A trend is sweeping through Japan, one that unites all of the metric tonnage of war machines with the metric tonnage of moe girls: Ship Girls. Ship Girls are Battlships, Planes, and Tanks that have been personified as anime girls. System Soft Alpha first tried this unique blend of themes with Moe Moe Niji Taisen in 2007, but a more recent web browser game, titled Kantai Collection (abbreviated KanColle), seems to have perfected it.
In KanColle, a player is tasked with organizing and arming a fleet of Ship Girls to gather resources and recruit new units by completing sorties. The player will spend most of their time deciding how to arm their fleet before a sortie, as the battles themselves are mostly automated. After gathering rewards from successful sorties, players can invest their resources into repairs, upgrades, and ammunition to prepare for their next mission.
Kensuke Tanaka, who worked as a producer on Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy XI, and Final Fantasy XIII, directed KanColle. He wanted to create a game with historical elements that could still appeal to the fans of anime and manga. This supposedly led him to the idea of creating a game based on anthropomorphized war machines. The game rose to fame after Japanese voice actors lending their talent to it began the KonColle hashtag on Twitter, which became the most used hashtag in Japan in 2013, and currently has over 3,000,000 registered users.
Naoki Yoshida, the producer of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, said that Kantai Collection is Japan’s answer to World of Tanks. He also mentions that he is impressed with its business model. In the same survey, Seiji Hayashi, the director of Hatsune Miku: Project Diva stated that he believes the game is innovative.
Despite its popularity, the game hasn’t been a financial success for the developer, Kadokawa Games, because of the profit sharing agreement between them and KonColle’s publisher, DMM Group. However, due to that same agreement, the DMM Corporation as a whole gained 7 billion yen – that’s 14 times the amount it took to develop the game – as of June 2014.
Though the game is only available in Japanese, fans have created a patch for the game called KanColleTool that allows players to view its key elements in English.