January 31, 2015

Kantai Collection Ep04

It was only a week ago that Kantai Collection took a dark and unexpected turn, leaving us to wonder just how the rest of the series is going to go.  Now we get to find out, and I'm thrilled to no end!  Of course, I'm one of the few as more and more it appears that people are less than impressed with the show.  Longtime reader Ben has an interesting discussion about his dissatisfaction over at his place, based at least in part on an ongoing e-mail conversation he's having with me.  He's given the show somewhat more thought than I have... this should come as no surprise to longtime readers of The Pond.  Over-analysis is not my forte.  Indeed, it would probably prove counterproductive to these writeups.  That's not the case for all shows, of course.  High School of the Dead greatly encouraged deeply introspective thoughts, for example... mostly of the "Dear God, why doth thou torment me so" variety, it's true, but still.  But enough of this jibber-jabber, let's get to the good stuff!  And by "good stuff", I mean the anime.  Provisionally.

Mutsuki is pulling Hachiko duty, waiting for her sister to come back from W Island.  If I was feeling particularly cruel, at this point I'd link to a gif from that episode of Futurama.  Yeah, you know the one.  I am not, however, a cruel duck, no matter how people may portray me.  Well, that and I started bawling like a little baby while I was looking for just the right gif to link to.  I'm sure my neighbors upstairs think I'm a morose drunk, crying into my beer at 1:30 in the morning.  No beer, no drunk, just Seymour.

The seasons change around her.  Spring turns to Summer, which changes to Fall.  The snows come in the Winter and the thaw indicates the return to Spring.  Through it all, Mutsuki sits on the quay, waiting for her sister to come home.  Through the passage of time, the base changes, the shipgirls stationed there change, Admirals come and go, but Mutsuki waits.  One day, her eyes get heavy, she rests her chin on her knees, and she goes to sleep.  And she meets her sister again.

...oh.  Holy crap.  I'm sorry.

Secretary of the Fleet Nagato is telling herself and anybody that'll listen that the W Island operation was a rousing success.  She's right, of course: for the cost of a single destroyer, the Abyssals lost two light carriers, a couple of other ships, and the island base itself.  If she repeats it enough times, she might even get to believing it.  Mutsu simply points out that her sister is lying through her teeth and leaves it at that.  If you want an omelet, you've gotta raise the chickens and turn a pig into ham first.  Mmm... ham.  Not a big fan of eggs, though.  Blame it on my paternal grandmother... when I was but a new hatchling, Momzerduck left me with her as she went to work.  While we watched Romper Room and The Ray Raynor Show, Grandma always made scrambled eggs for breakfast, liberally dosed them with ketchup and made me eat the entire friggin' plate.  Every single day, scrambled eggs with gallons of ketchup.  Every.  Single.  Day.  To this day, I don't eat eggs standalone.  Which is a shame, as I love hollandaise sauce.  A couple of years ago, Perkins had this Mexican-style Eggs Benedict, with chorizo and a slightly spicy hollandaise... it was great, as soon as I popped the eggs and then disposed of the remains.  You may be wondering just exactly what all of this has to do with Kantai Collection, and you'd be right to do so.  My answer is quite simple: have you ever read my blog before?

On the off chance that this is someone's first exposure to The Pond, hello random visitor!  Glad to have you drop by.  Why not stay a while?  There's plenty to read, some of which doesn't actually suck.  While you're trying to figure out what's good and what isn't, the destroyer classroom is having some difficulty coping with the loss of their friend.  Attention spans are limited if not completely non-existent, nobody can remember what they just learned, and half of them have taken to hard drugs to ease the pain.  One of these allegations is not true... can you figure out which one it is?  If you said "hard drugs", you're right!  There hasn't been a syringe made that can penetrate a destroyer's hull, thin though it may be.  Still, Mutsuki appears to have discovered oral medications, for she's all chipper and suggests going to the Cafe for a parfait after school.  My guess is that the Cafe is where she scores her stuff.  Everybody else might be going, but Fubuki can't... she's been summoned to the Admiral's office.

It appears she and Shimakaze, the one with the bunny-ears and belt-like skirt, have been assigned to another mission, one requiring high speed.  Clearly Nagato is looking forward to the upcoming briefing.  Just as clearly, I'm discovering that I'd be willing to watch an entire episode of Mutsu doing nothing in particular.  Did I...?  Yup, I sure did.  If you're new to The Pond, you may very well have made a mistake.  Anyway, yeah, new mission and stuff.  Clearly it's not going to be just two destroyers, because that'd probably be a great way to lose two destroyers ("We're facing a battleship, three heavy cruisers and half-a-dozen destroyers... who can we send?"  "Well, Fubuki can't sail without falling over, and Shimakaze would die if she had to concentrate to breathe..."  "Perfect!").  So who's gonna be joining them?

Kongo.  Who promptly molests Oyodo, onetime flagship of the entire Japanese navy, mistaking her for the Admiral in her haste to make an entrance, and I've discovered that no matter how hard I try, I cannot for the life of me spell the word "entrance" without screwing it up three times.  I need an adult.

The destroyers are perplexed.  Nagato is either having the first symptoms of a cluster headache or attempting to push her own fingers through her skull.  As opposed to her pushing someone else's fingers through her skull, which wouldn't be strange at all.  Mutsu is adorable.  I don't think anybody ever thought that term could be applied to a battleship.

Also joining in on the expedition will be (left to right) Kirishima, Hiei, and Haruna, sisters to Kongo who managed to sneak into the room while she was doing her whole "burning love" schtick.

You thought I was joking, didn't you?  It's a little known fact that all Japanese ships were equipped with large sheets of wallpaper, on the off-chance that (for example) Musashi could find herself in the lobby of Chicago's Drake Hotel.  I admit, it would take some doing, but that's what the wallpaper was for.  It would be terrible if all the effort involved went to waste because a 74000ton battleship didn't have wallpaper.

Fubuki is realizing that she's about to go to battle with these four.  Nagato is having doubts about this whole "proud warship for the Emperor" thing and trying to figure out if 16" guns would be a hindrance while bagging groceries.  Mutsu's smile is like the light of a thousand happy suns.

Mission briefing!  The Southwest Resource Zone is a treasure trove of important warfighting materiel... bauxite, steel, fuel, cheese sandwiches... and thus is a huge target for the Good Guys.  Unfortunately, the same resources appear to be needed by the Abyssals, except they don't like cheese sandwiches.  Instead, they go for bauxite, steel, fuel and brussel sprout ice cream, which right there is enough reason to oppose them and everything they stand for.  Anyway, the Bad Guys are bringing a fleet led by two battleships to the party, and since there's a squall over the battlefield aircraft carriers will be useless.  Thus are the fast battleships, themselves no slouches when it comes to firepower, called upon.  Shimakaze and Fubuki come along to do destroyery things.  This plan is too complex for Kongo to understand, alas... it falls to her smarter sister Kirishima, and you can tell she's smarter because she wears glasses, to explain it to her: "we rush in and blow things up."  I'd like to point out that the voices for all four Kongo sisters are performed by the same voice actress, Nao Toyama.  Remember this for later.

Fubuki is even more worried.  The battleships are joyous.  Nagato is wondering if it's too late to schedule a vacation at Bikini Atoll.  Mutsu is this far from howling with laughter.  The mission begins tomorrow morning.  After a scene that shows that Mutsuki is still in denial about the loss of her sister last episode, the morning dawns and... Shimakaze is missing!  The general consensus is that she's forgotten about the mission entirely.  From everybody's reaction, this is not the first time this has happened.  Maybe not even the tenth time.  Not to worry though, Kongo has a plan to draw her out of hiding!  Of course she does.

"Hey, guys, let's put on a show!"  Well, sure, a concert put on by four singing and dancing battleships is guaranteed to bring a recalcitrant destroyer into the light!  Please note I said "singing".  Now remember what I said about the four of them being voiced by the same person.  This show has some ridiculously versatile voice actresses.  Versatile script writers might be useful too... I'm just sayin'.

Proving my point, Naka-chan, the "idol of the fleet" has espied a threat to her status and levied a challenge against her heavily-armed opponent.  I wanted to issue a Mikan Watch Alert, but it turns out that beta-waffle already noticed it.  As someone who searches for specific objects in anime myself, keep up the good work, DiGiKerot.

While Kongo and Naka throw down in their ultimate battle, Our Heroine, Kirishima and Haruna are left to their own devices to get our delinquent destroyer.  Considering their plan is a picture book of Kongo, a basket, a stick and some string, I feel quite strongly that none of them will be returning from the upcoming mission. 

It isn't until Kongo's insistence on teatime, perfectly understandable since she was constructed in England, that Shimakaze comes out of hiding, drawn to the irresistible odor of fresh-baked scones.  In this, I have complete and total understanding... if this was a civilized world, scones would be the universal breakfast food, along with bacon and/or sausage.  Patties, not links.  Sausage links should be bun-sized and served at Miller Park after being marinated in cheap beer for hours, then grilled in onions.  And before anybody gets all het up about the use of cheap beer, hold your outrage.  I've tried brats in good beer, great beer, imports and domestic, and I've tried swill, pig's eyes and all the colors of the rainbow.  Believe me, the best thing you can do to cheap beer is boil it away.  And yes, Pig's Eye Pilsner was a real thing (and is, though it's a different company now).  God, I love Minnesota.

Soon enough, it's time to get serious, or at least as serious as a show about anthropomorphic warships can be, and off they head to engage the Abyssals.  Indeed, it's raining cats and dogs, truly horrid weather for flight operations.  Soon enough, the Bad Guys make their appearance.

Oh god.  Battleships that listen to Joy Division and The Smiths and think that raccoons have the right idea but need more eyeliner and wonder if it's possible to somehow make black blacker.  It's quickly decided that the Kongo sisters will out-happy them, while the two destroyers will distract the shaaaaarks.

Quickly, everybody is engaged, even Shimakaze's teeny fleet of Turret-kuns.  These things are quasi-independent of her, which allows the guns to fire away whilst she concentrates on torpedo runs.  Seems effective enough... and let's face it, My Little Turrets Can't Be This Cute.  Fubuki gets in on the act, takes out a destroyer on her own but finds herself separated from the main fleet... and draws the attention of one of the Abyssal battleships.

As you can imagine, that particular battle is one sided.  A single volley leaves Our Heroine battered, broken and seeing images of Mutsuki sitting on the quay, waiting for her sister to return to the Naval Base.  Steadily, the Abyssal battleship closes its shellfall patterns in on the stricken destroyer until it's inevitable... the next rounds will hit, and no destroyer made can take that amount of damage...

...and then Kongo shows up, deflecting the killer shell with her ownbadself as Woobiebuki watches on in amazement.  Then as the importance of what just occurred hits her, Frodo begins to break down completely, barely able to speak and tears rolling down her face.

D'awwwwwwwwww.  I don't think Imperial Japanese Navy battleships had the ability to huggle a destroyer in real life, but in this show, it's hugglin' time!  Fubuki gets a quick grip on herself while the rest of the fleet begins The Great Curbstomp.

Yay!  Time to head back to base, new territory securely in the hands of The Good Guys!  Huzzah!

On the quay, Fubuki's damage finally gets through Mutsuki's armor, if you know what I mean, and she finally breaks down.  The two cry like you'd expect they would in a situation like that, as we fade to black.  Roll credits.

Rollercoaster of an episode to say the least.  Starts out sad, turns very weird, then grim, then sad in a happy way.  I think it was a good way to follow-up the end of Ep03, but I can't help but think that it's setting us up for something in the future.  I hope I'm wrong, but again, I can't wait to find out.

Next episode: more zombies!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 02:54 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
Post contains 2312 words, total size 18 kb.

1 That "Kongou Desu" video... tried to break my brain, there. Whaaa.

The Kongos (as it were) (did I ever send you that album? because I should) all voiced by the same actress? DUDE. I mean, sure, in a cast of dozens you've gotta save money somehow, but wowza.

I've not had breakfast yet, and now I'm craving scones. Daaamn youuuu! *shakes fist in air*

When Fubuki spends half the episode being the skeptical voice of (something resembling) reason, you know the show's wandered off into some weird territory.

Is it just me, or did the reunion on the pier have some... odd... animation of body movements going on? A certain amount of rhythmic action that almost, but doesn't quite, suggest something else is happening. I was tilting my head going, "wait, what?" a bit, there.

What an odd little show. I don't dislike it, but I'm definitely sticking with it mainly to see what bizarre shenanigans they get up to next at this point.

Posted by: GreyDuck at January 31, 2015 10:42 AM (AQ0bN)

2 did the reunion on the pier have some... odd... animation of body movements

Along with the expression on Frodo's face, it did make for an unfortunate moment or two, yes.

Posted by: Wonderduck at January 31, 2015 11:28 AM (jGQR+)

3 Yeah, I keep right on top of KanColle as soon as possible. Thanks for thinking of me, though

Posted by: DiGiKerot at January 31, 2015 12:31 PM (vrgFm)

4 I liked this episode.  It put the show's reality back firmly in fantasy, which is a much more comfortable location than somewhere between fantasy bizarre-alternate-reality.  I got what I expected from the Kongo ships.  Not what I would have done myself, but what I expected the writers to do.  The voice acting is a real strength, although it looks like the animation budget is running out, fast.  I stepped through some of the frames in the fight scene and it's ugly.  Of course you would expect less budget after the first episode, but...maybe the dvd/blu-ray will clean things up.

If they kept the show firmly in the realm established in ep. 4, I think I would like it a lot more.  I'm gonna have to rewatch 1 - 4 and try to make up my mind what's going on with the writing.  4 was pretty good, but 4 was also almost entirely written by the pre-existing dialogue in the game.  The anime writers just took that, turned it up to 11 and ran.  I'm still inclined toward lazy, but there is a nagging question of "how could they not be doing some of these things on purpose?"

Posted by: Ben at January 31, 2015 06:53 PM (S4UJw)

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