Back in 2013, Kadokawa Games decided to create a game called Kantai Collection (艦隊これくしょん, lit: Fleet Collection), which is a free to play browser game. It is basically a card battle game that involves war ships personified as cute girls.
While the game aimed to appeal to war ship otakus, the franchise’s popularity sprung up because of the fandom and the voice actresses who are involved with the project. The rest was history. The game was so popular that Kadokawa and DMM (who hosts the game) had to put in place a lottery in place in order to play the game, besides the geographical restriction.
Given how popular Kantai Collection is, eventually they announced an anime production for this franchise. While there are some viewers that complained about some aspects of the show, especially since most of the western viewers could not play the game without jumping through several hoops, what are my thoughts on the show? That is what I’m set out to do.
The anime adaptation of Kantai Collection focuses on a newcomer Destroyer ship girl named Fubuki. With the sea under threat with strange beings called the Abyssals, the ship girls have to fend them off as Fubuki gets pushed into the front lines. What difficulties and experiences she and her friends will face during the time of conflict as the Admiral lays out his plan to defeat them behind the scenes?
I have to admit that while I have not played the game before watching the adaptation, I watched it with an open mind. I have to admit that this anime definitely got me interested in the game and the franchise as a whole. Sure, there are some things that left me with mixed feelings, I still enjoyed most of it, especially the episodes that focused on the other ship girls such as introducing Kango and her sisters, Akasuki sisters competing in a curry-cooking contest and of course the Kango sisters trying to lure Shimakaze out of hiding.
Let’s focus on the good first. I have to admit that I like most of the cast. Sure, people might find Fubuki boring compared to the other ship girls like Yuudachi, Kongo, Yamato, Shimakaze, etc, but I liked her character development as the show goes on. While she faces difficulties and hardships among other things along the way, she becomes a stronger ship girl as she gains more experience while becoming a good leader.
Aside from Fubuki, I liked how Zuikaku and Shoukaku are developed too since they managed to get themselves out of a dire situation after the enemy found where they were while the other part of the squadron went somewhere else. It made me appreciate Zuikaku a bit more rather than being the girl who gets into arguments with Kaga all the time.
On the other hand, there were a few things that I didn’t like. While I understand that the drama is there to build Fubuki’s character and do not make it seem like things are handed to her on a sliver platter. Sadly, most of the drama felt the same. It seems that they want to upset Fubuki by having unfair things happen to her such as Yuudachi getting a Kai ni first and Fubuki being ordered to go back to the academy. To me, this makes the drama less meaningful. Furthermore, besides the most popular ship girls, Fubuki and her two friends, the rest of the girls barely got any development whatsoever. Of course, Taihou being shown just for a few minutes in the last episode and Kisaragi being sunk without any meaningful development did not help either.
Aside from that, the rest of the mixed reactions are on nitpicky things such as Nagato using physical combat when fighting an Abyssal ship, which doesn’t really fit with the overall premise of ship to ship combat, the use of CG and the random pairing with Fubuki and the Admiral. It doesn’t end there as some complained about the admiral is not being shown on-screen and accusing him of being very competent. To me, these complaints did not affect my enjoyment of this show.
Overall, is the Kantai Collection anime really that bad as some make it out to be? I have to give them some credit that making an anime adaptation off a video game that does not have a plot is very difficult, especially since everyone play the game differently. Because of this, you cannot please everyone. Still, this adaptation is not really approachable to newcomers since there are references that people who played the game or have some experience with the franchise will only understand.
At the end of the day, I have to say that this adaptation was enjoyable and it got me interested in the franchise. Sure, it could have been better, but let’s hope that they will improve on the 2nd season and develop the other characters more instead of focusing too much on Fubuki and her friends. I like Fubuki, but they need to give other ship girls need some screen time as well.
Overall Rating: 8.4/10, B, Good