The Artificial Island is a nameless man-made island that sits in the middle of the longest bridge in the world, between Japanese islands Sado and Niigata. Construction on the nearly-finished island was called off during the global recession of the late 2000s, and it persists in the late 2010s as a lawless haven populated by criminals, illegal immigrants, and outcasts of every background. Many people see it as a modern-day Kowloon Walled City.
The first discussions for some sort of bridge or underground tunnel between Sado and Niigata occurred sometime in the mid-to-late twentieth century, decades before the start of the series. However, the Japanese government perceived no merit to the idea at the time, and such talk quickly died down.
Change came with the discovery of a new vein of gold on Sado Island, whose mines had previously closed down in 1989 on the grounds that they were dry. Around the same time, Japanese engineers came up with a way to build an island in the sea. Their new methods and technology revolutionized the idea of artificial islands, making them cheaper and faster to produce. Meanwhile, Niigata's prefectural governor was eager for a chance to develop his island, a dream that was backed by a couple other Niigata-born National Diet members who'd recently 'hit it big.'
With the world's longest over-sea bridge reaching completion between Shanghai and Ningbo, Japan decided to show off its revolutionary technology by beating China's record - with a bridge between Sado and Niigata and its construction funded by Sado's gold mine. Since Japan's sea floor reached a greater depth than China's sea floor, the decision was made to build a huge artificial island in the middle of the bridge - made with the world's latest technology and strong enough to stand up to ocean waves and heavy snow.
Construction was made possible thanks to the use of large cargo ships, which transported raw materials and construction vehicles themselves to the bridge. For a time, the Island and the Etsusa Bridge were Japan's most famous architectural projects, and work upon them proceed at a rapid pace in the early 2000s.
Notable people who contributed to the design and building of the structure include the architect Mr. Kirino and the construction manager Mr. Sahara, the latter of whom brought his daughter at least once to the island so that she could witness the progress herself.
Project Abandonment Edit
The first blow to the project struck as construction on the bridge and Island neared completion. The Sado gold vein unexpectedly ran dry, depriving the project of a large chunk of its funding. The loss did not deter those involved with construction, and they kept on working right up until a series of terrorist bombings forced construction to come to a halt. The bomber's capture changed nothing, and the Japanese government ended up changing hands three times in the span of one year. Troubled domestic politics combined with failing foreign policies and waves of economic recession resulted in a total abandonment of the project (which uniquely suffered from the loss of the gold mine and several construction accidents); everyone was honestly frightened that Japan itself was in jeopardy.
Japan effectively cut ties with the Island, and made it illegal for the public to visit or inhabit the Island at all times. The decree failed to stop criminals, illegal immigrants, and outcasts of all shape and form to flock to the Island in search of somewhere without rules in which they could make a living - nor did it stop large-scale organizations from muscling their way into power there either.
Outsiders who 'visit' the island are usually either curious youngsters or journalists eager for a story. Not all of them return home. Tragically, many parents abandon their children at the Island - these children often end up joining the Rats, a group led by a boy whose own parents left him to fend for himself on the Island.
Design and Infrastructure Edit
Etsusa Bridge Edit
The island itself is about ten kilometers distant from Sado Island, and it may be presumed that the same distance separates it from Niigata. At least part of the unopened bridge expanse between Sado and the Island is inhabited by vagrants and criminals, a community informally nicknamed the 'Residential District.' Their residences are made from materials left over from the construction period.
Etsusa Bridge is massive in width, with six lanes traversing it in each direction. The bridge has three levels: one for the massive road itself; one for public use; and one for tourism. These, at least, were the original designations for each level.
The top level of the bridge was built for tourists to walk across. It is currently littered with abandoned construction materials and drum canisters, with a few scattered buildings here and there.
Several massive windmills border the edge of the island (where it meets the bridge), providing electricity to the city.
The Island Edit
The island is built to be at a 'certain level' with the sea, rising and lowering with the tides
Like Etsusa Bridge, the Island is divided into three levels: the aboveground; the belowground; and The Pits.
Like the rest of the top level of the bridge, the Island's aboveground level is home to many abandoned construction vehicles and materials. Some of the buildings on the aboveground are in active use - such as the fifteen story Grand Ibis Hotel (claimed by the Chinese Mafia), and another abandoned hotel out of which Private Eye Lizard operates. Those who live in the aboveground buildings are often forced belowground during the snowy winters, and those who can't or don't often end up freezing to death.
The aboveground also hosts a casino and large theme park under Eastern District jurisdiction.
The underground level of the Island was originally intended for public use, with its star feature the large, sprawling shopping mall. Post-abandonment, most of the Island's current residents live on the underground floor, and the mall has become both a residential and commercial hub for Western District inhabitants, the latter of which includes illegal businesses like clinics and restaurants. The theme park and casino, meanwhile, are largely under the control of the Multinational Mafia.
The Pits Edit
A large chunk of of the lowest level actually consists of a mechanical room, where the island's height (in relation to sea level) is controlled. The rest of the level was originally intended to serve as parking space, storage space, and service roads for maintenance and service vehicles, and also contain piers for construction and cargo ships to dock at. These piers are now mostly used by illegal transporters.
The Pits are home to the worst of the worst that the Island has to offer - drug addicts, vicious, violent nogoods and all manner of blackhearts. Their homes are often constructed out of spare construction materials or material borrowed from the Island's other buildings, and like the belowground community, the Pits has its own form of 'market' - though the wares are markedly different from the mall's wares.
Power, Technology and Movement Edit
The island's electricity is largely generated by solar panels and the aforementioned windmills, the former of which mainly function to keep the island afloat. Tidal power is used on a much smaller, experimental scale. The solar panels and windmills were originally intended to serve as the Island's emergency electricity supply, and as such do not come close to servicing the entire island. Thus, the Island mostly uses electricity for necessary functions, such as lighting the underground areas; however, most locals alter wiring for their own benefit, or sneak their plugs into outlets in retail zones. Many also make use of personal generators. Though the power is always at risk of going out, it's mostly stable thanks to the fact that the Island's healing and cooling systems (which use the most power) are not actually used.
Instead of fluorescent lighting, the Pits are lit with incandescent wall lights and blinding halogen floor lamps.
Little to no technological advancement can be made on the Island, thanks to its illegal status and severance from mainland society. Many of its electronic goods - which were once considered cutting edge - are now outdated by mainland standards, such as flat-screen televisions and PDAs.
At present, there are many ways to reach the Island, all of which are illegal. These include:
- Walking from either Sado or Niigata across the bridge. Although the obvious entrances are sealed off and guarded by police, there are certainly openings that escape police surveillance.
- Via motorboat or fishing boat. Several professional transporters are available for such a task, but they cost a fortune to hire. Passengers also have a high risk of being robbed as soon as they step foot aboard the island, since the transporters are often in cahoots with island robbers.
Island Politics Edit
(See the individual districts' pages for details on their histories, governances, population demographics, and infrastructures)
Though the Island is usually regarded as 'lawless' by outsiders, several influential mafia groups and other organizations used their numbers and weaponry to establish control over large chunks of the island early on. As a result of those power struggles, the aboveground and belowground parts of the Island were initially divided into four Districts: the Western District; the Eastern District; and the Northern and Southern Districts, each of which were controlled by distinct organizations. The Pits, however, were regarded as ungovernable.
The Northern and Southern Districts were effectively wiped out when a Western District executive murdered their executives in 2019. In the ensuing negotiations between the authorities of the Western and Eastern Districts, the Eastern District gained control over the Northern and Southern Districts while the Western District technically acquired control over the Pits.
Both the Western and Eastern Districts have means of maintaining relative peace and order in their respective territories: the Volunteer Police Force regularly patrols the Western District and deals with fights and other peace-braking activities; and the Guard Team acts similarly in the Eastern District.
Niigata connects to the Southern District, and Sado connects to the Western District.