Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Kantai Collection Review

The "Mecha musume" genre of anime (Which turns WWII weaponry and vehicles into cute girls because why not) has been becoming increasingly popular within the last half-decade or so. With that being said, the idea of turning naval combat ships into adorable fap-mater...I mean waifu-material...seemed like an idea that could not possible go wrong. And so one fateful day, Kadokawa Games created a free-to-play browser game featuring over 9000 (Give or take around 8900) different ship-girls that would go on to live in the dreams of otaku everywhere. Following this explosion of moeboats, Diomedea quickly grabbed the premise of Kantai Collection and set sail toward creating an anime adaptation, knowing that the fans of the game would be immediately "On board" for seeing their favorites ships fully animated.

Keizo Kusakawa (Dog Days/Asura Cryin') came on to direct the series which would immediately receive an influx of mixed reviews. Some viewers hated the anime because it was nothing but cute girls doing cute things. But, on the other hand, that was the exact reason that so many other viewers were praising it. So now, critics are split down the middle in deciding whether or not KanColle is worth watching. And the answer to that really depends on what you are looking to get out of it. If you came for a story, go somewhere else -- this show is most definitely not for you. BUT, if you want to watch adorable boat girls just doing their thing, then get the hell on deck.

The first episode of KanColle introduces you to Fubuki, a destroyer class ship-girl who will go on the be the main character of the series. Fubuki, unlike the other ships, is incredibly clumsy and has zero combat experience whatsoever. Tired of being the weakest of them all, Fubuki goes on to practice day and night in an attempt to not weigh down her fellow boats. After a solid mix of naval combat and fan-service scenarios, Fubuki gains many new friends who will go on to shape the experience of what Kantai Collection really is -- a fun show. But are fun and good interchangeable? That's something you must decide for yourself. But I'm sure you'll get a grip of how I feel about it after I break it up over the next few paragraphs and weigh in on each aspect of the show.

Music: 7/10
The music of KanColle is actually pretty good. The soundtrack blends traditional Japanese styles with fast-paced and dramatic rock music riddled with miniature guitar solos. The music becomes essential for expanding the atmosphere of the fight-scenes (Which there are a handful of in the show). And the music in KanColle doesn't function the same way that a lot of soundtracks do, meaning it doesn't really blend in. You can always tell that it's there, the impact is not subtle at all. This is both good and bad, considering it can also work as a distraction. One other thing though, is that when the music ISN'T playing, something seems amiss. Like the scenes are too bland without it. And unfortunately, this happens more often than you would think.

Characters: 10/10
The sheer amount of characters you come across in Kantai Collection is extravagant. But that is to be expected when the game has a total of 156 playable girls (That number is still rising, by the way). Obviously, not all 156 of the girls get screen-time in the anime. But even without that, it will still be easy to choose a favorite considering how different they all are from one another. However, if you don't choose Kongou as your favorite, you obviously don't know what you're doing. Character development really isn't a factor for anyone other than Fubuki. But the thing with Fubuki is that her development seems a little rushed. Her transition from "Insanely weak and useless" to "Overpowered and unbalanced" comes along rather quickly. And even though this is a problem, it does not overshadow how delightful and varied the boatgirls in KanColle are.

Art: 8/10
I think it's safe to say that Diomedea has outdone themselves with the artwork in Kantai Collection. Out of all of the series they've done that I have had the chance to watch, this one is far superior. Character design is great and stays loyal to the source material. The enemies are dark and gloomy which contrast with the bright and vivid atmosphere of the rest of the show in a way that is basically impossible to ignore. Frankly, I was extremely impressed. When I got myself into this show I wasn't expecting anything phenomenal in the art department, but I quickly retracted those thoughts as the show progressed. HOWEVER, the one thing I really disliked as far as art went was when 3DCG was brought into the mixture. Adding dimension to the girls during floating (Or swimming? Sailing? I don't know what to call it) really took away the detail of their character just seconds prior. It created an inconsistent situation where I could love the image of a character in one scene and then go on to hate it in the next. In my opinion, the art should have just stayed 2D through the entire show.

Story: 4/10
I wouldn't go as far as saying there is no story in KanColle. I would, however, say that literally no one cares about it. Not even the writers. Everyone was just more concerned with watching all the moeboats interact with each other. And those scenes of interaction were great. But every once and a while, KanColle tried to slip some naval battle you didn't care about under the radar in an excuse to further develop Fubuki. I get what the writers were going for, but it really just didn't work. KanColle was unsuccessful in creating a story line that viewers cared about. When that happens, there really isn't much hope for its progression. The story starts to "sink" in a way. Ha. Ha ha. Anyway, like I said earlier on in the review -- if you came here for a story, you might as well go watch something else. But if you want to watch different groups of girls act all cute and funny, register for a Crunchyroll account and go check this out. You won't be let down.

The one thing I wan't to add before I finish up this review is the amount of enjoyment I got out of this show. We can sit here all day and talk about "What makes a show good". But as far as I'm concerned, enjoyment has a harder impact on that than anything else. KanColle looks great, sounds great, and a ton of laughs for anyone that is just looking to have a good time. I highly recommend it for anyone that has room left in their "Favorite characters" column on MyAnimeList.

Overall Score: 9/10

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