Review for Kandagawa Jet Girls Collection
Last month it was Chidori RSC, this month it’s Kandagawa Jet Girls, and both are shows about girls taking part in after-school clubs. But you really shouldn’t be expecting the same thing at this point. When the MVM Twitter feed issues forth a post making it known that a show has made it past the BBFC, you really should ask yourself just what in a show would demand such scrutiny, with the fear that it will be censored. This is not going to be the cute girls doing cute things that Chidori RSC was. Actually, there’s something else that Kandagawa Jet Girls has in common with Chidori RSC. There are girls with guns in this show as well, although this time the girls with guns are on jet-skis.
When Rin was a little girl, she idolised her mother, who was a champion Jet Racer. Now Rin is all grown up, she’s heading to Tokyo to finish high school, and with an ambition to emulate her late mother as a Jet Racer. Jet Racing is the high adrenaline sport that girls all over the world take part in. It involves futuristic jet-skis racing on various rivers and waterways, racing for speed, and navigating through obstacle courses. The jet-skis take two person teams, the Jetter to steer the ski, and the Shooter armed with a high powered projectile weapon, where the projectiles are water. They shoot at the opponents; a hit on the jet-ski will temporarily reduce its power and speed, a hit on a racer will cause their wetsuit to purge. Essentially, they’re shooting each other’s clothes off.
When the exuberant and outgoing Rin Namiki gets to Tokyo, and starts at Asakusa High School she learns to her chagrin that the school doesn’t have a Jet Racer club, and only registered clubs are allowed to race on the nearby Kandagawa River. But it turns out that her introverted roommate, Misa Aoi is a frustrated Jet Racer, a Shooter who’s only been able to get her training in virtual reality. With Rin and Misa teamed up, they’ll be able to race for real against the other high school teams, but first they need to recruit enough members for a high school club, and get a teacher as a supervisor as well.
Twelve episodes plus the OVA are presented across two Blu-rays from MVM. There is also a recap episode in the extras.
1. The Kandagawa is Calling
2. The Ace’s Pride
3. Country Comes to Town
4. My Favorite
5. Pop Idol Racers
6. What They Lack
7. Why They Race
8. The Great Nyu-Nyu
9. The 180 Jetter
10. A Summer Gig Receive
11. Rin Goes Home
12. Our Jet Race
OVA. Now Presenting: The Tokyo Girls Promotion
Kandagawa Jet Girls gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer, which is pretty standard for a mainstream anime from Sentai or Funimation. The image is clear and sharp, colours are strong and consistent, and the animation is smooth. There is bit of digital banding, especially in darker scenes, but generally there are no issues with compression or the like. The world design is nice and detailed and the character designs emphasise the fan service aspects of the show. One of the advantages of shows that obsess over the female form is that there is a greater consistency and quality when it comes to the animation, and keeping the characters on model. There’s no point perfecting the perfect booby bounce or butt jiggle if the next scenes are going to be comparatively janky. But it should be noted that the 2D traditional animation shifts to 3D CG for the race action sequences.
Audio comes in DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo English and Japanese with subtitles and signs locked during playback. The audio is fine, the Japanese option that I picked was just as I expected; these are rather clichéd characters and archetypal voices. Although listening to Rin’s voice actress, I can see that anime producers have got to that point where they are looking for Kana Hanazawa sound-alikes. The racing action comes across well through the stereo, the music suits the show well, and the subtitles are accurately timed and are free of typos.
The discs present their content with static menus, and each episode is followed by a translated English credit scroll.
The extras are on disc 2, beginning with the ubiquitous textless credits, one of each.
Episode 4.5: Highlight Reel lasts 24:42, although it’s a little worrying to see the producers put in the position of churning out a recap episode only 4 episodes in.
The Japanese Promos lasts 4:32.
Finally there are trailers for Ascendance of a Bookworm, Revue Starlight, Food Wars! The Fourth Plate, and Motto To loveru.
The first words in my notes for Kandagawa Jet Girls are “boobs”, and “pudenda”, and that is all you really need to know about this show. It’s an exercise in fan service, where the jiggliness of the animation is what is to be appreciated. There are also the added ‘benefits’ of these jet-skis being tandem, operated by two girl teams, with all the opportunities for yuri (lesbian) shipping that implies. There’s even a team comprising twin sisters if your taboo fetishes swing that way, not that anything actually happens. Perish the thought that anime fans have to deal with actual relationships in stories. This is all about titillation. As I said, fan service.
Not that fan service need be bad; not if there is a decent story behind it. Something like Stratos 4 went down the ‘lingering gaze of the lewd camera angle’ route while telling a really decent story, rendering it a definite guilty pleasure that wasn’t in the end too guilty. We’re not that lucky with Kandagawa Jet Girls. It’s another staple of the medium, a high school club, crossed with a sports anime, just like the recently released Chidori RSC. Chidori RSC delivered a cute girls doing cute things experience, Kandagawa Jet Girls does it with tits and ass.
All of the usual clichés are there, an eager outgoing girl wants to start a Jet Racing Club in her new high school, and makes friends with an introverted and somewhat stern girl who she wants to team up with. Rin may think it’s a great idea, but Misa’s reluctant at first, having been burned in the past despite being a great Shooter. And they jump through the usual hoops of starting a new club, getting the right number of recruits, getting a teacher as an advisor, passing their exams to keep being allowed to race. And there are also the light personality conflicts that occur along the way.
As this particular after school club activity is about sport, while the usual club antics take place, we also get to meet the other prominent teams in the area, the other schools and organisations, and the various girls in those teams. And inevitably there are challenges and races to compete in, allowing for Rin and Misa to get the training they need, and level up their skills to be ready for the Kandagawa Cup. There are a variety of characters for them to face, plenty of character archetypes that fans will be familiar with. There are the ‘princesses’ from an elite school, the twin girl pop idols, the gyaru girls, the shrine maidens (one with a Jekyll and Hyde complex), and the ‘foreigners in love with Japanese culture’ girls. Inevitably they all end up as friends, and also inevitably they all end up competing in the final race.
There’s a bit of emotional investment to be had in the characters as well, and beyond the basic will-they won’t-they relationship antics. Rin’s desire to be a Jet Racer comes from her mother, who was a champion racer, but who passed away when Rin was a little girl. It’s understandable that she’s been left with the ambition she has, but it turns out that it isn’t too healthy, which becomes clear towards the end of the show. At the same time, Misa has her own, slightly less traumatic past dictating her attitude to the sport, which is more love-hate than Rin’s pure obsession. Her sister was also a champion, but when Misa took up the sport, she was immediately and unfavourably compared to her sister, which is why she initially chose a school without a Jet Racing club, until Rin shows up.
When it comes to its sports and school club genre mish-mash, Kandagawa Jet Girls is certainly watchable. It hits all the checkpoints that you’d expect from its story of a rookie racing team working their way to success, but the primary goal here is to sell the fan service. If the camera’s fascination for the female form, scantily clad or unclothed is a distraction rather than an attraction, if the tantric approach to lesbian relationships (always hinting but never actually stating) is too blatant a manipulation, then you might be better off giving this show a miss. I find it a show that I enjoyed despite its fan service, not because of it, but it wouldn’t be my first choice.