KanColle is another anime that follows the recent trend of making weapons of war “moe.” In this case, Kantai Collection is based upon a free-to-play online game. The basic premise is that these girls have the soul of a warship. I found it difficult to watch more than two episodes at a stretch because it made me want to play World of Warships instead. This show is probably of a very limited appeal. If rather uncomplicated “moe” is your thing, with little bits of action and drama thrown in, then this’d be for you.
Purpose: Poor. What were they doing? At its very basic level, it’s either an advertisement for the game or more of a fan-service aimed at fans of the game. I’m leaning towards latter. The overall feel is something to the effect of, “hey, watch the girls/ships you’ve already gotten to know playing around!” They throw in many concepts and situations that are clearly from the game, but, without that context, are pretty meaningless. I’m not arguing that they failed at their purpose, quite the opposite. The premise itself is weak. What is odd is that they do manage to create some dramatic sequences and have bits of darker drama hinted at in there.
Characters: Not Really Good. There are quite a bit of characters to keep track of. Unfortunately, it really only limits them to occasional cameos. The characters themselves are fairly nonexistent, more like very one-dimensional set-pieces. If you think of the “one-gag character,” the character that you know for a singular response or way of acting to everything, that’s just about each and every character in the anime. There are little bits of character development for the main character that ends fairly quickly. Similarly, there are glimmerings of potential behind other characters that only show up for a moment near the end.
World: Bad. The problem is that it’s not a standalone world. It requires a familiarity with the concepts in the game. They don’t really explain anything at all. Even if you accept the basic premise of girls as warships and even if you accept the basic purpose of fighting an undescribed enemy, it still doesn’t amount to much.
Storytelling: Not Really Good. It’s not necessarily the storytelling’s fault here. When there isn’t much more than scraps of a plot, you can’t really tell the story. That said, they did a fine job when there was a definite story to tell. They made some good emotional moments and occasionally conveyed a sense of danger for the girls. That aside, much of the storytelling was absorbed in random frivolities.
Plot: Poor. What plot? There was a vague overall purpose – defeat the enemy. That aside, the plot was shattered into more episodic arcs – one or two at a time. Most of the plots can be described as “here, watch these girls be silly.” When it did have plot, usually involving naval combat of some sort, it was quite empty. Rather, there were more holes than plot. Things just happened. It was done in such a way that there was no appropriate buildup or trajectory, really nothing to indicate that the events were happening for any reason other than just because. The result is that it seems like the situations were thrown in at points to create situations, rather than situations naturally evolving based on previous events and the world acting.
Pace: Weak. Surprisingly slow, both for its “moe” moments and its action sequences. Pacing was broken up in odd ways that ended up tipping over itself. It really gave it a stop-start feel that ended up looking like an obnoxiously played game of red-light green-light.