Sports (or sports-related) anime usually aren’t known for doing anything remarkable when it comes to narrative, and Kandagawa Jet Girls is the latest example of this. This is basically like every other sporty anime you’ve ever seen, but with jet ski racing as the central theme. A slight twist to the formula comes from the backstories of the two main characters, Rin and Misa.
Rin’s mom was a famous racer… but she passed away, so I guess you can say that Rin is following in her mom’s footsteps. And then there’s Misa, who was one of the top junior racers in middle school, but she’s struggled to live up to the expectations set by her older sister, who is also a racer. Both backstories seem kind of interesting, but unfortunately, neither one plays as big a part in the story as you might think. Instead, we get stuff like a pointless search for a river monster, which doesn’t accomplish anything other than fill time.
In fact, there’s quite a bit of filler in KJG, and for an anime that so prominently features racing, there are several episodes that have no racing at all, so I hope that wasn’t the reason you watched this. At least the race announcers do a good job of explaining some of the ins and outs of the competition, but I still could’ve done with less filler.
I can forgive the all-too-familiar story, but the excess fluff just wasn’t all that entertaining to me, and I feel like this anime would’ve been better served taking a different approach to the storytelling. But who needs storytelling when one of the main attractions of an anime are the suggestive interactions between several pairs of girls?! 😛
The cast of characters is where I think KJG fares a bit better than it does with its below average story. As I mentioned, there are six pairs of girls that compete, and of those six, four of ’em provide at least a small amount of yuri subtext. But at the end of the day, it’s the two main characters that give this anime its yuri identity.
Rin and Misa are the stars, and while some of the other pairs are nice, these two were definitely my favorite. As is typical, they’re opposites, so Rin is the outgoing and genki one and Misa is the aloof one, which leads to a lot of cute moments between them when Rin gets grabby. Despite some well-worn character types, I thought that both were entertaining enough to overcome that (which isn’t always the case), and in a somewhat fanservice-heavy show such as this, they provide some much-needed cuteness.
The first time we see the miko pairing of Inori and Fuuka, they’re embracing as lilies populate the background, so it’s a not so subtle sign of how these girls seem to roll. Compared to the other pairs, these two are pretty understated, at least until a match begins, since that’s when one of them turns into the bossy partner from hell. Though they’re understated, it’s cute how their relationship seems to be the most heartfelt of the other bunch, but they’re just not featured as much as the other pairs, so that’s unfortunate.
The award for Best Pairing Name has to go to Ziyu and Dina, who are an idol duo known as “Hell’s Kitchen”. Personality-wise, I thought that these two were kind of forgettable, yet it helps that they’re the most touchy-feely of the bunch (aside from maybe Rin x Misa). Part of that is probably due to them simply being idols, and their cuddly moments together aren’t super frequent, so these two may have actually been my least favorite pairing.
If you ask me, there aren’t enough gyaru girls in yuri-ish anime, so KJG makes it a priority to feature not just a gyaru character, but a gyaru pair. I don’t think Yuzu and Manatsu particularly stand out from other gyaru girls, however, what I liked best about them was that they were lewd. Actually, it was Yuzu that was the lewd one, and since every character shows plenty of skin, it’s her dirty mind that stands out from the other girls in this show. Unlike Yuzu, Manatsu’s somewhat normal, so even she gets flustered by Yuzu’s lewd thoughts. They’re not the most shippable pair, but thanks to Yuzu, it makes some sense.
With these unique pairs, the only thing missing is some foreign girls, but that’s where Jennifer and Emily come in. These gaijin girls are an over-the-top stereotype of foreigners, though that’s a huge reason why I found them entertaining. Unlike some of the others, there aren’t really signs that point to them being lesbians, but their bubbly nature still makes them fun characters. Also, they don’t take things too seriously—including racing—so even if they lose, they’re good sports about it… unlike a certain female YuriReviewer who gets upset when she loses in Smash. 😛
And then there’s “Team Dress”, which consists of Kaguya and Manpuku. Kaguya’s your typical ojou that serves as the closest thing to a main antagonist in this anime, but I found Manpuku to be more entertaining, since she’s in love… with food. Like 75% of the time we see her, she’s fantasizing about food, but since Kaguya runs a tight ship, Manpuku is usually kept from stuffing her face. I liked that Manpuku represented a slightly different body type than we’re often used to seeing, even if she is the butt of jokes because of her love handles.
Some aspects of this anime feel generic and uninspired, but I don’t think that really describes the characters or yuri. That’s not enough to change my overall perception of the show, yet not everything about this is that bad.
Animation-wise, It didn’t take that long to realize that this anime has a surprising amount of fanservice. I probably should have expected it, since the director was also responsible for Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid, but I never check that sort of stuff before watching. Of course, the fanservice increases even more with the uncensored version, where you’ll find the typical assortment of bare boobs and even more egregious crotch shots, so those people who crave ecchi anime should be pretty pleased with this. That said, these girls are supposed to be high schoolers, so that could complicate matters a little bit.
Something that really irked me in this show was the CG during the races. A lot of the time, the characters feel so lifeless during those cuts, to the point where it’s almost comical. It’s not like the show itself looks great or anything—as the art/animation was pretty run-of-the-mill—but I think I expected something a little more impressive than those uninspired visuals that could almost pass for the underwhelming PS4 game that was based off this.
As for the sound/music, it’s nothing to write home about. Yeah, the uptempo music during the races isn’t bad, but during racing scenes, I feel like hearing the roar of the engines would’ve added a more visceral quality that was sorely missing. All you hear is the music blasting, and since it’s just some pretty generic electronic music, I think there was still plenty of room for improvement.
I started Kandagawa Jet Girls with pretty low expectations, and I feel like I got pretty much what I expected. Almost everything about this anime just screams mediocre, and while I think the yuri subtext and the characters keep this anime from being bad, I’m left believing that this is some mindless entertainment that I’ll probably forget about in a few months.
+ Jet ski racing is more exciting than some of the other activities you’ll find in yuri-ish anime
+ We’re given plenty of reasons to ship 4 of the 6 pairings
+ Rin and Misa are solid main characters
– Several episodes with no racing at all
– Subpar story that’s pretty bare-bones
– Overall, it’s a very forgettable anime