Kantai Collection – Franchise and Anime Primer

With the release of the first Kantai Collection (“KanColle“) anime PV, I thought it might be useful to post some information for those interested in the anime, but not familiar with the franchise. (FYI – I am playing the game. KanColleViewer mod is awesome!)

Ship Class Abbreviations

Battleship (BB), Aviation Battleship (BBV), Armored/Regular/Fleet Aircraft Carrier (CV), Light Aircraft Carrier (CVL), Seaplane Tenders (AV), Amphibious Assault Ship (LHA), Escort Carrier (CVE), Heavy Cruiser (CA), Aviation Cruiser (CAV), Light Cruiser (CL), Torpedo Cruiser (CLT), Destroyer (DD), Repair Ship (AR), Submarine (SS), Submarine Aircraft Carrier (SSV), and Submarine Tender (AS).

Game

From the KanColle English Wiki“Kantai Collection, also known as KanColle, is an online browser game in which one assumes the role of an admiral, assembles a fleet of kanmusu (“ship girl” – girls based on World War II era Japanese ships and submarines) and battles against fleets of alien enemy warships.” The game is free to play, and gained popularity fast after launching on April 23, 2013. As of May 2014, there were over 2 million registered users. The hashtag #kancolle was the most popular hashtag for Twitter Japan in 2013. Google a WWII Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) ship name, and your likely to get a KanColle ship girl at the top of the list. In fact, you now have to enter a daily lottery in order to register and start playing. Also, as of this post date, you still need a Japanese IP address to play. 😦 So if you don’t have one, you’ll need to use a VPN or other method. For console gamers, a PS Vita version entitled KanColle Kai is in the works and set for release in Spring 2015, though whether it will be for the Japanese market only or not is unknown at this time.

As the Admiral (Teitoku), you start by picking one of five DDs – Fubuki, Inazuma, Murakumo, Samidare or Sazanami. OK, one DD does not a fleet make so off to do some easy “quests” (which do not always involve battles). As you complete quests, you stockpile resources/supplies, add/build ship girls and equipment, and of course battle the “Deep (or Abysmal) Fleet”.  The game is not as simple as it may seem at first glance. There is a lot of management and planning involved – resources (key!), special item usage, fleet/roster composition (construction attempts along with which ships to level up, modernize, and ultimately keep on your roster), equipment (what to equip on what ships and construction attempts), etc. You also need to know the game mechanics to be successful.  Just “playing the game” and going about things haphazardly does not work well for this… at all.  RNG (random number goddess) plays a large role in the game, particularly for battles, drops from winning battles, and ship/equipment construction.  However, fleet composition and equipment/weapons selection (including CV/CVL aircraft) prior to sortie, and fleet battle formation are under the player’s full control and all factor heavily into battle success or failure.  Overall, the game reminds me of a “light” version of Hearts of Iron III (a complex and comprehensive WWII grand strategy game).

Then there are the ship girls themselves. 😀 They are similar to, but not the exactly the same as, the Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio mental models. It’s not entirely clear if the KanColle girls are ships in girl form, or “normal” girls once they take off their rigging. In either case, they are cute (some even sexy), and they have their own distinct personalities – typically based upon the RL ship’s history. For example, the IJN BB Kongou was designed and built in England during the interwar years. So KanColle Kongou uses English words at times, loves tea time with black tea, etc. She’s also very upbeat desu, and loves her teitoku. I like Kongou ❤ probably the most, but there are a lot of ship girls to choose from… and I mean a LOT. Last I checked, over 140 different ship girls(!) all of which are voiced by Yuka Ōtsubo, Ayane Sakura, Aya Suzaki, Risa Taneda, Nao Tōyama, Iori Nomizu, Rina Hidaka, Saki Fujita, Sarah Emi Bridcutt, and Wakana Miyakawa among others.

WWII IJN history is pervasive throughout the game. Examples: “Hotel Yamato” jokes; Mutsu worrying constantly about her 3rd turret; Sendai is a night battle freak because her RL IJN ship counterpart participated in many night battles during WWII; and Kaga doesn’t like Shokaku and Zuikaku because during the early part of WWII, the 1st Carrier Division’s crew (who were considered elite) looked down upon the 5th Division (Shoukaku and Zuikaku) “newcomers” (in the game, Kaga’s start of battle line is “Don’t put me together with 5th Carrier Division’s kids” LOL).  The fact that Shoukaku and Zuikaku were absent from the Battle of Midway and ultimately inherited the 1st Carrier Division title after that battle probably factors into KanColle Kaga’s dislike of them as well.

Manga

There are numerous KanColle mangas, a good number of which are unofficial doujinshi (not including H-doujinshi though I’m sure there are plenty of those as well). You can read many of the currently scanned English translations (no hentai) here – Batoto Kancolle manga. Probably my favorite, and “official” (i.e. not doujinshi) , is Fubuki, Ganbarimasu!

It’s a 4-koma light-hearted comedy featuring chibi styled characters in which Fubuki (DD) sets off to school to train and become part of the admiral’s fleet. So it kind of mirrors how you start the game since Fubuki is one of the five DDs available at the start. That being said, Fubuki isn’t really the focus point after a while. A lot of the ship girls get substantial coverage. I think it gives readers a very good idea of the type of WWII based humor featured in the game, and what I expect to be in the anime as well to some degree. There are also a lot of “inside” jokes based on the game itself such as the “Bauxite Queen”, and I expect similar humor in the anime.

Some of the other manga versions, including doujinshi, are pretty good as well though definitely a “YMMV” situation. FYI – some non-hentai doujinshi are NSFW.

Anime

Kancolle Anime - Promo Poster

After speculation of airing this summer, then in the Fall 2014 season, the anime has finally confirmed it will air during the Winter 2015 season.

Staff

According to the MAL KanColle Anime page:

  • Director: Kusakawa, Keizo (Akuma no Riddle, Asura Cryin’, Campione!, Dog Days, Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou, Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A’s, Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo?, Ro-Kyu-Bu!, and Sekirei).
  • Series Composition: Hanada, Jukki (Steins;Gate, Robotics;Notes, Love Live! School Idol Project, No Game No Life, Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!, Kyoukai no Kanatam, Nichijou, Chrome Shelled Regios and Rozen Maiden among many more).
  • Music Composer: Kameoka Natsumi (Inazuma Eleven Go vs Danball Senki W Movie and Inazuma Eleven Go: Chrono Stone).
  • Production Studio: Diomedea.

I’ll leave it up to readers to decide whether those previous works lists bode well or not, though I do think that the background music for both PV 1 and PV 2 is very good.

Characters

Kancolle - Kongou Kancolle - HieiKancolle - NagatoKancolle - Mutsu

Kancolle - YamatoKancolle - AkagiKancolle - KagaKancolle - Zuikaku

Kancolle - AtagoKancolle - SendaiKancolle - JintsuKancolle - Naka

Kancolle - KitakamiKancolle - OoiKancolle - OoyodoKancolle - Fubuki

Kancolle - HibikiKancolle - AkatsukiKancolle - IkatsuchiKancolle - Inazuma

Kancolle - ShimakazeKancolle - YuudachiKancolle - Mutsuki

Kancolle - Anchorage Princess

Deep Fleet Anchorage Princess

Kancolle Anime - Deep Fleet Destroyer

Deep Fleet Destroyer

Anticipation for the anime adaptation does indeed seem to be very high.  In early August, the first KanColle anime PV along with other promotional material (see promo poster above) were released with the PV 1 YouTube listing reaching 1.3 million views in only two weeks. In early November, the KanColle anime PV 2 was released, and also proved to quite popular reaching 500,000 views in only 2-3 days. Mid-December presales for the anime BDs/DVDs have topped Amazon sales charts as well.

The anime’s total ship girl cast is rumored to number around 40 though currently there are 23 listed on the official anime website.  Other Kanmusu can be seen in some of the promotional materials (e.g. PV #2, CM, and BD/DVD Vol. 01 TV ad) and are expected to take a more cameo type of role.  On the official site’s character list are Kongou (BB), Hiei (BB), Nagato (BB), Mutsu (BB), Yamato (BB), Akagi (CV), Kaga (CV), Zuikaku (CV), Atago (CA), Sendai (CL), Jintsu (CL), Naka (CL), Kitakami (CLT), Ooi (CLT), Ooyodo (CL), Fubuki (DD), Shimakaze (DD), Akatsuki (DD), Hibiki (DD), Ikatsuchi (DD), Inazuma (DD), Yudachi (DD) and Mutsuki (DD).  Akagi, Kongou and Fubuki appear in the first PV (in that order) along with the “Anchorage Princess” and a “Deep Fleet” destroyer.

Plot & Expectations

Together with the second PV, some details about the anime’s story outline were released.  According to an AnimeNewsNetwork article,  the anime setting is a world in which humanity has lost control of the seas to the “Deep Fleet”, and it’s up to the Kanmusu, ship-girls who “possess the spirit of naval vessels” from WWII, to battle the Deep Fleet on humanity’s behalf.  One day at the Kanmusu main base, a destroyer named Fubuki arrivies…  “Fubuki’s story — as well as the Kan-musume’s story — begins now.”

So pretty much as anticipated.  Something similar to Strike Witches (a mix of “slice of life” moments akin to Fubuki, Ganbarimasu! manga (minus the chibi character designs) and battles/action) with a little Aoki Hagane No Arpeggio (background/setting) and Upotte!! (Kanmusu concept)  thrown in for good measure.  According to some comments I’ve read, a magazine ad for the anime stated that the ratio of “slice of life” moments to action/battle scenes will be 70/30.   I’ve watched enough anime to understand there is always a risk with adaptations, but I must say I’m encouraged by both PVs.

A major question for me is whether the anime adaptation will appeal to anime fans who are neither familiar with IJN WWII history nor the game itself.  Girls und Panzer managed to be a show that IMO any anime fan can enjoy.  At this point, I’m uncertain whether KanColle anime can achieve the same level of success as GuP in that regard.   Based upon the second PV, there certainly will be some “inside jokes” for those who play the game (e.g. Fubuki’s stuffed toy penguin).  Another concern I have is about the growing list ship girls included in the anime, particularly for a one-cour show (nothing indicates this will be a 2-cour show).  Girls und Panzer had a large list of characters, and in my opinion, for the most part handled its large cast well considering a one-cour (12 episode) run.  However, one criticism of GuP is the overall lack of character depth and development which is a valid point on an absolute basis.  With a reported total of 30-40 ship girls in the anime, KanColle has its work cut out for it in terms of character depth and development.   IMO, the anime adaptation must carefully balance pleasing its core audience, while remaining sufficiently accessible to those not familiar with the game.

For those not familiar with the IJN during WWII and/or KanColle game or manga, I recommend you approach the anime with neutral expectations (always a safe thing to do anyway). I would not go in with expectations of another Girls und Panzer. Same is true for Arpeggio Ars Nova which has a much looser WWII connection, fewer characters, and less SOL moments/cute (ship)girls doing cute things. That being said, depending upon execution, I do think KanColle anime has the potential to appeal to fans beyond its core base and turn out to be a good, fun show to watch.  I see no reason for anyone interested in the show not to give it the usual “3 Episode Rule” test.  Given my interest in WWII (and cute girls 😛 ), I’m looking forward to KanColle anime with the usual adaptation caveats.

 


 

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7 thoughts on “Kantai Collection – Franchise and Anime Primer

  1. It certainly seems interesting. The PV does look good, though it’s geared towards the person who already knows about KanColle. It seems like a very enjoyable browser game too bad it is limited to JPN IPs. I’m certainly going to give it a shot.

  2. @miaminights: Thanks for the comment. I definitely think there will be parts of the anime geared towards the core fan base (i.e. those that play the game), but I also think based on the PV there will be an attempt to broaden the anime’s appeal to a wider audience. Whether the show will be successful or not in that regard…we’ll have to wait and see. Both Bear and I are looking forward to the show and plan to review the anime when it airs. Hope you and others will join us. 😀

    • As a starting point let’s hope they don’t have too many ship girls and the pacing introduces them slowly, not all at once. I’m already counting 10 from the character list you posted. Which could be a tad overwhelming, but it depends on the pacing of introductions. Any idea how many eps or cours the show will have?

      • @miaminights: To answer your question first, while I don’t now for certain, I’d honestly be surprised if KanColle anime was a 2-cour show. I’m expecting a 1-cour 12-13 episode run. One thing about the character count. What’s listed above should be taken as nine, not ten characters. Again, all speculation at this point, but most likely scenario is that there’s no real admiral (teitoku) – either a faceless minor character, or he/she’s just mentioned by the ship-girls but isn’t actually shown. The Anchorage Princess functions like a final boss in the game rather than true character. That could change in the anime, but I’m not expecting a whole lot of character depth and development (if any) on the Deep Fleet side this time around.

        Even with “just” nine characters, you make a good point about pacing introductions vs. big info-dump in EP 01. One thing they might do is make a mini (i.e. 2-3 min) pre-season short web-release for each ship-girl just ahead of the actual anime broadcast premier. I do think that at least a few other ship girls will show up even if only in cameo roles. From reading comments here and there, some KanColle fans are already complaining about “why is xyz not in the anime!?” As I mentioned, there are a LOT of ship girls = lots of individual favorites. Of course some are more popular than others, but even then I doubt you’d fully satisfy every fan if you included 50 of them. To be fair, it goes beyond just fan favorites. There’s considerable interaction (& derived humor) between certain ship girls. Fubuki, Ganbarimasu! manga is a good, general example of that. A specific example is one I noted above concerning Kaga not liking Shokaku and Zuikaku.

        I will say that out of the nine characters, the one big surprise to game fans was the inclusion of Mutsuki. That was a total WTF for people. She’s not a popular ship girl in any fan poll I’ve seen, and in the game she’s kind of a glass cannon. Not to be harsh, but she’s just not a very good DD. Yudachi is less of a surprise because she is a top DD in her kai-ni (2nd upgrade) form. Even so, I was bit surprised by her inclusion, especially since we don’t have any CA or CL ship girls (yet).

        • Damn Daikama you seem to know your shit, or have done your research. Whatever it is it’s getting this anime fan excited. Or are you playing with a proxy server?

          I’m worried about info dump and with possible a 12ep cour the series could hinge on how they introduce chars. As you mention having 1 main character and supporting roles/cameos. I like the idea of mini-eps online only.

          With 100+ ship Girls it’s no surprise fans have their knickers in a twist. Every otaku has their fav girl but i actually like the fact they added Mutsuki, the less than stellar DD, to the mix. She certainly seems the most innocent of the bunch!

        • [Update/Edit 10/12/14]
          @miaminights: Updating this because I am now playing the game… and it is fun! Hours go by fast. XD. TBH, while I had a pretty good idea of the game in general (even some of the mechanics), one certainly does have a better, more thorough understanding from playing it. Just a reminder, we will be reviewing the anime on a weekly basis (at least that’s the plan now). In the meantime, please feel free to asks question or make comments here until the anime starts. I’ll continue to update this post as warranted until the anime starts.

          One small correction to my above statement, “glass cannon” is not a good, accurate depiction of Mutsuki. From a game play stand point, Mutsuki-class DDs are baseline/average when it comes to stats, but then again, so is the Fubuki class. There are a number of better DDs among the other various classes to find/build (a few much better in terms of stats when fully leveled-up & remodeled). The advantage Mutsuki-class DDs offer is lower ammo consumption compared to other DD classes which is useful for expeditions. As I mentioned, resource management is a huge part of the game. In RL historic terms, to quote Wiki: “Advanced for their time, these ships [Mutsuki-class destroyers] served as first-line destroyers through the 1930s, but were considered obsolescent by the start of the Pacific War.” If it helps, the Fubuki-class DDs were the next gen after the Mutsuki class. Game stats aside, from reading translations of her dialog, KanColle Mutsuki seems to be a very nice (ship) girl who tries her best. Assuming the anime is faithful to her in-game dialog, I wouldn’t be surprised if a large number of anime viewers find her quite endearing if not the most capable ship (girl).

          As for the possible info dump… hard to say. There’s going to be some of that by necessity. Can’t be helped unless the anime is “made for KanColle fans only” rather than a wider audience. That being said, an info-dump can be done in a palatable manner. At this point, I’m not too worried about the info dump, though having a big cast will make things more difficult on anime-only viewers. Oh, want to clear up a possible misunderstanding. When I said “cameos” I didn’t mean for some of the nine ship girls listed above. FYI – MAL has Fubuki, Kongou ❤ , Akagi and Kagi all listed as "main characters" with the rest as side/supporting characters. The cameos would be for other ship girls in addition to those nine. So maybe we see Hiei (BB), Tenryuu (CL), Sendai (CL), Chitose (AV), etc., etc.

  3. Pingback: Kantai Collection Anime Adaptaion Ideas | The jamoe

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