.
Third point: Attachment to a character helps develop your knowledge of them if you choose to get involved. If you've never seen something before, there is a huge chance it is an arbitrary entity to you. Those who have no idea who Atago is and what is up with her "pan-paka-paaaaan~" and her giant cannons (wink wink), versus knowing everything about Ahri or Naruto, might not get the instant click. Since she is a part of my fleet, I see her every time I open up KanColle. When Atago appeared in the anime exclaiming her famous catchphrase, I instantly smiled. I couldn't help it, I had developed a form of attachment to the character. Same goes for any other character you are attached to. Let's give a bigger example, the aforementioned Naruto. I've never watched Naruto (yes, hate me for it, but I could not get myself to watch Naruto). If Naruto popped up in a conversation, you could go nuts about him, whereas I would simply listen and stay quiet. Same applies to this anime where the attachment to the characters is much more difficult to deliver. Who are these stranger women, and why are they significant? Maybe you've seen them before, but they aren't important in your life, so you don't care. Versus someone who has a lot of experience with KanColle and squeal when they see Kongou shout, "Buuuurrrnniiiinggg... Looooveee!!!" or smile every time Yuudachi says, "Poi."
You could also argue that if something is presented, then you could just get accustomed to it. It is much harder in KanColle, since there are so many ship girls. Can you simultaneously get attached to Nagato, Kongou, Mutsu, Yamato, Fubuki, Yuudachi, Kisaragi, Kitakami, Nachi, Akagi, Kaga, and... and...
Get my point? There's so many. You probably won't even remember half of the girls' names by appearance. You can get attached to one character at a time very easily in other shows, even in Aldnoah Zero when you get introduced to about 4 characters at once (Inaho and the gang). No way are you going to be able to do that to a whole naval district full of ship girls. 60% of them probably make up 8% of total screen time. To be honest I was disappointed. Atago, for example, barely appeared except for joke scenes....and fan service moments, even though they were hilarious.
But wait, there's more. If that was the only part of the character section, it would be a dreaded 3 out of 10, and as I find KanColle to be an interesting series, I decided to be a little nicer. I bumped it up to 6 out of 10, because characters are made to appear alive and live in the universe they are put into. The characters portrayed in the anime are absolutely wonderful, even if you have no idea who they are. They reflect almost 100% who they are in the actual game, so you can rest assured you will still be able to somewhat relate to someone who knows about the KanColle characters more than you do. In the anime, they feel natural, even if you have never seen them before. Let's go back to Atago. She's personified as a caring, cute, bubbly, a bit daring, playful, definitely voluptuous, and happy kind of girl, but is aware of her duties and has the necessary discipline. Sometimes those traits intertwine, but that is all part of the development of her character. She is that kind of super-happy person. I'll offer another example: Kaga. She's a cold, disciplined girl who prioritizes her duties. She is flawed in the fact that she tries to be a prime example to others, while hiding emotions. Time and time she turns people off from her cold, witch-like behavior. However, behind that solid line of cold-steel hull lies a heart of gold (Anyone get that reference?). Her heart contains a warmth-filled soul with the desire to protect and love other people. The same applies to Nagato, the scary, big, grown-up-girl of the naval district with a hidden soft side. Heck, even the little destroyer girls are fun to watch. They're like kids, and if you've seen kids...well...yeah. If you are into sociologies, the personalities of the girls are going to amaze you. They are human...ships, but human nonetheless. Each has their own unique mindset, and even if they are simply part of a huge crowd, each one is made to be a real, living, breathing person. I wouldn't mind if these girls were in our actual society today. I could get along with any of them.
If you are not familiar with Kantai Collection, the characters would probably rate around a 6 for you, possibly even less. It would be a solid 10 for me, since I know each character, but I can't put that, since it is a biased score. Oh yeah, they cry a lot.
[CHARACTER] @TL;DR: Introduction to each ship girl is abrupt, overwhelming, and hard to get attached to. The 3 main destroyer girls, maybe not as much, as they're treated to more screen time, but the rest of the girls is just overcrowding what is going on. The amount of girls makes it harder to attach to each one, and if you have never played KanColle or don't know much about WW2 IJN ship history, you won't get the references (or too many of them, at least). Knowing each and every character is too difficult for a random viewer.
P.S.: Nagato is one hell of a bad ass girl.
Art: 9 / 10 (Great)
Now I can start talking about the good stuff of the anime. The art is what makes KanColle such a pleasing anime to watch. If you have a premium Crunchyroll account, you are incredibly lucky. The scenes look exquisite. The vast view of the ocean gives you this harbor-like sense of location. In fact, sometimes when I watch KanColle I can imagine myself by the sea. Maybe it's because I have a wide monitor, and with high-definition scenery of the naval district, I can picture myself actually there. Heck, I play Kantai Collection, so it's as if I were the admiral myself! If you approach this anime thinking it's going to be some terrible loli-girl harem with boobs left and right kind of experience, try and broaden your perspective. The sea isn't just the only thing that is glamorous to look at. Each character is drawn to reflect their actual characters in the game as much as possible, and it might even improve how they look. Honestly, the art style of the actual game is a bit of the old-generation anime, where nowadays we have the refined eyes, curvature, and better facial details. Although the anime art style is a bit different, I could still determine which girl was which, even the ones I rarely use in the actual game. Each ship girl is unique enough to give a sense of distinctiveness.
If you have seen Nagi no Asukara, you know that the art is absolutely gorgeous (Unless that turned you off..I'm sorry). KanColle is a tiny bit less on the beautiful side during battles, of course, but the scenes that are meant to show the beauty of the world are just breathtaking. I'll talk about the sea views first. They are absolutely gorgeous. I mentioned before that I could imagine myself looking out to sea. What if I was the admiral? I could gaze out to the wide, open ocean, catch a breath of fresh sea air before retreating to my office and discussing paper work with my secretary. The scenery really brings to life the image in your mind. If you restrict your perspective because all you can extract from the anime is your hate for girl-loving pedophiliac mania, you won't see the real beauty behind all of the scenic art.
Next up are the action scenes. This is where it can be debated on whether or not you like the art style. I've given the art score a 9 out of 10 due to this sole reason, and the discrepancy between individual's tastes prevents me from giving this a 10 out of 10. I'd give it a 9. 5 out of 10, honestly, since the rough translations to 3D animations sometimes throws you off, but I ignore it almost every time, even though I'm aware a transition occurred. It is supposed to be invisible, but I saw it. Despite this fact, the action is absolutely amazing. Continuing on the action scenes...
Michael Bay must have secretly directed this anime series, because there are explosions everywhere! Who doesn't love things that go kaboom!? The explosions in this anime are just beautiful. When planes explode, or artillery shells hit their targets, your eyes will gaze upon the greatest explosions. I love the scenes when the kanmusu fighters and the Abyssal fighters duke it out in dogfights in the sky. It is breathtaking. Bullets are bright red and orange hot and sear through the grayed sky, and the 3D animation for the planes is actually on par with the girls themselves. Bombs detonate in the water, creating massive towers of water that rains back down to the surface of the sea. When those carriers shoot their bows and arrows, you just watch for yourself how the planes appear. The animation is smooth and beautiful with perfect lighting. It's like witnessing something awesome right before your very eyes. KanColle has perhaps some the best visuals I have ever seen in any anime. In this day and age, computers are the foundation of some of the best software generated graphics. The developers of KanColle knew what they were doing with the visuals, and it is just absolutely great. Watch the opening, and wait somewhere towards the end where a plane flies off into the distance. It's extremely brief, but it looks beautiful. Towards the end, Akagi and Kaga launch planes. Take your time and watch the animation. It is a prime example of the brilliance of the art of KanColle that appears every in single episode in the beginning to remind you that you are about to experience a ride of top-notch visuals.
The animation and drawings of the ship girls themselves is also fabulous. They move like any other anime character, but KanColle has a higher benchmark of animation. There might be a small visible difference, but I find that the 2D, as well as 3D, animation is spot on. Sometimes I can't quite grasp the physics of their flowing hair, but who cares, the anime looks so good! Shading and lighting effects are great, and the artists know how to put their artistic talent to drawing some darn good visuals. I cannot deny.
[ART] @TL;DR: Everything looks extremely good. Scenery, transitions, characters, animations...and most importantly...the explosions. Yeah for excellent eye candy! It's Diomedea, but Ufotable's F/Z caliber of awesome visuals.
Sound: 10 / 10 (Outstanding)
One great thing about KanColle is that even on Crunchyroll's standard quality setting (SD, to the left of 480p) the sound is really good. Bump it up to 1080p, and I think you're going to be experiencing some eargasm with eye candy. The audio is extremely crisp, clear, and most importantly, dynamic. I'll go over the different sounds of the anime...and there's a bonus section in this one for voice acting. Maybe SD still sounds good for me because I have a legitimate headset, but through speakers the anime still sounds pretty good.
First off, I'll talk about the music. The music in this anime is beautiful. I use a headphone set, iFrogz Caliber Vanguard, and it comes with an equalizer program. This makes the sounds extremely crisp and clear when I tinker with the settings, and makes them sound even better! I even switched it to default settings and the anime still sounded pretty good. Heck, even with some normal Samsung earplugs (yes...I tried those) the anime sounds great. The choice of music when you watch the anime is like having an orchestra accompany your daily activities, and each piece if befitting of the moment. It is very well executed. It's up to you if you prefer some serious background music featured in anime series such as Arpeggio of Blue Steel and Fate / Zero, or a nicer approach of violins and peaceful instrumentals to the splice-of-lifeness of KanColle. Oh yeah, let's not forget two very important pieces of music: the opening and ending. The opening and ending songs I never skip. I simply alt-tab out of my web browser and do something while it plays then alt-tab back, or just sit back and close my eyes as my mind melts from the glorious ear candy. I highly suggest the anime be watched with a bit of extra volume to make it feel like a theatrical show. Learn how to maximize your enjoyment, any way you can. Otherwise, I highly encourage making sure you to try and enjoy every bit of sound that comes from this anime. A combination of sound and visuals makes for a truly rewarding anime experience, even if the anime itself isn't truly your liking. The ending is also a great song. Just listen to the singer sing the ending song. It's funny, and entertaining at the fast parts, for whatever reason. Enjoy the music, and you'll be able to potentially enjoy the show. If you are used to watching things on low quality settings, then I must say you are missing out. Upgrade sometime in the future! You will be rewarded by this anime and more to come.
Second, I'll talk about the sound effects. The sound effects will fall into two categories: ambience and actual sound effects. The ambience will be things like birds chirps, rain drops, water splattering, and things like that in the background. Here and there you'll hear environmental sounds that add to the atmosphere of the scene. It's nothing huge, but it sure does add to the experience. Next are the actual sound effects. They are spot on and absolutely beautiful. There are also other sound effects for everyday objects. Metal clinks, water splashing, things like that. They sound completely natural and realistic. If something makes contact, it sounds like it would make that sound if you hit it against that object in real life. But that's just small talk...onto bigger and better things. Remember before I mentioned explosions. If you go ahead and watch the opening to the anime, a few explosions are visible. I believe there is a short clip where battleship Kongou is shown firing her cannons, and the blast covers 70% of the screen. Just imagine that with dynamic, crisp, explosive sounds. The explosions have some of the best sounds befitting of a warship. Go watch the opening, then come back here.
Another part of sound is the voice acting, which deserves a lot merit. After watching the opening, you'll find that the singer's voice is very clear. Continuing into the episode, it'll feel like the singer was one of the ship girls. The voice acting is hilarious at times, but all the while clean, with proud deliverance, and clarity. I must also mention Kongou's generosity to share with us her English speaking skills, which you may or may not find annoying or funny (I find it the latter). The voice acting is, overall, fantastic.
[SOUND] @TL;DR: The sound is beautiful. You can't go wrong with listening to great stuff. If you've had experiences with great sound effects before, you will have them again. I really enjoyed the sound from KanColle, so much, in fact, I've downloaded the web-browser game's OSTs and the OP/ED in high quality.
Enjoyment: 9 / 10 (Great)
This anime is just simply fun to watch. It's silly, it's got good visuals, it's got interesting characters (although you might not get to know each one deeply and personally), and it's one of those anime series where you could just watch it and it would just amuse you. Personally, I really enjoyed it, simply because it was just downright silly. The splice-of-life elements were very entertaining, and rather normal, and there were some hilarious moments where the girls bicker over normal every day stuff. It's simple and straightforward, with the additional fighting, which you may or may not feel is out of place. Although, there are some moments that can detract you from the actual anime because you don't understand it. This is where I subtract a point from my rating to accommodate for the viewers not familiar with the running gags of KanColle. There is one scene where the girls hug each other and shiver in fear as they mention a sound makes them feel really scared and uncomfortable, for an unknown reason. If you understood it, this part would have been a hilarious moment. For KanColle fans who are familiar with this, I'm sure they smiled at the reference. It's a ding-ding sound that plays when you scrap a ship, and I'm sure those poor girls would definitely be afraid of being scrapped. Things like that make it easy for KanColle fans to enjoy, while others would simply be confused. To help you better enjoy the anime, I will list a few things at the very end of the review that you could keep in mind while watching, although it's not important to the review. If you understand more about KanColle, the more you'll enjoy the anime. It's an anime that targets a certain audience, and it's harder for those who don't know anything about it. These can help you enjoy the anime, if you choose to watch it or re-watch it for a better experience. Your choice.
There are also some very well executed dramatic moments. I can't say much here because it'd spoil a lot. Crying is a common thing in most dramas, and anime is no exception. There will be moments where the ship girls are going to lament or cry over something. Prepare to sway your heart, or not if you don't care. I get that chilling feeling whenever something epic happens, or when something strikes me as heart breaking. I don't cry though...*sniff* I'm a man...*sniff*...
Additionally, there is a very nice theme of determination and growing up. Fubuki, our main destroyer girl, is new to the naval district, and tries her best to do her very best for the integrity of the armada. There are moments where she tries over and over until she succeeds, delivering the message of never giving up and fighting until the very end. Honestly, it's not bad, trying to incorporate good morals and themes into a silly little anime about warship girls.
[ENJOYMENT] @TL;DR: Enjoyable anime overall, with its comedic moments and dramatic scenes, but some parts you won't understand if you don't play the actual game. I might have missed one, but the KanColle exclusive references are at the end of the review. You can read that if you so desire.
Overall: 6 / 10 (Fair)
Despite its many flaws, I tried to review the anime in the most positive way I could. Maybe it is because I myself have played KanColle so I know about it, but just know that I couldn't give the anime a strikingly poor score, or a very high score. Based on as much technicality as I could lay out, I set the score to 6 (Fair, in the middle) so that you, the reader of this review, could decide for yourself. I would personally give it a 9. There are elements of the anime that you can't understand without knowing stuff about the actual game, and if you try to delve into this anime without understand those parts, it'll destroy your experience. The most you'll get is beautiful action, visuals, sounds, and music all the while being incredibly confused as to what the heck is going on. Just know that this anime was made to target the KanColle fan base, so that they could extract the most fun out of it. It's the mindset that separates the two audiences: KanColle fans, and casual anime watchers.
Honestly, I think everyone should be able to enjoy KanColle. Even if you don't play the game, you could simply watch it. It may not be the same as other splice-of-life anime series, such as Golden Time or Your Lie in April, but it is definitely a part of that genre. It doesn't appeal to everyone, that's for sure, but again, everyone can enjoy it if they put their mind to it. It's a bit difficult for me to tell how detached the anime would be for someone not associated with KanColle, honestly, since I have played KanColle and while watching I understood everything. There is one thing for sure, however, even if you have the worst memory, you will walk away remembering some of these characters deep in your heart, notably our good friend Kongou! Maybe if you're a guy you'll like Atago. Hue hue hue.
I would also like to elaborate on re-watching the series. If you watched KanColle without knowing anything for the first time, it was probably a huge turn off. I highly suggest reading the list at the end of the review and then trying to re-watch it again, if you so desire. It'll help, to a degree, and might change the way you see it. Just know that only a KanColle fan is supposed to enjoy this, so don't feel like this anime was complete garbage because you didn't understand it. I haven't seen Naruto, but I don't bash on it because I don't know anything...I'd just have to delve into it. Same here with KanColle. Broaden your perspective, step out of your picky anime aspects zone, and you'll enjoy a lot more!
===========REFERENCES TO THE GAME===========
- The scrapping sound. It scares the heck out of those poor ship girls.
- The diets of some of the girls. In KanColle, after you go on a sortie (a mission), the girls must be resupplied with ammo and fuel, represented by their diet. Carriers consume a lot of bauxite (it's a real thing), a material used for planes, and are generally seen as big eaters. Akagi is known as the "Queen of Bauxite" because she consumes so much, although it's not mentioned in the anime. Battleships are the same. Destroyers and cruisers are smaller, so they generally are seen eating less, and sometimes not at all (off screen).
- The "Poi" and "Pan-paka-paaan." Poi is Yuudachi's own "-desu." "Pan-paka-paaan" is Atago's catchphrase where she exclaims it in a cute and excited way. Personally, I love hearing it. It's funny. There's also Kongou's "Burning Love!" phrase. Speaking of Kongou, she has a funny tendency to speak in English. This might be due to the fact that the Kongou line of ships were British designs...and guess what the British are? English! Maybe it's just a coincidence, don't quote me on that piece of information. Regardless, I find it amusing whenever she does.
- Ooi and Kitakami. The brown-haired (Ooi) and black-haired (Kitakami) girls who are always together. Ooichi, as she is referred to, seems to be obsessed with Kitakami, and is somewhat aggressive and overly-protective of her. This is merely something "just cause." Kitakami doesn't mind, and she's nice to Ooichi.
- The baths and Instant Repair Buckets. In KanColle, when the girls are damaged, you send them to the repair bay and they can take a long time to repair. Some girls take hours to repair, notably our Bauxite Queen, her fellow carriers, and the battleships. The repair bay is represented by some sort of bathing area in the anime. The Instant Repair Bucket, as its name implies, instantly repairs them...with some...auxiliary side effects.
- The Fairies. Who pilots those planes? Apparently, it's these little fairies. They are small, chibi figures that act like the "crew" of the ship girl. How they came to be is not explained, but they're there and they're funny looking. They are pretty darn brave too.
- Expeditions and Sorties. Expeditions are where you send a squad of ships to collect resources. It can take a lot of time in the actual game. One lasts 15 hours. Destroyers are usually used for these, as they are fast and cost low resources. You'll hear the little destroyer girls talking about these a lot of times. Sorties are just missions where a squad is sent out to perform a task, usually fighting Abyssals. The major events in the anime are based off of the event operations in the actual game. They were limited time events that were difficult and based off of real historical battles, with some great ship girl rewards.
- The references to gun calibers. Guns have different sizes, and the girls will often make references to them.
- The Theory of the Abyssals. Look it up...if you dare.
I didn't have high expectations going into the series but I was still pretty hyped for KC’s anime adaptation. Boy was this adaptation pretty disappointing. Why did Kirishima remove her glasses for no reason? There were so many awkward movements and bug eyed blobs everywhere; seems like they ran out of budget by the final episode and production just didn't give anymore fucks. The ending explained nothing important at all. The details became quite blurred literally and figuratively. I hope season 2 makes the purpose more clear and sticks to it but god, this shouldn't have gotten a sequel
at all (let alone, an anime adaption for the most part). One of the biggest franchises in Japan and you leave it in the hands of a rookie to do your story and concepts, why m8?
I loved the game and all but the show was complete garbage. The only good things about the anime was when TTK busted out his resources on a last minute LSC on the surprise Taihou (perfection/mai waifu) appearance and a few other eye-catches, but even all that was pretty dull. Everything about the anime was just so lacking, nothing got me feeling fired up at all.
I hope they don’t pull some M Night Shamalan shit in S2 where Kisaragi comes back from the grave to haunt the poor girls. At this point just go full SoL or something, please m8s. Prepare to be dissapointed/10, see you next season.
You know what's great? Cute girls. You know what's even better? Playing a game filled with them. Even better? The fact that they all have good artists and VAs. The best part? The diversity of girls makes it so anyone can find a favorite. You'd think it wouldn't be difficult to make a Kancolle anime considering there are anime with similar kinds of situations such as Strike Witches and Girls und Panzer, but instead of having a healthy balance of slice of life and battles, Kancolle just jumps around everywhere, making for a jarring experience.
The story is heavily divided, with multiple parts with their own
plot. The parts are segmented into episodes 1-4, 5+7, 6 , 8-9, and 10-12. It winds up being all over the place, tending to be a repeating pattern of slice of life, preparations for sortie, sortie, miracle, and end sortie. Kancolle also tends to tunnel vision on whatever the current episode's plot is and forces the issue. The only overarching drive in Kancolle is Fubuki striving to become one of Akagi's escorts. Honestly, it's how the slice of life elements and combat elements are thrown into the pot together that really inhibit the anime as a whole.
Fortunately, the lead designer is great. He really brings to life the ships of so many different artists in one cohesive style. The best part is that the faces are drawn similarly enough to where you can look at both the anime and game styles and see how they correlate. The music is also solid and features a wonderful op and ed. The battle music doesn't quite pack a punch, but still fits thematically.
The biggest issue with the Kancolle anime is how the characters are handled. For some reason the writers decided that having all of the characters keep saying in game lines and slightly modified versions of in game lines was a good idea when it actually destroyed life from the characters. Look, I understand that the lines were probably put in because they wanted an easy way to convey the character's personalities, but it's possible to do it without resorting to such an uninspired method. I don't want to continually hear Hibiki's Russian one liners all the time. I want her to speak full sentences, and if Russian words want to be added in at that point, that's fine. Also, the fact that the admiral is never seen and never talks bothers me a lot. It just makes it feel like it's that way for self-inserting purposes, which just saps any joy from interactions with the admiral.
Even with all of its problems, I did enjoy watching Kancolle; however, I wouldn't recommend it to everyone. It is definitely something that you have to enjoy from the start, otherwise you would just be bored. If anything, episode 6 was the most consistent episode thematically and consequently the most enjoyable. As someone who has loved playing the game for almost a year and counting, this was definitely a disappointing experience. If you are curious about the anime, give it a shot, as you might enjoy it still.
Who's that girl, the quiet one avoiding everyone and looking straight ahead? That girl who loves music? That weird girl who loves tech? What was her name again? Until you remember lets just say she is one fabulous anime girl with headphones.