March 23, 2015

Kantai Collection Ep11

So it has come to this.  Midway.  We've known all along that it must be the climax, and after all the waiting, it's here.  But will it be a repeat of history as we know it, or will the shipgirls make their own way through the timey-wimey stuff?  Only the Production Staff knows for sure, and they ain't tellin' yet.  It's a shame some aren't giving the show a chance... I suspect we've got some surprises ahead, and the production staff has earned themselves enough credit to be allowed to take their shot.  I'm still betting against the historical ending, but it would be stunning if they pulled it off.

Last episode ended with Fubuki getting her remodel and being named as Akagi's personal escort.  We begin this episode with a... flashback?  Wha?

Akagi is practically dragging Kaga as explosions occur all around them.  Both are badly damaged, quivers empty, flight decks broken, stockings torn, hair a complete mess.  It's clear Operation AF has gone terribly, terribly wrong.  History repeats, it seems.

Only Hiryu is left standing, while the killing blow for Soryu is about to land.  There's nothing to be done for it.  Abyssal fighters crowd the skies, each looking to drop a carrier, even a damaged one.  Finally, the time has come.  History repeats, it seems.

Akagi gets a quick glimpse of her impending doom.  Well, I suppose we know how this is all going to go down now, don't we?  What's more, her final words are "I'm sorry.  Please scuttle me."

I discussed the problems with this tableau back in the Ep02 writeup.  Now we get to have it in context.... and with the addition of torpedo trails in the water, to boot.  Just as they hit, the screen goes white.  Shortest episode ever!

I should have known better.  The screen goes black at the end, not white.

Akagi jerks awake, Kaga sleeping peacefully at her side.  Does anyone smell lilies?  Because I smell lilies.  She's had the same dream... nightmare, let's not mince words... every night since Operation MI was decided.  I sympathize with her; I had the same problem when Rio Rainbow Gate!'s OVA was on the verge of being released.  Admittedly they didn't involve being torpedoed by friendly destroyers, but still.  In any case, she'll only have the nightmare once more: there are 22 hours until Operation MI.

Nagato is suffering from stress and indecision.  She knows it's ruining the morale of Naval District... everybody wants desperately to know who's being assigned to the mission... but she can't make the call.  None of the combinations feel right.  And then in comes Akagi with a request.  Meanwhile...

...Foobie is drinking heavily at the Cafe.  Milk, sure, but she's drinking it aggressively, the way an ascended destroyer is supposed to, darnit!  Like a baws!  Seems like now that she's Akagi's personal escort she's taking on some of the resource-hogging carrier's attributes.  The other destroyers look on with expressions of amusement, amazement, envy and bemusement.  Just as it appears that half the destroyer force is about to participate in the Milk Jug Challenge, Nagato gets on the tannoy to announce the order of battle for MI.

See if this lineup sounds familiar: Akagi.  Kaga.  Hiryu.  Soryu.  Chikuma.  Tone.  Yup, those six were actually part of First Carrier Striking Force at Midway, historically.  Less historically but understandably, Kongo and Hiei are also part of the force.  In reality, Kongo and Hiei were part of the Midway Invasion Fleet, while Kirishima and Haruna were with the carriers.  Since Kongo is a major character, though, and they're all sister ships anyway, why not move 'em around?  Anyway, also included is torpedo cruiser Kitakami, destroyer Yudachi... and Foobie.

A second fleet is also being sent to Base AL in the north in an attempt to confuse the Abyssals as to the main target.  Finally, a few ships from the Naval District will be sent to Truk to join Yamato, who will then join with the carriers to blow the baddies out of the water.  Okay, we have ourselves Midway all over again... hoo boy.  Still, the lineup makes sense.  Fast escorts, powerful carriers, good firepower all around... so why is Nagato still so worried?  I mean, other than the whole "sending comrades out to combat where they could be sunk" thing that all commanders tend to go through?

Akagi is hearing voices.  Maybe not literally, but that's what it comes down to.  Her nightmare, of course, but other things as well... they tell her to go some way she does not wish to go, to repeat something that has happened before.  Like fate has has its talons sunk into her.  And she wants to fight that.

Though she'd never admit it to Akagi, Nagato feels it as well.  From the moment she decided that AF was the code for the Abyssal Base MI, she's had no doubts, like something inside her was saying that they had to go there.  Almost like the decision was being forced upon her.

Even worse, she wonders... "why do the we exist?"  Mutsu has no answer, which is good.  There's no way a good commander would want to hear that they exist only as part of a game played by people with a twisted view of military history.  Shipgirls?  Dear god, any self-respecting warship would recoil in horror from the very thought.  Meanwhile...

...two shipgirls have a talk.  Akagi gives a small pep talk to Our Heroine, who turns out not to need it.  She thanks the carrier for satisfying her dream of being her escort, and if anybody knows why she's fights, it's Fubuki.  It's for Akagi, for the girls of Torpedo Squadron 3, for Merry and Pippin, for the Naval District.  Her people, her comrades, her friends... exactly who soldiers have fought for since days immemorial. 

It is Fubuki's words that get Akagi to realize that she no longer has any doubts.  If fate there is, she'll fight against it with all her might.  If her only opponent is mere Abyssals, well... Gaishu Isshoku.  Good timing for her doubts to be expelled... there's only nine hours until Operation MI begins.  The time passes in the blink of an eyecatch.

The mission begins, the two fleets sailing forth together then separating into MI and AL.  We get a quick vignette between Oi and Kitakami, operating apart for the first time ever... Oi heads north, Kitakami east.  And then, over at Truk...

...Battleship Yamato, heading out!  Interestingly, it seems she's not alone... you can't see them clearly in this picture, but there appears to be two carriers with her, back in the doorways.  Here's a shot where it's obvious that's it's Shokaku and Zuikaku.  If this is really what's happening, we've got a break from history, as the Kaku Sisters were unavailable for Midway in real life.  Finally, when Yamato sails forth we see the silhouette of yet another shipgirl hanging out on cliff.  Those who know these things say that it's Taiho, which suggests the possibility of a sequel maybe.  Meanwhile...

Yorkie and... something else... brood and scheme.  Or scheme and brood.  My fingers apparently can't type the word "scheme" without first spelling it "shecme."  I don't know why this is.  Meanwhile, out in the Pacific Ocean somewhere...

...all is not well.  Recon planes can't find Yamato's fleet, who are supposed to join up with the carriers for the Big Attack and are overdue.  Amusingly, cruiser Tone's catapult for recon planes is broken.  For reference, in real life the Yamato's fleet was to join the carriers if the longed-for Decisive Battle looked imminent.  Of course, this never happened.  Still, back in Kantai Collection world, Akagi has a decision to make.  Wait for Yamato to arrive, despite being in enemy territory?  Abandon the plan and push on for AF?  She makes a third choice instead.

Leave Foobie and Kongo behind in case Yamato arrives, and push on with the rest of the fleet.  It was at this point I suffered a concussion from banging my head on my computer desk.  It's quite possible that this was the worst decision Akagi could have made.  I mean, the ADMIRAL HIMSELF said that Fubuki was going to be decisive in the upcoming battle.  Akagi asked for Fubuki to be her personal escort for the coming fight.  Foobie trained long and hard for this.  And you've just decided to ignore all of that and leave her behind?  Dear merciful heavens, they deserve to lose this fight.  Foobie tries to disagree but can't... it's Akagi, after all.  And so the decision is made: we're gonna split the party!  Sometime later...

...recon planes reveal some bad news.  The island is defended by an Airfield Princess, which will blow the crepe out of the Yamato or any other dreadnought that gets within range, but appears to be weak against air attacks. 

Akagi barely hesitates: launch the first attack wave.  Soon enough, a massive force of planes is winging its way toward AF, surprise guaranteed.  Akagi thinks to herself, "this time, I'll win."  As you can imagine, the result of the attack is predictable.

It appears that Airfield Princess used the F2A Buffalo as well.  What defensive craft she gets into the air are dealt with in short order, and soon bombs are raining down upon her.  Observation planes quickly radio back, however: another attack wave is needed.

Akagi immediately orders the second strike rearmed with bombs and launched.  This is duly completed with great speed.  Another break with history... in real life, of course, the second strike never got off the flight decks.  Akagi is even more sure than before: they will win.  Meanwhile...

...high above and unspotted by the fleet, Abyssal eyes have found the carriers.  There is no hesitation on the part of the Bad Guys.

Three Abyssal carriers, including Yorkie, begin pumping out fighters and bombers as fast as possible.  As the saying goes, "history doesn't just repeat, it stutters."  No, I'm not sure what that means, either.  Back at the rendezvous point...

...Foobie's got a bad feeling about this.  Even Kongo's feelin' a little apprehensive about the whole thing, and that's like you or me running for the hills screaming in terror.  Yet orders are orders, right?  Returning once again to the carriers...

...things could be going better.  First the Abyssals actually manage to get a torpedo attack off, then...

...the dive bombers come.  Immediately, Kaga and Soryu are damaged.  Akagi is disabled, her bowstring snapping so she can't launch arrows anymore.  Then, as if things couldn't get any worse, we get another break from history as an Abyssal surface fleet appears and begins firing.

This time, even Hiryu is hit.  In something of a poignant moment, Kitakami is dancing around the outside of the fleet, picking off torpedoes while waiting for her partner Oi to get the other half... except she isn't there.

"Oh, that's right.  Heheheh."  Boom.  And then, finally...

...a bomb is dropped, headed right betwixt Akagi's eyes, and she thinks, "maybe you can't defeat fate after all."  Fade to black as someone screams her name, roll credits.

Holy crap.  There's still a lot of ways this can go... there's been enough breaks from real history to give us any number of escapes from the carrier deaths... but they've also left their survival wide open as well.  The last five minutes of this episode were surprisingly intense, far worse than Kisaragi's death, yet only Kitakami seems to have been lost so far, and we're not even sure about that.  The Production Staff deserves a gold star for this one.  Serious cliffhanger ending, mixed with just enough suspense over the way they're going to head?  Yep, that's doing the ending the right way. 

One episode left... will Foobie save the day?  Will we lose Akagi?  Will Yorkie rule the waves or will Yamato dish out tons of fury, 18.1 inches at a time?  We'll find out in a few days! 

Next episode: more zombies!  More Yorkie!  More Foobie!  And Les Nessman

Posted by: Wonderduck at 02:21 AM | Comments (15) | Add Comment
Post contains 2007 words, total size 16 kb.

1 This is SO in your wheelhouse...  You have got to be featherless by now - or well on your way.

Posted by: The Old Man at March 23, 2015 07:05 AM (o6+UC)

2 "It's all just a little case of history repeating..."

I admit, I'm keen to see how this ends up. How brave are the writers, really?

Posted by: GreyDuck at March 23, 2015 08:55 AM (3m7pZ)

3 How brave are the writers, really?

I think, considering what we've seen from them, the answer is "brave enough."  The question is whether the Powers That Be will let them do it. 

That answer is "no."  It'd kill the game dead overnight.  The Production Staff could do it.  But they won't be allowed to.

That's a pity.

Posted by: Wonderduck at March 23, 2015 09:21 AM (jGQR+)

4 Now that we know what the nature of the "ship's souls" that are at the heart of the fleet girls is, I'm rooting for a major deviation from Midway.  There are some interesting questions left that I don't think will be answered:  are any of the fleet girls aware of the actual history of their namesakes?  Only Akagi and Nagato are shown as having some indication, but they clearly don't understand.  Do the Abyss also know any of this?  Or are they operating under the same influence as the fleet girls?
It's a shame this series had to be tied so tightly to the game; the writers actually have something good here.

Posted by: Ben at March 23, 2015 11:15 AM (S4UJw)

5 Now that we know what the nature of the "ship's souls" that are at the heart of the fleet girls is...

Do we?  I think that's still up in the air...remember, Akagi's dream doesn't match up to either Real Life History or what's happening in the show.  Nagato's having a feeling.  Don't get me wrong, the "ship's souls" theory is a sound one and is probably correct, but the events of this episode doesn't confirm it.

Posted by: Wonderduck at March 23, 2015 12:19 PM (jGQR+)

6 You know how discovering that the Yamato wasn't in one piece of the ocean floor didn't affect how the wreck was depicted in Space Battleship Yamato?  I think that's what we're getting with Akagi's dreams:  the insinuation that the Akagi was attacked and scuttled; how it actually happened is unimportant.  Beside which, you're looking at how a "ship girl" is interpreting what the "ship's soul" is telling could a ship girl take that kind of thing literally?

Posted by: Ben at March 23, 2015 12:49 PM (S4UJw)

7 You know how discovering that the Yamato wasn't in one piece of the ocean floor didn't affect how the wreck was depicted in Space Battleship Yamato?

SBY debuted in 1974.  The wreck of the Yamato wasn't found until 1982, and wasn't confirmed until 1984.  Before then, it wasn't known that the ship was in pieces.

Posted by: Wonderduck at March 23, 2015 02:29 PM (jGQR+)

8 Well, yeah.  I meant like in the movie.

Posted by: Ben at March 23, 2015 03:40 PM (EdhH3)

9 2199 would probably be a better example:  they disregard the actual disposition of the wreck to portray something similar to the original series.

Posted by: Ben at March 23, 2015 05:13 PM (DRaH+)

10 Great, now I'm envisioning a weird cross between Kancolle and All You Need Is Kill. Groundhog Midway...

(Which... would allow for The Bad End without having it as a Bad End, come to think of it.)

Posted by: Avatar at March 23, 2015 09:03 PM (zJsIy)

11 2199 had the pieces used as camoflage for the new Yamato they were building.

Posted by: muon at March 24, 2015 06:25 AM (XIprt)

12 Yes, but the wreck was depicted as mostly intact and upright.  The guns were even fired.

Posted by: Ben at March 24, 2015 08:34 AM (DRaH+)

13 So, would you say that after 11 episodes, the series has finally reached its Midway point?

Posted by: Mauser at March 25, 2015 02:38 AM (TJ7ih)

14 No, I wouldn't.

Mauser, your puns are really pushing it.  Please don't.

Posted by: Wonderduck at March 25, 2015 10:53 AM (jGQR+)

15 Okay.

Posted by: Mauser at March 26, 2015 03:07 AM (TJ7ih)

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