Why yes I did just play exclusively Operation Siren while watching this show. And yes, I finished playing my dailies faster than it took to watch this. META ships don’t farm themselves.
While not necessarily a continuation of the actual Azur lane anime (though you could kind of bend it to be one), Slow Ahead! again follows our four destroyers from the four main fleets in the series: IJN Ayanami, USS Laffey, HMS Javelin, and KMS Z-23, or Niimi for short. Together, the four destroyers experience life around the naval base, interacting with various ships from each of the four fleets in a slice of life experience that’s objectively more lewd than daily life really should be.
And that’s really it. Look, the show’s only about six minutes a pop and based on a 4-koma manga, so there really isn’t a lot to go off of here. Oddly enough though, I would consider this a somehow better example of the Azur Lane story because every short is contained, straightforward, and actually quite lax. There’s not much else to talk about since all we have are slice of life romps, although the situations vary heavily from hunting in the woods to doing some spring cleaning, all the way to finding out which of the several dozen girls featured in the show have the best ‘pillows’ to sleep on. Yes that is an episode plot; don’t think about it too hard.
That being said, this kind of story is predominantly why I think it works so well for Azur Lane specifically and why I would consider it to be a ‘better adaptation’ for fans or newcomers. The game currently has 521 ships at the time of writing this. What Slow Ahead! does is take a small handful of the more popular ships and themes one of the episodes around them to create the self contained story. Rarely does the show ever focus on more than two ships from the plethora pool of many aside from the destroyer quartet, so the show doesn’t end up feeling bloated or anything because before, left right and center had a character from the game that we just don’t get the name to because there’s not enough time in the show to explain who or what they are.
And since Yostar has their own animation studio now, much of what we got in terms of animation quality at least looks and feels the part to make it seem like ‘Azur Lane’. The artystyle is certainly more bubbly than I was expecting, and there were a lot more physics and…shot decisions than I would’ve liked, but considering this is a game that has bar none one of the most expansive cosmetics selections to choose from, so much so that they practically give skins away in certain events, I really should not be surprised. I will say that the inclusion of certain skins from the game (and oddly enough game mechanics?) was a welcome treat because it really shows that the showrunners cared enough to do a good enough job with advertising their game in addition to making it admittedly kind of a fun watch.
Which leads me to calling this a fun watch if nothing else. The show in total is only a little over an hour to watch the whole thing, and for Azur Lane fans, this show is a more rewarding watch than the original adaptation that was attempted before. Though certainly not something that’s stellar by any means, it is entertaining nonetheless. Admittedly I would’ve preferred the show to at least have a little bit of dignity with who they chose to showcase and in what fashion to showcase them in, but after playing this game for about three years, I really should’ve expected this and it was stupid of me to think this could’ve gone any other direction. Oh well. At least I got to see Shokaku and Zuikaku talk to each other again; always a fan of watching voice actors just talking to themselves.