Have you ever wondered about the origins of Kantai Collection (艦隊これくしょん)? Or happened to watch the anime but never knew what the actual game was like? Today, I will be introducing the free-to-play browser game that is all-the-rage in Japan at the moment.
Developed by Kadokawa, Kancolle (艦これ) was released in 23 April 2013 on the online gaming platform DMM. The game was originally intended for 10,000 players. However, the game caught on with the combined usage of cute anthropomorphic warships, backed by the voices of renowned seiyuus and went viral soon after. As a result, Kancolle currently has roughly 2.8 million players registered. That count isn’t showing any signs of slowing down with the recent conclusion of the anime, which might have perked the interest of the anime-watching audience. As a side-note, foreign IP addresses are blocked from accessing the game on DMM, although foreigners aren’t actually banned from playing the game itself.
So what is the main attraction of the game? True to its name, Kancolle is mostly about collecting fleet-girls, also known as kanmusu (艦むす). The crux is that these ship-girls are based on actual ships that took part in World War II, or are part of the Imperial Japan Navy. The bigger catch however, are the voices behind these ship-girls. Renowned seiyuus such as Ayane Sakura; Nao Touyama; Rina Hidaka; Risa Taneda; Yuka Iguchi, all voiced at least different 8 ships each! As Kancolle grew in size and following, the list of famous seiyuus joined the ranks as new ships were slowly added into the game, with the latest few being Ai Kayano; Hisako Kanemoto; Mamiko Noto and Yui Horie.
Gameplay is fairly simplistic. You the admiral (提督 teitoku), assemble fleets and sortie them on missions to defeat the enemy, which is simply known as the Abyssal. There have been speculations about the true nature of the Abyssal, whether they are based on allied warships or if they were former kanmusu that were sunk during combat. However, there has been no canonical information about the Abyssal, or where they originate from.
The sense of progression comes from expanding your collection while leveling your kanmusu at the same time. When they reach the level cap of 99, one can “marry” them for the price of 700 yen – raising their level cap to 150 but more importantly, to show their ultimate affection to the kanmusu of their heart. Minor updates happen every fortnight to add new content into the game. Every couple of months, there will be event maps which are based on real war operations such as Midway and the Aleutian Islands. These limited-time-only maps usually poses a significant challenge for new players and even seasoned veterans, whereby the reward for clearing these maps are usually exclusive event–only kanmusu, alongside new equipment.
Although Kancolle is a simple game at its core, its fandom is still going strong despite that fact. The question to ask is whether Kancolle will ever be more than just a flash game, given the cult following it has garnered. Avid industry watchers have noted that Kancolle is already a resounding success not just as a game, but also as a franchise – ranging from receiving an anime adaptation (with a sequel already announced), to the countless merchandises such as PVC figures. While we’re at that why not add in a PS Vita game to the mix too? At the end of the day, it remains to be seen whether Kancolle is nothing more than a fad, or if it can continue to rival Touhou (in terms of popularity) for the years to come. If you are interested in the game and would like to know more, you can check out the Kancolle wiki as well as the general Wikipedia entry.
P.S. If it floats your boat, do check out Arpeggio of Blue Steel as well!