March 07, 2015

Kantai Collection Ep09

There are moments in life that an adult has to deal with, whether they want to do so or not.  These moments are called "obligations," and not following through with them is a very bad thing.  At work, in one's personal life, and even in something as floofy as a blog, one's word is your currency throughout your life.  That is why I had to give FedEx hell when their delivery man decided that dropping my package at the leasing office for Pond Central's complex was fine, as opposed to even trying to deliver it to my door.  Sure, there was nothing preventing me from going the four blocks to the office to pick it up... except for the principle of the thing.  I apparently got the delivery guy in serious trouble, but c'mon.  Do Your Job.  Follow through on your obligations. 

Which is why I am here right now writing about the newest episode of Kantai Collection when I'd rather be doing nearly anything else.  I thought last episode was fluff, and lord was I was right.  It did have the advantage of being wonderfully Mutsu-centric, and that right there made it fun for me, so it had that going for it.  Which was nice.  This one, though... from everything I had suspected was going to occur, this one was making my stomach churn.  As it turned out, what I suspected was going to be bad wasn't... but then the show took an unexpected turn.  So why am I still muttering here instead of actually doing the writeup?  I dunno.  Just because I follow through on my obligations doesn't mean I enjoy it all the time.  Well, so it goes... being an adult sucks sometimes.  And with that thought ringing through your mind, let's get on with the show!

We open with the command ships gathered together, discussing the results of the latest simulations now that the entire fleet is gathered at Truk.  Much like Mutsu said last week, the odds are overwhelmingly in their favor if they push Operation MO now.  Nagato, no dummy herself, agrees and will speak to the Admiral about it right away.  Things are wrapping up when another shipgirl rushes in... there's a problem with one of the destroyers!

Someone has moved Pippin's lightness slider waaaaay far to the right.  She's all glowy and washed out.  The other girls are somewhat taken aback by this, of course... small errors aside, Kantai Collection has been a well-animated show, something like this just shouldn't happen.  The usual reasons for her glowing are trotted's true love, it's aliens, it's bad fuel so she might explode.  Her humors are out of balance, we'll need to apply the leeches.

Fortunately for everybody, including us (leeches, ugh!), Nagato and Mutsu arrive and while visibly surprised, clearly recognize what's going on.  They tell Pippin to go to the factory right away... all the destroyers look concerned.  Remember that game mechanic I talked about some episodes ago, where you can use unneeded ships for spare parts and improvements to other vessels?  Is P-for-Poi about to be sent to the breakers???  Does Akagi need repairs, and if so, do we get to see shipgirl-on-shipgirl cannibalism?

What's wrong with me?

Sometime later, Frodo and Merry come to the factory to check on their friend... or take her remains home to her family, one of the two.  Do shipgirls have family other than sister ships?  What's the most important part to return to the next of kin?  "This is one of her propshafts... and her rudder."  Man, my brain is working the grim side of the street today.  You know how in anime families have a small shrine to family members who have died, there's a picture of the loved one?  Would they use a picture of the shipgirl, or of the actual destroyer?  And doesn't this factory seem like a wonderful place to convalesce?  Good lord.

A plaintive cry of "Poi!  Pooooiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!" draws Frodo and Merry to the last room in the factory, concern writ broad on their faces and in their voices.  What horrors have been perpetrated upon their friend?  Why would something so terrible occur to a hard-working destroyer like Pippin?

Oh.  After a few moments of mistaken identity ("Are you her sister?"), Frodo and Pippin finally realize what's happened... Pippin's gone through puberty! been upgraded!

She done got buffed.  Her chest guns are larger, her legs are longer top speed is increased, her outfit's been changed, her eyes have gone from green to demon red and apparently she's become slightly more ditzy than before, too.  So, other than everything being different, she's still exactly the same.  From what I've learned from the game this version of Pippin is some unstoppable death beast, able to defeat just about any Abyssal ship without breaking much of a sweat.  She even has her own nickname, "Nightmare of Solomon", which is a tribute to the way the ship fought at Third Savo and is also some sort of hat-tip to the Gundam 0083 series.  And then...

...Shimakaze says something that doesn't involve speed or being fast for the first time all season.  While everybody else is ooh-ing and ahh-ing over Pippin, she points out that it really should have been Fubuki who got promoted, what with her being a flagship and everything.  Foobie just looks a little surprised for a moment, then the gears in her head start turning... "hey, why wasn't I remodeled?"  And then I began to wonder if Shimakaze isn't just some underground sh*t-stirrer, jerking with people because you can get away with that when you're the face of the franchise.

Shortly thereafter, Foobie must confront her worst fears as a teeny destroyer is trapped between two ginormous appetites, and I just noticed that "ginormous" doesn't come up as wrong in spellcheck, but "spellcheck" does.  I don't think I added ginormous as it's hardly a word I use that often, which would suggest that Firefoxy added it themselves.  Anyway, afraid of being eaten by either Yamato or Akagi, Our Heroine quietly mopes, until the carrier points out that the point of all this isn't to be promoted or recognized, but to defeat the Abyssals, and The Foobster is doing just fine at that.  And then she pats her on the head.

If we needed any more proof that the Fubuki-class of destroyers needed hull strengthening, check out that screenshot.  The way her keel is bending... completely unnatural.  Just looking at her makes my back hurt.  Her so-called "dancing" is all celebration, of course... Akagi-sempai noticed her!  Inspired by such praise, she decides to go for a run, but is summoned to the Secretary Ship's office along with Pippin.

There, new orders are issued.  Effective in the morning, Pippin is assigned to Carrier Group 1.  She's excited, and Foobie is clearly envious... her?  With Akagi?  Not me?  What in the Blue Hells is going on here, Admiral?  Then comes Frodo's orders.

Effective immediately, Foobie Force Five is disbanded.  Frodo is relieved of her duties as flagship.  She is reassigned to the original Naval District.  During her run, she bumps into Kongo and breaks into tears and sobs.  She believes she must have screwed up somehow, and the Admiral is punishing her.

The next morning, she walks off the harborside and is never seen again.  No, she had horrible dreams and is feeling terribly sorry for herself... until Sendai walks up to her and tells her a story.

A story about a destroyer who saw the effort a Special Destroyer was putting into improving herself, and succeeding so well that she was made a fleet flagship.  Because of this, the destroyer started doing extra training in the morning, thinking that if her friend could do it, so could she.  And again Foobie is reminded that this isn't about personal glory, but for victory over the Abyssals.  Tears are shed, friendships are rebuilt, all is right with the world.  Except Foobie still has to go back to the main Naval District.

Merry and the aviation cruiser Mogami are joining her, as they're also escorting the carriers Soryu and Hiryu back to base for reasons.  They'll provide cover and recon along the way, since the Abyssals are still a threat.  I just want to point out that for most of this scene Mogami stares right at us, the viewer.  That's fine, I always like to be acknowledged, but geez, you've got two others right there, would it hurt you to nod or something to them?  As the little fleet sails away...

...Nagato and Mutsu are interrupted by Oyodo; a message from the Admiral.  Operation MO is cancelled, and all ships are to return to the Naval District at once!  Nagato is suddenly quite grumpy while Mutsu is glorious.  Meanwhile...

...somewhere out in the vast trackless depths of ocean, Yorkie launches a brace of planes, destination unknown.  She doesn't look happy, though.  Probably never looked overly pleased about anything before she was shot in the face by Fubuki, and taking a 5" armor-piercing round to the head ain't going to improve your disposition much.  Actually, for most of us, it'd pretty much blow us to smithereens, so she's doing a lot better than most... just a neat blue fire in the eye, and you can fix that up with some Visine... it gets the blue out!

The planes overfly Foobie Farce, but there's nothing they can do... the Abyssals are way outside of AAA range.  As they approach the Naval District, it becomes perfectly clear what the target was.

The Naval District is in ruins.  No building escaped the wrath of the Abyssals, from the cafe to the repair baths, all is destruction, salted earth and let no stone stand atop another.  Unlike Yorkie, it really was blown to smithereens.  Fortunately, everybody that was left behind escaped injury... it seems the Admiral stayed behind to direct defenses until all were safe.  Until the control room took a direct hit.

The survival of his chair, however, means that life can go on in the Naval District.  Repairs are begun immediately, and with the return of the main fleet, progress rapidly, if somewhat haphazardly. 

Company meeting.  Fridays are Hawaiian shirt day, so, y'know, if you want... Nagato addresses the assembled fleet, explaining that repairs are progressing nicely, and once important facilities like the factory and docks are completed, the Fleet will execute a counter-offensive against the Abyssal carrier group.  This meets with ugly rumbles of approval.

While the Admiral is still missing, and did anybody think to search the nearest hospital, it's not like he can just soak in the baths and recover from a perforated duodenum, humans don't work that way, his chair is still present.  Further, they found the Admiral's notebook, filled with poorly executed doodles and cheetos dust.  Oh, and a set of orders and a mission plan.  And the first order listed?

"Destroyer Fubuki is to be scrapped remodeled and upgraded."  Cue determined look, dramatic lighting, fade to black, roll credits.

So a modified Doolittle raid puts us right back on course for Midway after the Production Staff ignored the "out" they had from last week.  However, I think I see what's going to happen.  From what I gather, the upgraded Foobie has a very very high anti-aircraft rating, higher than some battleships, in fact.  She'll be assigned to CarDiv1 when they head off to the Final Battle, and it'll be her stalwart defense that clears the field of Abyssal fighters, allowing Kido Butai to sink all the enemy save for Yorkie, who'll be crippled.  Foobie will track her down and scuttle Yorkie with a brace of torpedoes, and the nightmare of Midway will be avoided.

Having said that, I'm on record as being an awful predictor of story direction, so take all that with a grain of salt.  I'm still hoping, at least a little bit, for a bloodbath.

Next week: more zombies.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:17 AM | Comments (15) | Add Comment
Post contains 1993 words, total size 15 kb.

1 Man, Doolittle never did that much damage. These Abyssals know how to bomb! (Of course it's easier when you can do low-level bombing because you're utterly indifferent to the survival of your little demon-plane thingies...)

There's now essentially zero chance that we're not careening towards Midway. I honestly think that your scenario is pretty likely - Fubuki is already running off concepts that weren't developed until afterward and it's quite probable that she's just a better admiral than Nagumo was at this point. Also, it takes a heck of a lot less time for the carriers to spot and launch a strike.

It's entirely possible that they're going to do Midway straight up, which would still be pretty damned courageous of the writers and would be deserving of a tip of the ol' hat.

Finally, there's one additional alternative. Something that would be awesome beyond the Actual Midway Ending. It's a damned long shot, something I'm only thinking is even possible because of meta knowledge about the game and even then it's not so much "knowledge" as "wishful thinking plus educated guessing". But it would be so awesome I don't even want to say it, in case it jinxes it!

Posted by: Avatar at March 07, 2015 03:24 PM (a38fD)

2 It's entirely possible that they're going to do Midway straight up, which would still be pretty damned courageous of the writers and would be deserving of a tip of the ol' hat.

I think it'd be the bravest move I'd ever seen in pretty much any mass media production, period.  You think Anno's hatemail after NGE's ending was bad?  That'd be nothing in comparison to what would happen here.  I've said all along that I'd love to see it occur, though I don't think it will. 

Ep10 will be upgrading Foobie and preparing the fleets.  Ep11 will be sailing to Midway and the opening of the battle.  Ep12 will be the middle and end, both of the battle and of the show.  OR Ep11 will be all of Midway, and Ep12 has them picking up the pieces of the defeat.

Posted by: Wonderduck at March 07, 2015 03:50 PM (jGQR+)

3 It's *possible* for the production staff to do Midway in a straight forward manner, but I think it's highly unlikely.  Plus, I would bet we still have one or two episodes of filler.  If they don't then, this will probably be a short series.  I don't see how they could pull of three straight episodes of battle...they haven't put enough detail or budget into running a full half-episode of battle so far.

Avatar, if you have some insight from the game that may indicate what's going to happen, I would put money on that option.  So far, that's been the answer to everything:  what happens in the game.

Also, is there any way you can share the info without feeling like you're jinxing the show?

Posted by: Ben at March 07, 2015 04:06 PM (S4UJw)

4 Oh, I didn't mean -in- the game. I do know that they registered the trademark for Kancolle over here several months ago, though.

Posted by: Avatar at March 08, 2015 02:18 AM (a38fD)

5 It's a damned long shot...

they registered the trademark for Kancolle over here...

Just as Yorkie the Abyssal looms over the disabled Foobie Fleet, Yorktown-chan and Enterprise-chan pop up and beat her into the waves, allowing Frodo to get in the final shot.

Yeah, introducing the US Navy to the game would be... interesting, if nothing else. 

Posted by: Wonderduck at March 08, 2015 09:36 AM (jGQR+)

6 From the game perspective, it solves the "gee we need new ships" problem for a long time. Obviously they've already more or less got the whole IJN in there. They brought in the German fleet, but... that's kind of limited for the obvious reasons. Bringing in US ships (and maybe even some Aussie or UK ones?) means they are unlikely to ever run out.

And think of the in-joke opportunities! You think that Kaga and Zuikaku spark off each other, wait until Kirishima and San Diego are in the same room...

Of course the simpler explanation is that some company is working on a translated Kancolle version and that's it. Not bad news in and of itself!

Posted by: Avatar at March 08, 2015 03:56 PM (a38fD)

7  Bringing in US ships (and maybe even some Aussie or UK ones?) means they are unlikely to ever run out.
A light at the end of the tunnel.  Hope is reborn!  That would be so much more awesome than just doing Midway right...

Posted by: Ben at March 08, 2015 05:53 PM (JP4JT)

8 Yeah, introducing the US Navy to the game would be... interesting, if nothing else.

(I alluded to this briefly in a previous comment, but I'll flesh my ideas out here.)  As odd, and maybe a bit disturbing, as it seemed to me to see a series with WWII warships anthropomorphized into attractive women and teenaged girls, what was really disturbing me about this series was the Abyssals. The Abyssals are (a) hideous beyond words, and (b) (apparently) playing the role of the US Navy; this IMO sails uncomfortably close to the ugly portrayals of Americans in Japanese WWII propaganda.*  Having US shipgirls join in the battle against the Abyssals would ease my mind greatly on that account.  (However, it wouldn't surprise me--or bother me, for that matter--to see some milder stereotyping, i.e. the US shipgirls turn out to be all brash, vulgar, overconfident, tall, blonde-haired, and blue-eyed, with huge appetites and even bigger boobs.)

*Mind you, ugly propaganda (with a side order of casual racism) was typical of that era in history, and the Americans certainly dished it out as well as taking it.

Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at March 08, 2015 05:56 PM (gt7kt)

9 Sorry for the double-comment, but I hit post a little too soon, and didn't think that last bit through.

However, it wouldn't surprise me--or bother me, for that matter--to see some milder stereotyping...

It wouldn't necessarily bother me to see some milder stereotyping, of the we-tease-you-because-we-like-you sort; if they stray too far to the America the Boorish side of the Eagleland tropes (caution: TV Tropes link), then I'll get annoyed.  (And "brash" and "vulgar" may have been a bridge too far on my part; let's say "boisterous" instead.)

Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at March 08, 2015 06:42 PM (gt7kt)

10 I made the mistake(?) of going to an imageboard site and I discovered that apparently there are more abyssal characters, who where listed as something like Airfield-chan and Seaport-chan, or something.  The tagging was not entirely clear....

Frankly, after seeing some of the fan art, getting wiped out at Midway would be a blessing.

Posted by: Mauser at March 09, 2015 12:21 AM (TJ7ih)

11 It's all in the artists' renditions of them. They range from "Cthulhu saw them and now needs a change of pants" to "d'awwww". (The "Northern Princess" seems to range into d'awwww territory really easily - little cute girl playin' with her captured Zero, heh.)

Hoping I haven't gotten anyone's hopes up. I still agree with Duck that Japanese Victory at Midway is the most likely result at this point.

Posted by: Avatar at March 09, 2015 03:29 AM (a38fD)

12 Seriously, not even the Arrow pilots are safe on the imageboards. I couldn't look away, the horror, the strangely arousing horror!

Posted by: Mauser at March 09, 2015 07:06 AM (TJ7ih)

13 Huke did the designs for the Abyssal ships, and they tend to be creepy-sexy. He also used his motif of a flame (usually blue) coming out of the left eye that he did for Black Rock Shooter, which the anime recreated for the Wo-class aircraft carrier above.
There's debate about what the Abyssal fleet is. The Wo-class carrier has Abyssal Hellcat fighters and Hell Divers like the Midway Princess, but despite being named after USN aircraft, they weren't used at Midway. The Battleship Water Demon seems to be a dark reflection of Nagato, down to her sinking lines. There are even Abyssal torpedo cruisers, and only the IJN used that type. If the theory about them being ships from both sides that have become lost to anger and grief is true, then the anime might have the Kisaragi return as an Abyssal ship (maybe the Destroyer Princess) and the ship girls find some way to redeem her.
Mention of the Yamato reminds me of something. Why haven't the IJN fans commented on the new Space Battleship Yamato series? There were positive reviews of the live action movie here and on Chizumatic, but not the new anime. They even hextupled the number of female characters (from one to six) so it's not such a sausage-fest.

Posted by: muon at March 09, 2015 08:11 AM (XIprt)

14 Speaking for The Pond, I have no interest in that anime.  The movie was a fun way to kill a couple of hours, but I have no intention of devoting a major slice of my life to a series that I've never liked in the past.

Just because the Yamato is in it, doesn't make it of interest to WWII historians.

Posted by: Wonderduck at March 09, 2015 08:39 AM (jGQR+)

15 This one just didn't make a lot of sense to me. Every few minutes I found myself thinking, "This must mean something to people who play the game, huh?"

Ah well. Sticking with it out of morbid curiosity, at this point...

Also: Of all the doodles from that source you could've picked. Ouch, I need to restock my brain bleach supplies now.

Posted by: GreyDuck at March 09, 2015 09:41 PM (AQ0bN)

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