| The first book by Oshikawa Shunrô, which is considered as an archetypical
military adventure story.
The year of publication, 1900, was a time when Japan was proliferating toward the Russo-Japanese War after the Sino-Japanese War. Kaitei Gunkan was strongly influenced by the doctrine of "advancing southward." Its large-scale original story and interesting plot appealed to the adventurous spirit of boys who had outgrown fairy tales, and it became a best seller.
The outline of the story is as follows: During his trip around the world, the narrator meets a friend of his school days and is asked to bring the friend's wife and son back home to Japan. On their way the ship is attacked and sunk by pirates. He and the child drift in a boat and are cast ashore on a remote island where a submarine battleship is being built secretly under the leadership of Colonel Sakuragi of the Japanese Navy. Three years later, the submarine is completed and, having overcome troubles such as tsunami, they get rid of the pirates with the help of a cruiser on their side.
Bunbu-Dô was a publisher interested in adventure stories. It had begun publishing Sekai Bôkentan [World Adventure Stories] series prior to the publication of Kaitei Gunkan. Jules Verne's influence is clear in the use of new weapons such as submarine battleship and "adventurous iron car" (an automobile equipped with iron cage). Kaitei Gunkan belongs to the genre of science fiction and led to works by Unno Jûza. It also led to military adventure stories. Later, Oshikawa published five military adventure stories which are regarded as sequels to Kaitei Gunkan.
Kaitei Gunkan was adapted for the screen in 1963. A reprint of the original was published by Holp Shuppan in 1974.