Azur Lane

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Azur Lane
Azur Lane English Release Logo.png
English release logo
アズールレーン
(Azūru Rēn)
GenreAction, military[1]
Game
DeveloperShanghai Manjuu, Xiamen Yongshi
Publisher
Produced byYuwan[a]
Music byShade[2]
Deadball P[3]
GenreShoot 'em up, Simulation, RPG
EngineUnity
PlatformiOS/Android
Released
  • CHN: May 25, 2017
  • JP: September 14, 2017
  • ROK: February 27, 2018
  • EN: May 20, 2019
  • HK: October 4, 2019
  • MAC: October 4, 2019
  • TW: October 4, 2019
Game
Azur Lane Crosswave
DeveloperFelistella
Publisher
GenreShooter, Simulation
EngineUnreal Engine 4
PlatformPlayStation 4
Nintendo Switch
Microsoft Windows
ReleasedPlayStation 4, Windows
  • JP: August 29, 2019
  • EN: February 13, 2020
Nintendo Switch
  • JP: September 17, 2020
  • NA: February 16, 2021
  • EU: February 19, 2021
Anime television series
Directed byTensho
Written byJin Haganeya
Music byYasunori Nishiki
StudioBibury Animation Studios
Licensed by
Original networkTokyo MX, SUN, KBS, BS11, AT-X
Original run October 3, 2019 March 20, 2020
Episodes12[b] (List of episodes)
Anime television series
Azur Lane Bisoku Zenshin!
Directed byMasato Jinbo
Written byYū Satō
Music byShade
StudioCANDYBOX
Yostar Pictures
Original run January 2021 scheduled
Audio drama
Written byTsukasa
Print media
Manga
Light novel
Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and manga portal

Azur Lane (Chinese: 碧蓝航线; pinyin: Bìlán Hángxiàn) is a side-scrolling shoot 'em up video game created by Chinese developers Shanghai Manjuu and Xiamen Yongshi, released in 2017 for the iOS and Android operating systems. Set in an alternate timeline of World War II, players engage in side-scrolling shooter gameplay, using female moe anthropomorphic characters based on warships from the war's major participants. Other gameplay elements, like customizing a home and marrying in-game characters, are also present.

First launched in China in May and in Japan in September 2017, Azur Lane quickly became very popular, especially in Japan where the player count reached five million within four months after its release. Players have voted the game among the top five on Google Play's Best Game of 2017 list for the region. Critics have attributed the game's popularity to its original and well-designed gameplay system. An English-language version started open beta in August 2018 and was formally released in May 2019. Later, on December 18, English version was expanded to Latin American region. PWB Play simultaneously released it to Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan on October 4, 2019.

The game has been adapted into several manga and novelizations. Azur Lane Crosswave, a 3D adaptation for PlayStation 4, was published by Compile Heart on August 29, 2019 with mixed reception. Crosswave's English localization was released on February 13, 2020 for PlayStation 4 and PC. A Nintendo Switch port of the game was released in Japan on September 17, 2020, and is set to release on February 16, 2021 in North America and on February 19, 2021 in Europe.

An anime television series adaptation by Bibury Animation Studios was announced in 2018, and was aired from October 3, 2019 to March 20, 2020. Funimation licensed this series for a simuldub, and this series was broadcast in the United States until September 4, 2020.[5] An anime television series for Azur Lane Bisoku Zenshin! manga by studios CANDYBOX and Yostar Pictures is slated to premiere in January 2021.

Gameplay[edit]

Main interface, with the character Hardy. Players may select a character to appear on main interface as a "secretary".

Azur Lane is a side-scrolling shoot 'em up, simulation and role-playing video game. Players collect characters that are moe anthropomorphic interpretations of World War II warships ("shipgirls"), mainly from the United States Navy, Royal Navy, Imperial Japanese Navy and Kriegsmarine, with other ships from French Navy (both Vichy and Free France flavors), Republic of China Navy, People's Liberation Army Navy, Regia Marina, Soviet Navy and Imperial Russian Navy were added later. Players organize them into fleets of six and confront AI-controlled enemies or other players' fleets.[6]

Personifications of American destroyer USS Laffey (DD-459), British destroyer HMS Javelin and German destroyer Z23 (Chinese, English release) or Japanese destroyer Ayanami (Japanese, Korean release) are available for players to select as a starter ship. They are referred to as protagonists in-game.[7] As of June 2020, more than 450 characters have been introduced to the game, representing ships from nine countries that participated in the war.[8] The game is also notable for including preserved museum ships as its characters such as Japanese Mikasa and Russian Avrora.

Battle[edit]

When preparing for the game's main mode, players can organize two fleets consisting of a front row and a back row, with three slots available in each row. Destroyers, light cruisers, and heavy cruisers can be allotted to the front row, while the back row is reserved for battleships, aircraft cruiser, monitors, repair ships, battlecruisers and aircraft carriers. Different combinations of ships are required to achieve victory in different battle situations. Players may then select and enter a map.[6]

On entering a map, the player's fleet is placed on a grid-like map similar to that in the game Battleship. The map contains nodes, which are either combat nodes which are enemy fleets, some immobile and others that pursue the player, or non-combat nodes which provides ammunition or mystery nodes which can provide supplies such as repair kits, upgrade materials or can spawn a special combat node called a Treasure Fleet. Players must navigate optimally and assemble their fleets tactically, to clear obstructing enemies and, using minimal movements, reach the map's boss. When the player moves their fleet across the map, they can be ambushed in random encounters from which they may take damage, or they can be forced to engage the enemy, using fuel and ammo. Fuel is one of the two in-game resources. Ammo points are assigned to player fleets at each map, with one ammo point deducted at each battle. Fleets that run out of ammo can still fight but may only deal half damage.[6]

Battle interface of Azur Lane.

When battling an enemy, players can use a virtual joystick to control the front row, which can automatically fire shells at targets and manually launch torpedoes. While stationary, the back row can send shell barrages and the player can manually call in airstrikes. These will activate a bullet-clearing effect, removing all projectiles and torpedoes on screen. Players have an auto mode option to give up this control to the game's AI. Characters' health is fully replenished when completing or exiting a map. Morale points are deducted for each fleet character in a battle. Should a character fall in battle, they cannot join in further action on the map and a larger number of morale points are deducted for the fallen character at the end of the battle. Sustained low morale for a character decreases their stats and affection points. Low affection points lead the character to greet the player with vocals reflecting their disappointment.[6]

The game features a player versus player mode. The player may prepare a defence fleet and organize an offence fleet to challenge opposing players' defence fleets. In this mode, battles are controlled entirely by AI, and the bullet-clearing effect of airstrikes is disabled. Tokens can be gained and the player's ranking can rise through victory in this mode. Players receive no penalty if they lose a challenge or their defence fleet is defeated by other players. Exclusive characters and other items can be obtained using tokens. The ranking is refreshed every 15 days.[9]

Additional mechanics were introduced after the game's release. Submarine and anti-submarine warfare systems were introduced in May 2018. This included anti-submarine campaign maps, and characters based on German U-Boats, and American and Japanese submarines.[10] A ship's cat system was introduced in September 2018. Various cat breeds can be obtained at a cattery. They can be trained to provide buffs when brought along with fleets to battle.[11]

Dormitory[edit]

The game sports a "Dormitory" feature. Characters in their chibi forms may be put in the furnished Dormitory where they can walk around and sit, sleep, or bathe.[6] Characters may passively gain experience points and recover morale when they are given food by players. Players can purchase food using fuel or in-game currency. Players can also purchase variously themed, and occasionally time-limited, furniture sets and decorations using "furniture coins" obtained by sending characters through special quests. Furniture and decorations raise the rate experience is gained. They can be arranged freely. Players may increase Dormitory character capacity, unlock a second floor which recovers morale, and buy special interactive furniture using the in-game currency. As well, monuments can be awarded by clearing event stages. Players may inspect other players' Dormitories.[12]

Marriage[edit]

When a character's affection points are raised to 100 through battle, secretary, or Dormitory, players may choose to give a "promise ring" to this character. A "promise ring" can be obtained through quests once. Additional rings can be purchased using in-game currency in the items shop, essentially allowing polygamy.[13] Players may also give customized names to married characters but may only do so every 30 days for each character.[14] Furthermore, a few of the most popular characters will also gain unique wedding dress costumes for the wedding. They will also gain additional stat bonuses after being married.[13]

Synopsis[edit]

The start of the game features an anthropomorphic recreation of the Battle of the Denmark Strait, where the personification of famed British battlecruiser HMS Hood is sunk by characters representing the German forces. The game features an eponymous military alliance, "Azur Lane", formed by nations of Eagle Union (United States), Royal Navy (United Kingdom), Sakura Empire (Empire of Japan) and Iron Blood (Nazi Germany).[6] The alliance split in two because of alien intervention with Iron Blood and Sakura Empire form an opposing faction, "Crimson Axis", using technology provided by the aliens to invade "Azur Lane" countries. The rest of the game's main plot partially follows the United States naval engagements in the Pacific War. Chapters represent several decisive battles of the war including the Battle of Midway, the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, and the Mariana and Palau Islands campaign.

Characters[edit]

Character Japanese[15] English[16]
Enterprise Yui Ishikawa Rachael Messer
Akagi Mai Nakahara Amber Lee Connors
Unicorn Ai Kakuma Alexis Tipton
Javelin Nozomi Yamane Madeleine Morris
Laffey Maria Naganawa Tia Ballard
Kaga Ai Kayano Dawn M. Bennett
Cleveland Saya Horigome Kristen McGuire
Prince of Wales Chinami Hashimoto Mallorie Rodak
Ayanami Yo Taichi Lara Woodhull
Bailey Eri Suzuki Dani Chambers
Beagle Sarah Roach
Bulldog Rachel Glass
Illustrious Sora Amamiya Jad Saxton
San Diego Asuka Ito Bryn Apprill
Vestal Maia Megan Shipman
Zuikaku Risa Taneda Michelle Rojas
Belfast Yui Horie Lindsay Seidel
Glowworm Hiromi Igarashi Brittney Karbowski
Hammann Asuka Ito Brittany Lauda
Helena Tomoyo Chujo Samantha Herek
Hood Atsuko Tanaka Terri Doty
Hornet Nozomi Yamamoto Kristi Rothrock
Essex Kaori Mizuhashi
Intrepid Ai Fairouz
Long Island Sachiyo Yoshida Jennifer Alyx
Northampton Takao Koizumi Haileigh Todd
Bismarck Ayaka Fukuhara Alex Moore
Prinz Eugen Ayane Sakura Mikaela Krantz
Queen Elizabeth Sumire Uesaka Sara Ragsdale
Warspite Jill Harris
Shokaku Risa Taneda Katelyn Barr
Z23 Rika Abe Sarah Wiedenheft
Sheffield Konomi Kohara Emily Neves
Edinburgh Yūko Gotō Melissa Sternenberg
Takao Ai Kakuma Terri Doty
Atago Ai Kayano Marissa Lenti
Akashi Sumire Uesaka Macy Anne Johnson
Nagato Misaki Kuno Monica Rial
Yukikaze Kana Yūki Laura Faverty
Yudachi Natsumi Takamori Krystal LaPorte
Shigure Yūki Kuwahara Kristin Sutton
Z1 Natsumi Takamori Marissa Lenti
Köln Ryōko Ono
Admiral Hipper Yuri Yamaoka Alex Moore
Yorktown Kana Yūki Kara Edwards
Cygnet Risa Taneda Emily Fajardo
Saratoga Sumire Uesaka Amanda Gish
Arizona Sawako Shirakabe Meg McClain
Nevada Yumi Uchiyama Stephanie Young
Oklahoma Sarah Roach
Suffolk Akari Uehara
Norfolk Hiromi Sakuma Rachel Thompson
Repulse Koharu Nogata Rachel Glass
Gridley Narumi Shinohara Apphia Yu
Renown Ai Kayano
Columbia Saya Horigome Victoria Michelli-Vitti
Montpelier Rie Takahashi Anastasia Muñoz
Massachusetts Alyssa Dumas
Denver Ari Ozawa Caitlin Glass
Langley Haruka Yoshimura Suzie Yeung
Amazon Yukiko Ayamiya Tabitha Ray
London Naomi Mukaiyama Caitlin Glass
Houston Aya Yokota Meli Grant
Portland Kaori Yoshioka Margaret McDonald
Kent Hisako Kanemoto Jessica Cavanagh
Eldridge Nozomi Sasaki Hayden Daviau
St. Louis Yōko Hikasa Victoria Keller
Ark Royal Asuka Itō Hayden Daviau
Bogue Koharu Nogata
Foote Yuna Yoshino
Spence Corinne Sudberg
Aulick
Thatcher Ruka Nemoto
Charles Ausburne Satsuki Morita
Soryu Karin Mitarai
Hiryu Shizuka Ishigami Alexis Tipton
Shiranui Kanae Ikadai Kate Bristol
Mutsuki Rumi Ōkubo Emi Lo
Kisaragi
Uzuki Mako Megan Emerick
Minazuki Megan Shipman
Mikazuki Dani Chambers
Fumizuki Chiyo Ousaki Sarah Wiedenheft
Nagatsuki Tabitha Ray
Ning Hai Marie Miyake Suzie Yeung
Ping Hai Misaki Kuno Emi Lo
Fuso Ami Koshimizu
Yamashiro Kristi Rothrock
Furutaka Akari Kageyama Jamie Marchi
Kako
Amagi Miyuki Sawashiro Elizabeth Maxwell
Ise Mutsumi Tamura Jessica Cavanagh
Hyuga Akeno Watanabe Kylie Stewart
Akatsuki Nozomi Yamamoto
Ikazuchi Kazusa Aranami
Fubuki M.A.O Nicole Endicott
Shiratsuyu Narumi Shinohara
Kagero Yuriko Yano Nicole Endicott
Nagara Akari Kitō
Isuzu
Yugure Madoka Asahina
Hatsuharu Marika Kouno Corinne Sudberg
Purifier Melissa Sternenberg
Observer Moe Toyota Natalie Van Sistine
Tester Chika Anzai Brittany Lauda
Mikasa Sayaka Ohara
Pennsylvania Nozomi Yamane
North Carolina Yui Horie

Development[edit]

Azur Lane's producer, Yuwan,[a] a well-known uploader to the Chinese video sharing website Bilibili, began developing the game with five of his college friends, with the initial notion of "creating a doujin game, if a commercial one is not possible".[17] Seeing many similar games created in Greater China after Kantai Collection's success, the developers aimed to create "something different from previous works of ship moe anthropomorphism". As such, they intentionally avoided using a turn-based strategy game mechanic like that used by Kantai Collection and most of its followers. They also shifted the focus on Japanese ships to those from other countries involved in World War II.[17]

One particular difficulty was incorporating shoot 'em up elements, as there were no existing works to reference. An early version of the game featured a combat system of a five-character fleet in a single or double column line of battle. World of Warships, a World War II naval warfare simulation game popular in China, influenced some of the gameplay design.[17]

The developers sought to further differentiate the game by featuring characters based on preserved museum ships from earlier times, such as the pre-dreadnought battleship Mikasa of World War I, which was served as a flagship during the Russo-Japanese war, and the Russian protected cruiser Avrora, the ship famed for its October Revolution involvement. Keeping game balance and rarity with these characters was difficult, however, the developers were intent on featuring museum ships, and intend to introduce more characters like this in the future.[18] A series of characters based on proposed or unfinished World War II warships, including Neptune, Saint-Louis and Ibuki, were introduced as part of a collaboration with Wargaming, publisher of World of Warships.[19]

Many young and some critically acclaimed voice actors lent their talents to the game. The decision to employ an all-Japanese voice cast with a focus on younger actors was the result of a lack of professional voice actors in China, as well as the team's intention to give younger Japanese actors opportunities to perform.[17] The game's notable voice actors include Yui Ishikawa,[20] Rie Takahashi[21] and Risa Taneda.[22]

Shanghai's Manjuu Ltd. provided the audiovisual design and the writing for Azur Lane. Xiamen's Yongshi Ltd. (Chinese: 厦门勇仕网络技术有限公司) was responsible for programming, game data design and content. The companies share joint authorship of the game and share its copyright, with a 65%/35% share of its revenue.[23]

Release[edit]

The game first launched in China in May 2017, published by Bilibili. Shanghai Yostar published the Japanese version in September that year.[6] XD Global published the South Korean version in March 2018.[24] The English-language version was announced as being in development in June 2018. Open beta began on August 16, 2018.[25][26] On May 20, 2019, the English version was formally released along with the rollout of the 2019 UI overhaul.[27]

Li Hengda, president of Yostar Inc., revealed that although he saw Azur Lane's potential, he did not expect the level of popularity the game experienced in Japan. Believing that around 10 people would suffice, Li later admitted his mistake in only having four full-time employees and two interns before the game's release, as they had to work from morning until midnight as the game's popularity grew until the end of 2017. Through Azur Lane, Yostar established contact with distinguished Japanese enterprises and creators and was met with welcoming responses. Tony Taka, known for his work on the Shining series, was delighted to be invited to provide character design for HMS Centaur (R06), marking his first work in a mobile game. Jin Haganeya, writer for Demonbane, agreed to write the script for the game's anime adaptation.[28]

Artwork for the Korean release was provided by Korean artist Nardack. In March 2018, XD Global asked her to condemn the Korean radical feminist website Megalia after some players filed complaints accusing her of maintaining relations with the online community. Nardack refused to comply, and her artwork was then removed.[29]

Promotion[edit]

A special program featuring voice actress Yui Ishikawa visiting the office of one of developers, Manjuu Ltd., in Shanghai was aired on the Japanese streaming television platform AbemaTV in May 2018.[30] However, misuse during the program of the trademarked term "kanmusu" (艦娘) to refer to the game's personified warship characters led to Yostar being publicly warned by DMM.com, publisher of Kantai Collection. Yostar issued an apology, and called on players of Azur Lane to provide alternative terms for the game's personified warship characters.[31] More than a thousand submissions were received.[32] In September 2018, Yostar announced the new term would be "kansen" (艦船).[33]

Yostar has held two illustration contests with Japanese art community Pixiv to promote the game. Winners in a contest held in December 2017 were rewarded with cash and their designs featured on the game's loading screens.[34] Winning designs from a wedding dress illustration contest in July 2018 were also planned to be implemented in the game.[35]

Yostar licensed the Japanese company GRSPER to create virtual reality wedding ceremonies with the game's characters in August 2018.[36] The crowdfunding project was cancelled in October 2018 because GRSPER did not meet its funding goal and was having communication difficulties with voice actors and their agencies.[37]

Collaborations[edit]

A December 2018 collaboration event with Compile Heart introduced protagonists of Hyperdimension Neptunia to Azur Lane. Players may obtain Neptunia's protagonists with naval elements, as well as their "goddess forms" as separate characters.[38]

In April 2018, Yostar and Wargaming Japan announced a collaboration between the game and World of Warships. Azur Lane players may obtain characters based on ships from World of Warships through a new interface called "Development Dock", while World of Warships players may purchase Azur Lane characters as voiced captains, and skins for ships based on design elements of Azur Lane's namesake characters.[39] In April 2019, the WoWS collaboration was further extended by season 2, introducing new characters into both games.[40] August 2020 featured 3rd season of WoWSxAL collaboration, introducing a wave of new ships, skins and captains in both games.[41]

A collaboration with Sunrise Inc. in May 2018 featured a crossover plotline with the anime Armored Trooper VOTOMS. The Marshydog mecha from the show was added to Azur Lane as a furniture item.[42] A collaboration event with Aquaplus in November 2018 made characters from the visual novel Utawarerumono obtainable in Azur Lane.[43]

An April 2019 collaboration with Kizuna AI introduced the virtual YouTuber as 4 different in-game characters.[44]

In November 2019, Azur Lane collaborated with virtual YouTuber group Hololive Productions featuring seven of their talents - Tokino Sora, Shirakami Fubuki, Minato Aqua, Ookami Mio, Murasaki Shion, Nakiri Ayame and Natsuiro Matsuri as recruitable in-game characters.[45]

Other media[edit]

Cover art of Manga 4-koma Palette vol. 132 featuring Very Slow Advance!, with protagonists Z23 (upper) and Javelin (lower).

Print media[edit]

Azur Lane was adapted into several manga and novels. An official yonkoma comic, titled Azur Lane: Very Slow Advance!,[c] is being published in Ichijinsha's magazine Manga 4-koma Palette. It features the character based on HMS Javelin and three of the game's other protagonists.[46] Chapters of Very Slow Advance! are regularly posted on the game's Japanese Twitter account as a means of promotion.[47] Azur Lane Comic Anthology, a comic anthology series currently up to four volumes, is being published by Ichijinsha and sold on Amazon Japan.[48] Azur Lane Queen's Orders, a manga centering around the characters based on HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Warspite, is being published by Ichijinsha in Comic Rex.[49] Azur Lane Comic à la Carte, another comic anthology, was published in October 2018.[50]

Kodansha published a spin-off light novel featuring the character Laffey as protagonist, titled Starting My Life as a Commander with Laffey,[d] in June 2018.[51] Shueisha published another novelization, Episode of Belfast, featuring the character based on HMS Belfast, in June 2018.[52] Overlap, Inc. published the third spin-off light novel featuring the character Ayanami as protagonist, titled Ayanami, Happily Married,[e] in December 2018.[53]

Console adaptation[edit]

Azur Lane Crosswave, a 3D shooter game for PlayStation 4 was announced in September 2018. Crosswave features Azur Lane's characters battling against realistic warships and warplanes. The game follows a different story with new characters also making their debut. This console adaptation was developed by Felistella using Unreal Engine 4 and was published by Compile Heart on August 29, 2019.[54][55][56] An English-language release was published by Idea Factory International in North America and Europe in 2020. The localization features Japanese voice-overs and sold in both digital and retail formats.[57] A Nintendo Switch port of the game was released in Japan on September 17, 2020,[58] and is set to release on February 16, 2021 in North America and in Europe on February 19, 2021.[59][60][61]

Anime[edit]

An anime television series adaptation was announced in September 2018. The anime is directed by Tensho, director of Grisaia and Rewrite's anime adaptations, with writer Jin Haganeya, and Yasunori Nishiki composing the series' music. Tensho's Bibury Animation Studios is animating the series.[49] Yostar head, Li Hengda, revealed that the animation project began in late 2017, when the game experienced its breakout in popularity. The choice of Haganeya to be the writer was due to the Demonbane franchise being one of Hengda's personal favorites.[28] The series premiered on October 3, 2019 on Tokyo MX, SUN, KBS, BS11, and AT-X.[62] May'n performed the series' opening theme song "graphite/diamond", while Kano performed the series' ending theme song "Hikari no Michishirube".[63] Episodes 11 and 12 were originally scheduled to broadcast on December 19 and December 26, 2019, but were delayed to March 13 and March 20, 2020 respectively due to production issues.[64] Funimation has licensed the series for a simuldub.[65][66] The English dubbed version of Episodes 11 and 12 hasn't been released since after the final episode has been aired on March 20, and it wasn't until August and September 2020, respectively, that the dubbed versions was finally released.

An anime television series adaptation of the Azur Lane Bisoku Zenshin! manga was announced on December 24, 2019.[67] The series is directed by Masato Jinbo and written by Yū Satō at Yostar Pictures and CANDY BOX, with Hiromitsu Hagiwara designing the characters, and Shade composing the series' music. Yokohama Animation Laboratory is credited for production cooperation. It will premiere in January 2021.[68] Emi Nitta will perform the series' opening theme song "Longing for!," while Yui Sakakibara will perform the series' ending theme song "Mahiru-iro Siesta".

No.Title [69][f]Original air date
1"ACTIVATION - The Girls Who Soar on the Seas"
Transcription: "【Kidō】 Umi wo kakeru shōjotachi" (Japanese: 【起動】海を駆ける少女たち)
October 3, 2019 (2019-10-03) (Japan)
October 17, 2019 (2019-10-17) (US)
When the Earth's oceans are attacked by a mysterious alien force called the Sirens, four major nations, Eagle Union, the Royal Navy, the Sakura Empire and the Iron Blood form the "Azur Lane" military alliance to combat the Sirens using shipgirls, girls fused with naval warships. Eventually, the Sirens are defeated, but a rift forms between the factions, with the Eagle Union and Royal Navy coming in opposition against the Sakura Empire and Iron Blood. Reinforcements are sent to an Azur Lane base near the Sakura Empire, where Cleveland and Prince of Wales greet the arrival of Illustrious and Unicorn. Ayanami infiltrates the base to spy on its defenses, but inadvertently befriends Javelin, Laffey, and Unicorn. The Sakura Empire then launches a surprise attack on the base led by Kaga and Akagi. Javelin and Ayanami reluctantly battle each other while the rest of the defenders attempt to fight off the attack. When it looks like the defenders are about to be overrun, Enterprise arrives and singlehandedly turns the tide of the battle, heavily damaging Kaga and forcing the Sakura Empire forces to retreat. As they withdraw, Kaga and Akagi announce that the Sakura Empire and Iron Blood have formed their own alliance, the Red Axis, and formally declare war on Azur Lane.
2"MELEE - Pulsing Waves, Steel Wings"
Transcription: "【Gekisen】 Kodō no Nami, Kōtetsu no Tsubasa" (Japanese: 【激戦】鼓動の波、鋼鉄の翼)
October 10, 2019 (2019-10-10) (Japan)
October 24, 2019 (2019-10-24) (US)
As Azur Lane works to repair the damage to their base and treating the injured personnel, including Enterprise and San Diego, it is revealed that the cause of conflict between them and Red Axis is the Red Axis' willingness to use dangerous Siren technology for their own ends. Enterprise remains on watch, despite her repairs only being partially complete. Akagi and Kaga are also recovering from the battle when they are met by Prinz Eugen. Akagi sends Zuikaku and Shoukaku to ambush an Azur Lane fleet and asks Prinz Eugen to assist them. Prinz Eugen agrees, bringing Z23 and Ayanami with her. The Azur Lane fleet, consisting of Eagle Union shipgirls of Hammann, Arizona, Northampton, Helena, Long Island and Enterprise's sister, Hornet is attacked by the Red Axis. Enterprise mobilizes to help them despite her damage, with Cleveland, Javelin, and Laffey following her. While Enterprise battles Zuikaku and Shoukaku and Cleveland assists damaged shipgirls, Javelin and Laffey remain reluctant to fight Z23 and Ayanami. As the Azur Lane and Red Axis forces battle each other, the main Royal Navy fleet led by Queen Elizabeth arrives. Enterprise manages to gain the upper hand on Zuikaku but her unrepaired damage causes her equipment to fail at a critical moment. However, Enterprise is saved by the timely arrival of a shipgirl dressed as a maid.
3"ELEGANCE - Perchance, Like A Human"
Transcription: "【Yūga】 Aruiha hito no Yōni" (Japanese: 【優雅】或いはヒトのように)
October 17, 2019 (2019-10-17) (Japan)
October 31, 2019 (2019-10-31) (US)
The maid, revealed to be Belfast, delays the Red Axis forces long enough that the main Royal Navy forces which consisting of Queen Elizabeth, Warspite, Hood, Edinburgh and Sheffield arrives, forcing the Red Axis to withdraw. Concerned about Enterprise's disregard for her own safety, Prince of Wales and Illustrious consult with Queen Elizabeth for a solution. Meanwhile, Vestal arrives on the base and is immediately upset at the poor state Enterprise's rig is in. Enterprise is met by Belfast and Unicorn, who convince her to attend a beach party the other shipgirls are holding. Unicorn thanks Enterprise for saving her, and Enterprise reveals she feels shipgirls are only meant to be weapons, and the ocean is only a source of conflict. As Unicorn leaves to play with Javelin and Laffey, Belfast confronts Enterprise directly, warning her that if she continues to fight like she did in the previous battle, she'll eventually forget her reason for fighting in the first place. The base then receives a distress call, with Enterprise, Cleveland, Hammann, and Belfast leaving to investigate. They find Ning Hai and Ping Hai of the Dragon Empery. They explain they were ambushed by Siren ships when a damaged Siren ship attacks. Enterprise uses herself as a distraction to draw the Siren's attention, but ends up being saved by Belfast when her rig malfunctions again. Seeing how Enterprise is actually compassionate towards others, Belfast decides to accompany Enterprise and teach her how be a proper "gentlewoman".
4"SAKURA - Cloak and Dagger"
Transcription: "【Sakura Arashi】 Gaitō to tanken" (Japanese: 【桜嵐】外套と短剣)
October 24, 2019 (2019-10-24) (Japan)
November 7, 2019 (2019-11-07) (US)
Akagi, Kaga, Shoukaku, Zuikaku, and Ayanami return to the Sakura Empire base, where they are greeted by Soryu and Hiryu. Back at the Azur Lane base, Belfast takes it upon herself to serve as Enterprise's personal maid in an effort to draw out her inner humanity. Ping Hai and Ning Hai then report that while on a scouting mission, they encountered a Siren fleet being led by a high-class Siren, suggesting the Sirens are planning to take advantage of the conflict between Azur Lane and Red Axis. In order to gain more information, Sheffield and Edinburgh infiltrate the Sakura Empire base. Akagi is given permission from a reluctant Nagato to proceed with "Project Orochi". Ayanami reunites with fellow destroyers Yukikaze, Yuudachi and Shigure. Zuikaku, still upset at her inability to defeat Enterprise, receives words of encouragement from Takao. Sheffield and Edinburgh follow Akashi to a cove beneath the base, where Akashi witnesses Akagi collaborating with a Siren Leader, Observer, to construct Project Orochi, a massive Siren battleship. Observer moves to eliminate Akashi to silence her, but Sheffield and Edinburgh intervene, stealing the Black Box critical to Project Orochi's completion. They are able to slip past Takao and Ayanami and escape with both the Black Box and Akashi. Afterwards, while still loyal to Sakura Empire, Ayanami still continues to question her motivation to fight.
5"REUNION - Reaching Out To You"
Transcription: "【Saikai】 Sono te wo sashi nobete" (Japanese: 【再会】その手をさし伸べて)
October 31, 2019 (2019-10-31) (Japan)
November 14, 2019 (2019-11-14) (US)
Sheffield, Edinburgh, and Akashi are forced to hide on an abandoned island as the Sakura Empire and Iron Blood fleets form a blockade around it. Azur Lane sends a large rescue fleet to break the blockade. As the main fleet led by Prince of Wales stages a diversionary attack, a small group consisting of Belfast, Cleveland, Javelin, and Laffey sneak through the blockade and reach the island. Belfast and Cleveland encounter Takao and Atago while Javelin and Laffey face Ayanami again. Zuikaku and Shoukaku head out to try and engage Enterprise while Sheffield's group is cornered by Iron Blood's fleet consists of Prinz Eugen, Z23, Z1, and Köln. Cleveland holds off Takao and Atago while Belfast assists Sheffield. Zuikaku and Shoukaku discover that they were tricked into following Hornet while Enterprise also infiltrated the island. Enterprise forces Prinz Eugen and her fleet to retreat. Ayanami attacks Javelin and Laffey, but remains confused as to why they won't fight back until Laffey tells her that despite being on opposite sides, they want to be friends.
6"SHACKLES - Tying Bonds, Binding Hearts"
Transcription: "【Kihan】 Kizuna wo tsunagu, Kokoro wo shibaru" (Japanese: 【羈絆】絆を繋ぐ、心を縛る)
November 7, 2019 (2019-11-07) (Japan)
November 21, 2019 (2019-11-21) (US)
Despite Laffey reaching out to Ayanami, Ayanami refuses her offer of friendship and flees. Thanks to Belfast's help, Enterprise begins to interact more with the other shipgirls on the base. She and the other senior shipgirls attempt to examine the Black Box. When Enterprise touches it, she receives a brief vision what appears to be an alternate version of herself. Returning her attention to the base, Enterprise is surprised at how lively it is with new arrivals like Akashi, Ping Hai, and Ning Hai setting up shops. Belfast reminds Enterprise that shipgirls are humans as well, which is something she must learn to embrace. Javelin and Laffey take a bath with Unicorn, who reveals she's self conscious about her large breasts despite her small size. They reassure her that every shipgirl's body is different, and she should be proud of her own. That night, the three of them reaffirm their desire to befriend Ayanami. At the Sakura Empire, Prinz Eugen tries to sow distrust between Kaga and Akagi by suggesting to Kaga that Akagi has differing motives from hers. Akagi meanwhile expresses her desire to reunite with Amagi.
7"DEADLINE - For Determination, For Love"
Transcription: "【Shisen】 Ketsui to, Ai no Tame ni" (Japanese: 【死線】決意と、愛のために)
November 21, 2019 (2019-11-21) (Japan)
December 12, 2019 (2019-12-12) (US)
Azur Lane and the Sakura Empire prepare to face each other in a decisive naval battle, sending their largest fleets. Akagi uses a spell to transport the Azur Lane fleet into an otherworldly realm, where the must fight against a combined Sakura Empire and Siren fleet. Enterprise engages Kaga, but is momentarily distracted seeing Belfast in trouble and is knocked out of the sky by Kaga. As she sinks into the ocean, Enterprise has another vision of her alternate self and reawakens in a much more powerful form, easily neutralizing Kaga. Observer watches the battle from a distance, and notes that Enterprise is the "key". Enterprise forcibly transports her and Akagi back to the real world, where she seemingly kills Akagi with a single shot before returning to her senses. Realizing what she's done, Enterprise finally realizes that she's afraid of the ocean. Meanwhile, Akagi is seemingly reunited with Amagi in the afterlife, only to find Amagi has no face as she tells her "it's not over yet."
8"INTERSECTION - Hold You, Never Let Go"
Transcription: "【Kōsaku】 Dakishimete hanasanai" (Japanese: 【交錯】抱きしめて離さない)
November 28, 2019 (2019-11-28) (Japan)
December 12, 2019 (2019-12-12) (US)
In the aftermath of the battle, the Azur Lane fleet sees numerous portals opening all over the area, with Enterprise missing. Javelin and Laffey are separated from the main fleet and encounter Ayanami again. Before they can come to an understanding, Ayanami's fellow destroyers take her away to safety while Belfast arrives to retrieve Javelin and Laffey. Kaga regains consciousness as the Sakura Empire fleet regroups, but Akagi remains missing and their mass produced sirens are inoperable. Shoukaku begins to openly wonder what secrets Akagi and Kaga have been hiding from them. Realizing they are at a disadvantage without Akagi and the Siren ships, the Sakura Empire fleet decides to retreat while Zuikaku and Shoukaku act as rearguards. Observer and Tester watch from afar, having captured Akagi. Observer reveals that having gathered data from Enterprise, the Black Mental Cube is now complete and ready to activate Orochi. Enterprise then arrives in her berserk state and easily defeats Zuikaku and Shoukaku. Before she can finish them off, Ayanami intervenes, destroying Enterprise's plane which knocks her back to her senses. Javelin and Laffey work together to save Ayanami and prevent her from falling into one of the portals.
9"HOPE - Light Shines Through The Darkness"
Transcription: "【Kibō】 Kurayami ni hikari ga sashikomi" (Japanese: 【希望】暗闇に光が差し込み)
December 5, 2019 (2019-12-05) (Japan)
December 19, 2019 (2019-12-19) (US)
Ayanami wakes up in the Azur Lane base as a prisoner of war. As "punishment" for disobeying orders and saving Ayanami, both Javelin and Laffey are assigned to supervise her. The lead ships discuss the Black Mental Cube's sudden activation, and are concerned about it and its apparent connection to Enterprise. Javelin and Laffey show Ayanami around the base, and Ayanami is caught off guard that none of the Azur Lane shipgirls bear any ill will towards her. She then meets Akashi, who tells her about Akagi's alliance with the Sirens. All the while, Ark Royal quietly keeps an eye on them from a distance. Meanwhile, the Sakura Empire are reeling from the loss of both Akagi and Ayanami, and Nagato begins to have second thoughts about Project Orochi. Queen Elizabeth wonders what the Sirens' true goal is while Belfast, Illustrious, and Unicorn are confident Enterprise can overcome her inner conflict. Unicorn later joins Javelin, Laffey, and Ayanami. Ayanami begins to realize that the shipgirls of both Azur Lane and the Sakura Empire have many similarities. Observer manipulates Kaga into continuing Project Orochi, claiming that activating Orochi will reunite her with Akagi. That night, Ayanami encounters Enterprise and confides to her that she doesn't have any desire to fight, a feeling that Enterprise also shares. Reuniting with Javelin, Laffey, and Unicorn, Ayanami finally accepts becoming friends with them.
10"ECHOES - Crimson Memories, Bleached"
Transcription: "【Zankyō】 Hyōhaku sareshi beni no Kioku" (Japanese: 【残響】漂白されし紅の記憶)
December 12, 2019 (2019-12-12) (Japan)
January 2, 2020 (2020-01-02) (US)
Enterprise continues to have disturbing dreams of the alternate version of herself while the Azur Lane shipgirls still cannot learn anything about the true purpose of the Black Mental Cube. Ayanami tells her friends she wants to help stop the fighting between Azur Lane and the Sakura Empire, and Javelin, Laffey, and Unicorn agree to help her. At the Sakura Empire, Nagato decides to suspend the Orochi Project despite Kaga's protests, pointing out how they cannot continue without Akagi. Kaga then has a dream where she recalls Amagi passing away and Observer tempting Akagi with the possibility of reviving her with Orochi. Enterprise's dreams intensify, and she comes to realize the vision of herself and Amagi that she has been seeing are in fact illusions created Orochi itself, which claims it is born from humanity's desire for conflict. Belfast then confronts Enterprise, asking her why she keeps fighting if she's afraid of the ocean. However, the Siren Purifier attacks the base and steals the Black Mental Cube. The Azur Lane shipgirls, including Enterprise, start a battle with Purifier to recover the Cube. At the Sakura Empire base, Prinz Eugen sneaks into Orochi's harbor in an attempt to steal it, but Kaga activates Orochi and sails it out of the base.
11"MONSTER - A War to Span Every Ocean"
Transcription: "【Kaibutsu】 Amaneku umi ni tatakai wo" (Japanese: 【怪物】あまねく海に戦いを)
March 13, 2020 (2020-03-13) (Japan)
August 30, 2020 (2020-08-30) (US)
Despite Azur Lane's best efforts, Purifier manages to escape with the Cube. Observer then uses the Cube to fully activate Orochi. Akagi is apparently revived by Orochi, much to Kaga's relief. As a show of force, Orochi launches a missile that completely destroys an entire uninhabited island. Realizing the danger Orochi poses, both Azur Lane and Red Axis independently mobilize to attack it. Kaga quickly realizes that Akagi is possessed by Orochi, but Orochi torments Kaga by pointing out Akagi only loved her because she inherited some of Amagi's parts. Both the Red Axis and Azur Lane fleets attack Orochi and the Siren fleet, agreeing to work together to fight their mutual foe. Zuikaku and Shoukaku are blocked by Kaga, who is still determined to protect Orochi for Akagi's sake. Ayanami then arrives to battle Kaga. Meanwhile, Enterprise and Belfast fight their way to Orochi, but it prepares to launch another missile as Orochi manipulates Akagi's memories of Amagi.
12"BLUE WATERS - May the Azure Lanes Bless You"
Transcription: "【Sōkai】 Hekiki kōro ni shukufuku wo" (Japanese: 【蒼海】碧き航路に祝福を)
March 20, 2020 (2020-03-20) (Japan)
September 6, 2020 (2020-09-06) (US)
Orochi launches the missile at the Azur Lane base, and Enterprise heads off to intercept it despite Purifier's attempts to interfere. She is able to destroy the missile, but is knocked out by the blast. Meanwhile, the Azur Lane and Red Axis fleets attack Orochi as it prepares to fire a second missile. However, Orochi is protected by an impenetrable shield, and the shipgirls are unable to inflict any damage. While unconscious, Enterprise encounters her alternate self again, who warns her conflict between shipgirls is inevitable since they are manifestations of human will like Orochi, but Enterprise decides to keep fighting to protect everybody important to her. As Enterprise rejoins the battle, Zuikaku manages to snap Kaga back to her senses by headbutting her. Enterprise fires a special arrow that pierces Orochi's shield and cripples the ship. The shipgirls rally and begin pushing back the Siren fleet. Enterprise then reaches out to and rescues Akagi, returning her to her sense as well. Orochi fades away and the Sirens withdraw, with Observer noting that even though their plan failed, the shipgirls exceeding their expectations means Humanity still has a future. Afterwards, in order to improve relations, Azur Lane and Red Axis agree to live together in the same base, with shipgirls from both sides mingling with each other. Hornet and Hammann pay a visit to the hospital, only to find an empty bed. They find the person they were going to see, Enterprise and Hornet's elder sister Yorktown, who has been sick for a while, walking around outside. Z23 joins Ayanami, Javelin, Laffey, and Unicorn's group, while Enterprise is appointed to be the new overall leader of the combined Azur Lane and Red Axis force. While overlooking the ocean, Enterprise is once again approached by her alternate self, who again warns her that conflict between shipgirls is inevitable, and that war never changes. Enterprise counters that even if war doesn't change, people can.

Audio CDs[edit]

A CD featuring character songs sung by their respective voice actors was released in September 2018.[70] A drama CD written by the author of Starting My Life as a Commander with Laffey will be released on November 28, 2018.[71]

Reception[edit]

Cosplay of Atago, an Azur Lane character based on ship of the same name

Azur Lane was very popular in its home country, contributing to most of Bilibili's 2018 Q1 revenue along with the Chinese release of Fate/Grand Order.[72][73] In Japan, the game enjoyed an overwhelming surge in popularity after its release,[6] despite initial accusations by fans of Kantai Collection that it was a clone.[13][74] After only four months, there were more than five million Japanese players. The first doujin convention dedicated exclusively to the game was held in November 2017.[75][76] From May 2017 to August 2018, the game has earned US$170 million globally on the iOS AppStore. Chinese players spent $28 million, while Japanese players spent $139 million, accounting for approximately 82% of the game's sales.[77]

The game scored within Japan's top five best games of 2017 in a Google Play user vote,[78] as well as a first place in the app section of the Dengeki Online Awards 2017.[79] In September 2018, the game was awarded third place in Game of the Year in the 15th China Animation & Comic Competition.[80]

Azur Lane's popularity was attributed to its gameplay and game system design which were widely praised. RPG Site wrote the game "acts as an important lesson on how a Chinese-made title can gain popularity in Japan by offering originality in its gameplay".[6] Famitsu liked how the game depended very little on luck, let players develop their own playstyle, and was easy to pick up and play due to few microtransaction elements.[81][82] Japanese writer, actor and radio personality Mafia Kajita was impressed by the tight shooter controls. He felt the game systems were streamlined and avoided any nuisances, and believes the all-Japanese voice cast is likely a reason for its popularity.[83]

Critics have also compared the game to Kantai Collection. Hong Kong media outlet HK01 found Kantai Collection's complete lack of post-release improvements and overdependence on luck responsible for upsetting its own players, who switched contributing to Azur Lane's popularity.[75] Mafia Kajita noted the two games had different focuses: Kantai Collection is centred on resource management while Azur Lane is a simulation game about dodging danmaku bullets while shooting the enemy.[83] However, Shigetaka Kurita, director of Kadokawa Dwango corporation, criticized Azur Lane for lacking the sense of "tragedy and heroism" in Kantai Collection. Kurita described the game as "merely an idol action game with a fleet motif". He found the greatest appeal of Kantai Collection to be the "sorrow of the Imperial Japanese Navy" saying that one might cry while playing Kantai Collection but not Azur Lane.[84]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b 鱼丸; Yúwán, also known as N.ec 鱼丸
  2. ^ There are six scheduled Blu-ray volumes, with each volume containing two episodes.[4]
  3. ^ アズールレーン びそくぜんしんっ!, Azur Lane Bisoku Zenshin!
  4. ^ ラフィーと始める指揮官生活, Laffey to Hajimeru Shikikan Seikatsu
  5. ^ アズールレーン ~綾波、ケッコンするです~, Azur Lane: Ayanami, Kekkon-suru desu
  6. ^ All English titles are taken from Funimation.

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External links[edit]