[Mail Call] 2017/06/09 – Morgane’s Fireside Chat #3

This one should probably be titled DD girl designs. xD

See, unlike the BB or CA/CL girls which are named after states (thus, we consistently choose to design them based around attributes and characters that could be applied to each state), I think the DD girls (which are all named after famous people) are some of the hardest ones to design conceptually.

The reason here is that I’ve seen plenty of designs that followed a particular scheme. For instance, giving non-Japanese and non-British DD girls Japanese-styled sailor fuku uniforms, or forcing particular design commonalities between each. My personal take on that is that I think the designs are considerably off the mark in many cases. Not saying that there aren’t great ones out there, but merely that throwing something as “culturally unique” as the Japanese school uniforms sort of misses the mark.

In other words, KanColle DD girls are supposed to be elementary school aged (give or take). They’re supposed to be kids, and giving everyone that very “uniform” look makes sense. Even so you can see that in some of the later designs (e.g. Tokitsukaze seem to not wear pants for some reason even though others in her class definitely have ’em) the artists took a lot of flexibility in character design.

We thought about giving the DD girls a uniform “outfit” look, and then decided against it for two reasons.

  1. It’d be boring for November and everyone else to draw.
  2. It wouldn’t do a very good job highlighting their personalities. Given Pacific’s theme is to emphasize the humanity of the shipgirls, I really wanted us to avoid having any particular shipgirl be “just another one of those.”

Instead, as you can see in many cases, we chose to streamline our designs around the shipgirl’s equipment instead. I’ve talked about the “modular” nature of Pacific shipgirl gear, and that’s pretty much what happened. Even so you’ll find plenty of girls who carry unique gear that showed off their personalities. Example being things like Mahan’s book or Maury’s shield or Edsall’s sword.

Now. For someone like Mahan, you can see that her design really stayed pretty constant. For DD girls I only really pick DD girls that I can hunt down memoirs or deck logs for, because I feel like we just did a genderbent version of their historical counterpart it’d be a bit lazy. In many cases, I explored the possibilities of their personality and their ideas, and see how that “meshed” with the ship.

For instance, if you read Mahan, you’ll realize he comes across as a bit of a condescending ass. Quiet, calm, and dignified, yes, but you can’t help but to think that there’s a bit of something there. He was reserved and sometimes deeply conflicted, and there was something particularly mechanical about his actions that really stuck out at me. But I bet you’d have never guessed that he hated commanding ships and found the pressure of command to be overwhelming, right? Or that this particularly intelligent man was actually fairly aggressive as far as commanders go.

For the record, Mahan might have been the only naval commander in US history who managed to disable his ship – by fighting a drydock.

(He crashed his ship into the dock where it ended up stuck for ten days. Yeah…

About that… I thought to myself, well, doesn’t the USS Mahan’s collision now make sense? That tidbit was too good to pass up, and anecdotally, that’s really where Mahan’s absent-minded personality comes in. In our case though, she’d be reading while walking. So you know how this would end up.)

Thus, I considered my knowledge of the Mahan’s actual combat performance. This was a pretty good ship in the sense that her engineering department and gunnery officers had very excellent math skills. The Mahan herself wasn’t a particularly aggressive ship, and other than that one collision (which really isn’t her fault as much as it was the result of an inexperienced large ship commander…) her behavior tended to be very guarded and cautious. The fact that the Mahan was able to last so long under kamikaze attack speaks volumes.

So, when November showed up and went, OKAY MORGANE, HOW ARE WE DOING THIS, I told him all of the above, and I said, so how do you envision seeing her?

“A bookworm… In a nice dress. Probably a bit of a vacant stare since you said Mahan’s like that… I don’t like the old man look so let’s not make her an asshole or arrogant. She should be nice!”

And so, that was that. Her initial design ended up pretty consistent throughout. She doesn’t suffer from Mahan’s crippling depression or emotional introspection. In fact I’d say that she kept Mahan’s attitude (in a way) but she’s a lot more socially capable than the guy (which, if you think about what Mahan (the shipgirl) does… speaks volumes about the admiral, doesn’t it?)

In other cases, we have designs that ended up being alternative outfits. Example below, with Maury. We thought the left was far too bright for a legendary ship whose life was basically a series of close-ranged brawls. So we switched it over to her much more spartan look of the black cloak-dull white dress. After she was fully drawn I think all of us really liked that second one a bit better. After all, the first looked a bit too much like Cassandra from Soul Caliber. The color was too bright and it just didn’t quite work for a ship who prided itself on being austere and low-key.

(I should note. Sometimes November design characters on an adorably whimsical fashion. If you want to see say, Wichita or something, just try to figure out a way to get him to play Magicka.)

It’s important to note, too, that just because a shipgirl isn’t shown with her equipment at first or in the main illustrations, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have it. For instance, Arizona in the Chinese and Japanese releases did not have her turrets. We wanted to seriously emphasize the surprise/unprepared nature of the Pearl Harbor attack AND her easygoing personality. It’s why unlike Pennsy she’s got her jacket half-on. That one’s really a girl who you could get along easily with.

In any case, sometimes shipgirls do carry melee weapons into combat. Does Maury have a sword? The answer is sort of. She has a sword, but we decided that from a visually a sword-and-board shipgirl would be a little extraneous, and so we settled on having her hold torpedoes in her shield instead. Maury can still launch torpedoes “normally” and her torpedo attack range range can be normal, but given her extraordinarily fast reaction time and agility, she’s one of the few who is authorized to engage at closer ranges than what would be normal.

(The fact that the shield can act as a sort of emergency explosive helps, too)

Now, here’s a design that didn’t quite make it through the initial stages.

Right personality for this DD girl. The outfit was off. So I said to November, let’s send her design back. This is, after all, the most well-documented Fletcher-class destroyer. We should do something to draw attention to that.

Doesn’t mean I don’t like this outfit. But she might keep it as an alternative outfit rather than her “official” artwork.

See you next time. 🙂