Like A Proper Northern (Ship) Lass in KanColle Episode 6

Posted by DiGiKerot in Kantai Collection at February 11, 2015 on 11:13 pm

The German submarines are attacking, and they’ve already conquered Pixiv.

There’s an event running in the KanColle game at the moment. As in most of these games, the reward for actually partaking is accquiring some rare in-game items, which likely won’t be available otherwise for months, for progressing beyond certain points within the duration of the event. One of the new ships introduced to the game as a reward item is the German-build submarine U-511.

The German ships in KanColle tend to attract a little attention regardless of the specifics, in so much as their designs and art are provided by Shimada Humikane (or Fumikane), best known as the character designer on Strike Witches and Girls und Panzer. U-511 is no different, but there’s a bit more of an arc to her than there is with most shipgirls.

The real life U-511 started service in the German navy before eventually being sent, and ultimately sold, to Japan as a part of a technological exchange between the two nations during World War 2. In Japan, she was ultimately re-designated Ro-500 and put into service. The game represents this through a rather radical change in her art once you perform your second remodel on her.

U-511, on the left, becomes Ro-500, on the right

Whilst some ships illustration cards change very little throughout their upgrades, it’s not that unusual for ships to have entirely different illustrations throughout their service – just look how Ryuujou actually gets cute as she is upgraded. There’s nothing quite as drastic as Ro-500 springing to mind, though. I’m sure there’s probably something biting that could be written about the worrying socio-political mentally the change in U-511 suggests, but I’m sure it’s way more likely we’ll be seeing dozens of stories about the mind bending effects of the Admirals pork sausage come summer Comiket (you wouldn’t believe the what the additives in modern pig feed does for meat quality).

Heartwarming stories of how the adorable semi-German-literate war criminal Hachi helps the poor German sub Yu-chan, withdrawn and melancholy having been abandoned in a strange land by her countrymen, find happiness and a new surrogate family in the Japanese navy will, likely, be less forthcoming. But, hey, I had an I-8 drop at exactly the same time I unlocked U-511, so that’s totally proof that it’s totally acceptable head canon, right?

But, anyway, I’m digressing from the actual cartoon way too much here, so just believe me when I say that the amount of fan art of Ro-500 specifically the last few days has been kind of insane.

This is the best you’re getting out of me in terms of Ro-500 fanart on short notice. I actually kinda prefer the U-511 art…

This weeks episode of KanColle is one of those which reminds us that, honestly, Fubuki and Mutsuki really are the most boring possible protagonists for the series, even amongst the destroyers. I guess the decision to go with them as the leads will have a lot to do with the staff worrying that most of the other ships would be a little too wacky to pull off any kind of serious drama.

Still, it’s nice that they decided to take a side road with this episode, putting aside all thoughts of lingering thoughts of Poi-ing to give us an episode starring the Akatsuki-class destroyers. If anything, it’s even wackier and more free-wheeling than the Kongou episode a couple of weeks back, and it’s just as much fun.

As with most classes of ship, all of the Akatsuki class ships have the same voice actress, one Suzaki Aya. Suzaki has actually had a whole bunch of rather significant roles over the last few years, but I guess the most relevant to what is being done in this episode was her role as the legendary adorably hyperactive crackpot Mankanshoku Mako in Kill la Kill, though I guess she’s also presently playing Minami (aka The Boring One) in Cinderella Girls. That’s a pretty good display of range in itself, but perhaps even more than the Kongou’s episode, where they at least had ‘Bucky to bounce off in most scenes, she puts in a real spectacular performance in this episode of KanColle as she throws comic zingers frequently at no-one but herself.

Amusement that Akagi is once again stuck in the baths (this time playing with a ring puzzle rather than bubble wrap – I wonder if she’ll end up with a Rubiks Cube eventually…), Hibiki comments that they’ve brought back a lot of Bauxite from their recent expedition. As a game, KanColle has four main consumable resources – Fuel, Ammo, Steel and Bauxite . Steel is pretty much only used in repairs, construction and remodelling, but the other three are also consumed whilst going out on sorties. Fuel and Ammo are consumed by all ships, but Bauxite in particular is used to replenish the stock on Aircraft Carriers who’ve seen their planes shot down through Anti-Aircraft fire. In the right (or, rather, wrong) circumstances, ships like Akagi positively devour the stuff at an alarming rate. This, as well as her general high resource consumption rate relative to when you unlock her (as well as an old bug which magnified the effect), is why the show represents her as eating an awful lot of food.

Inazuma means Lightning, Ikazuchi means Thunder, and as I’m sure fans of Mortal Kombat are aware, Raiden was the Japanese god of, well, Thunder and Lightning. Of course, the thing to remember about Kongou here is that she’s a Northern English Lass by birth, and, whilst not as associated with the country as Fish and Chips due to it’s Indian origins, Curry is pretty close to being the national dish here. Infact, just straight-up curry sauce, not too different from what Kongou accidentally makes later in the episode, is vaguely popular as something of a condiment for the Chip part of Fish and Chips. According to some other KanColle material, Kongou isn’t actually supposed to be that bad a chef, though – she talks about making scones herself in the game. Many of Hiei’s lines, on the other hand… suggest quite the opposite, at least when it comes to curry. Whoops.

Funny thing is, if you believe Wikipedia at least, Curry was introduced into the Japanese navy by the British, though the story about the Japanese navy making curry once a week (a Friday) to help sailors track the passage of time does actually appear to be true.

By the way, the signboard behind Hibiki there looks like it’s saying something terrifying like Curry Choco Parfait, though why Parfait would be written in Hiragana is anyones guess.

Again, there’s kind of way too many injokes in this episode to even consider trying to go through all of them, so I’ll pretty much leave it at explaining this scene here. The flamethrower they are using is, like the bucket earlier in the series, another common consumable item in the game. Whilst the bucket is used for instant repairs, the flamethrower is used to instantly complete a ships construction – that is, when you are trying to make a new ship girl, it’ll instantly negate the timer and allow you to deploy her immediately. The idea of using one to speed up producing something – in this case a curry rather than a ship – probably follows at least a little logically, even if it doesn’t prove itself to be sensible. One funny, but rather hard to see due to the flames, thing is that they even have the rapidly counting down timer when it cuts to the close-up of the curry pot.

As for Yuubari (aka Melon), I’m presuming her obsession with equipment comes from the fact that she was built as an experimental ship. In the game, this presents itself in the fact that Yuubari is the only ship in the light cruiser class to have four equipment slots, whereas most other ships of the classification max out at only three. This makes her a real useful ship to have around in certain situations where you have to be fielding Light Cruisers, believe me!

I do like that the whole framing for the episode makes it look like Nagato is going to be forced to make a really difficult decision about sending ships out to sortie, only for it to be really about the fact that she simply can’t take spicy curry. It makes the excessive favouritism she plays with the girls from the sixth, encouraging them at every step, pretty hilarious given that it’s basically her stacking the odds in favour of a team that’s going to produce something mild instead of whatever hell Ashigara was cooking up.

(Also, Gendo poses are always funny)

Coincidentally, if we want to somehow link the content in this episode to the long, rambling foreword about German submarines, then Hibiki, like the U-511, is one of the few ships in the game to be completely renamed after their second remodel. The difference is that, whilst U-511 is rebranded as Japanese, Hibiki was sent off to Russia as a spoil of war, where she was rebranded as Verniy (Верный). This is why, as with every modern anime Russian, she randomly says Khorosho a little too regularly.

And finally, it was the Cinderella Girls post last week that I talked about Pop-Up Pirate in, but I couldn’t help but notice that AmiAmi has KanColle-themed versions up for pre-order right now.

(I might have ordered Kongou…)

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