Kandagawa Jet Girls Collection (Cert 15)
2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 320 minutes approx.
Release Date: May 24th
Question: how much of a surprise would it be to learn that jet racing is a thing in Japan, with high school clubs, local, and national championships? If the answer is “Not really” then you would be less surprised to learn there is an anime about this subject because, of course there is.
Rin Namiki is a high school girl from the countryside, idolising her late mother who was a jet racing champion. To follow in her footsteps, Rin moves to Asakusa in Tokyo to race on the famed Kanda River, just like her mother did. Upon her arrival, Rin is fortunate to meet Misa Aoi, a saturnine girl lamenting her former life a jet racer in middle school.
As fate would have it Rin and Misa become roommates at school and after a run in with the reigning champs from rival Musashino Girls’ School, decide to reform the Asakusa jet racing club and compete in the nationals. Along the way, the duo not only become closer to each other but also meet other jet racers, making both friends and rivals of them.
Kandagawa Jet Girls is an original anime but part of a wider multimedia project involving Kadokawa, Marvelous, and Egg Firm. The anime may have come first but was designed mostly to sell the racing game. Not being a gamer, I don’t know how much overlap there is between the two mediums story wise, but I doubt anyone will feel they are missing anything crucial.
This may be a cynical take, but the cover artwork of the busty young maidens and the fact their hobby revolves around them being in close proximity to water telegraphs what one can expect from this show, and possibly the game too by extension. Of course, I mean the ecchi-level fan service, which is applied in spades almost from the offset.
It is hard not to see this as targeting the prurient minded by over compensating for its shortcomings elsewhere; had it simply been accepted the girls are busty and focused more on the racing, it might not have been so bad. Alas, they didn’t – chests are ludicrously big (one girl uses her cleavage as a cup holder to drink hands free!) and the outfits unabashedly tight or skimpy, although the nudity is uncensored.
Usually, I would say “mileage will vary” and leave it there but the breast fixation does become a distraction with shots focusing on heaving, jiggling, or even dancing bosoms for no reason; and don’t get me started on the lurid eye catches either! Ironically, the only girls not burdened with massive mammaries are idol duo Ziyu and Dina aka Hell’s Kitchen (no explanation for the name), ordinarily the de facto boob monsters.
Given I’ve already spent half this review discussing the shamelessly lewd content might give you an idea of how little the story holds interest. In all fairness, the closest we get to an over arching plot is the blossoming relationship between shy Misa and annoyingly perky Rin. Both have a passion and talent for Jet Racing but they come from different philosophical perspectives, making the union grow rather than an immediate success.
Yuri fans will detect a passive undertone of this being more than two friends bound by a hobby, which is teased but never acted on, whilst the other couples in the show – including Gyaru girls Manatsu Shiraishi and Yuzu Midorikawa and gaijin pair Emily Orange and Jennifer Peach – lean a little closer into this with added sexual frisson to get the horndogs buzzing.
But what about the racing I hear you ask? Well, this is a double edged sword – the races are the best part of this show, yet there are so few of them and the all-important competition aspect is woefully underplayed. It kicks off in the first episode when Team Dress from Musashino challenge Rin and Misa to a race for daring to be on the river at their allotted time.
Racers fulfil two roles – the Jetter who pilots the craft, and the Shooter who fires water pellets at their opposition. If their wet suits are hit they “purge” (i.e. fall off) to reveal their bikinis, because ecchi. Rin is the Jetter and Misa the Shooter and despite log this first race, they make a good enough team to continue and represent Asakusa in the competition.
However, their other races are silly challenges laid down by each couple they meet, with mixed results, setting out the friend/rival dynamic for the rest of the show even though Rin wants to be friends with everyone. But this exposes a plot flaw – if people have to book a time slot to use the river, how are these impromptu races allowed to take place? And where did the announce team and race set up come from at such short notice?
Most disappointing of all is how the competition doesn’t even factor until episode 9, only to be abandoned for more frivolous nonsense then rushed for the final episode. If the idea is to sell a racing game then it stand to reason you’d build the series around this competition to give potential gamers an idea of the system works, how to counter the tactics of the others players, and so forth.
Not only is this squandered, having the races take place in a singular location leads to repetition which may suit the animators and background artists but won’t provide much of a challenge to gamers, or offer further interest to viewers. On a more positive note, the production values are high, a seamless blend of CG and 2D animation and some high speed thrills are found, but they are all too brief.
Whilst there are actively worse anime than Kandagawa Jet Girls in existence, it is the wasted potential of the racing story that makes this such a disappointment. Ecchi fans will be in their element, the rest of us – including gamers – not so much.
English Language 2.0 DTS HD-MA
Japanese Language 2.0 DTS HD-MA
Disc 2 Only:
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animation
Episode 4.5 Highlight Reel
Rating – ** ½
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