January 23, 2015
We begin this brand new episode with...
...a flashback to "a few days ago," aka "the end of last episode." Nagato has just informed the light cruisers of Torpedo Squadron Three that they and their destroyers will form the basis of the first offensive against the Abyssals. I'd just like to point out that this scene is just seiyuu Ayane Sakura having a four-way conversation with herself. She actually does the voices for eight of the shipgirls, and you'd better believe I'm looking forward to that scene. Jump back to now, and it's time for the mission briefing...
...where Mutsuki discovers that her older sister Kisaragi will be in on the mission as well. Yay for family! Also, yay for delays in construction! Mutsuki is/was actually the name-ship for her class of destroyers, but Kisaragi was completed before her sister. Eh, stuff happens.
Cutest collection of warships ever! Good lord, they'll adorable the Abyssals to death. What we've got here is Torpedo Squadron Four, joining The Fellowship for this operation. Briefly, the plan is for The Fellowship to sneak in and attack W Island...
...shown here and please pay no attention whatsoever to the resemblance to Wake Island. Merely coincidental, that. Anyway, The Fellowship is to sneak in and attack Wake W Island at night, cause as much mayhem as they can and then withdraw, bringing the Abyssal ships known to be stationed there out after them. Then Torpedo Squadron Four will ambush the Abyssals, The Fellowship will turn around, and the massacre will be total and complete. There's no risk of being detected ahead of time, so all is right with the world. It'll be a piece of cake!
Well, of course Frodo is panicking. That's pretty much a given at this point, isn't it? Still, it's hard to blame her... it's her first combat. Oh wait, no it's not, that was in Ep01. Sure, she's not fully worked up, but with the extra training time! and stuff, she's clearly better than she was. But then...
...some of the other destroyers bring her blueberries. Today I Learned that blueberries are supposed to be good for night vision... who knew? That's a very thoughtful gift... right? It is, right? But then...
...Atago and Takao stop in to give Fubuki a good luck charm to avoid being hit by the enemy. They'll be praying for her safety. I dunno, I'd begin feeling a little bit uncomfortable right around now. But then...
...Tone buys her a jumbo special parfait, tells her to eat up with no regrets, and that she'll be praying for Frodo's safety. So it's unanimous: pretty much the entire fleet thinks that Fubuki is going to get creamed in the upcoming battle. That's encouraging, right? At least they think enough of her to want her to come back. That's not the way Our Heroine is looking at it though... after everybody else leaves, she decides to go train some more. You're only going to die tired, Fubuki.
But then Mutsuki pipes up and gives Frodo a long and heartfelt pep talk, ending with "believe in yourself." We learn that when Mutsuki first joined the fleet, her older sister Kisaragi helped her adjust to the pressures and stresses of combat until she dealt was able to deal with them. Now it's Merry's turn to pay it forward. D'awwwwwww.
Early the morning of the attack, the sun is just beginning to rise and Frodo's already training. Actually, it looks an awful lot like she's completely dislocated her shoulder here, but who am I to judge? Alas, she's still losing her balance, ending up stern over teakettle. Fortunately for her, there's nobody around to see her flailings... that'd be embarrassing, and could you imagine what it would feel like if Akagi saw? Fubuki's face would blow off from the blood rushing to her cheeks.
Splat. Akagi gives Our Heroine a quiet motivational speech and reveals that she hadn't planned to be out on the water this early... it was all Mutsuki's doing. Merry feels that it's what Kisaragi would have done for her, and she can never repay her older sister for her support.
As all around them, shipgirls prepare for battle, Akagi reveals that repayment isn't needed... just tell them 'thank you,' and fight your best. Because that's what they're here for, to fight and protect their loved ones. And the ones a shipgirl loves the most are the ones they fight with. It's actually quite a telling little speech, and one that rings true. The soldiers I've spoken with, from WWII vets to jet fighter pilots, all say much the same thing: you fight for the squad, the platoon, the people around you, then for everything else.
She ends her talk with sage advice for everybody: tell the people you care for how you feel about them, because they may not be around tomorrow. And somewhere in the back of my brain, roughly a million warning horns, bells, klaxons, flags, flashing lights and sirens have gone off.
Mission time! The two Torpedo Squadrons are lined up, waiting for their launch command, and excitement levels are running high. Everybody wants to get out there and kick some Abyssal tail... flipper... thing... whatever.
Mutsuki breaks ranks for a moment to speak to her sister; when they get back, she wants to have a long talk. Kisaragi smiles and says it's a promise. And somewhere in the middle of my brain, two billion trumpeting elephants accompanied by a million koalas waving warning flags whilst riding on the back of war okapi have appeared. Some time later...
...Torpedo Squadron Three is in place, waiting for night to fall while keeping eyes on the Abyssal base. Everything is going smoothly, they've got cover, and doing binoculars with your thumbs and forefingers really works. I love this world. The decision is made to get a better look at what they're facing.
They launch recon floatplanes, in this case the Aichi E13A1 (Allied reporting code "Jake") and the destroyers do some subtle patrolling. After a while, though, it becomes clear that something's gone wrong. The floatplanes are overdue. Soon, the reason why becomes clear.
Abyssal dentures fighters. One flies directly over Torpedo Squadron Three, and a few moments later the ships defending W Island sortie out. Mission blown! High Command orders everybody to bug out... Nagato, back at base, whiffs a rodent. Soon enough, her suspicions are confirmed.
Two Abyssal light carriers have gotten between them and home, and are already launching fighters. Oh boy. Seems like a bit of overkill for a few light cruisers and destroyers, but if you've got 'em, may as well use 'em. That's what they're there for after all.
Torpedo Squadron Three goes into anti-air mode, which was traditionally a huge weakness for smaller Japanese ships in WWII. Their main guns often couldn't elevate high enough or track quickly enough to be truly effective against aircraft, and their light AA guns too small. All the while, the Abyssal ships from Island W are closing in, and there's no way The Fellowship can handle both attacks at once.
So Torpedo Squadron Four is sent in against the Abyssal ships. Three light cruisers and three destroyers against two Abyssal light cruisers and four destroyers. Odds are more or less even, all in all, which means it's gonna be bloody. However...
...none of this is going to save The Fellowship. After swearing that they'll go home together, Fubuki and Mutsuki actually wind up fighting back-to-back for a moment before getting separated. Slowly but surely, they're all being ground down. Torpedo attacks on the carriers are all failing, and in an attempt to push one home, Mutsuki gets a little too far away from the rest of the squadron. Immediately she takes minor damage and is slightly dazed, leaving a perfect opening for an Abyssal attack plane. Just as it looks like Merry's going to take one right between the eyes...
...Fubuki races over, interposes herself between friend and foe, and blows the plane out of the sky. The rest of the Fellowship is amazed; Frodo did something athletic without falling over. Not only that, she's managed to put herself in perfect position for a torpedo run on one of the carriers.
This is duly delivered, damaging the carrier enough that it stops coughing up fighters and is more-or-less dead in the water. Torpedo Squadron Three as a whole zooms in and blows it up real good. There is much celebration, right up until another wave of fighters from the other carrier pop up and starts firing. Now The Fellowship has to kill the OTHER carrier, and quite honestly, they got lucky with the first one. Grimly, they prepare themselves, when...
...splat, no more fighters. A barrage of sanshiki rounds from over the horizon takes 'em out, and a huge part of me wants to scream "bullhockey" at the screen. Turning a battleship's main battery into God's Own Shotgun sounds great, but it actually did more harm than good. The rounds tended to burn out the gun barrels, and not one fighter in real life was ever shot down by one. Then I remembered I'm watching an anime, not a documentary, and immediately calm down. Mostly.
The four fast battleships of the Kongo-class, forming Second Fleet, just happened to be nearby when the Abyssals sprung their trap, so they hustled over to help out. A second later, the other carrier is turned into pudding. Which leads me back to what I asked in Ep01... if the big ships can curbstomp so damn effectively, why not just send them out and avoid losing smaller ships? Ah, but that may be for another day, perhaps. For now, there is happiness and rejoicing as W Island's fleet retreats at flank speed. No need to chase them, that's for sure.
Except there was one last heavily damaged Abyssal attack plane left. It lasts just long enough to find a target, approach from behind and drop. With incredible accuracy, the bomb hurtles towards its unsuspecting target. Only at the last second does the shipgirl look up...
In the real Battle of Wake Island, the Destroyer Kisaragi became the first IJN surface vessel to be sunk by US aircraft, on December 11, 1941. A F4F Wildcat fighter dropped a 100lb bomb on her stern, detonating her depth charges. The resulting explosion shattered the ship, which was lost with all hands. Back at base...
...Fubuki and Mutsuki, having been told that Torpedo Squadron Four isn't back yet, take up position at the entry to the bay, to be the first to welcome them home. Meanwhile, Nagato is reporting to The Admiral that exhaustive searching has found no signs of life. Kisaragi is sunk.
Fade to black, roll credits.
I was wondering which way they'd go with this series, and I guess we've found out. Even though the production staff did everything but hand-deliver telegrams to every viewer of the episode saying "someone is going to die", it still came as something of a surprise that they would follow through. Not just to me, either... fans of the game in Japan apparently threw a twitter-riot after the episode. I guess, in-game, you practically have to WANT to have a ship sunk to have it occur.
So there we have it. The gauntlet has been thrown down. Will the series continue with this? If so, what's the Battle of Midway going to be like?
I've said it before, this series was practically made for me. Cute girls with big caliber weaponry and kinda accurate WW2 history? What's not to like? Really, it's become one of the very few things I look forward to in a week. It's got me hooked, does KanColle, and you'd best believe I'll be following it like a hawk!
Next Episode: more zombies!
What, that would be like having the Space Battleship Yamato firing the Wave Motion Gun right off the bat, rather than waiting until its fighters are all chewed up and the Third Bridge blown off.
Posted by: Mauser at January 23, 2015 02:45 AM (TJ7ih)
This episode, though. I smacks you in the face with a ginormous death flag. "Holy shit death flag!" may have been heard throughout the household at one point last night.
I'm still not sure what to make of this show, but... I'm still watching.
Posted by: GreyDuck at January 23, 2015 08:42 AM (AQ0bN)
Posted by: Riktol at January 23, 2015 04:17 PM (zDlKl)
Though maybe they'll do something like inverting the sides for the Coral Sea-Midway section?
*sort of downer? I mean, in actual history I'm glad the IJN lost. And the closer to a documentary-with-shipgirls the series becomes, the more conflicted I get.
Posted by: ReallyBored at January 24, 2015 11:04 AM (n3V1X)
Posted by: Ben at January 24, 2015 12:59 PM (S4UJw)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at January 24, 2015 08:40 PM (+rSRq)
I would be in awe.
Posted by: Avatar at January 25, 2015 12:31 AM (ZeBdf)
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