February 22, 2015
Ah! It appears that RKO has picked up the production duties of the show, very good. I can't help but worry, however... those guy wires look awfully slack considering their job. The last time I saw guy wires that, the mast in question was being disassembled, a task you literally could not pay me enough to do. Still and all, the antenna at the top must still be working, because the Naval District has received a communique.
A communique via morse code, no less. Actually, I assume it's actually Wabun code, the Japanese version of morse, but as I understand none of the factors involved, I have no idea if I'm correct or not. For some reason, this lack does not particularly bother me at the moment. Anyway, the message is that Operation MO is approved, and that they are to provide a carrier fleet and a support fleet... and here is where my emergency brakes kicked in, because Operation MO is better known to us here in The States as the Battle of the Coral Sea... we gonna see some stuff go down.
Literally, if lil' miss Abyssal Carrier up there has anything to say about it. I can't help but notice that there's a startling resemblance between the Carrier and The Librarian at times. They both wear hats, the facial structures are the same, they both can do the flashing blue flames of power from the eyes... uncanny. It goes without saying, of course, that I've never seen the two of them together in the same spot...
Meanwhile, in the waters nearby the Naval District...
...Fubuki and her cast of characters were out on shakedown when they bumped into a random Abyssal patrol. Nothing that can threaten a fleet with the power of Team Foobie, though... a pair of carriers and a battleship limits the number of badguy fleets that can do that. However, as Zuikaku is standing there, about to launch a batch of torpedo planes to clean up the baddies, there's a torpedo in the water headed right for her!
Kaga knows that Zuikaku's doomed if she's hit in that condition... her fuel lines would go up in an instant, or whatever the fuel line equivalent is for a shipgirl... so the former battleship turned carrier throws herself alongside and takes the torp herself.
The result is about what you'd expect... Kaga's alive, but she's messed up pretty bad. To make matters worse, they're out of the Magical Repair Fluid, so she's going to be in the baths for a while. For the record, Akagi's in the shop as well; who in the world is going to fill in for Kaga in Assault Force Five?
Zuikaku's sister, Shokaku, steps up. Coral Sea confirmed, I say again, Coral Sea confirmed. If you're fond of light carrier Shoho, you'd best shut down your media player now and drink heavily for the rest of the night... bad things are a-comin'. Sometime later...
...Glorious Leader Fubuki is summoned to the Admiral's Office, where she is stripped of her rank as flagship, removed from Assault Force Five, and broken up from scrap. Well. That's something of an overreaction, don't you think? No, no, really, the Admiral wants to make sure that Shokaku will fit into the framework of FoobieForce, and to pass on some secret information, for Flagship Ears Only. Since you and I, the viewers, are not flagships, we're not allowed to know what's being talked about. Thanks, Production Staff!
The next day, the other fleets have already sailed. Another Naval District has launched the invasion fleet, all that's left is for Foobie Force to sail out. I find that I don't like Shokaku's attitude towards the whole thing: she appears to be seeing it as a chance to lessen the standing of Carrier Division One (Akagi and Kaga) and improve that of CarDivFive, as opposed to taking a fight to the Abyssals. Well, so it goes.
Approaching the "Coral Island", Flagship Foobie has the two carriers send out recon planes, eliciting surprise and doubt from Shokaku... that's more than usual. She's assured that if Fubuki is asking for it, she must have a reason. As it turns out, she does... the Admiral suspects that the Abyssals are reading Our Heroes' codes. Soon enough, a report comes in...
...over in the Invasion fleet, the light carrier Shoho has been hit by multiple dive bombers, is severely damaged and on fire. The fleet is continuing with its mission, but the location of the enemy carriers is unknown.
That changes soon enough as one of the cutest lil' recon pilots ever reports one carrier... and a squall line approaching to boot. There's nothing for it, they've gotta go. Fubuki gives the order: get the carrier!
Quickly, the sisters launch their strike... and at first, I thought the Production Staff had screwed up. What I saw the first time I watched the scene was the carriers launching torpedo bombers, followed by the dive bombers, and then a flight of fighters. This is, of course, exactly the opposite of the way it should have been done: because of their big, ungainly torpedo, those planes were always spotted last on the carrier decks, so to give them the most takeoff room. After looking at it closely, though, the first wave is definitely fighters, and the third group is indeterminate... the scene cuts before they change form from arrows to aircraft. In any case, we don't see any torpedo planes in the coming attack anyway, so it's all moot.
Which is odd, because the IJN was all about "combined arms" attacks from their carriers. Dive bombers and torpedo planes in a unified attack were much more effective, they believed, than one type alone. Considering the success they had when they managed it, it difficult to argue with them. Here, though, its all Aichi D3A "Val"s comin' down. They don't sink the carrier, but its unable to launch aircraft. Foobie sends her surface craft off after the remnants of the enemy fleet, while keeping Shokaku and Zuikaku heading towards the Abyssal base to provide support for the now-uncovered Invasion fleet. The carriers provide a small escort group to the surface ships, just in case... and everybody, stay under radio silence. What could possibly go wrong?
After recovering their strike force, the two carriers head off towards their destination. Zuikaku denies to her sister that she's friends with Kaga, yadda yadda yadda. Ah, girlish banter, cute girls doing cute things in cute ways, how I enjoy slice-of-life shows.
With bombs. Abyssal planes sneaked up behind the sisters and launched an attack on Shokaku, missing only just barely. That doesn't last long, however, as from out of the squall line comes another enemy carrier.
More and more planes attack the sisters, preventing them from launching their own defensive planes. That's an awful combination, one that will eventually end badly for Foobie Force. And lo, as if preordained by history (see what I did there?), Bad Things happen.
Shokaku is badly damaged, barely able to keep going, and it goes without saying that she's no longer able to dodge attacks. Indeed, she tells Zuikaku to leave her to die and run for help. Obviously, no member of Foobie Force would abandon a compatriot!
Zuikaku swoops in, gathers up her sister, and they head for the hills as if all the hounds of hell are at their heels. Or, more correctly, they head for the squall line. They may not be able to launch planes in there, but the Abyssal fighters can't attack them, either. It's a small chance, but it's the only one they have... kinda like the chance Kaga took saving Zuikaku. Huh... funny how that works, isn't it? Meanwhile...
...back at the Naval District, Kaga pokes at a towelbunny. D'awwwwwww! Back at the Coral Sea, the squall is lifting...
...and Carrier Division Five prepares for their final stand. Just as they leave the squall line, just as the Abyssal ships prepare to open fire...
...planes attack the baddies, distracting them for a moment. Planes? From where? The only other Navy planes in the area are with the surface part of Foobie Force, and they're busy cleaning up the other Abyssal carrier!
Big Damn Heroes, sir. Seems Fubuki remembered that the Abyssals had broken their codes, and were probably waiting for the carriers to be detached, so she hurried over... and she brought some friends, too.
Did you ever wonder why the Imperial Japanese Navy called Oi and Kitakami "torpedo cruisers"? Please note, this is their second volley. And then Frodo makes an enemy for life by taking a shot at the Abyssal carrier...
...right in the eye. As it recoils in agony, or whatever passes for agony in an Abyssal, Foobie Force finishes off the rest of the enemy fleet. They then take a second to regroup...
...and strike a Hero Pose while they're at it. Or as much of a Hero Pose as you can make when got a crippled carrier along for the ride.
Discretion being the better part of valor, the Abyssal carrier... no, wait, it's clumsy to call it that all the time, particularly now that it has a distinctive appearance, so let's give it a name. How about Yorkie? Does Yorkie work for you? I think it has a good ring to it. Yorkie it is! Discretion being the better part of valor, Yorkie withdraws from the battle, leaving Foobie Force in command of the area.
As the news filters back to the Naval District, it's proclaimed as a great victory. Fade to black, roll credits.
Having said all that, being in Fubuki's fleet is kinda hard on carriers, isn't it? Two missions, two carriers crippled and a third feeling traumatized... that's not a great record. Expensive victories, that.
It was a good episode, but it definitely points the arrow directly at Midway... and seeing how Coral Sea played out pretty much the way it did in real life, one can't be blamed for thinking that Midway is going to be a bloodbath for the shipgirls. I can't imagine the production staff would really do that... but there's a part of me that really wants them to. If nothing else, the screams from the Kantai Collection-related twitterfeeds would be AMAZING.
Next week: more zombies!
Posted by: Ben at February 22, 2015 01:08 PM (S4UJw)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 22, 2015 03:14 PM (+rSRq)
They're gonna re-fight Midway, aren't they? Broken codes -and- a two-phase recon pattern earlier than it ever happened in the war. Fubuki... Fubuki, you read Shattered Sword, didn't you?!
Posted by: Avatar at February 22, 2015 04:27 PM (a38fD)
As a matter of fact, they didn't show Lexy (heh) sinking, but it's referred to. All the "cleaning up" happened off-screen.
Av, it's possible that Foobie read Fuchida's Midway: The Battle That Doomed Japan. He chastises the IJN for not doing a two-phase search in that book... even though it wasn't how they did things at the time, and indeed nobody even thought to perform one... including Fuchida himself. As it was, a two-phase search wouldn't have helped at Midway anyway, since Kido Butai got lucky with the Tone 4 plane.
Posted by: Wonderduck at February 22, 2015 04:48 PM (jGQR+)
If the show does parallel the real-life course of the Pacific campaign, pretty much the entire rest of the series will be downright grim, with maybe a few cutesy-pie filler episodes thrown in for maximum mood-whiplash. (BTW, one might note that hideous, unspeakable abominations would be playing the role of the United States Navy...)
Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at February 22, 2015 08:30 PM (gt7kt)
Midway (June 1942) was definitely terrible for the IJN, but the next year or so wasn't so awful. It wasn't great, either, but things didn't really go sour until the second half of 1943 when America's new production started coming online.
Between then, the IJN sank Hornet and Wasp and badly damaged Saratoga, and in general gave more than they got in the waters near Guadalcanal until nearly the end. (Though that's where Fubuki was sunk.) After the Americans landed on Guadalcanal (August 1942), the Japanese didn't advance any further but it was also a long time before they started retreating (February 1943).
The Solomons campaign was pretty close to a stalemate for a long time, and the Americans only really started to move forward after their new production started fighting.
Not counting Midway, the really big disasters for the IJN happened much later: Philippine Sea (June 1944) and Leyte Gulf (October 1944), which between them pretty much finished the IJN as an effective military force.
If this show does Midway (and does it honestly) it's going to be painful as hell, but what comes after that won't be merry but it also won't be hell.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 22, 2015 10:40 PM (+rSRq)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 22, 2015 10:46 PM (+rSRq)
Posted by: Wonderduck at February 22, 2015 11:39 PM (jGQR+)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 23, 2015 06:17 AM (+rSRq)
Part of me thinks they're going to take their historical-allegory thing only up to a certain point, then "rewrite history" to give our POV characters a happy ending.
Part of me thinks they're going to give the old "nice boat" ending trope all new meaning...
Posted by: GreyDuck at February 23, 2015 08:35 AM (AQ0bN)
I'm guessing it'll be a victory. One way they could do something grim yet still not kill the main characters, would be to have CarDiv2 (Hiryu and Soryu) head to Midway while CarDiv1 goes to the Aleutians. Midway goes bad, but Akagi and Kaga come down and deal with Yorkie, et al.
Carriers are lost, but the Big Two are okay and Midway is a win. I'm not saying they're gonna do that, but it's a way they could pull it off and still fit in the game's version of reality... I gather the Aleutians ("Northern Ocean Hime") is a Boss Battle in Kantai Collection, the game...
Posted by: Wonderduck at February 23, 2015 10:30 AM (jGQR+)
They can completely scratch the Aleutians off the hit list. That's two more carriers available.
They can turn their broken codes around, put false data in there... lowers the chance that they'd get caught in mid-strike.
On the other hand, it's unlikely that the Abyssals would have one of their air groups go flying completely in the wrong direction. Honestly, as well, Midway-as-really-fought has a total lack of action for the surface units in a way that would be unsatisfying for fans of the show. For all we know, they'll have things go much more according to the original Japanese plan - they polish off the base, and then a full general fleet engagement follows, Mahan with all the trimmings and a night battle after. (Nobody tell Sendai!)
Posted by: Avatar at February 23, 2015 01:33 PM (a38fD)
The real Battle of Coral Sea is the first major sea battle in which the fleets never came close enough to see one another. All of the combat was fought with air strikes.
I assume that wasn't the case in the most recent KanColle battle, though.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 23, 2015 01:40 PM (+rSRq)
Posted by: Wonderduck at February 23, 2015 02:23 PM (jGQR+)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 23, 2015 02:37 PM (+rSRq)
Posted by: GreyDuck at February 23, 2015 03:50 PM (3m7pZ)
Posted by: Ben at February 23, 2015 04:24 PM (DRaH+)
There's thought behind this show... a lot more of it than we're giving the show credit for, I suspect. One thing for certain, I'm thinking more about this one "after hours," as it were, than any series in a long, long time.
Posted by: Wonderduck at February 23, 2015 05:13 PM (jGQR+)
At the end of the day, what's getting Wo-tan out of bed where people can shoot her eye out? We've got no clue; up until this episode we didn't even have any reason to believe there was a mind there at all (and we still don't know if there's a sentient person, but at least she's theoretically capable of facial expression, hm?)
I get why that's an aspect that a Japanese game company doesn't want to dive into, but oy.
Posted by: Avatar at February 23, 2015 09:34 PM (zJsIy)
The official 4-koma says the Abyssals are the souls of ships from all sides that are enveloped in grief and hatred, which is their motivation.
Posted by: muon at February 24, 2015 06:23 AM (XIprt)
The game hasn't announced what the Abyssals are, nor, more importantly, has the anime. Until either defines the Abyssals existence, anything is possible.
Please refrain from muddying the waters like that. We had a talk about this during my HSotD writeup. Don't make me do anything drastic, okay?
Posted by: Wonderduck at February 24, 2015 09:52 AM (jGQR+)
(By which I mean that the only Japanese ship I know anything about actually appeared on the ep.)
So I'm very much looking forward to Wonderduck's take on this next one, and I hope he catches the in-joke for those of us who are older fans.
Posted by: email@example.com at February 25, 2015 05:57 PM (ZJVQ5)
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