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KanColle Kantai Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read

KanColle VisualThe past will save us through cute girls gliding on water.

What They Say:
Fubuki is a Special Type Destroyer who has just been assigned to the Naval District. With a grand total of zero battles under her belt, she’s sure to sink fast under the pressure of expectation. Luckily, she’s grouped with Torpedo Squadron Three, and they’re ready to support their new comrade. Together, they’ll prove they have what it takes to defend the ocean and win it all for humanity!

The Review:
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo with a new English language dub in 5.1, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series is a healthy mix of dialogue and action where the action component has some solid directionality to it as the characters flit across the water fighting. It doesn’t make up a huge piece of each episode but when we do get it there’s some good design to it, bumped up nicely in the 5.1 mix. The bulk of the show works a stereo design otherwise that’s pretty fun and engaging with multiple girls around on screen most of the time interacting from different directions. Some decent placement works throughout and depth as well, more so with the action side of things, and the end result is a solidly fun mix that captures the show just right. We didn’t have any dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by Diomedea, the project has a very good look about it with lots of bright colors, smooth movement in the high-action sequences, and a good sense of quality and money put into it so that it stands out well. The encoding takes all of this and delivers a great looking show where the colors are solid and vibrant throughout, especially important with the sky and sea blues that dominates, and the character designs maintain a solid feel while in high action. The quieter scenes show off the details more, especially with some of the backgrounds, and the end result is a very appealing looking show.

The packaging design for this release brings us a slightly oversized Blu-ray case that holds the discs on a hinge and the interior walls for the two formats that are included. The release comes with an o-card slipcover that gives us some brighter and more colorful designs than the main cover itself as it works the familiar key visual of the main group of characters all bundled close together. The left side features a nice strip with the logo and its symbol with a good design to it all, even if I generally dislike the sideways text pieces. The back cover carries over the design from behind the logo and we get a large gray block that gives us a clean look at the summary of the premise and a few decent sized shots from the show. The extras are clearly listed and the technical grid is small but easy to read with good color design to make it so here. While there are no inserts included with this release we do get a reversible cover that has two different character artwork pieces from the Japanese covers to delight fans who want more options.

The menu design works a basic approach that’s functional and looks good as we get the split screen approach where the navigation is along the right and a key visual piece along the left. The visual is a familiar one of most of the main girls together set against a sunset sky over the sea so there’s a lot of color and variety and nods to most of the main characters fans like. The navigational panel works a nice blue hexagon design with the large logo along the top while below we get the navigation basics for selections. It all loads quickly and easily as a top level menu while the pop-up menu keeps things simple and just as easy to navigate.

The extras for this release are fairly straightforward as we get a few commercials and promos alongside the clean opening and closing sequences. We also get the fun little Japanese warnings from the start of the episodes broadcast in one collection.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the game of the same name, KanColle is a twelve episode anime series that aired in the winter 2015 season. Animated by Diomedea, the show has a pretty good design about it that made sure we knew it wasn’t an on the cheap budget show but one with some good money put into it. Having not seen the simulcast this was my first experience with it and it mostly just made me remember other shows. There’s plenty of familiar in most shows but this one has strong echoes of things like Arpeggio and Strike Witches that you want to just make it a comparison within that subgenre. That’s not what we’ll do but it’s easy enough to say that if you either like or hate those types of properties you’ll likely feel the same with this one.

The series revolves around a time where humanity is facing off against a race of creatures known as the Abyssal, humanoids of some sort from the deep that have taken over the waters of the world. They’re able to skim across the surface like ships themselves and have elements of ships as part of their design, such as aircraft carrier decks as arm armor, various command stacks behind them, and headgear that pushes it all as well. With a dark gray look for a lot of it they’re pretty menacing in their own way as you get several of them at times racing across the waters, making it easy to understand why they rule there and have pushed mankind back. The downside to all of this, and the main failing of the series for me, is that there is no discernible antagonist to work against. They’re a mythic force to be opposed and we have some skirmishes and a big battle to finish off the end run of the season, but that’s the extent of it. No true villain to root against or be engaged with, leaving us to…

The girls. The show revolves around a new arrival in the navy with Fubuki, one of many young women that possess the spirit of historical naval vessels. Hence the series title meaning Fleet Girls. These will have more meaning for those that are more invested and knowledgeable about Japanese naval ships, though there are easy ones to know about from history, but little of it resonated with me since we have such an expansive cast and they tend to talk more about their ship type than anything else, such as destroyers, aircraft carriers, battleships and the like. There’s something like a couple dozen ships in human possessed form that operate here as we see Fubuki getting to introduce us to the naval base and how it operates and outside of some that might connect better for viewers because their own particular “fetishes” for character types, it really does just stick to Fubuki and one or two others higher in command that you connect with.

That’s not to say it’s not fun, it’s just more superficial that other shows of this nature than I expected it to be. The show works through the familiar routine of Fubuki being introduced to how everything works, being part of a shakeup in how the naval groups are put together, and finding herself rising in interest by some of the higher ups quicker than she might have expected. It’s more of a cute girls doing cute stuff series than I expected to some degree but it’s balance with some occasional skirmishes with the Abyssal and the training itself, reminding me a bit more of the Sound of the Sky series. The learning curve is familiar but the show also knows how to have a fair bit of fun, with some bathing material obviously in the mix but a far more enjoyable than expected expanded beach episode that was so wrong in how good it was. But, as I’ve felt before, if the best material of a series is a beach episode then you don’t have a whole lot to say about it.

That said, I did find myself enjoying this more than I expected just for the creativity of how the naval elements are applied to the girls. The character designs when they done the naval gear is really neat to see play out with the different types that there are, particularly with the aircraft carrier types that have the old design of extended wooden style platforms that they have attached to their arms. Yeah, the pieces that are behind them are kind of goofy but I’ll be damned if they don’t make it work. Which, in turn, made me a bit more frustrated that we didn’t have a strong opponent or series of opponents for them to play off of. The weak opponent side makes sense in that the show wants to be the cute girls things with a military bend to it but by having a big couple of episodes toward the end, always a familiar story device, that feels unnecessary, it just reinforces the lack of a strong narrative threat to carry it all forward.

In Summary:
I had a basic idea of what to expect going into this series while not having seen it before and I can’t say I really had any surprises with it. There are some really great creative flourishes at time for this particular subgenre that exists in the anime (and model) realm and they did a great job of bringing it to life with a strong visual display and animation quality. It just lacked what it needed for me to take it to a better and more enjoyable level, instead opting to just coast on the basics with a superficial element to it. Funimation’s release of this Crunchyroll series doesn’t really show much in the way of Crunchyroll on it besides a nod on the package and a pre-load trailer so it’s essentially done up like most Funimation releases, which keeps things nicely consistent in the right ways. Fans of the show will definitely enjoy this release, especially in exploring the sprawling dub cast if you enjoy dubs, as it’s treated pretty well for the most part.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, Videos, Commercial Collection, Japanese Warnings, Textless Opening and Closing Songs, and Trailers

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Funimation/Crunchyroll
Release Date: June 27th, 2017
MSRP: $64.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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