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Dated 4 February 2015: Kantai Collection for the casual landlubber

Kongou
Kongou sure knows how to make an entrance.

Everything I know about Kantai Collection (also known as Kancolle) comes from secondary sources. Specifically, I have absolutely zero first-hand knowledge of the popular game. Of what I do know, I gleaned probably eight percent from anime heads on The Twitter, various bloggers, and IRC drones.  The remaining 92% I learned from hydrodynamic fan art. Some of these illustrations, no doubt, potentially promote misleading characteristics of various Kantai Collection boats, if not the franchise as a whole.

Shimakaze
Apparently nobody has had the heart to tell Shimakaze
that she mistook a shampoo hat for a skirt.

Through the first four episodes, it's apparent some knowledge and enthusiasm for the game is necessary in order to fully appreciate the Kantai Collection anime. The show is wall-to-wall cameos clearly intended to stoke ardent fans of underappreciated boat girls. The characters also occasionally holler non sequiturs that are obviously catchphrases from the game's voiced components. Some of the game mechanics also found their way into the show despite not making a whole lot of sense from a narrative standpoint. Still, the project seems well done and there's a palpable sense of affection that comes across so that I at least feel as if people in the shipyard care about the fleet.

Dated 16 March 2015: Idols need boats, idols need boats, idols idols idols idols idols idols idols need boats

Oodoyo
Ayako Boat needs more lines.

I enjoy both Kantai Collection and The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls, and I still look forward to the new episodes each week, but neither show is particularly successful at getting me invested in the characters. This is surely because both shows are adaptations of already successful games and are intended to cater to established fans. However, this means cramming both shows with simply too many characters that never get developed. They end up existing simply as catchphrase-spouting bits of scenery.

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Dated 22 November 2022: Collecting Kantai with the ships you have

Shigure
I like Shigure because she has nice hair.

Is it necessary to watch the first season of Kantai Collection before watching the current anime? No, but it turns out the answer is no for an atypical reason: Because it wouldn't help. This is to say that my ignorance of Kancolle as a franchise—despite having watched the first anime nearly EIGHT YEARS AGO still leaves me with an incomplete understanding about KanColle: Itsuka Ano Umi de (KanColle: Let's Meet at Sea). I've also watched the movie. That doesn't help, either.

Mogami
I might have recognized you if you had more fan art.

Through three episodes (it started late), there's nothing I remember of the previous Kancolle anime that would assist me with the second season. What would really help is a greater understanding of the video game. I would probably also benefit from being more familiar with the actual ships and the naval battles they joined. As it is, I am less invested in the show and its events than I think it wants me to be.

Shigure
Looks humid.

This is not to say that the anime is confusing or difficult to follow, though. The plot so far is straightforward and the characters' motivations are not unclear. What I'm missing are ties to the characters themselves, since I basically don't know any of them. Shigure, the lead, I only know because an old anime blogger used to post about her regularly. She seems okay, but I don't expect to be as moved as I might otherwise be if the season really does turn out to be about her survivor's guilt.

Kongou
Are you going to die this season?

Of course, I don't genuinely know if an emotional connection with these boats is really going to be necessary to get the most out of the long-awaited second season of Kantai Collection. The opening episodes have had a much more serious tone and higher stakes than what I remember of the first season. This could change, but we're quite a distance away at the moment from curry battles and friends who poi all day and POI POI POI all night. Kongou did briefly appear in the most recent episode, though. Maybe her BURNING LOVE remains unquenched.