Warning: contained within are spoilers pertaining to Kantai Collection -KanColle episode six and episodes preceding. It is recommended that you watch this before reading this review.
Normally for my reviews I use the episode title as the post title but now that I am doing multiple episode reviews this much is a problem because there is no longer a single title for me to use and I am not going to have a title that is several lines long. I suppose that I could have dispensed with the title entirely but instead I thought that I would take the opportunity to be clever.
If you weren’t aware the Hedonic Treadmill refers to the phenomena that when humans are faced with significant events in their life, both negative and positive, given time they will revert to a stable intermediate state. One can considered it to be the psychological reasoning behind the saying “time heals all wounds”. With this much as a title I am confident that we can all imagine what these three episodes mean with regards to events in episode three, though because this review is as late as it is, what happens in these three episodes is common knowledge for everyone watching the Kancolle anime, so much for clever titling.
I feel that a good way of thinking about the events that happen within the Kantai collection anime is to consider a graph (bear with me on this one) of gravity against time, gravity as in severity of the situation rather that the gravitational pull of the planet that is. For the first two episodes we pretty much have a horizontal line. Come episode three this sharply spikes up and then subsequently slides back down at a reasonably genital negative gradient over the course of the three episodes covered in this review. With this much said we can suggest that after episode three, Kadokawa decided to back off after the events of episode three rather than pushing on and creating more tragedy in the lives of the shipgirls. This much is an acceptable tactic in my eyes and the gradual switch back to slice of life events is well executed and avoids creating a widely fluctuating tone.
In episode four we see the fallout for Kisaragi’s death which manifests itself in the form of Mustuki initially being unable to accept the fact that her friend is not going to return and spending all of her free time waiting alone at the docks. A reaction that is of no help to anyone and only serves to make everyone involved in Mutsuki’s life worry. Rather than this being the focus of the episode though it is at point that we move away from torpedo squadron three and together with Fubuki transfer over to a fleet consisting of the ever energetic Kongou sisters and energetic and then some Shimakaze. It is probably safe to say that this change does more for the story than it does for keeping a contestant tone but by the end Fubuki’s temporary reassignment she is in the right frame of mind to confront Mutsuki and by doing so force Mutsuki to confront the truth.
Episode five again contains something of a serious core with the happening of the episode being the reorganization of the fleets. Possibly with Kadokawa feeling it is better to switch now rather than come close to exhausting the pool of things to do with our current regular cast we follow Fubuki as she is assigned to a new fleet consisting of herself, Kitakami, Ooi, Kaga, Zuikaku and Kongou. A fleet with a, quite frankly, ridiculous composition, that would annoy me but I chose to forgive on the fact that this much is acknowledged by its constituent members. The inevitable clash of strong personalities ensues but the fleet is saved from further reorganization by the interjection of Fubuki who, realizing no one else is going to be able to properly lead the badly thought out fleet, takes the lead herself with surprisingly good results, landing her the job of flagship.
And continuing with the trend of reducing seriousness episode six …. well its serious in its own way but if we are considering the original type, it sees lower levels of gravity that the initial two episodes, with the central plot point of the episode being a cooking competition. That is correct, we are watching a show about world war two warships cooking curry!
As previously mentioned these episodes switch up the core characters quite a bit, most notably we see the rise of Kongou as a central character. This much was really not surprising, what with Kongou being a fan favorite and all, but her ascension at this point in time does serve more purpose than simply pleasing the fans. Her never down personality and attitude of doing everything at her own pace really goes a long way to move Fubuki’s thoughts both away from the distressing situation that she finds herself in during episode four and then gives her the resolve to deal with Mustuki. And again in episode five is she helpful, initially providing someone in the new fleet that Fubuki can at least talk to. I must also admit that I do rather like the way that Kongou has been adapted for the anime, her Engrish is not all that grating nor does it feel forced and her energetic personality is amusing while not getting in the way of things. The latter point being exemplified by her actions towards the end of episode four with her saving Fubuki from an incoming shell in a very bad-ass way.
However that said I do have a gripe with what I feel is best described as a lack of urgency that I am feeling from the Kancolle anime, best exemplified by the fact that fact that the Kongou sisters and Fubuki spend most of episode four using contrived methods to find Shimakaze after she flat-out forgot about the mission that she had been assigned to and by the fact that the entire of episode six is devoted to a base-wide cooking competition. Not to say that I dislike these kind of events, if anything the truth is far from that, but I can help but feel that the Abyssal ships don’t really pose much of a threat. A statement that is of small consolation to Kisaragi fans but the fact that several hours worth of delays caused by Shimakaze having no negative ramifications makes me wonder what exactly the Abyssals are doing all this time. Further more we are given no sense of the relative threat that they pose, something that is conveyed in series of Kancolle’s contemporary like Arpeggio and Strike Witches. As illogical as it is that a flying girl with no skirt and a machine gun possesses more stopping power that a warship I at least appreciate the fact that this much is made clear to the viewers rather than it just being assumed that conventional weapons are useless. Yes, we are shown a short explanatory clip at the beginning of the first episode and yes, we do regular strategic updates from sectary Nagato but none of it really engages me in the conflict, at least show me that the war has had some kind of effect on the world.
Though you should not get me wrong, I would not consider myself to not be enjoying myself whilst watching the Kancolle anime. As an ardent consumer of Slice-of-life moe anime I was never going to dislike the fact that we take an episode long break to watch characters that I like mess around cooking and credit where credit is due the execution is good, we have references to in-game mechanics, what I hoped would be the spiritual successor to factory moe with Yuubari wearing wielding gear, gap moe Nagato who made for an excellent punch line by not being good with spicy food and we got though the entire ordeal without falling back on the “British people can’t cook” trope. My stance is not that it is bad, but that it could do more.
Well it is conclusion time again and rather than abstaining from commenting because I am behind I will instead provide some comments. If we go back to the graph analogy that I proposed at the beginning of this post we must consider what the graph will do next, or as this review is behind what it should do. The trend that we have seen up to this point is all well and good provided that we do at a later point peak back up, i.e; something dramatic happening should be in the pipeline. This kind of pattern of; something dramatic happening -> normalization of events -> something even more dramatic happening, is quite a common one and if done well can be pulled off well but I do harbor some slight concerns that we wont see the second dramatic happening, keeping the plot twists tightly reigned in and by doing so making Kisaragi’s final words really rather tragic.