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KanColle and it's IJN WW2 RealitiesKanColle and it's IJN WW2 RealitiesMisc

gundamukgundamuk5 years ago
So if you’re reading this blog post you must be interested in the Kantai collection. Be forewarned, though, that this article is mainly focused on certain aspects of current Japanese politics surrounding how Japan views WW2 and the history of the ships that Shimakaze and her fellow naval warrior daughters, aka kanmusu, are based on in the Kantai Collection. This is not about news or my views of current KanColle figures that have been made since the game came out in 2013.

However, if you’re interested in reading a little bit about the current Japanese socio-political background that the Kanmusu can be viewed from as well as a history behind the Kantai girls' namesake ships then read on.

So with that disclaimer out of the way, I’ll start by saying that I was a little surprised, but quite interested when I first saw the various Kantai Collection figures come out and later learned about the figures origins from the KanColle game and new anime. The anime story line is relatively interesting, and the figures with their battleship parts are attractive - characters like Shimakaze are wildly popular among collectors. Case in point, I was in the Akiba Mandarake a few weeks back and saw a guy browsing through the Figma figures, see a used Shimakaze, and pull her off the shelf and hold her close to his chest as he then sent off a text, most likely exclaiming how lucky he was to find a cheap and used Shimakaze.

Anyway, the Kantai Collection and its anime story line got me thinking a bit about what it's reflecting in Japan now and what it's based on.

Living in Japan I have the chance to see all aspects of its society and culture, from domestic politics to the pop culture/anime and figure scene that we all enjoy here on MFC. In the last couple years, though, I’ve noticed that Prime Minister Abe’s right-leaning focus on conservative domestic politics, his rising to the challenge presented by China's moves towards the Senkaku islands, and pushing the Ministry of Education to again adjust high school history books toward a more benign view of Japan’s role in World War II, seems to also echo down through Japanese pop culture. In the most obvious examples, the last few years have seen quite a few manga, targeted at the domestic Japanese audience, that show a Japan worthy of respect in its war against the allies in the Pacific, focusing on camaraderie between soldiers and honor in combat through the Japanese fighting spirit, all the while glossing over Japan’s wartime misconduct that continues to be so contentious among neighbors China and South Korea, who suffered immense losses of life and property to Japanese wartime aggression.

Now, what really interested me about KanColle is that the writers of the anime based their female Japanese Navy Moes on actual Japanese naval vessels from the Pacific War, some that were involved in launching bombing raids on civilian targets in China and Australia, like the bombings of Shanghai and Darwin, and others that fought pitched naval battles against the navies of the US, Britain, the Netherlands, and Australia. A South Korean journalist argued last year that the popularity of the KanColle shows a move towards conservatism among Japanese youth with the game’s glorifying Japan’s wartime past with its cute Moe Anthropomorphisms (isn’t that a great concept?) based on the Imperial Japanese Navy. Others say no. Maybe the majority of the MFC community hasn’t thought too much about KanColle and politics, but if you have, I’d be interested in hearing your ideas.

And finally, with credit primarily due to Wikipedia, here is a little of the historical background on Shimakaze and some of the other Kanmusu.

Shimakaze (Island Wind) was a one-off super-destroyer built for the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. She was armed with six 127 mm (5.0 in) dual purpose guns and conventional anti-aircraft and anti-submarine weaponry. The ship was a testbed for an enormously-powerful, high-temperature, high-pressure steam engine that was able to develop nearly 80,000 shp (60,000 kW). This made her one of the fastest destroyers in the world: her designed speed was 39 kn (72 km/h; 45 mph), but on trials she made 40.9 kn (75.7 km/h; 47.1 mph

In June 1943, she participated in the evacuation of Japanese troops from Kiska Island towards the end of the Aleutian Islands campaign. She was present in June 1944 at the Battle of the Philippine Sea. In October 1944, she was present at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, although she played no role in the battle except for picking up survivors from the sunken battleship Musashi. While serving as the flagship of Destroyer Squadron 2 under the command of Rear Admiral Mikio Hayakawa, she was attacked and sunk by American aircraft from Task Force 38 on 11 November 1944 during the Battle of Ormoc Bay. So for all that vaunted speed, Shimakaze just couldn't outrun Corsairs and P-38s.

Fubuki (Blizzard) was the lead ship of twenty-four Fubuki-class destroyers, built for the Imperial Japanese Navy following World War I. When introduced into services, these ships were the most powerful destroyers in the world. Fubuki was a veteran of many of the major battles of the first year of the war.

For example, on 13–18 February 1942, Fubuki was assigned to "Operartion L", the invasion of Bangka and Palembang, on Sumatra in the Netherlands East Indies, and took part in attacks on Allied shipping fleeing from Singapore. Fubuki assisted in the sinking or capture of at least seven vessels during this operation. On 1 March, the Australian cruiser HMAS Perth and American cruiser USS Houston sailed at top speed to Sunda Strait and encountered the Fubuki at about 22.30, which was guarding the Eastern approaches, she fired nine torpedoes at about 3000 yards and retreated. During the Battle of Sunda Strait Perth and Houston were both sunk.

On 11 October 1942, in the Battle of Cape Esperance, Fubuki's luck finally ran out. She was sunk by the gunfire of a US cruiser/destroyer group, off Cape Esperance . There were 109 survivors from her crew who were later rescued by the American destroyer USS McCalla (DD-488) and the destroyer/minesweepers USS Hovey (DMS-11) and USS Trever. It'll be interesting to see her fate in the new anime, although it'll probably be better than her namesake's reality.

Akagi (Red Castle) was an aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy, named after Mount Akagi in present-day Gunma Prefecture. Though she was laid down as an Amagi-class battlecruiser, Akagi was converted to an aircraft carrier while still under construction to comply with the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty.

Akagi’s aircraft served in the Second Sino-Japanese War in the late 1930s, bombing numerous cities and military positions in China. Upon the formation of the First Air Fleet in early 1941, she became its flagship, and remained so for the duration of her service. With other fleet carriers, she took part in the Attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and the invasion of Rabaul in the Southwest Pacific in January 1942. The following month, her aircraft bombed Darwin, Australia, and assisted in the conquest of the Dutch East Indies. In March and April 1942, Akagi’s aircraft helped sink a British heavy cruiser and an Australian destroyer in the Indian Ocean Raid.

After a brief refit, Akagi and three other fleet carriers participated in the Battle of Midway in June 1942. After bombarding American forces on the atoll, Akagi and the other carriers were attacked by aircraft from Midway and the carriers Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown. Dive bombers from Enterprise severely damaged Akagi. When it became obvious she could not be saved, she was scuttled by Japanese destroyers to prevent her from falling into enemy hands. The loss of Akagi and three other IJN carriers at Midway was a crucial strategic defeat for Japan and contributed significantly to the Allies' ultimate victory in the Pacific.

Kaga was an aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the third to enter service, named after the former Kaga Province in present-day Ishikawa Prefecture. Kaga’s aircraft first supported Japanese troops in China during the Shanghai Incident of 1932 and participated in the Second Sino-Japanese War in the late 1930s, with her planes bombing numerous cities and military positions in China. With other carriers, she took part in the Pearl Harbor raid in December 1941 and the invasion of Rabaul in the Southwest Pacific in January 1942. The following month her aircraft participated in a combined carrier airstrike on Darwin, Australia, helping secure the conquest of the Dutch East Indies by Japanese forces. She missed the Indian Ocean raid in April as she had to return to Japan for permanent repairs after hitting a reef in February.

Following repairs, Kaga rejoined the 1st Air Fleet for the Battle of Midway in June 1942. After bombarding American forces on Midway Atoll, Kaga and three other IJN carriers were attacked by American aircraft from Midway and the carriers Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown. Dive bombers from Enterprise severely damaged Kaga; when it became obvious she could not be saved, she was scuttled by Japanese destroyers to prevent her from falling into enemy hands. The loss of four large attack carriers, including Kaga at Midway was a crucial setback for Japan, and contributed significantly to Japan's ultimate defeat.

Kongo (indestructible - kind of ironic that most popular of the Kongo figures from KanColle focus on her "damage" version), was a warship of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War I and World War II. She was the first battlecruiser of the Kongo class, among the most heavily armed ships in any navy when built.

The Kongo fought in a large number of major naval actions of the Pacific War during World War II. She covered the Japanese Army's amphibious landings in British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies in 1942, before engaging American forces at the Battle of Midway and during the Guadalcanal Campaign. Throughout 1943, Kongo primarily remained at Truk Lagoon in the Caroline Islands Kure Naval Base (near Hiroshima), Sasebo Naval Base (near Nagasaki), and Lingga Roads, and deployed several times in response to American aircraft carrier air raids on Japanese island bases scattered across the Pacific. The Kongo participated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944 (October 22–23), engaging and sinking American vessels in the latter. The Kongo was torpedoed and sunk by the submarine USS Sealion while transiting the Formosa Strait on 21 November 1944. She was the only Japanese battleship sunk by submarine in the Second World War, and the last battleship sunk by submarine in history.

Yamato (many meanings, including “Japanese,” “Japanese Spirit,”), was named after the ancient Japanese Yamato Province, and was the lead ship of the Yamato class of battleships that served with the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. She and her sister ship, Musashi, were the heaviest and most powerfully armed battleships ever constructed,

The only time she fired her main guns at enemy surface targets was in October 1944, when she was sent to engage American forces invading the Philippines during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The massive guns of Yamato would not be turned against battleships, but in the Battle off Samar near Leyte Gulf, they would instead be used in a seemingly mismatched showdown against small and inexpensive light ships and carriers (The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors – an excellent account of the battle if you’re interested). Nevertheless desperate American sailors and aviators delivered accurate shellfire and torpedoes from ships as small as destroyer escorts. These attacks wrought enough havoc on the Japanese surface force to cause it to turn back, but only after inflicting losses comparable in ships and men to the Battle of Midway.

Later in 1944, the balance of naval power in the Pacific decisively turned against Japan and, by early 1945, the Japanese fleet was depleted and critically short of fuel. In April 1945, in a desperate attempt to slow the Allied advance, Yamato was dispatched on a one way voyage to Okinawa, where it was intended that she should protect the island from invasion and fight until destroyed. The task force was spotted south of Kyushu by US submarines and aircraft, and on 7 April 1945 she was sunk by American carrier-based bombers and torpedo bombers with the loss of most of her crew of thousands of sailors.
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Comments29

gundamuk Lewd, but never uncouth...
Heckfire5 years ago#2876726Fascinating article. I've always felt a little bit of discomfort about my growing affection for KanColle due to the fact that I had grandparents and even one of my aunts actually fight in WWII, albeit in the European theater, especially once I heard that the alien invaders represent Allied bases (any confirmation on that from those more familiar with the lore?). I...reluctantly admit, I might be less discomforted without knowing this, but I also believe there's no real point in holding grudges from such an old war. Most of the people who fought those battles were just regular joes, on both sides, and KanColle is a fantasy retelling of its battles, kinda like Steve Rogers and Red Skull in "Captain America: The First Avenger."
...I mean, I still want to get the Shimakaze and Amatsukaze Figmas, after all. LOL...cute girls trump old war wounds?
I think a lot of how one takes KanColle is based on one's perspective. You obviously have more knowledge on WWII than the average KanColle collector... I agree that it's been a while since WWII ended (70 years in fact) but on the flip side, it's amazing to see how emotional it still is in watching the political back&forth between Japan and Korea/China in the run-up to the 7oth anniversary of the war's end.
5 years ago
Fascinating article. I've always felt a little bit of discomfort about my growing affection for KanColle due to the fact that I had grandparents and even one of my aunts actually fight in WWII, albeit in the European theater, especially once I heard that the alien invaders represent Allied bases (any confirmation on that from those more familiar with the lore?). I...reluctantly admit, I might be less discomforted without knowing this, but I also believe there's no real point in holding grudges from such an old war. Most of the people who fought those battles were just regular joes, on both sides, and KanColle is a fantasy retelling of its battles, kinda like Steve Rogers and Red Skull in "Captain America: The First Avenger."

...I mean, I still want to get the Shimakaze and Amatsukaze Figmas, after all. LOL...cute girls trump old war wounds?
5 years ago
gundamuk Lewd, but never uncouth...
secretly-otaku5 years ago#2677259What an interesting topic! Thank you for sharing these facts. Actually, most of my knowlegde regarding WWII revolves around Germany, so the Asian part of the war as well as the African part I haven't explored much...
Anyway, I think japanese anime and manga fans are very flexible when it comes to the use of historical facts and people. We have Hyakka Ryouran, Sengoku Basara, Gintama or Oda Nobuna no Yabou just to name a few, so it seems they take things less seriously than others. Sure, when you're on the abused side, it could be hard to be that flexible regarding the use of history, but then again, is it necessary to make others to resent things they never have faced? I'm not saying that we have to forget what happened, but we shall not harbor and fuel feelings that don't belong to our current place and time in history.
Thanks for the positive comments, and like many of the other readers, for sharing your thoughts. I have spent some time in Russia, and know how seriously the Russians take their WWII history and remembrance, but most of my experience in talking and thinking about the conflict has been in Asia.

And I think you are right that anime fans are pretty flexible when it comes to how WWII is reflected in both manga and anime, with KanColle being a great example.

On the flip side, because Japan never responded like Germany after the war in terms of taking accountability for its actions (with the U.S. post-war occupation playing a role, no doubt), many Chinese and Koreans in particular, and their national governments, still harbor feelings of resentment, and their text books and government programs emphasize the criminal actions of Japan during the war. It's a tough topic with no clear right/wrong answer, but dialog certainly helps.
5 years ago
What an interesting topic! Thank you for sharing these facts. Actually, most of my knowlegde regarding WWII revolves around Germany, so the Asian part of the war as well as the African part I haven't explored much.

I have read in some posts cases where parents/grandparents express their discomfort when it comes to anything related to Japan and I can relate to that issue a bit. My dad has this thing against a neighboring country and I frankly don't share that feeling. Things happened between our countries many years before me, so I can't say I understand his grudge against them. And I think it happens the same with many young people who can't relate to being affected by war. Sure, older people can explain their reasons, but then it is OK to teach younger people to keep that hatred alive? We are talking about horrible things that were done by people who are probably dead by now. It is understandable if you have to deal with someone who was there and accepts what he or she did and doesn't feel any remorse about it, but feeling the same hatred against people that wasn't there doesn't make much sense to me.

Anyway, I think japanese anime and manga fans are very flexible when it comes to the use of historical facts and people. We have Hyakka Ryouran, Sengoku Basara, Gintama or Oda Nobuna no Yabou just to name a few, so it seems they take things less seriously than others. Sure, when you're on the abused side, it could be hard to be that flexible regarding the use of history, but then again, is it necessary to make others to resent things they never have faced? I'm not saying that we have to forget what happened, but we shall not harbor and fuel feelings that don't belong to our current place and time in history.
5 years ago
Oyasumi5 years ago#2676566Welcome to the real world. Sorry, war is not fappable.
Yet there are people who'd fap to that.
5 years ago
Maybe it should be all cutesy and moe at first, make them think their clothes are going to fly off and be all like "kyaa! hazukashii! I hope senpai doesn't see me like this! uguu!" But no. Instead when they get bombed have it be a huge bloody mess. Body parts flying everywhere. Death curdling screams. Insert other horrific atrocity here.

Welcome to the real world. Sorry, war is not fappable.
5 years ago
This post makes Kancolle more interesting to me. I love the design of the girls, and I think I would enjoy the game if I played it, but the history with names of the ships really adds and extra factor that I really like.
5 years ago
Thanks for the interesting read! It's easy to be simply amused by the japanese habit of seemingly turning everything into moe-blob material and ignore the actual ethics of this kind of commercialisation of (war-)history.
5 years ago
gundamuk5 years ago#2674789Follow your impulse and check out some of the WW2 battle sites and wreck dives around the Philippines. Corrigador is a must-see to understand why the Japanese fought so hard against the Filipino and American defenders. For diving, there are a lot of ships sunk off Palawan, and one of the Japanese famous "Hell Ships," the Oryoku Maru (a Japanese cargo liner transporting 1,620 survivors of the Bataan Death March and Corregidor that was unmarked and sunk by US Navy aircraft in Dec. '44 without the pilots' knowing it was full of Americans and Filipinos), is just off of Bataan, and an easy but sad and tragic dive.
KanColle is a fun series and one that can be appreciated from a lot of different perspectives.


Yeah, Corregidor is just some few miles away from here. We once tried to visit the place, but the weather didn't permit (it takes by boat to get there). We often come to Bataan, where the infamous Death March had happened. Markers are placed on the road sides which both American and Filipino soldiers once crossed. Here's one:
View spoilerHide spoilerhttp://i.imgur.com/fAJijWM.jpg

To my grandparents, it kinda' saddens them whenever we come across one, and my grandfather would then talk about what the Japanese had done to the Filipinos, especially the women.
I really don't know what to say ; I wasn't there during that time, so I can't firmly stand their side.
But yeah, I don't know what they would say if I show them Kan Colle.
View spoilerHide spoilerThey'd think I'm a perv for watching girls getting their clothes blown off..HAHA
5 years ago
katsudon5 years ago#2672844I'm Chinese, and my grandparents...


I'm in a similar boat as you. As a Chinese myself, my parents also harbor some anti-Japanese sentiment, though perhaps not as intense (i.e. they always treat Japanese people with respect and even have some Japanese friends).

The resentment of many Chinese towards the Japanese due to WWII atrocities 70 years ago feels kind of unreasonable to me, because you can't hold today's people responsible. However, I too am bothered by the historical revisionism.

When I ask my parents, who are very open-minded and educated people, why they still don't like Japan, they have two main reasons. The first is that the government never issued a formal apology to China for all the war crimes committed (though I believe the Japanese government has made many smaller apologies and concessions). I don't share this view, because I question if the Japanese government could ever apologize enough, and how effective or useful an apology today would be.

The second, and the one I sympathize with, is that the government refuses to fully accept some of the terrible things they did to the Chinese people during the war. If you ask any Chinese what the worst thing the Japanese did was, the first thing they'll name is the Nanjing Massacre. What boils the blood of many Chinese is the government reluctance to fully admitting what happened there in their history books.

The government, my parents say, is reflective of the people. And even though you can't blame Japanese citizens for the things that happened back in the war, the actions of an elected government is ultimately a mirror of what a country's people think.

Is Kancolle a reflection of people holding a glorified view of what the Japanese did during WWII? Hell no! As someone said earlier, it's just a game that has anthropomorphized ship girls embodying moe archetypes. I've been playing for a month and I've been having a lot of fun. People who say the game shows WII glorification sound just like those people who say video games make you kill people. I mean, for the record, a ton of Chinese people play Kancolle.

OP, thanks for the interesting blog post. I had been thinking a lot about the implications of the game, and it was cool to see someone else thinking the same.
5 years ago
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