The Burning Love of TeaTime in KanColle Episode 4

Posted by DiGiKerot in Kantai Collection at January 30, 2015 on 1:05 pm

This week on KanCollle, we are distracted from depression with a gag episode, as we enjoy a much appreciated Kongou sisters overload.

There may be a little local bias causing it, even if she does hail from the countries other coast, but Kongou is definitely one of my favourite ship girls. Certainly, she’s top two, possibly top one depending on how I feel about Naka-chan on any particular given day. I’m pretty partial to Mutsu, who actually appears in this episode for more than a few seconds, as well (Infact, I’m pretty sure she continues to be my highest level ship girl). All we are (well, I’m) really missing from the anime at this point are the submarines, as I’m curiously fond of that adorable little war criminal Hachi.

The joke about Kongou, as she explains herself in the episode, is that she was designed and built by Vickers in Northwest England. It evidences itself through a somewhat wonky use of Japanese, her habit of exclaiming or punctuating her sentences with random English, and her entirely justifiable love of proper british TeaTime.

What I wasn’t really expecting coming into this episode is what a bunch of adorably dorky doofuses the entire Kongou class were going to be portrayed as. Not that Kongou herself doesn’t come across as somewhat goofy in the game, but I always saw it as a slightly different, slightly less dumb, kind of goofy. That being said, aside from the attractive design, it’s that kind of goofiness that I always assumed was what made Kongou as popular as she is. Whilst someone like Shimakaze was always likely to be popular based on the fruity design alone, KanColle generally only has a few dozen lines of dialogue in which to capture the entire essence of a character, so it’s little surprise that someone like Kongou who, thanks to the sporadic use of English, has really memorable lines delivered with an extreme degree of enthusiasm has become popular.

On the subject of delivery, one of the fun things about Kantai Collection, highlighted in particular by episodes like this, is the voice cast – whether it was entirely by intention or simply started as a matter of efficiency given the low number of lines-per-character, there is a tendency for entire classes of ship in the KanColle game to share the same voice actress. Of course, this means that when you adapt it for animation, you end up with situations where you have extended conversations featuring eight characters with only three voice actresses between them (and one of those only features comparatively barely).

Only three VAs here…

It’s fun because there’s certainly a tendency for a lot of voice actresses in the industry to get typecast – certainly, it’s hard not to notice that Kongou actress Toyama Nao’s other recent notable role was another British returnee in the form of Kiniro Mosaics Kujo Karen. By having the same voice actress play multiple roles, though, it’s a great chance to hear some of them stretch way out of expected type, even if some of the individual roles are typical of them. That Nagato, Naka and Shimakaze are all being played by Sakura Ayane, having to actually utilise the range of her talents, is a real neat thing.

Unlike her sisters, Kongou is actually the remodelled Kai-Ni version in the anime, hence the difference in her headband radars.

Though speaking of Shimakaze, I’m not entirely sure where the whole Zekamashi gag comes from. The natural assumption is that it comes from the reading of the kana in her name in reverse – the world of the KanColle anime writes it’s Japanese right-to-left, so to modern eyes her written name may initially read Zekamashi (Ze-Ka-Ma-Shi, or ぜかまし, rather than しまかぜ). Certainly, a certain ship girl with foreign-devil tendencies, like reading left-to-right, may mistakenly read things that way. The term has been used in the fan community for a while, though, so whether it originated from a mistaken reading as these things so often do, or from something else, I do not know. Answers on a postcard (or in comments, or Twitter), I guess.

There are generally way, way too many injokes in this episode to fully get a grip on, though. I could start talking about things like how Kirishima doing a mic-check is in reference to her introductory lines in the game, but I’d probably be here all day. As someone who actually follows the community to any actual degree, as well has having been playing much longer than I have, Fence over at SeaSlugs generally does a better job of contextualising the important stuff anyway.

I will, however, pick on this line from the Kongou Sisters musical number as the game mechanic to over-explain this week. As a game, KanColle is extremely RNG (Random Number Generator) heavy, and there’s few places that the randomness raises its head more frustratingly than in the Compass Fairies.

Sortie maps in the game are divided into a number of interconnected nodes which represent events, such as battles or resource stockpiles. The routing between these events is determined, at least visually, by the Compass Fairies – these girls pop up on screen and basically just spin a compass as if it was a roulette wheel (or perhaps the Wheel of Fortune), and you go in the direction in which it lands.

I hate you so much…

Whilst this suggests that the routing is entirely random, it’s not actually even that straightforward – your actual routing can depend on all sorts of things like the number of ships in the deployed fleet, the types of ships you are deploying (down to the differentiation between Fast and Regular battleships in extreme cases), or maybe their equipment. Sometimes having a particular fleet composition will guarantee you taking a certain route through a map, and sometimes it’ll just improve your chances of going between two specific points. The game rarely gives you any feedback as to whether that’s the case (routing through high Line of Sight is about the only exception), so it often just results in a frustrating bout of trial and error.

Mostly, though, the Compass Fairies exist purely to frustrate you as you repeatedly get randomly diverted away from the nodes with enemy Transport ships as you endeavour to complete your daily and weekly tasks with a submarine fleet. Seriously, most frustrating thing ever.

Ultimately, this is a really weird episode to try and sum up. Whilst Kongou deflecting an incoming shell with her bare fist sure was awesome, this episode is mostly a laugh riot for those who are even slightly in the know – it’s a clear sign that at least some people on the shows staff have a really good grasp on what the property has become through it’s fanbase and what they are likely to respond to. For KanColle enthusiasts, even those wrong-minded individuals who don’t share my love of Kangou and Naka-chan, it’s almost certainly the clear highlight of the series thus far.

How on Earth someone who isn’t already steeped in this nonsense will take it all, though, I have absolutely no idea at all.

And not a single K-ONgou or HoKONGOU TeaTime joke made!

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