Kantai Collection

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Kantai Collection
Developer(s) Kadokawa Games
Publisher(s) DMM.com
Director(s) Kensuke Tanaka
Producer(s) Kensuke Tanaka (Kadokawa Games)
Michio Okamiya (DMM.com)
Yoshimi Yasuda (Kadokawa Games)
Designer(s) Kensuke Tanaka
Artist(s) At least 21
Composer(s) Hiroshi Usami, Kaori Ōkoshi, Michio Okamiya[1]
Platform(s) Adobe Flash
Release date(s)
  • JP April 23, 2013
Genre(s) Online web browser game
Fleet Raising Simulation

Kantai Collection (艦隊これくしょん Kantai Korekushon?, lit. "Fleet Collection", subtitled as "Combined Fleet Girls Collection"), abbreviated as KanColle (艦これ KanKore?), is a Japanese free-to-play web browser game developed by Kadokawa Games.[2][3] The game was launched on April 23, 2013.[4] As of April 2015, the game is available in Japan only and has 3 million registered players.[5] The game has developed into a much larger media franchise; various media including multiple manga series and light novels have been released, in addition to an officially licensed tabletop role-playing game. A PlayStation Vita game has been announced for an August 2015 release, and a television anime series began airing its first season in January 2015, with a sequel announced.[6][7][8]

Gameplay[edit]

Examples of kanmusu cards used within the game.
Top: Home shipyard interface screenshot.
Bottom: In-game battle interface screenshot.

The gameplay is centred upon building squadrons composed of individual characters represented as cards with different attributes, and then sending said squadrons out on missions. Each of the characters are moe anthropomorphisms of World War II naval warships which are depicted as cute girls, known as "Fleet girls" (艦娘 kanmusu?).[9] These personified warships are based on real-life vessels which are explained in detail within the game; the physical characteristics, appearances and personalities of each of the girls correlate in some way to the real-life vessel (for example, ships with a larger displacement tonnage are usually depicted as older girls with more mature bodies, while smaller ships have petite and underdeveloped figures, with a few exceptions). The player takes on the role of an admiral (提督 teitoku?) and organises their fleets in battle in order to win. Combat is largely automated, and manual actions by the player include micromanagement such as building and repairing.[2][10] The player can organise up to four different fleets.[11]

The player progresses through the game by advancing through maps, gaining experience points through grinding, obtaining new fleet girls whilst repairing and resupplying existing ones, and fulfilling quests to obtain resources. New equipment can be crafted, allowing the fleet girls to equip different armaments depending on the situation.[9] Acquisition of new kanmusu by the player can occur via drops on map or via crafting, and is heavily RNG-based; randomisation is also a key component of the battle mechanism, map progression and equipment development.[11] Construction, resupply and repair of ships is reliant upon four types of resources, namely fuel, ammunition, steel and bauxite; these supplies will gradually increase automatically as time passes. Players can choose to engage in expeditions, sorties and quests to further increase their supplies as well.[11]

Ships can be customised through the addition of various equipment within their empty slots, which add attribute bonuses and even provide special effects in some cases;[9] such equipment include naval guns, anti-aircraft guns, torpedoes, torpedo bombers, dive bombers, fighter aircraft, seaplanes, recon planes, radars, steam turbines, special artillery shells, depth charges, sonars, drum canisters, searchlights and anti-torpedo bulges. The effectiveness of ships in combat depend on its attribute parameters, namely hitpoints, armour, evasion, aircraft capacity, speed, attack range, firepower, torpedo, anti-air, anti-submarine, line-of-sight, and luck.[12]

Kanmusu are capable of becoming stronger as they gain experience and level up after battles, and can also be remodeled into more advanced models once they reach a certain level. Unwanted kanmusu can also be "fed" to other kanmusu through a process known as "modernisation" (近代化改修 kindaika kaishu?), which grants attribute bonuses to one ship in exchange for losing another.[11] Ships can become fatigued once it accumulates after sorties; fatigued ships have decreased attributes, whilst sparkling ships have increased attributes. Fatigue can be alleviated by allowing ships some time to rest, or by recovering the fleet's morale using Japanese food supply ship Mamiya. As ships become damaged, their icons begin to blow off smoke and their clothing become visually torn and battered; in the event when a ship's durability drops down to zero, it is considered sunk, and the player will lose the fleet girl.[11] Players cannot resurrect fleet girls that have been lost unless they are in possession of an emergency repair item, and are only able to re-train ships that have been lost from scratch.

Whilst the game is free-to-play, special premium bonuses can be obtained through prepaid game money and credit card micropayments, such as repair dock expansions, home shipyard furniture tokens, ship possession limit increases and special consumable items.[13] Although each ship in the game has an experience level cap of Lv.99, the player is able to obtain the "marriage papers and ring" item with a monetary purchase priced at 700 yen or via a one-time special quest, which allows the player to "marry" the girl, thereby breaking the original level cap and allowing a new maximum of Lv.150, in addition to other perks such as stat boosts and decreased operating costs; this process can be repeated as many times as the player wishes, and there is no limit to the number of girls that can be "married".[14]

Players can choose to battle against the fleets of other real-life players on the same game server via the exercise maneuvers menu. Players are also able to compete with each other's scores via in-game ranking boards, with periodical prizes for top ranking players. As of June 2014, there are 18 servers that can be played on, each named after a World War II-era Japanese naval base.[12] The game is currently intended to be played by a Japanese domestic audience only, with the interface exclusively in the Japanese language. As of present, the game cannot be played outside of Japan without the use of a VPN;[15] utilisation of such methods to circumvent country IP restrictions and access the game breach the DMM.com online game terms of use, however.[16] From August 2013 onwards, new player registrations are only available via periodic lottery, due to the servers being overloaded by large numbers of new registrants.[17]

Ship types[edit]

  • Battleship (戦艦?): Have strong power and defense, whilst requiring large quantities of resources.[9] A battleship on either side grants a second attack turn for both the player and enemy fleets.[12]
  • Aircraft carrier (正規空母?): Allows for preemptive aerial strikes before battles. Have long repair times, are expensive to maintain, and the planes require bauxite. Cannot attack at night.[9]
  • Light aircraft carrier (軽空母?): Have better fuel consumption than standard aircraft carriers and are able to damage submarines, however have lighter armour. Cannot attack at night.[9]
  • Armored aircraft carrier (装甲空母?): Capable of combat operations even with medium damage.[12]
  • Seaplane carrier (水上機母艦?): High enemy formation detection stats. Largely weak. Can be equipped with midget submarines and seaplanes, and can attack submarines. Can also be remodeled into light aircraft carriers.[9]
  • Heavy cruiser (重巡洋艦?): Able to deal significant damage, and are fuel efficient. Have decent overall stats, however does not excel in any particular areas.[9]
  • Light cruiser (軽巡洋艦?): Strong anti-submarine type, effective during night combat. Have low endurance, and serve as a support role. Though slightly stronger than destroyers, firepower and armour is still limited. Cheap to maintain.[9]
  • Destroyer (駆逐艦?): Good for night battles and anti-submarine warfare, in addition to being cheap to maintain with their good fuel and repair rate. Boasts a high evasion rate, however also have low armour and firepower.[9]
  • Torpedo cruiser (重雷装巡洋艦?): Remodeled from certain light cruisers.[1] Capable of deploying midget submarines, allowing a preemptive torpedo strike.
  • Submarine (潜水艦?): Have low health and limited damage output from its torpedo attacks, however use very small amounts of resources, and can only be attacked by certain ship types. Have a high evasion rate, however are weak against ships equipped with depth charges or sonar. Capable of attacking preemptively.[9]
  • Submarine aircraft carrier (潜水空母?): Capable of carrying seaplanes.
  • Aviation battleship (航空戦艦?): Remodeled from certain battleships.[9] Deals less firepower than standard battleships, however can equip seaplane bombers which are able to attack submarines.[12]
  • Aviation cruiser (航空巡洋艦?): Remodeled from certain heavy cruisers.[9] Can equip seaplane bombers which are able to attack submarines.[12]
  • Amphibious warfare ship (揚陸艦?): Largely useless during combat. Autogyros play an anti-submarine role, whilst equipped landing crafts add a resource bonus to expeditions.
  • Repair ship (工作艦?): When placed within a fleet, gradually repair other ships within the fleet over time, similar to a repair dock.[18]

It is planned for coastal defense ships (海防艦?) to be eventually added to the game in future; the developers anticipate that these ships will play an anti-submarine role, and will feature a more cute and childish character design, reason being that coastal defense ships are smaller in size compared to destroyers.[19]

Fleet girls[edit]

Upon the debut of the game, there were a total of 94 different fleet girls available. Within an update introduced May 15–17, 2013, additional fleet girls were added. On September 11, 2013 the first non-Japanese vessel, Soviet destroyer Verniy (Верный), was introduced into the game.[20] There were plans during the early stages to eventually bring additional ships from other countries,[21] and in March 2014, three German Kriegsmarine vessels were added.[22] Two Italian ships were added as part of the 2015 Spring event in April 2015.[23] Presently there are 156 original girls in addition to 72 upgraded variants, bringing the total number of fleet girls to 228. The game currently holds spaces for 250 different types of fleet girls. Different fleet girls are illustrated by different artists; artists involved in the drawing of various characters include Shibafu,[24] Yoshinori Shizuma,[25] Konishi,[25] Kūrokuro,[26] Akemi Mikoto[1] and 16 other artists. Fumikane Shimada, who was previously the lead character designer for Strike Witches and Girls und Panzer, created the designs and illustrations for Japanese armored aircraft carrier Taihō[27] and the five German vessels.[28]

The traits of each fleet girl are based on aspects of the historical ship they are based on; for instance, Japanese battleship Kongō frequently adds English words and phrases into her dialog as a reference to her British origins, whilst Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi is depicted as a glutton and Japanese destroyer Shimakaze is depicted as a speedy girl in artworks and official print media, since the Akagi consumed large amounts of fuel and the Shimakaze was one of the fastest destroyer ships of World War II.[29] Characters which share particular links also have similar physical traits: ships of the same class may have similar accessories or clothing, whilst all submarines are depicted as wearing sukumizu.

Voice actors have been employed to voice the fleet girls, with anywhere around 10 fleet girls being voiced by one actor.

Voice actors[edit]

Voiced by: Saki Fujita
Voiced by: Yuka Ōtsubo
Voiced by: Nao Tōyama
Voiced by: Aya Suzaki
Voiced by: Risa Taneda
Voiced by: Yuka Iguchi
Voiced by: Sumire Uesaka
Voiced by: Rina Hidaka
Voiced by: Ayane Sakura
Voiced by: Kozue Hayasaka
Voiced by: Motoko Kobayashi
Voiced by: Wakana Miyakawa
Voiced by: Yumi Tanibe
Voiced by: Iori Nomizu
Voiced by: Sarah Emi Bridcutt
Voiced by: Mana Komatsu
Voiced by: Megumi Nakajima
Voiced by: Ayana Taketatsu
Voiced by: Misato
Voiced by: Yuki Yamada
Voiced by: Mamiko Noto
Voiced by: Mariya Ise
Voiced by: Aya Endō
Voiced by: Yui Ogura
Voiced by: Ayako Kawasumi
Voiced by: Hisako Kanemoto
Voiced by: Ari Ozawa
Voiced by: Yui Horie
Voiced by: Ai Kayano
Voiced by: Yoshiko Sakakibara (Anime only)
  • Narrator
  • Hikōjō Ki (Airfield Princess) (Enemy ship)
  • Chūkan Seiki (Midway Princess) (Enemy ship)
Voiced by: Mikako Komatsu
Uncredited

Illustrators[edit]

Development[edit]

Prior to Kantai Collection, the majority of games published by DMM.com were R-18+ adult online games. In an effort to attract customers from a wider audience, DMM.com experimented with Kantai Collection in partnership with Kadokawa Games; by November 2013, Kantai Collection accounted for 30-40% of DMM.com's total online game business.[89]

Unlike other online games in Japan, Kantai Collection was designed with the intention of not forcing the player to spend money or participate in "gacha" lotteries.[90][91] The purpose of this stems from Kadokawa desiring a larger target market and to establish the game as a well-known name, eventually allowing for merchandising and sales of franchise works.[92]

Kensuke Tanaka, who prior to Kantai Collection was involved in the production and public relations for Final Fantasy X, XI and XIII, wished to create a game which involves historical elements while still appealing to the regular fans of DMM.com, namely fans of anime and manga culture, and this led him to the idea of developing a game centred on anthropomorphisms of warships.

Media[edit]

Cover art of the first volume of Maizuru Naval District Compilation.

Print media[edit]

Manga[edit]

A bi-monthly online web manga by Ryōta Momoi began serialization from April 23, 2013 in the Famitsu Comic Clear. The manga follows a 4koma format, and features a storyline with the fleet girls enrolled in schools, where senior girls teach battle techniques to their juniors. It has been updated weekly since October 2013.[93][94] Ryōta Momoi's 4koma manga will be released in print book format under the title KanColle 4 cell comic: Fubuki, I will do my best! (艦隊これくしょん -艦これ- 4コマコミック 吹雪、がんばります! Fubuki, Ganbarimasu!?) beginning from December 14, 2013.

Famitsu Comic Clear has introduced an additional manga adaptation by Shōtarō Harada under the title Issued! Naval Base Communications (発令!鎮守府通信 Hatsurei! Chinjufu tsūshin?) beginning from July 9, 2013.[95]

The Famitsu website also hosts a web comic titled KanColle Play Manga: Blazing Ships Weather (艦これプレイ漫画 艦々日和 Kankan Biyori?) by Tadashi Mizumoto which focuses on gameplay aspects of Kantai Collection.[96] It began serialization from August 23, 2013.

A manga by Kensuke Tanaka and illustrated by Sakae Saitō titled KanColle: Someday as the Seas turn Calm (艦隊これくしょん -艦これ- いつか静かな海で Itsuka shizuka na umi de?) began serialisation in Monthly Comic Alive on December 2013 issue (released October 28, 2013), with a focus on an original story revolving around Tenryū and Tatsuta.[95][97][98]

In addition, another manga series by SASAYUKi featuring the title KanColle side:Kongō (艦隊これくしょん -艦これ- side:金剛?) was serialized in Comptiq from December 2013 issue (released November 9, 2013) onwards,[25] with a story based on the adventures of battleship Kongō.[99][100] It began serialisation within the May 2014 issue of Comptiq (released April 10, 2014) and was later terminated within the November 2014 issue (released October 10, 2014).

A manga titled KanColle: Torpedo Squadron Chronicles (艦隊これくしょん -艦これ- 水雷戦隊クロニクル Suirai sentai kuronikuru?) and illustrated by Yasuhiro Miyama began serialisation in the January 2014 issue (released November 9, 2013) of Comp Ace, with the plot focusing on the Akatsuki sisters.[101]

Age Premium featured a manga publication by Nanaroku titled KanColle: nanodesu. (艦隊これくしょん -艦これ- なのです。?) starting from January 2014 issue (delivered December 9, 2013), with Inazuma as the main character.[102] It was serialized to May 2014 issue (delivered April 9, 2014).

A manga series titled KanColle: Shimakaze Whirlwind Girl (艦隊これくしょん -艦これ- 島風 つむじ風の少女 Shimakaze Tsumujikaze no shōjo?) by Kazuma Yamazaki, Hyōbu Madoka and illustrated by Kazuma Yamazaki began serialisation within the Dengeki Maoh magazine in February 2014 issue (released December 27, 2013).[103][104]

A manga series by Hiroichi titled KanColle: The perched naval base (艦隊これくしょん -艦これ- 止まり木の鎮守府 Tomarigi no chinjufu?) began serialisation in the July 2014 issue (released May 27, 2014) of Dengeki Daioh,[105] focusing on a storyline revolving around the heavy cruisers Kumano and Suzuya.[106]

Kadokawa website also hosts a web comic titled Loose Ship: Woman Admiral Play Diary (ゆる艦〜女提督プレイ日記〜 Yuru Kan: Onna teitoku purei nikki?) by Sau Nitō and illustrated by Sōta Wakui which focuses on gameplay aspects of Kantai Collection. It began serialization from March 22, 2014 in Comic Walker.

Kadokawa has also announced a manga series titled KanColle: Black Order (provisional) (艦隊これくしょん -艦これ- ブラックオーダー(仮) Black Order (kari)?), created by Ōto Taguchi who was previously responsible for the Mobile Suit Gundam 00 manga.[107] However, the project was cancelled after a disagreement between the author and publisher.[108]

Famitsu Comic Clear, DNA Comics, Comptiq and Dengeki Comics have also published numerous series of comic compilation books which each contain a collection of various one-shot manga.

Light novels[edit]

A short story series featuring aircraft carriers Zuikaku and Shōkaku written by Hiroki Uchida and illustrated by Matarō, titled KanColle: Bonds of the Wings of Cranes (艦隊これくしょん -艦これ- 鶴翼の絆 Kakuyoku no kizuna?), began serialisation within the January 2014 issue (released November 20, 2013) of Dragon Magazine.[99]

A light novel based on the game with the title KanColle: Kagerō, Setting Sail! (艦隊これくしょん -艦これ- 陽炎、抜錨します! Kagerō, batsubyō shimasu!?),[109] written by Toshihiko Tsukiji and illustrated by NOCO,[110][111] was released on November 30, 2013.[109]

A novel project featuring aircraft carriers Kaga and Akagi involving the illustrator Koruri and the authors Kei Shiide, Kazuyuki Takami and Dai Akagane has been announced,[99] with the title KanColle: A day at a certain naval base (艦隊これくしょん -艦これ- とある鎮守府の一日 Toaru chinjufu no ichinichi?). It was serialized in Comptiq between the January 2014 (released November 9, 2013) and August 2014 (released July 10, 2014) issues. A novel to share the view of the world, KanColle: 1st Carrier Division, Heading Off! (艦隊これくしょん -艦これ- 一航戦、出ます! Ikkōsen demasu!?) written by Kazuyuki Takami and illustrated by GUNP was released on November 2, 2014.

A novel series featuring light aircraft carriers Zuihō written by Yukiya Murasaki and illustrated by Satoru Arikawa, titled KanColle: Beautiful sea, Phoenix sky (艦隊これくしょん -艦これ- 瑞の海、鳳の空 Mizu no umi, ōtori no sora?) was released on February 1, 2015.

List of publications[edit]

Video games[edit]

KanColle Kai
Developer(s) Kadokawa Games
Publisher(s) Kadokawa Games
Producer(s) Kensuke Tanaka
Platform(s) PlayStation Vita
Release date(s)
  • JP August 27, 2015

A PlayStation Vita game titled KanColle Kai (艦これ改?) was announced during Kadokawa Games' 2013 Autumn media briefing, and is due for an August 27, 2015[8] release. The game will be the second title independently created by Kadokawa Game Studio, after Natural Doctrine.[6][112]

In March 2014, financial analyst Fukuda Sōichirō of Citigroup Global Markets Japan made the prediction in a stock investor report that the PS Vita game would ship 500,000 copies, and expects that a profit of 1 billion yen be made. He also cites the ability to charge players for in-game premium items on the PS Vita platform as an upside for Kadokawa Corporation business-wise.[113]

KanColle Arcade is a trading card arcade game being developed by Sega AM2 and is scheduled to launch in Q2 2015.[114]

Tabletop RPG[edit]

An official KanColle tabletop RPG has been developed; the introductory rulebook for the game was published by Kadokawa and Fujimi Shobo, and released on 18 March 2014.[115] A first rule book written by Tōichiro Kawashima and illustrated by Yukio Hirai, titled Combined Fleet Girls Collection RPG: Introductory Book (艦隊これくしょん -艦これ- 艦これRPG 着任ノ書 KanColle RPG: Chakunin no Sho?) was released on March 18, 2014.

A replay series written by Shiei Akatoki and illustrated by Yebisu Daikanyama, titled Combined Fleet Girls Collection RPG Replays: Wish Across the Sea (艦隊これくしょん -艦これ- 艦これRPGリプレイ 願いは海を越えて KanColle RPG Replays: Negai wa Umi o Koete?) was released on July 19, 2014.

A lonely replay series written by Tōichiro Kawashima and illustrated by Chino Yukimiya, titled Combined Fleet Girls Collection RPG Replays of Lonely: Although the sky is so blue (艦隊これくしょん -艦これ- 艦これRPGぼっちリプレイ 空はあんなに青いのに KanColle RPG Botchi Replays: Sora wa Anna ni Aoi no ni?) was released on January 20, 2015.

Anime[edit]

A television anime series began airing in January 2015.[116][117] The series is animated by Diomedéa, and features Japanese destroyer Fubuki as the main character, with the storyline based on her point of view.[118][119] The show is directed by Keizou Kusakawa, with the script written by Jukki Hanada.[120] The anime series features the voice cast from the original game.[95][121] A sequel has been announced.[7]

Audio CDs[edit]

An original game soundtrack was released on August 3, 2014.[122] Two vocal music collection CDs have also been released.

Limited edition versions of the side:Kongō and Torpedo Squadron Chronicles manga series tankōbon were bundled with drama CDs featuring original dialogue stories from the characters' original voice actors, titled "Hiei makes curry" (比叡、カレーを作る?) and "Akatsuki's dream" (暁の夢?).[123]

Plot and setting[edit]

Whilst the original game does not have a particular storyline, and largely focuses on gameplay, each of the official media works feature various settings with separate and differing canons. Not only do the stories differ, but also the depictions and interpretations of fleet girls and the manner in which they engage in combat. The game does not strictly define anything relating to its setting, allowing for a greater diversity of secondary literary adaptation works which cater to different audiences, and more artistic freedom among secondary works which can approach the setting of Kantai Collection differently.

Kadokawa has not officially announced whether any secondary work is absolute canon, nor have they released significant quantities of canonical material, with some official works even contradicting one another. For instance, some manga anthology depictions show the ship girls as ship-sized giants, while other serialised manga show them as human-sized. The television animation explains the ship girls as humans born with the ability to possess the spirits of World War II warships, while within the Bonds of the Wings of Cranes light novel, the girls refer to themselves as actual warships, and that their origin is unknown.

2015 television anime series[edit]

KanColle: Bonds of the Wings of Cranes[edit]

Within the story of Bonds of the Wings of Cranes, the setting is within an alternate universe where World War II never took place. The fleet of the Abyss, consisting of monster ships, lock down access to the seas and indiscriminately fire upon vessels and aircraft, and feed on the corpses of dead sailors in the water.[124] The large number of abyssals, along with their regenerating ability, allowed them to easily defeat the conventional navies and modern militaries of the world. Ship girls are the guardians of humanity and human-weapon hybrids that are summoned using spirit energy (霊力?), with female forms as the ships they represent have female souls.[125] Zuikaku, having taken a humanoid form, remembers a time where she was once a ship, however does not know the reason behind her human form.

The fleet girls live within an old-fashioned Japanese-style hotel which doubles as the girls' dormitory, and is close to a nearby factory which services combat equipment.[126] The admiral of the fleet is a young man who behaves like a pervert, fond of groping the ship girls and playing with their skirts, although his personality does become serious when commanding the fleet. As the ship girls and abyssal fleets engage in combat, both sides are guarded by a protective barrier. The aircraft carriers Akagi and Kaga are depicted as firing archery arrows from a bow which then transform into fighter planes. Armaments are detachable equipment, and when not in combat gear the ships otherwise appear as ordinary girls.[127]

KanColle: Kagerō, Setting Sail![edit]

This light novel is set within a universe based on the real world, where normal girls undergo training to become ship girls. Hundreds of warships were destroyed by abyssal forces which spontaneously emerge from anywhere under the sea, and as a result, ship girls are employed to counter the threat.[128]

KanColle: Someday as the Seas turn Calm[edit]

A series of mini-arcs connecting a ship girl to her existing counterpart by gradually introducing characters and rotating the leads. Within this manga, ship girls are depicted as flying on the water surface whilst in combat against the abyss fleet of monster ships, and launch aircraft managed by tiny fairies in a conventional takeoff manner from their body attachments. Artillery and torpedo combat is shown to be performed at long range, whilst anti-submarine warfare takes place in close quarters.

Torpedo Squadron Chronicles[edit]

This manga adaptation focuses on the adventures of the Tenryū class and Akatsuki class, as it follows the newly assigned Tenryū and her new squadron in solving the mystery of the Abyssal Fleet.

KanColle: Shimakaze Whirlwind Girl[edit]

This manga depicts the story of a newly appointed, rookie officer by the name of Ensign Akai who arrives at the Maizuru Naval Base for duty as the assistant to the vice-admiral, however has to deal with a stubborn and difficult Shimakaze who spends most of her time alone, and does not have any friends. Multiple nations around the world have developed ship girls for their navy power, and Maizuru is one of the major bases of Japan responsible for managing them.[129]

KanColle: Fubuki, Ganbarimasu![edit]

This slice of life 4koma depicts the everyday life of the ship girls at the fleet training school, where newly manufactured ship girls spend one year learning knowledge before setting out to sea. Most of the scenarios are taken from the point of view of Fubuki, and feature the girls doing fun things with one another, which include attending school, drinking tea, celebrating various holidays like Tanabata, Halloween and Christmas, in addition to the occasional sortie. The ship girls retain memories of their previous lives from World War II, at times displaying signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. References to their personal histories and characteristics are common and usually used to comedic effect. This manga depicts the ship girls as being able to walk on the surface of the water in a manner akin to ice-skating, just like in the anime series.

Merchandise and other collaborations[edit]

Merchandise based on the game have been launched as a result of the success of the online game, proliferation of derivative works, and strong interest in the franchise. PVC figurines have been released, including Nendoroid and Figma figurines of both Shimakaze and Akagi,[130][131] in addition to a 1/7 scale PVC display figurine of a severely damaged Kongō designed and manufactured by Max Factory.[132] A trading card game based on the online game released on 28 March 2014 reportedly sold 1.7 million packets within its first shipment.[133]

In September 2013, a collaborative project between Kantai Collection and the Arpeggio of Blue Steel anime was announced.[134] Illustrators for Kantai Collection are responsible for drawing some of the anime end cards for Arpeggio of Blue Steel, which feature crossovers with Kantai Collection characters.[135] An Arpeggio of Blue Steel in-game special event for Kantai Collection also took place from 24 December 2013 to 8 January 2014.[136]

Reception[edit]

Player population[edit]

Due to the high popularity of the game within Japan, game operators have created larger numbers of servers within early 2013 to account for the influx of players.[2] During August 2013, the number of new players spiked by 100,000 people within one week, to a total of 600,000 people, with 350,000 daily active players.[17] By September 2013, it was reported that there were more than 800,000 players that were regularly active.[20] The total number of players broke past 1,000,000 on 9 October 2013.[137] As of April 2015, there are 3 million players.[5] One commonly cited explanation behind the success of the game is that players aren't forced to spend money to play unlike other popular Japanese online games; the free-to-play nature of Kantai Collection makes in-game purchases optional, and not a necessity.[11] It is estimated that on average, Kantai Collection players spend less money on the game compared to the popular Japanese games Puzzle & Dragons, The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls and Love Live! School Idol Festival.[138]

Various unintended consequences have arisen domestically as a result of this significantly large playerbase, such as its disproportional influence over the technological sector in Japan. According to a report by research firm BCN, the market share of Microsoft Windows tablets in Japan suddenly rose to 15% during the calendar year of 2013—a five-fold increase over the previous year—and that no such trend is occurring anywhere else outside Japan; this rise is partially attributed to the inability to properly play Kantai Collection on Android devices, the largest competitor to Windows tablet devices in Japan.[139][140]

Cultural trends and industry reception[edit]

A graph comparing the participation of dōjin circles at Comiket 85 (Winter 2013),
the first Comiket event with a significant KanColle presence.[141]
500
1,000
1,500
2,000
2,500
3,000
C84[142]
(Summer 2013)
C85[141]
(Winter 2013)
C86
(Summer 2014)
C87[143]
(Winter 2014)
A graph comparing the number of dōjin circles with Kantai Collection works
from Comiket 84 onwards.

Interest in Kantai Collection has significantly risen over the months following its release, to the point where it has often been compared with the fandom of Touhou Project as an emerging viral fandom. There has been a large increase in online activity and fan-created material relating to the game, such as fan-made artworks, doujinshi and other derivative content.[144][145] As of April 2015, there are over 345,000 different artworks on Pixiv tagged with "KanColle" created by 67,000 individual artists, and KanColle-related videos on Niconico were watched 460 million times.[5] During Comiket 85, there were 1,136 dōjin circles producing works for Kantai Collection, placing third behind Touhou Project (2,272 circles) and Kuroko's Basketball (1,462 circles), and ahead of The Idolmaster and Vocaloid;[141][146] this is a significant increase over the previous Comiket 84 event, which only had just over 100 circles with Kantai Collection works.[142] Dōjin material relating to the game have also gained traction overseas; KanColle-exclusive dōjin events have been held in Shanghai on 22 February 2014,[147] and Taipei on 29 March 2014.[148]

On 12 December 2013, Twitter officially released the top hashtags of 2013; #艦これ was the most used hashtag among Japanese Twitter users.[149][150] The game was also the eighth most searched term within Japan on Google in 2013.[151] On 30 December 2013, GameSpark named Kantai Collection as the online game category title for its game of the year awards of 2013, ahead of runners-up League of Legends, World of Tanks and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.[152] A survey of 151 different prominent Japanese game developers conducted by 4gamer asked what each developer considered to be the best game of 2013; nine of these developers selected Kantai Collection.[153] Among these developers, Naoki Yoshida of Square Enix, who produced and directed Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, stated that Kantai Collection is Japan's answer to World of Tanks, and that he was impressed by the business model;[154] meanwhile, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA director Seiji Hayashi of Sega referred to the game as "innovative".[155] Kantai Collection was named "Rookie of the Year" during the WebMoney 2013 Awards, as a new entrant to the games market.[156]

Financial reception and sales figures[edit]

Speaking at a symposium held by Kadokawa ASCII Research Institute on 27 September 2013, the chairman of the board of directors of Kadokawa Group Holdings, Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, stated that despite the game's popularity, Kantai Collection is nearly unprofitable for the company, in part due to the game being funded by various company partnerships, such as the profit sharing agreement made between Kadokawa Group and DMM Group, given that none of the game's development fees were paid for by Kadokawa. Kadokawa's stock price rose by 1000 yen within June 2013, following the initial rise of the game. It is expected that Kadokawa will need to rely on sales of intellectual property media works such as books and manga in order to raise profits.[92] Kadokawa Games president Yoshimi Yasuda affirms that the free-to-play business model of the game will not change despite reports of a lack of revenue gain.[157]

Meanwhile, game distributor DMM Corporation gained 7 billion yen from the game as of June 2014, which is equivalent to 140 times the value of the game's development fees.[158]

Toshihiko Tsukiji's light novel Kantai Collection: Kagerō, Setting Sail! sold 16,624 copies within its first week of release, placing 11th place within the Oricon book ranking charts.[159] Also debuting the same week were the Sasebo Naval District Compilation Vol.1 and Maizuru Naval District Compilation Vol.1 comic anthologies, which sold 59,552 copies and 58,110 copies respectively.[160] In mid-November 2013, Yokosuka Naval District Compilation Vol.1 sold 48,909 copies during its first week, placing 10th place among all comic sales.[161] The first manga volume of Fubuki, Ganbarimasu! sold 28,324 copies within its first week in December 2013.[162] The KanColle White Paper official book published by Kadokawa placed third place overall within the Oricon book charts during its debut week in October 2013, selling 46,039 copies.[163]

Political commentary[edit]

An editorial within the South Korean Hankook Ilbo on 4 November 2013 accuses that the strong popularity of the game is due to a conservative political shift amongst young people in Japan following long-term economic recession and political instability, and that the game majestifies the wartime Imperial Japanese Navy.[164] Addressing the Hankook Ilbo allegation, Akky Akimoto writing for The Japan Times disagrees with the idea that the game's design deliberately facilitates any political shift, and argues that the 1970s anime series Space Battleship Yamato was subject to similar criticisms despite having little effect on domestic politics.[165]

Another opinion piece from the Asahi Shimbun suggests that the game's unforgiving mechanics, such as ships permanently sinking, helps players understand the brutality of war given the desperate situations, so that they can gain a more positive understanding of history or even oppose conflict itself.[166] On the other hand, Jonathan Gad of Vice claims that the Kantai Collection television anime series is historically revisionist, criticising the show's depiction of the Japanese protagonists being victorious over the Battle of Midway.[167]

Intellectual property infringement outside Japan[edit]

In January 2015, allegations arose that the company Beijing Longzhu Digital Technology (北京龙珠数码科技),[168] which runs an unofficial pirated KanColle server in Mainland China, spent CN¥700,000 (US$112,800) in purchasing various Chinese-language KanColle internet forums; online discussion boards intended for discussing the original Japanese game were closed down or placed under new management, while the forums of the pirated bootleg Chinese KanColle remained online. This lead to widespread unrest amongst Chinese players of the original game, resulting in large scale internet raids on forums and social media, distributed denial-of-service attacks, and website defacing via SQL injection[169] by hackers against those running the bootleg server.[170][171] An article published by China Central Television referred to the incident as the largest online mass boycott and protest against intellectual property infringement in China, and a wake-up call for the Chinese gaming industry as a whole to strive for integrity and refrain from creating copycat works.[172]

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External links[edit]

Official pages of the game
Licensed web manga
Official sites of secondary works