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Konpeki no Kantai (紺碧の艦隊?, lit. Deep Blue Fleet) is a Japanese alternate-history original video animation series produced by J.C.Staff. The series focuses on a technologically advanced Imperial Japanese Navy and a radically different World War II that was brought about by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's revival in the past due to unexplained circumstances. The series is also notable for using the Imperial Japanese calendar instead of the Roman calendar in denoting the years where the events of the series take place. It also spawned a 1997 OVA sequel called Kyokujitsu no Kantai (旭日の艦隊?, lit. Fleet of the Rising Sun), one manga sequel, and two turn-based strategy games for the PC-FX and the SNES.

Konpeki no Kantai is largely based on the novel written by Yoshio Aramaki. The first volume of this series, Konpeki no Kantai (Deep Blue Fleet) was published in December 1990. The novel's popularity reportedly rose dramatically due to the start of the Gulf War the following month. Aramaki later wrote a different series called Asahi no Kantai (The Fleet of the Rising Sun), elements of which were used in the OVA sequel. The two series, totaling some 25 volumes, eventually sold more than five million copies.[1]

Point of Departure

In Konpeki no Kantai's first episode, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's death on April 18, 1943, still proceeds exactly as in the real event. Just before his damaged plane crashes into Bougainville Island, Yamamoto blacks out, before awakening in a ship quarters. Unclear about what has just happened, Yamamoto speaks with a crewman, and discovers that he is aboard the Japanese cruiser Nisshin. He is then informed that the date is May 28, 1905 and that Battle of Tsushima has just ended. Yamamoto realizes that he has somehow been transported back in time (or to a parallel world).

After Yamamoto decides to revert to his old name of Isoroku Takano,[2] he vows to use his advance-knowledge of the next 38 years to ensure that Japan does not make the same mistakes as before.

Yamamoto's first priority is to spearhead a massive naval construction program. Code-named "Konpeki no Kantai" (lit. Deep Blue Fleet), the program involves building a large fleet of advanced Battleships and Supercarriers, nuclear submarines that are evolutions of the real-life I-400 Sen Toku submarine, and advanced Jet aircraft and long-range heavy bombers that were in prototype or concept form during the late stages of the actual Pacific War.[3]

His plan for success begins with a coup d'état against the hardline government of Army General Hideki Tōjō in late 1941, on the eve of the Pearl Harbor attack, and installing an ally, Lt Gen Yasaburo Otaka as prime minister. Otaka, who has also been transported back in time, agrees to work with Yamamoto to change history and ensure that the Japanese Empire emerges victorious against the United States in the Second World War.

Alternate Events of the Pearl Harbor Attack

The first episode of the series depicts the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. In this alternate history, Yamamoto uses his advance knowledge of the future, combined with now superior technology of the Japanese navy, to ensure that the strategy and outcome of the attack are considerably different from the actual events which occurred:

Alternate Depiction Actual Events
Japan's declaration of war against the United States is delivered before the attack begins. Due to the slow decoding and translation of diplomatic cables from Tokyo, the Japanese embassy in Washington did not deliver a written statement that peace talks were at an end until after the attack had begun. The actual declaration of war was not made until the following evening.[4]
The attack is launched before daybreak since Japan has perfected nighttime aircraft carrier operations. The technological limitations of the time made the landing of planes on carrier decks in the dark nearly impossible, which was why the attack did not begin until morning.[5]
The raid begins with Japanese pathfinders dropping flares. No flares were used during the attack by either side, since the attack took place at daytime.
The entire military base at Pearl Harbor is destroyed. Most of Pearl Harbor's infrastructure, such as the power station, fuel depot, shipyards, submarine pens, armories, and the military headquarters sustained no damage during the attack. (Yamamoto later stated that sparing these facilities was a critical error.) [6][7]
Following the initial attack, the Japanese fleet regroups and annihilates the remainder of the US Pacific Fleet, including its three aircraft carriers, as they return to Pearl Harbor to join the battle. The Kido Butai Battle Group [8][9] turned back immediately without any further engagements with American forces. The huge distance the fleet had to travel between Japan and Hawaii (as well as the return trip) meant that the fleet's fuel capacity only permitted it to operate near Hawaii for a limited period of time. In addition, many of these ships were needed immediately to support Japanese military offensives in the Western Pacific.[10][11]
The episode ends with Japanese troops invading Hawaii. The Japanese military briefly considered trying to seize the Hawaiian Islands but decided that it was impractical, since Japan's ground forces and resources were already fully committed, not only to the Second Sino-Japanese War but also for military offensives in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific that were planned to occur almost simultaneously with the Pearl Harbor attack.[12][13][14]

After Pearl Harbor

Following the successful invasion, Japan grants Hawaii independence from the United States. In subsequent episodes, the Japanese military easily defeats Allied forces in Southeast Asia and grants independence to all of the territories formerly under European and American colonial rule. In subsequent battles in the Tasman Sea and the Torres Strait, the IJN further cripples American naval power, and advances across the Pacific Ocean to strike at the West Coast of North America. An IJN submarine-carrier flotilla destroys the Panama Canal's Gatun locks to hinder American efforts to transfer ships from the Atlantic Ocean. The United States suffers more crushing setbacks, including a second Panama Canal attack and a Japanese surgical airstrike on the Manhattan Project's Los Alamos facilities. They prove too much for US President Henry Roosevelt, who dies of a stroke after learning of Los Alamos' destruction. His successor, Bill Truman, realizing that the United States cannot continue the war, sues for peace and accepts the surrender terms offered by Japan.

Although the Japanese are initially allied with Nazi Germany, German dictator Heinrich von Hitler becomes concerned about their string of victories and the rapid growth of Japan's technological and military power (partly boosted with the expertise of Albert Einstein). After Germany defeats the Soviet Union, conquers most of Africa, and establishes the Great European Empire, Hitler declares war on Japan. Japan's first thrust against Germany comes in the form of a precision attack by three intercontinental flying-boat bombers on the Nazis' atomic weapons research facility.

German forces start the invasion of India and England. On the Indian front, the Wehrmacht conducts an airborne assault on Kolkata and sends troops south to Cochin to meet other German forces coming down the western coast. Japan comes to the rescue by deploying armored forces with surviving British units. Another IJN carrier fleet is also deployed to the Indian Ocean. The Americans lend their support by bombing German convoys. The submarine-carrier flotilla that attacked the Panama Canal is later redeployed to the Bab el-Mandeb to ambush a Kriegsmarine force being sent to the Indian Ocean.

The tide quickly turns on the Wehrmacht after they reach Mongolia. They are also driven to a stalemate in India after Japanese bombers destroy the invasion headquarters in New Delhi and antisubmarine warfare ravages the Kriegsmarine's U-boat force in the Indian Ocean. Nationalist Chinese forces work with the Americans to stop the German advance in Xinjiang province while Japan sends military forces to bolster the People's Republic of East Siberia (a new state created in the Siberian region after the fall of the Soviet regime).

While the Germans are stopped in Mongolia, the US, Britain, and Japan team up for further action in the Atlantic. British troops and Japan's air and sea forces hold down the German invasion of Britain while the US invades Europe through France's Brittany coast. At the same time, Japanese commandos infiltrate Hitler's main command center and destroys it with explosives, but Hitler survives. A subsequent coup by German State Secretary Erhardt Goering fails and he is executed along with two other top officials. The turn of events, plus the Allies' successes, forces peace talks between Germany, Japan, Britain, and the US. The war ends by 1950.

Kyokujitsu no Kantai

In the 1997 sequel Kyokujitsu no Kantai (Fleet of the Rising Sun), Japan builds up on its success in the earlier series by expanding its blue-water capabilities to reach the Atlantic Ocean. The series further details the presence of the IJN Atlantic fleet revealed in the latter half of Konpeki no Kantai.

After Germany declares war on Japan, the Japanese navy begins challenging the Kriegsmarine in the North Atlantic. In a climactic battle in the second episode, the IJN Atlantic force's flagship, the super-battleship Yamato Takeru (lit. The Brave of Yamato) engages and destroys Germany's own super-battleship, the Bismarck II.[15][16] The Japanese later launches attacks on German naval facilities in Kiel and a French-based battery of Heracles railway guns threatening London, earning them the Victoria Cross, which is bestowed on fleet commander Admiral Oshii. The move paves the way for trans-polar travel between Japan and Britain.

Having defeated the Soviet Union, Germany turns its focus to the West, destroying the White House in a surgical strike. A nuclear attack on New York City in 1947 finally drives the US to join Japan in the fight against Nazi Germany, which launched a modified Operation Sea Lion against Britain on October 7, 1948. Most of southeast England falls to the Nazis, with the British government evacuating to Inverness. However, the Japanese fleet arrives in time to destroy the German beachhead and stop the invasion forces, many of which are found in Kingston-upon-Hull and Grimsby.

Characters

To keep in line with the World War II theme, Konpeki no Kantai/Kyokujitsu no Kantai also features some characters who closely resemble actual historical figures from the 1940s. Only their first names were changed.

Japan

United States

Nazi Germany/Great European Empire

Others

Media

DVDs

Konpeki no Kantai was released from 1994 to 2003 on LaserDisc and DVD, with the DVDs containing two episodes each. JC Staff eventually compiled it and Kyokujitsu no Kantai into three large DVD boxed sets. The first was released on July 29, 2005 by Tokuma Shoten and Happinet Pictures, only a few days before the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.[19] The first set in particular contains an art booklet and the 1997 special episode Secret Launch of the Sorai, a story of two Japanese engineers who develop the Sorai (the series' counterpart of the J7W Shinden fighter) and deploy it against a Tokyo-bound force of US B-30 long-range bombers launched from Alaska. The interception itself is featured in Episode 3. Pre-order rewards include a Zippo lighter replica from 1941 and a scale model of the I-601 submarine carrier.[20][21] The second DVD box set was released on September 23, 2005.[22] The last compilation was released on November 25, 2005.[23]

The series is available for purchase over the Internet from a number of sites but is only sold in DVD Region 2 format, which is not compatible with most DVD players available in the United States and Canada (which are Region 1) - although some newer DVD players are (or can be modified to be) region-free. However, all releases, including those available over the Internet, do not include dubs or non-Japanese subtitles. Neither series has been (or is planned to be) translated for release outside of Japan because of their Japan-centric content, such as the Allied powers being depicted as villains while Japan's conduct during the war is depicted as being noble.

Games

In March 1995, NEC Interchannel and MicroCabin released a Konpeki no Kantai PC-FX turn-based strategy game.[24] The SNES version of the game, which was published by Angel Studios (now Rockstar San Diego) and developed by Access Co., followed suit in November of the same year.[25]

The game follows all combat operations depicted in the series, with battles fought on an isometric map. The player also has the capability to develop new weapons.

Manga

Tokuma Shoten published Shin Konpeki no Kantai (新紺碧の艦隊?, lit. New Deep Blue Fleet) in 20 bound volumes between April 1992 and September 1996.[26][27] The entire series was eventually re-released in three bunkobon volumes. The first volume was released on April 25, 2003.[28] The second volume was released on March 25, 2004 [29] and the last on July 25, 2005.[30]

Novel

Tokuma Shoten published a ten-novel Konpeki no Kantai series between December 4, 2004 and August 4, 2005.[31][32] The issues were later compiled into four volumes, with the first book released on December 8, 2006 and the last one on March 2, 2007.[33][34]

File:Konpeki no Kantai novel.jpeg
Title Date ISBN

Template:Book list Template:Book list Template:Book list Template:Book list Template:Book list Template:Book list Template:Book list Template:Book list Template:Book list Template:Book list

See also

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References

  1. Thinking the Opposite: An Interview with Yoshio Aramaki by Mitsutaka Oide (available at the Dalkey Archive Press, University of Illinois).
  2. In 1916, Isoroku was adopted into the Yamamoto family (a family of former Nagaoka samurai) and took the Yamamoto name. At the time, Japanese families lacking sons often adopted suitable young men to carry on the family name.
  3. The aircraft appear to be based on actual prototypes such as the Mitsubishi Ki-202 and Nakajima Kikka jet fighters, the Aichi S1A Denko night figher and the Nakajima G10N ultra-long-range super-heavy bomber.
  4. Script error, page 58.
  5. Prior to the development of Optical Landing Systems in the mid-1950s, pilots relied solely on their visual perception of the carrier deck and the aid of the Landing Signal Officer, who helped guide plans using colored flags, cloth paddles and lighted wands.
  6. Script error, page 98.
  7. The only military infrastructure to sustain serious damage were the airfields and hangars. Japanese military planners decided that unless the airfields were immediately targeted, the large number of American aircraft based on the Island would pose a severe threat to the Japanese attack force. Consequently, nearly all Japanese fighters not assigned to attack the warships in the harbor were ordered to strike the airfields. While this strategy was largely successful (all of the airfields suffered severe damage and very few American aircraft were actually able to join the battle), it meant that Japanese aircraft had to refrain from attacking nearly all of the other land-based military facilities.
  8. The Kido Butai (機動部隊 lit. Mobile Unit/Force) was the Japanese Combined Fleet's main carrier battle group until July 1942, when it was disbanded and its ships were transferred to the IJN 3rd Fleet.
  9. Kido Butai!: Stories and Battle Histories of the IJN's Carrier Fleet by Anthony Tully, last updated July 12, 2009.
  10. Script error
  11. The three Aircraft Carriers of the US Pacific Fleet were not at Pearl Harbor during the attack. The Enterprise and the Lexington were relatively close to Hawaii (the Enterprise managed to launch a limited number of aircraft during the attack) but neither encountered the Kido Butai battle group. The third carrier, the Saratoga was near San Diego during the attack and did not reach Hawaii until December 15. Three other American aircraft carriers, Yorktown, Hornet and Wasp were operating in the Atlantic Ocean at the time of the attack.
  12. Despite several requests from the Japanese Combined Fleet, the Japanese Imperial Army refused to supply ground forces or resources for an invasion of Hawaii as it wished to focus on operations in China and Southeast Asia (a lack of cooperation between the Army and Navy hampered Japanese military operations throughout the war.)
  13. In late December 1941, Yamamoto tried to secure support an invasion of Hawaii, but continued to face stiff opposition, not only from the army but also from Fleet Admiral Osami Nagano (永野修身), who felt that such an operation was too risky. Eventually, Yamamoto reportedly secured a tentative agreement for an invasion of Hawaii after military operations in the Western Pacific were completed and additional ground troops and warships were available. However, Japanese losses at the Battle of Midway made any future offensives against Hawaii impossible.
  14. Weinberg, Gerhard L., A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1994, page 260, 323, 329-330.
  15. The Yamato Takeru (lit. The Brave of Yamato) is presumably named after Prince Yamatotakeru (日本武尊, やまとたける), who was a legendary prince of Japan's Yamato dynasty.
  16. The fictional Yamato Takeru is presumably intended to be a hyper-advanced version of the real-life battleship Yamato which, along with her sister ship, the Musashi, were the largest and heaviest battleships ever constructed. Likewise, the Bismarck II is intended to be a similarly modified version of the Bismarck. Both were among the most famous warships of the Second World War.
  17. This character is likely named after 19th century Japanese statesman Kido Takayoshi, who died in 1877.
  18. This character is likely named after 19th century Japanese statesman Shinagawa Yajirō.
  19. Konpeki no Kantai, Kyokujitsu no Kantai Complete DVD Box 1 at Play-Asia.com (English).
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  31. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named T1
  32. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named T2
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External links

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