The movie is set after some of the events of the anime, when Kisaragi was destroyed and sunk after a battle with the Abyssal fleet. Having watched that far in the anime is therefore mandatory in order to understand the events of the movie.
It all starts out with yet another battle with the enemy fleet that ends with the ship girls finding and retreating the previously sunk Kisaragi. The celebrations of this find don’t last long, though, as Kisaragi seemingly suffers from amnesia, as well as some even worse repercussions that lead to finding out the dark truth about all ship girls…
I remember back when I watched the anime and saw how Kisaragi sunk, yet it was never seen or mentioned much again til the very end of the show. I already knew that, one way or another, they’d have to get back to this. It was one of the most crushing moments of the anime, and the movie delivered even more heart-wrenching scenes, as we can follow step-by-step how little Kisaragi transforms into an Abyssal, suffering while knowing that there would be no cure for it. Even worse was probably seeing Mutsuki getting her heart shattered a second time, yet again having to watch helplessly how Kisaragi crosses over to the other side once again.
The movie in general delivered a very out of character kind of drama, focusing only on the dark secrets revolving around the ship girls, instead of featuring the partly wacky comedy, the mostly light atmosphere, and, of course, the mainly plot-deprived filler-like content that we we’re used to. I guess you could say since this is a movie, it’s to be expected that we won’t see 90 minutes of yet another curry tournament or something of the like, but even if it was clear that we wouldn’t get anything like that, I was still surprised as to how little comedy or even light-hearted scenes we got. The atmosphere was almost solely heavy, and even crushing in some parts. The battles were all so serious, but what surprised me the most is that not even Kongou could lighten up the mood.
In short, this movie was nothing like the anime, even if it featured the same storyline and characters. I just wished that we’d get some of the typical scenes, be it Fubuki drooling after Akagi, Ooi getting all jealous over someone talking to Kitakami, the Kongou sisters being extra cute, or even Kaga and Zuikaku fighting. All the things that I think made the anime as great as it was were missing in the movie, in my eyes at least. Then again, I think that Kantai Collection was one of the only shows that could get away with being as filler packed as it was without having anyone really complain about it. You could say I actually didn’t even want a deep plot in the first place. Just watching them interact and living their lives as ship girls was already all I could ask for.
So even if the animation and music were yet again superb, what was missing is what I think Kantai Collection was all about for us yuri fans. We barely got any yuri at all, if we don’t count that strong, almost girlfriend-like bond between Kisaragi and Mutsuki, and all the regular couples either didn’t show up at all or didn’t get the screen time needed to actually do anything yuri-ish.
As much as I’d want to have a different opinion of this, I just can’t get myself to like this movie. It’s just not the Kantai Collection that I know and love, but a war movie with ship girls instead. Well, one could argue that this is exactly what the game or the anime are all about, too, but I’d just say that, especially in the anime, the war aspect is just not that important. In short; I want my filler back!