The Problem with The Kantai Collection Anime…

Posted by DiGiKerot in Kantai Collection at January 9, 2015 on 12:58 am

No matter what you thought of the first episode of the Kantai Collection (or KanColle) anime, I’m sure there was one thing we can all agree on – Mutsuki’s hair is nowhere near as fluffy as it should be. I mean, let’s take a look at her game illustration by means of comparison…

See, whilst it might not be full-on Yukari-level, her hair is all mofumofu fuwafuwa. Those big curls on either side, whilst certainly still present, aren’t anywhere near the super-prominent, and pretty much design defining, feature that they have become are in her anime incarnation.


This is the thing with adapting some of these online collection games, I suppose. Whilst things like Love Live School Idol Festival and Million Live strive to maintain a degree of stylistically consistency to their artwork, the different ship classes drawn by different artists in their own disparate styles is almost the point, and an awful lot of the charm, of something like KanColle. Inevitably, there’s going to be something lost in the process of trying to establish at least some kind of visual consistency whilst translating and simplifying complicated designs for animation purposes.

Admittedly, though, maybe the Mutsuki thing is just me. She’s always been, for perhaps inexplicable, or at least entirely artwork-based, reasons one of my favourite of the Destroyer-class ship-girls, along with Sazanami (though in that case, it’s mostly the voice acting). I find Mutsuki’s game-art super-cute, so the disparity with the animated version is something of a disappointment to me, I guess.

In general, though, I had a pretty good time with the first episode of the KanColle anime. I think there’s a lot to like about it, and I don’t even think, in aggregate, that the CG is as bad as a lot have people have been making it out to be, even if it’s hardly later-series Aikatsu is quality.

This isn’t to say that I don’t have some concerns over it. I’m not too worried about the rather rote opening to the story – it’s only Fubuki suddenly pulling a killer move or power out of nowhere, possibly by accident, short of being the stereotypical school battle anime opening – what I’m a smidgen more pensive about is what is surrounding that.

The thing with most of these games like KanColle is that the characters are barely actually characters – they’re a design and a two or three dozen lines of dialogue, typically in the case of the KanColle girls a series of jokey comments based roughly around references various historical circumstances relating to the ships they are based on. To a certain degree, this is why I like a lot of these characters. Kongou and Naka are probably my favourite ship-girls just because I find the basic jokes the characters are based around – a tea-loving returnee made of British stereotypes and a girl who equates naval warfare to idol terms – inherently hilarious just because of who I am and what my interests are.

This is a lot of the reason why, aside from the compelling design concept of little girls with big-ass cannons strapped to them, these characters are popular and resonate with people. The game presents characters who are clearly defined in base personality enough to get a grasp on, certainly to an impressive degree given how little space they’re given to emote in the game, but that’s about all we know about them. It’s what allows fandom to write comics and the like which feel coherent largely irrelevant of a lot of the actual content, as long as they adhere to a few basic rules.

To get back to the anime, though, the slight worry is that an awful lot of the first episode is simply them running between the basic, well-established character jokes and lines without any real actual substance to them. Sure, I got a kick out of Kongou yelling Burning Love in battle, or Ooi fawning over KTKM-sama, or Hibiki spouting animes favourite Russian word, but at the same time, the show sometimes feels like it’s just thinly stringing itself between these moments. Even when you look at some of the characters taking more significant focus, just how many times does Sendai feel it’s necessary to talk about night battles?

Admittedly, at one episode in, its way too early to be concerned about this kind of thing – of course they’re going to start by hitting a series of fan-favourite things to engender a certain about of positive reaction from the existing fans, even if it may come across as a little shallow, even inexplicable, to the newcomers. Kind of the issue is that there’s an awful lot of girls in this franchise, and they could probably get away with having Fubuki run into different groups of girls in each episode about long enough to for them to do whatever makes them well known before moving on.

The temptation to do such a thing must be somewhat overwhelming for the staff. I mean, it must be a little terrifying for the shows production staff to determine what the line they can walk-up to is, as in a very real sense, this anime production is likely to define an awful lot of what KanColle ends up being going forward. It’s a pivotal point in the franchise. The potential risk of one of their decisions in regards to where to take a character ruining the fandoms perception of them must be palpable in the production meetings. Maybe this is why they chose Mutsuki, a ship-girl that, frankly, few particularly care about, as one of the leads?

Really, though, this is way, way too much to read into just one episode of a cartoon, and is definitely me stretching a point extracted from very little content in order to fill out a post on something other than just pointing out the unending cameo appearances. Let’s review in a few more episodes, and for now just enjoy the antics of the Fleets Idol Naka-chan, eh?

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