One of the things I love about anime is how premises that would seem utterly ludicrous in Western media casually sprout multimedia franchises in Japan. KanColle: Kantai Collection is a great example. Its premise revolves around “fleet girls” – young women possessing the spirit of historical warships that grant them the ability to fight as anthropomorphised naval vessels – and their battle against an “abyssal fleet.” It’s spawned a number of videogames, manga, an RPG and this anime series, with a film soon to come.
Unfortunately, once you get past the undeniably unique conceit of the show, there’s not much to recommend it. KanColle is less interested in the fleet girls’ battles – rendered with cheap-looking computer augmentation – than the breezy drama occurring in their training camps. Pandering unapologetically to a certain section of their fanbase – the cast is entirely female, and friendships frequently have romantic overtones – the series fails to justify itself to anyone who isn’t already a fan of the Kantai franchise. Like many a mediocre anime – and perhaps understandably, given its videogame roots – the characters are thin recreations of familiar archetypes. That’s perhaps sufficient to justify an action anime, but it’s not enough to support the light dramedy attempted here.