Without a doubt, Azur Lane stands as the odd one out among the anime I’ve chosen to cover this season. Bokuben S2 and Babylonia all seek to adapt from their original material but Azur Lane is in a weird position where it’s an adaptation but it’s taking its own spin on things off the foundations laid down by the game. This is because the game’s plot hasn’t progressed since its release, apparently explained by the developers that their efforts were focused on making every server caught up with content. So while noble a reason, the game’s plot has been sitting at Chapter 3 out of 13 released chapters and the plot has so far been just a reenactment of WW2’s Pacific Theater while Events have delved into the other half of the plot involving alternate timelines and the baddies known as Sirens, who tamper with history and give hand-outs to other enemy factions to use their technology, all the while cackling in the dark about how everything is going “as planned”.
So the anime has a lot of leeway in how they want to proceed since there isn’t much to adapt in the first place outside of establishing what the game has laid out. Instead of opening with Operation Rheinübung and having Hood getting sunk and the playing out to Midway and beyond, the anime establishes that the four big fleets united to fight off the siren threat whereupon they entered peace-time. Sometime after, the Japanese decide to cut off this peace and fights back against the alliance between the American and English ships.
Every shot shown in the promotional trailers have culminated with Episode 1 so it’s really up in the air with where things go from here but the first episode did its part to quickly establish the four fleets, give an incredibly quick explanation to why sirens were bad, and showed how these characters fought. Most notably, we see how differently the animation decided to take things such as Kaga creating a kaiju sized fox, with ship riggings no less, and Unicorn actually riding her not-plush unicorn. The PVs already gave away Enterprise riding her own Dauntless planes so I was less surprised with that part. The fight scenes had CG which is to be expected but the one thing I am glad about was there wasn’t as much 3DCG compared to a certain series.
The primary expectation I have for this adaptation going forward is that it avoids the pitfalls that made Kancolle’s anime such a strange experience to watch. 3DCG water-surfing, drama with character death being immediately followed-up by lighthearted curry contests, and a boring lead made for a rather forgettable watch. Which begs the question, who even is the anime going to focus on between the starters, Enterprise, and god knows how many others that will inevitably show up. There’s also the fact that the “player character” doesn’t exist in this adaptation either while Kancolle at least circumvented around that element as much as they could in comparison. We’ve avoided 3DCG fight sequences, for the most part, so I can only hope this steers clear away from what made Kancolle so awful.