[Mail Call] 2017/07/22 – Abyssal “powerlevels”

I have a critique of sorts about the all-powerful Abyssals in your work. Specifically, I think it’s really dumb. This isn’t just criticism leveled at you but at the genre as a whole. Oftentimes a work will have a thing so powerful that only some other plot thing can beat it.

See, this is stupid. People write this sort of thing because they don’t know anything about the military or the police or anything about how wars are fought. It limits the work’s scope to a handful characters and it’s really a cheap way for the authors to not pay attention details in war.


So, speaking of KanColle as a whole, the lore ranges very widely from work to work. I’ve made this analogy before. Some light novels are like “real robots” where shipgirls are literally just ordinary girls picking up equipment. Others are all about the mysticism (purification is a common theme) where shipgirls are “super” beings.

Pacific straddles the two and really doesn’t fall squarely under either situation. For one thing, I’m pretty confident that my world building is as “hard” as they come. The Abyssals and shipgirls both possess highly advanced technology or powers that can be viewed as magic, but these technology and powers are entirely systematic and predictable in nature. For example, the Abyssals can teleport troops in from another “dimension,” for instance, but space is huge, and they need to know precise coordinates in order to actually do this with any degree of accuracy.

My point being is that first of all, the Abyssals currently appear to be limitless in power, but this is largely from an in-universe perspective. STEC’s reactions to new Abyssal capabilities aren’t very different from say, your random infantryman in WW1 first seeing a tank, or your random warrior in ancient times first seeing a chariot.

Pacific’s always been open about how capable the Abyssals are, and the question of can X weapon hurt an Abyssal come up often. The truth of the matter here is that the Abyssals follow simple laws of physics. Heat an Abyssal up high enough and it will burn. Apply a force large enough and its armor will crack.

However, therein lies the issue. As I’ve mentioned, the Abyssals are tailored to fight and beat humanity. They possess in their arsenal multiple tools designed to defeat human weapons, ranging from an EMP-like weapon that throws off electronic targeting (plausible even in real life today), the ability to regenerate extremely rapidly (plausible given what we know of biology, but remember this “eats” away at the Abyssal’s own reserves in materials), extremely tough hides and armor (plausible, again – just too expensive to produce in large quantities), the ability to psychologically interfere with human attackers (plausible – just not in this form. Think to ancient warriors making battlecries for instance to throw off their opponents. Abyssal “terror aura” is functionally similar), and of course, their defensive “shielding” (explained in universe).

Out of these five things the only thing that’s more science fiction than future fiction are the latter two. STEC is working hard on figuring out how to disable the latter so the conventional military forces can join in the fight. There are prototypes being worked on, but Pacific really isn’t big on the “super prototype” thing. If anything, what would be useful and important would be something we can mass produce cheaply to trade effectively against the Abyssal fleet.

This is a necessary matter of survival. The ocean is a large place, and the Abyssals have gigantic numbers. Even if say, the entire USN materialized as shipgirls, you’re still looking at only a few thousand shipgirls at most. Just because the shipgirls are the most capable at fighting the Abyssals doesn’t mean that STEC and co. aren’t trying to figure out other ways to bring the fight to the enemy.

From another perspective, it’s about the story I want to tell. There’s a reason why the focus is on the shipgirl and not the ship. I enjoy telling stories about humanity. You might as well ask why the ancient epic writers focused on one or two key heroes when they know that in those days battles are won with masses of men, and not single champions. Same thing.

You know what, Mike? Here’s what I think. I think if the Abyssals could actually blanket the planet, we’d all be dead today. So I’m going to suggest something bold and foolish: that these monsters aren’t nearly as capable as our own intelligence have suggested. We’re overestimating them.

Granted, the above opinion comes from probably one of the most sanguine shipgirls we’ve ever created, but she might just have a point. From the perspective of the creator, if I were to de-construct this, I would argue that she’s largely right. I’ve already stated that the Abyssals are intelligent. It therefore stands to reason that an intelligent opponent would crush the enemy if it can.

Therefore, whether or not the Abyssals can literally swarm the planet is a bit like asking “could Hitler have made 150000 Toigas and won the war in 1943.” They can, but for some reason, they aren’t. Maybe the Abyssals are aware that whoever orders such a swarming attack is going to be vulnerable to retaliation, internally or externally. Maybe the cost-benefit isn’t worth it (this is just one damn planet, after all!)

Maybe the reason is indeed the one given by STEC in universe. The Abyssals do not attack unless they believe they are guaranteed to succeed. Until they map out the world’s oceans and know exactly what they’re facing, they aren’t sending their invading force. You wouldn’t D-Day on Normandy if you didn’t know what defenses are present and you didn’t know what the coastline is like, right?

Or maybe there’s a mysterious force out of the Pacific universe controlling their every move. 😉

So, while the Abyssals are overwhelmingly powerful, I’d say that they’re powerful for a reason. The shipgirls are what’s fighting them because that’s the story I’m writing, and it’s also the most effective way.

Plus, in all honesty, the war hasn’t started. What we’re seeing are the politics and the preparation and the build-up prior to the war. So I think you can afford to wait and see to see if I can actually create a competent conflict. x)