From what I can tell, Azur Lane is to Kantai Collection what Love Live! is to Idolmaster — a newer, similar series that’s currently giving the predecessor a run for its money. I’m kind of stunned to see yet another property turn military hardware into anime girls (because come on, it’s weird) but at the same time, the business behind it does make sense. KanColle was huge not too long ago (and it’s still pretty popular); it doesn’t surprise me that someone would chase that money. Also unsurprising is that we’re seeing an anime adaptation for Azur Lane. Hence this First Impressions post.
I’m going go on a whim and say that story is not this anime’s ambition. For one, it very shamelessly admits that it wants a slice of KanColle‘s pie. Aside from the cast being cutesy/sexy versions of WWII warships, Azur Lane also uses the same exact plot element that this kind of army was made in response to an alien invasion. To its credit, this is kept as backstory and not the present conflict like it is in KanColle. Instead, we have a recreation of the Allies and the Axis opposing each other albeit with all the historical complexities replaced with 2D girls shooting and hitting each other. Maybe you can do something clever or nuanced with this but by description alone, I’m more inclined to doubt that.
Presumably, where this show will live or die lies in the charm of its characters. That’s fine; as this blog has clearly proven, I can be perfectly content when an anime goes for this approach. And I won’t lie, the character designs in this show are pretty darn good (so is the animation for that matter). That said, Azur Lane might want to dial back with the speed of its introductions. I’m not kidding, this show introduced a little over a dozen characters in its first episode and chances are, it’s not even done. I know this is based on a gacha game so therefore, the cast is large but you can’t expect me to remember names, let alone personalities, when they all show up in rapid succession.
Honestly, I don’t even know who the protagonist of this show is supposed to be. I want to say it’s Enterprise (Yui Ishikawa) since she narrates the backstory and makes a dramatic entrance during the premiere’s big fight scene (she’s also on the show’s key visual). It could however be Javelin (Nozomi Yamane); she’s one of the more prevalent girls in this episode and she’s also the closest to having a semblance of a personal conflict when a girl she befriends is revealed to be a member of the Axis. Say what you will about KanColle but that anime did establish from the get go who’s at the center of things.
Azur Lane feels shallow (pun not intended). The premise is too ridiculous and is likely very simplistic in execution. The characters are too abundant and unless the next couple of episodes flesh them out, the only thing that stands out about them are their looks. There isn’t much incentive for me to keep watching but perhaps because there isn’t much substance to work with (again, pun not intended), I will watch a little more before I make a final decision.
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