As the Summer 2017 Event came to a close the other day, in between clearing and farming runs, I watched the Kantai Collection movie. It has been released on BD and of course, enterprising folks have gone and gotten that available for the masses. So, let’s get started, shall we?
Note: As usual, I will be summarizing the movie, though I put my thoughts on top this time.
I am, like some that I’ve noticed, content with the movie. Actually even impressed by it. The bar set quite low due to the lackadaisical nature of the anime’s plot, unwilling to decide to follow the Fubuki, Ganbarimasu! 4koma’s light hearted fare or the slightly darker (iirc from second-hand sources) world of Kagerou, Setting Sail! Light Novels. The movie decides to follow-up with the themes of resurrection and rebirth that was barely tied in the last few episodes of the anime.
The Anime’s ending was particularly hard for me to swallow, it being a mashup without truly explaining why Fubuki was special. It was a literal ‘saved by the credit card’ as many fans commented, with the timely arrival of a repaired 5th CarDiv and repair goddesses making their way to Akagi and Kaga.
The movie in a way, patched up the story, and helped pick it up to some respectability. It finally addressed the ‘special’ in Fubuki. It tied in to the mysterious voice heard a few times in the last episode, only once thought to be Kisragi, but really Lycoris-Fubuki. It brought in many game mechanics in terms of combined fleets, event maps, and Abyssalized counterparts. It helped prove and canonized a fan theory that Abyssals are merely the negative feelings of ships of a war long past, come to seek revenge on an uncaring humanity.
Animation wise, it didn’t bother to try and insert CGI where it wasn’t needed, keeping it focused on the aerial combat. Also, RIP fairies, I saw no chutes coming down on those shot down. I do like though that fairies were more prevalent in here, actually showing them move around in the equipment and fighting.
Now, onto the ending of the movie. In terms of game mechanics, it was an event stage, with Fubuki being the gimmick that allowed her to get to the boss and deal massive damage to. It was Lycoris-Fubuki that perpetuated the corruption in the water, and the voice drawing her and the others in. With her being the designated ‘heroine’ of the franchise, and the Ironbottom Sound event still bringing up harmful memories to those players who have been playing since that event, it seems ideal that the main antagonist would be the regret, hate, jealousy, and overall negative emotions of the destroyer Fubuki.
Fubuki Kai Ni, the main point of view character, was the vessel which embodied the hopes, dreams, and lightness of the assembled ships. The hope for an end to the war, dreams of peace, the light to the darkening ocean. It’s why she was never affected by the corruption that had plagued the other girls, causing their weapons to malfunction. And why she wasn’t fully corrupted outright when entering the column of dark light in the middle of Ironbottom Sound.
The movie managed to stay within a story track that was quite believable and stayed consistent. It called back to the Anime without dredging up the anime’s inconsistent direction in my opinion. And frankly, this allowed me to finally come to peace with the animation in the same way Lycoris was able to come to peace when she reunited with her better half. talking with a friend, Saki/panzerfan about this, he pointed out that the Anime’s interpretation was stupid. The movie explained why Fubuki was special in a much better way. That she and the corruption in Ironbottom Sound are the same. That she was needed to bring peace to those waters, and to her Abyssal half as well.
That moment happened when the red spider lilies, the flowers of Hell’s fields in Japanese and Chinese mythology, was blown away, when Fubuki earnestly and lovingly reunited with the other half of her. To give Lycoris her own hope. One could practically see that redemption just by watching the background. The red spider lilies grew, replacing the hellish environment that was the depths of her hatred. The sign of her reincarnation, and when they were blown away, signifying the clearing of the event map, the removal of the massive amount of Abyssal forces, and of the purification of the ocean seas, Lycoris was reincarnated and became one again with Fubuki.
It took a little checking to understand why the hell that was Davy Jones’ Locker became a field full of flowers. That or I’m talking a whole load of shit.
It won’t make up for those feelings of listlessness when I watch the anime, where it was an episodic mess consisting of vague story threads that tended to bounce between grimdark world setting and cute and fluffy slice of life. It took a direction, a direction maybe a few wouldn’t have preferred, but took it and stuck with it.
For that I am quite thankful for it. What would I look forward to in a new season, if it ever comes around? I want it to continue with the movie, probably expand to include the Germans, Italians, Americans, and British. Even if they’re only doing a ‘fleet training battle against foreign shipgirl’ episode, and have Fubuki, Mutsuki, and Yuudachi interact with Libeccio and Z1 Lebrecht Maas; it’d be fun to see Iowa and Bismarck try to one up Yamato; Warspite and Italia interact with the boisterous Kongous.
I’m describing a slice of life, yes, and seems hypocritical when I was just ragging on the plot concept for the anime. But the key word is consistent, don’t just suddenly toss a grimdark thing here or have the last few episodes be a roster fight against epic enemies that suddenly turned super antsy. Give it a good build up, the investigation of the corruption in the movie can be foreshadowed and extended to episodes, and maybe focus the final antagonist to a new Battleship Princess, Yamato’s alter-self, with Fubuki once again being the key and hearkening back to bridging the gap between the two Yamatos by bringing back a ‘purified’ Lycoris spirit or something.
But if they decide to pull a season 1 I think the only highlight I can think of for the animated spinoffs would be the movie, and 6th DesDiv’s curry episode.
In the waters off the Solomons, a cruiser squadron consisting of Choukai, Kako, Furutaka, and Kinugasa in their Kai Ni forms, alongside Aoba and Tenryuu, engage and defeat multiple Abyssal patrols before destroying the transport fleet moored off the coast. From one of the destroyed Ta-class Transport, a body floats to the surface as the sea takes on a red corrupted stain, corroding the shipgirl’s equipment; and they also hear a mysterious voice.
Elsewhere, 1st and 2nd CarDiv, alongside Fubuki Kai Ni and Ryuujou, end their patrol, noticing the red corruption on the surface and hearing a voice as well, to which Fubuki merely responds that it’s alright.
Back at Shortland, Mutsuki makes a tearful reunion with the recovered Kisaragi, the one who floated up to the surface after Choukai’s raid. Before anything else happens, Akagi ushers her to a meeting with Nagato, Mutsu, Kongou, Hiei, herself, and Kaga. They tell her to rest up and as she walks away, they all see the blackened flesh under her robe. Unsure how to approach this, Nagato declares this as a D-class secret and they wonder how to keep it a secret from the others, with Kaga scowling as she ponders this development.
Later, a celebratory feast is held for their relocation to Shortland Islands and of Choukai’s victory the previous night. As everyone eats and be merry, Yuudachi, Fubuki, and Mutsuki talk with Tokitsukaze and Amatsukaze over the mysterious female voice everyone has started to hear from the sea.
Kaga sits in the corner, in her own recollections though remember her own sinking. She recalls snippets of her time as an Abyssal, only to be interrupted by Zuikaku. Zuikaku attempts to make small talk about the case, but she rebuffs the 5th CarDiv carrier, not intending to tell her what they plan to do with Kisaragi. Elsewhere, Yamato watches the waves and hears a voice calling them to “give back”. Fubuki hears this too but is led away from the window.
The next day, Kisaragi seems to not know or remember who Fubuki and Yuudachi are. Elsewhere, Yamato explains being drawn to the voice the night previous, and it is revealed that the voice is coming from the area known as Savo sound, or more infamously, Ironbottom Sound. They are interrupted by Hiei.
At the docks, a docking crane is destroyed as Kisaragi is undergoing an episode. Mutsuki tries to comfort her as Nagato and then Kaga try to ascertain what has happened. Getting another flashback, she tells Nagato that she would inform them. Zuikaku appears at this point, saying that there was a carrier with post-sinking memories. Instead of leaving her in the dark, she brings her along.
Back in the dorms, as Kisaragi attempts to eat, Yuudachi and others notice the bruising of her flesh above her elbows. Kisaragi asks Mutsuki if she could really stay there, to which she reveals that she’s getting memories of her time as an Abyssal, which has led her to attack the base earlier. Mutsuki keeps explaining it away as fatigue.
As Kisaragi sleeps, Akagi and Kaga appear, and taking them aside, explains that she can’t stay here. Even though she found a way back, eventually she’d become Abyssal due to her having sunk. It is that strong desire that keeps from resting peacefully to turn them into Abyssals. They actually have an expert there, Kaga, who explains her memories as one.
As all involved try to grasp with that, the prospect of an unending war is diminished as long as no other shipgirl sinks. Asked about Kisaragi, her only ‘cure’ is to sink her as an Abyssal, making Mutsuki break down again.
The next day, Hiryuu makes contact with a large force of Abyssals and manages to get away with help from 5th CarDiv, while Kongou’s recon group also notes the corrupted sea that not only destroyed the ecology but also started to destroy their equipment. All the while Mutsuki is still in denial, trying to make it right and saying Kisaragi won’t turn. Kisaragi had heard the explanation the night before and was hiding in her room the entire time.
Yuubari explains that anyone who has sailed in the corrupted waters had busted equipment, all except Fubuki. Looking for her, 1stCarDiv finds her being molested by Tokitsukaze when she was down in the dumps. Taking her aside, they get down to the bottom of why her equipment wasn’t damage, and also revealed that some have observed that she had responded to the voice as if to calm it down. Having no other memory of her previously stationed base, it pans out and leaves a lot of speculation.
Back in the dorms, Kisaragi tries to come to terms with what she’s heard, and starts to mentally break down, unable to wash away the discolored flesh on her arms. Mutsuki finds her, and with her hood off, we start to see the horns form on her head. Running from her, Mutsuki stops her, telling her she’d always be on her side no matter what happens.
1stCarDiv reports their findings to Nagato. While it seems coincidental that Fubuki was the only one not to take any damage and for the voices to only start being heard when they arrived in the base, she could have a link that no one else has. This puts Nagato into a precarious position as it isn’t enough to authorize a sortie.
Later that evening, Yamato meets Fubuki at the shore and takes a seat next to her. Fubuki asks if she knew, and Yamato indicates she had an inkling about it. Yamato explains that she knows their life has meaning, stating that their seemingly hopeless and meaningless war has this thing called ‘hope’ to it. A Hope to protect those they care about and end the war.
Nagato has decided on the operation, and addresses those who will taking part in the operation against the enemy in the middle of the Solomon Islands. Their goal is to destroy the source of the corruption located in Ironbottom Sound. She informs them of the corroding nature of the waters, and if they don’t stop them, they won’t be able to stop it at all.
As they get ready, Kaga tells a confident Zuikaku to be careful and prepare for everything. Zuikaku opens a wound by saying if she’s sunk, she can just come back. Kaga stops her, telling her she could never describe the pain and suffering she endured as an Abyssal.
Speaking of which, we cut back to Mutsuki and Kisaragi. Kisaragi keeps herself covered. It doesn’t help that she sees her corruption growing through her reflecting in the tea that she was served. Right before deployment, Sendai (in Kai Ni form), is excited for her role as the recon vanguard, while Jintsuu (also in Kai Ni) tells her to not take unnecessary risks.
As Fubuki and Yamato share pleasantries, considering they’re in the same fleet for the first time, the voice calls out, stronger now and with everyone hearing it. It says “I want to go back. Give back…”. With the sunrise, the operation starts at 5’oclock on the dot. As the deploy, Zuikaku apologizes to Kaga about her outburst earlier, and showing a rare moment of kindness, Kaga smiles, and patting Zuikaku on the head, tells her to do her best. Mutsuki looks back at the base, but is reassured by Fubuki.
With Nagato, Mutsu, Tenryuu, Tatsuta, Furutaka, and Ooyodo heading the defense; First Fleet consists of Akagi, Kaga, Zuikaku, Shoukaku, Haruna, and Kongou. 5th CarDiv will deal with enemies with Kongou and Haruna escorting that fleet. An escort fleet consisting of Chikuma, Tone, Shikinami, Tokitsukaze, Amatsukaze, and Ayanami will be the outer screen. This carrier combined fleet will strike at the approaching enemy reinforcements and divert it to the north.
Flanking that fleet would be Hiryuu and Soryuu from 2nd CarDiv, with Ryuujou, Choukai, Suzuya, Kumano in that fleet combined with Naka, Kinugasa, Aoba, Hibiki, Ikazuchi, and Inazuma will be the 3rd fleet that joins the first in destroying the reinforcements and allowing the main striking force to raid Solomon.
This force will consist of Hiei, Kirishima, Yamato, Jintsuu, Fubuki, and Mutsuki. The fleet escorting this would be headed by Sendai, with Kako, Kitakami, Ooi, Akatsuki, and Yuudachi. Sendai’s force will be the one that opens a path to the main raiding fleet. Meanwhile, Nagato’s fleet will be the defensive fleet for Shortland base.
An increasingly corrupted Kisaragi watches from the island, as the battle starts. With first and third fleet still not finding the enemy, Zuikaku, through Shoukaku, recommend launching more escorts which Akagi and Kaga agree to do so. Just as the two cranes launch theirs, enemy aircraft is spotted and their respective forces engage. Zuikaku saves Akagi with her planes, and is saved by enemy fighters from Kongou. Akagi reports that they’ve successfully drawn away the enemy forces to the north, allowing Yamato’s 2nd Fleet to enter Ironbottom Sound.
Sendai’s vanguard force sails into the corruption, though it seems their rate of decay on their equipment is at a faster pace now. Finding no enemy, they are unsure if 1st and 3rd fleet has successfully drawn all enemy reinforcements northward. Unsure how to continue, Fubuki urges them on, even if she herself is worried. All the while the mysterious voice continues to call to them.
As night falls, Sendai’s vanguard makes contact with an enemy fleet. Before the main fleet could support them, they are set upon by another fleet, this time with two Battleship Princesses. With their effectiveness reduced due to their corroded equipment, Hiei uses her searchlight to illuminate the enemy. This allows Yamato to fire upon them and destroy a princess but Hiei comes under heavy bombardment. Before Sendai (injured at this point) can order her force to support Yamato’s forces, a fleet consisting of a Ne-class Heavy Cruisers and other mid/light ships show up.
Managing to defeat their respective fleets, the battered 2nd Fleet continue on with Hiei relinquishing command to Yamato. Their force is halved though as Kitakami and Ooi escort the heavily damaged girls back. This proves to be difficult as they are set upon by a new, fresh enemy fleet.
Yamato’s group steams on, obliterating fleets that get in their way and making it to the center of Ironbottom Sound. With Yuudachi escorting Kako back, their force now consists of Yamato, Mutsuki, and Fubuki. Four ships to face the monstrosity within the deadly black light emanating from the center of the corruption. Jumping in front of Fubuki, Yamato takes a spread of torpedoes and comes under heavy bombardment. Mutsuki Is about to meet her end at the hands of a Ne-class Heavy Cruiser when Kisaragi, fully corrupted, comes to their aid.
Kisaragi asks Fubuki if she hears it too, and at that moment, the voice calls out again, beckoning to Fubuki as more ships converge on the 2nd Fleet’s position. Urging Fubuki to go on, Yamato states she is the first Yamato-class Battleship, and would not be defeated by mere small fry. She resolves to come back, after confirming who is at the center of all their woes. The trio provide cover for Fubuki, Yamato finally falling as Mutsuki and Kisaragi are left to fend off against multiple light and medium tonnage enemies.
Fubuki makes her way to the pillar of light, and it seems to override the corruption, turning the sea a jet-black inky surface. Finding herself underwater in the corruption, the voice talks to the sinking Fubuki, talking about fighting across multiple eras, seas, and emotions, with each cycle just fueling the growth of regret that spawns the Abyssal forces.
The voice recalls the fate of the original Fubuki, who, despite being the namesake of the ‘special-type’ destroyer, was sunk off Savo Island in the Second Battle of Savo Island/Battle of Cape Esperance/Sea Battle of Savo Island. Responding to Fubuki’s question, the voice informs her that not only has she sunk here, but she will continuously do so. Though due to her strong desires, it was here that Fubuki’s ‘soul’ was split, with part of her remaining, sinking in the ocean, while the other half was reborn.
The regretful memories stayed to be chained to Ironbottom Sound, as the reborn Fubuki became ‘special’ in that way. Not by mere titles or capabilities, but due to her strong desire to continue on. It is due to this she lives, and in a way, continue to influence the lives of other shipgirls. As the alter Fubuki (Lycoris-Fubuki) continues to drone on about the plot, Fubuki watches as silhouettes of her friends, turning into their original ship forms, sink to the bottom before her.
The Lycoris-Fubuki stated that with Fubuki gone to the surface, she herself had grown to hate those above the surface and want to destroy them all. Telling her that it is her fate to stay there with her, continuously sinking all the time, Lycoris-Fubuki entwines her in shadow tendrils, intending to chain her down like she was.
As the corruption starts to take hold, she sees Yamato sink, and realizes that Fubuki was their symbol of hope, and why she split into two. One full of the desire to protect and their hopes for a better future. Seeing this, and the continued fighting of her friends, she breaks free of the chains that was corrupting her, telling Lycoris-Fubuki that it doesn’t have to be this way. Walking towards her, her corruption breaks her legs, only for it to be reflected on her alter-self.
Fubuki embraces her Abyssal self, in the middle of a field of Lycoris radiate, informing her that their hopes are just as strong as their regrets, and that she wouldn’t forget, and asks Lycoris to end the cycle together. The column of black light explodes outwards in a brilliant luminescence, engulfing all combatants in the area, and dissipating the Abyssal forces and de-corrupting Kisaragi, but also in effect sinking the Abyssafied shipgirl once more. Sharing one last tearful moment with Mutsuki, she holds her on her promise to meet up again, her regret on not being able to say goodbye fulfilled, Kisaragi floats away from her sister into the sky.
Fubuki makes her way to the shore, casting off her equipment, and is met by Kaga and Akagi, welcoming and congratulating her. The corruption gone, the three look into the new dawn, and are met with the other girls as Fubuki smiles back.
Back at the main base, Yuudachi and Mutsuki see Fubuki off. At the deployment bay, she is joined by Akatsuki and Ayanami. As she awaits the order, Fubuki is seen holding her chest to tell her unforgotten Lycoris-Fubuki that she’ll bring peace back to the oceans, before she sorties.
In an after credits scene, in a field surrounding a memorial, covered in flowers, Mutsuki reunites with a recovered Kisaragi.