This is another in the “Girls Who Save the World” genre, but, potentially, taken to the zenith of the idea. Also, sharing a lot with shows like “Upotte” and “Strike Witches”, “Kantai Collection” (also known as “Combined Fleet Girls Collection” and the nickname “Kancolle”) really goes all out with things.
In this Alternative Universe, although there is a World War going on, it is not fought with the other peoples of earth, but an alien group, bent on World Domination. “We will control all the Fun Size Snickers bars, so there!” Hahahahahahahahaha…………ahem! We are fighting on the high seas with girls who are battleships. By the style of ship and airplane, as well as off-duty garb, I would put this somewhere between 1938 and 1941 (if we were using a real calendar). Our heroine Fubuki (brown hair, second from right. It was hard to find a group shot of most of them that could be easily comprehended as to what was going on that wasn’t also smut smack) has been asked to join the task fleet. She is a destroyer, but we have all grades of ships: torpedo boats, aircraft carriers, communication ships, battle cruisers.
Now, it appears that only the ladies can do this; I never saw a whisper of a guy on the base. The enemy is also estrogen-heavy, so it can be seen as one big cat fight. Plus, they get a caliber of transformation, so they are equipped with their armaments and can sail on the high seas. Even though they have a gun battery that is the size of a medium box of Pampers, it still carriers the proper firepower if it was a 20-inch gun. The aircraft carriers send up special arrows if they are launching scout planes (white fletching) or dive bombers (green fletching), although they are more like drones than real people.
Since this is a war anime, we have the twin problems of defeating an enemy that is crafty, well versed in tactics and possessing some nasty firepower (even though they look like flying dentures with guns), plus learning how to get along with these divergent and somewhat stuck-up ships, in order to become a unified fighting force. Save your fighting for the battlefield, not the sweets shop! Also, Fubuki is a little wet behind the ears and she has to seriously up her game if she doesn’t want to sleep with the fishes.
This show is huge stuff in Japan. The only other thing that is generating this level of interest is the 7-11 Contest, where you go to any Japanese 7-11 and put yourself into a drawing for a life-size Eren Jaeger figure (that’s “Attack on Titan”). Because this is also a gigantic on-line game that may be part and parcel of the interest, I really couldn’t see what the big deal was about, unless we are talking the Kongo Sisters. Two of them are to the left and, as you can see, they have a massive superstructure. Gee, what is that displacement? Yes, and they all wear that bizarre outfit that reflects the caliber of ship they are (we have two battle-damaged aircraft carriers to the right, as seen by their flight decks).
They can also get upgrades to be a bigger, better battleship (this is done in the game, but we don’t have time for that in an anime, so we make a lot of passing mentions). It’s not a bad show, but it reminded me of “Galaxy Railways” and “Star Blazers”, in that we forge a strange concept (in my two examples, it was trains in space and a battleship in space). I had a real hard time trying to figure out how they were able to do this transformation from a moe girl to a heavy cruiser. Now, everyone is named for a famous Japanese vessel of WWII, so you can do some research to see what the actual thing looked like. But a pretty girl beats a submarine every time (although I don’t recall ever seeing a submarine).
My take is that I wish they weren’t so flirty. I mean, is that a carrier force or the line-up for Victoria’s Secret? I also would like to understand better the nuts and bolts as to how this world works. How do they get ‘repaired’? They seem to soak in a bath, but repairs take forever (like they do in the real world). And how does the upgrading work? I assume if I played the game, it would make a tad more sense, but I would like to understand the physics of this world. At least in “Strike Witches”, they had to be a witch before they could be considered for the position. Here, they have to possess kanmusu to make the transformation work, but that is an elusive quality.
I suspect they based a lot of the anime from both game play and the 4-koma manga, but a lot of it washed over me. We also had a rather bullet-proof nature afoot, where they took damage, but never were sank (or died), but once. War doesn’t work that way. At the very least, check it out. It may be an experiment gone bad, but there is something compelling about the idea that at least politely requests you stop by.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Wow, are they all cute, even the enemy)
Plot 6 (Rather standard war story)
Pacing 6 (Sometimes got a bit sluggish)
Effectiveness 6 (I had a hard time wrapping my head around this)
Conclusion 5 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 4 (A similar show would be “Gurren Lagann”)
Overall 6 (Too much to try and accept)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Over the seas, let’s go men….uh…women!