Warning: contained within are spoilers pertaining to Kantai Collection -KanColle episode three and episodes preceding. It is recommended that you watch this before reading this review.
Well this is certainly awkward, there I was saying that as this is simply a tie in anime it can only really be a happy-go-lucky series and wont really be making any waves with regards to story but now I have just about enough egg on my face that you could coat me in flower and bake me for 45 minutes. I imagine that this is somewhat like how episodic reviews of Madoka felt when they reached episode three: “This is a great little Mahou Shoujo series with really tasteful visuals and …… oh….”
All things in order though and, as usual, I will give my commentary on the episode before getting to my thoughts on the episode before discussing this paradigm shift in detail.
Our episode starts off with a brief, pre-opening, recap of the decoration made at the end of episode two, this being that Fubuki and the other members of torpedo squadron three will be playing a major role in the upcoming operation.
This is but a flashback and in the next scene we move to a time much nearer the date of said operation, joining Fubuki, Mutsuki and Yuudachi as the arrive at the mission briefing session. Strangely enough it seems as if this was not done for the last mission, Fubuki’s apprehension providing evidence as such. Before Nagato arrives the mood is casual, with various shipgirls making their cameos and recurring background character, Kisaragi, outlining her friendship with Mutsuki. The mood becomes much more professional with the arrival of Nagato though and the details for the mission are revealed (apparently it is a test for tactics that will potentially be used in a much larger operation). Of all the responses that this announcement produces; Sendai, excited at the prospect of this dragging on into a night battle, and Fubuki, still haunted by her previous performance, repent near polar opposites meaning that Fubuki’s transformation from newbie to veteran is still very much leaning towards the former at this point.
Such a feeling is further conveyed by a very dejected looking Fubuki, once again in the cafe. Fubuki does not really have time for self-pity though as if her, should we say, less than exemplary performance and her zeal have achieved nothing else these have earned her a certain degree of notoriety. Prompting various gifts and well wishes to come her way (Blueberries? In preparation for a night battle? Now where have I seen this before?). Wishes of “good luck” and Expectations carry a specific kind of weight to them though and, still concerned about being a burden, Fubuki wants to go for some last-minute practice but is stopped by Mutsuki who tells Fubuki she needs to rest and that the effort she has put in thus far has improved her sufficiently, feelings that put Fubuki’s concerns to rest.
Later Yuudachi confirms this much in their dorm room and Fubuki take the time to thank Mutsuki for her kind words (accidentally leaving poor Yuudachi feeling like the third wheel). This conversation also provides the setting in which Mutsuki is able to explain her relationship with Kisaragi and that she sees her helping Fubuki the proper thing for her to do in this situation.
Having gone to bed and awoken with high spirits Fubuki ends up going out for her morning practice regardless, still a bit clumsy but she is looking noticeably better than she did at the start of last episode. For Fubuki’s part she may believe that she is still dreaming though as not only is she doing well during practice but she has revived an unexpected visitation for Akagi-senpai who also has pre-battle advice and sentiments that she wishes to share with Fubuki. A dream it is not though and all is revealed when Akagi directs attention towards a semi-hidden Mutsuki and lets on that it was thanks to her that this meeting happened. Fubuki is very much moved my her friend’s ability to think of exactly what she wants (though I don’t think that it would have taken much thought) but the conversation becomes much more foreboding with Akagi’s advice to make sure to thank those important to you, for they may not be around tomorrow, a somber piece of advice that is unmistakable foreshadowing (But we don’t need foreshadowing in a happy-go-lucky slice of life series do we? …. right?).
With Akagi’s blessing we transition to a scene moments before launching with the various light cruisers and destroyers that have been assembled feeling confident about their chances. The time before launching gives Mutsuki a chance to see Kisaragi again and with Akagi’s words in mind, Mutsuki goes to say a heartfelt thank you to her friend. Time is short however and thanks to Mutsuki’s nervousness it looks like things might take a while so rather than rush her, Kisaragi gets Mutsuki to promise her that she will tell her what she wants to say when they get back. And so with ominous foreshadowing practically oozing from my screen like a thick viscus liquid, the two fleets launch.
Initially things look to be going well, the fleet arrived at their designated location undetected and begin searching for the enemy fleet using type 0 scout planes and organizing patrols. However as time goes on the Sendai sisters being to worry as to where their scout planes have got to. Yuudachi does not share their concerns, though not because of a lack of focus but because Mutsuki is making use of the time to say her thank yous to her in a manner that has Yuudachi rather confused as first. Things are cleared up with an explanation of the mornings meeting with Akagi and Yuudachi starts to return the sentiments by is abruptly cut off by the massive change to the situation. A change that prompts me to wonder just who is going to end up being responsible for this massive puddle of liquid foreshadowing upon my desk.
Torpedo squadron three have been located and a hostile counter attack is headed straight for them leaving no real choice but retreating and regrouping with squadron four.Such a move is anticipated though and the surprise arrival of two abyssal light carriers forces an engagement in which the third fleet is very much on the back foot. Squadron four joins the fight, outflanking the approaching enemy light surface fleet but fail to relive their comrades who are being harassed my a swarm of fighters and bombers. The spirits of the third fleet are low, especially Mutsuki’s who is at this point making declarations to Fubuki that they simply must survive this. Make it they shall, but only by the skin of their teeth and the new-found combat potential of Fubuki who saves Mutsuki from a dive bomber just as her life starts to flash before her eyes.
A spread of torpedoes takes down one of the carriers and heavy support in the form of the four Kongou sisters arrives in time to deal with the second as well as seeing off the swarming abyssal plains with a barrage of type 3 shells.
So I guess that is that … wait what? Though the battle is over and the threat seemingly extinguished we cut to the perspective of Kisaragi, relived that the battle is done but unaware of the crippled but still airborne bomber behind her. It is said that old tigers sensing their end are at their most fierce and this much is perhaps the case this time for it only takes one direct hit from bomb is all that it takes for Kisaragi to be sunk, expressing her last thoughts as she slowly goes to the bottom. Her friends and comrades unaware of what has happened.
Blissfully unaware of what has transpired Fubuki and Mutsuki arrive back at the navel district to a crowd of shipgirls keen to offer complements and praise. Fubuki is ever so happy to have not let everyone down but it does not take long for Mutsuki’s mind to wander to the subject of the pre-battle promise she made to Kisaragi. Unable to spot her friend she inquires as to whether or not the forth fleet is back yet, they aren’t. The delivery of this news is accompanied by a change in tone, a change that Mutsuki does not pick up on for her mind is not able to even consider the possibility that her friend has been sunk and instead she runs off to a location where she will be able to watch their arrival. With Mutsuki out of earshot we lean that everyone knows all too well what has happened but no one has the heart to tell Mutsuki.
Well if nothing else this episode proves that Kadokawa have guts. I was really rather confident in my expectations for this anime and assumed that the drama would be on much the same level as Strike Witches but I suppose that calling it before the third episode was more than a bit preemptive of me. Though with Kadokawa showing us that they are not afraid to kill off characters it also neigh on confirms the fact that there will be subsequent deaths in the show else the death of Kisaragi in this episode will be something of an abnormality that sticks out as “just a thing that happened”. More over it is likely that deaths wont be limited to just the destroyers else it will basically categorize them as not but cannon fodder but as to who they go after is a guessing game at this point, determined by just how deep they are prepared to go. Imagine the kind of response that would be generated my killing off certain fan favorites; Kaga? or Kongou? Well this much is just speculation at this point but after this episode I am heasitant to say things one way or another.
I guess I should take the time to consider my own favorite shipgirls chances shouldn’t I: Yuudachi needs to go to her Kai Ni phase and kick someones face in so I guess she should be fine. Kumano hasn’t made an appearance and isn’t likely to unless it is just a cameo so she too should be fine. As for Shoukaku …. she has horrendously bad luck, exists in the anime and is not one of the most popular girls which makes her … expendable!?! NO KADOKAWA! DON’T KILL OFF SHOUKAKU!