It’s Wednesday and we all know what that means here at Okazu…Guest Review Day! Once more we have the lovely and enthusiastic George R. with a review about Navy ships, cute girls and Marimite parodies.
Volume 2 of Kurogane Pukapuka-tai (黒鉄ぷかぷか隊) welcomes us back for more fun and adventures with the Nubile Nippon Navy. Volume 1 left us with a couple teasers to encourage us to buy this volume. They worked on me.
After a brief color section to set the mood (bathing on Unebi), we’re off to see what’s in store for Unebi and her crew. First comes finding a place for Elza, the Jewish girl Nina entrusted to Unebi last volume. Vice-captain Kuki’s bed isn’t agreeable with the crew, and the chase leads to the engine room where Elza finds a protector in chief engineer Kobayakawa, who is tall, strong and well built. Her good ear for engines, trained aboard U-800, earns her a home there.
Plot arrives aboard HMS Aldebaran with Mary and Captain Ann. The ensuing battle around a small island gives everyone a chance to show their stuff. Elza completes her integration with the crew by helping out with damage control. Chika steers so Aldebaran‘s torpedoes explode on a nearby reef rather than hurting Unebi. The “stuff” vice-Captain Kuki shows is her lack of trousers, since she rushed straight to the bridge from her bunk. The shock from the torpedoes tosses her off her feet, and she naturally lands with her nearly-bare crotch in Mamiya’s face. Mamiya’s reaction arrives with the strength of an express train (Engine No. D5215 to be precise) and she leaps up, invigorated, to return to her duties (less a bit of blood from her nose). Chika and Obama work together to overcome the forward turret being jammed and land a shot which blasts off Aldebaran‘s rudder, sending her hard aground on the island.
Life aboard Unebi consists of more than baths and battles. Among other amusements is a Judo match among the crew, though Kuki’s most effective attack on Mamiya has nothing to do with Judo. The paymaster, Murakami, also produces and sells a doujinshi, which must be kept secret from the higher-ups. Of course Kuki finds a copy someone dropped. In it she finds prose story, whose opening parodies MariMite (the sailor-collars are on navy-, not school-, uniforms, and it is the IJN Cruiser Yamayuri which is a garden of maidens, but the resemblance is obvious.) The story is a romance between a barely disguised Mamiya and Kuki (complete with “onee-sama”s and blushes). Kuki finds this disturbing, but an impassioned speech from Chika saves the doujinshi for the crew (including Mamiya) to continue enjoying.
Further relaxation for Unebi‘s crew comes with leave at Penang Island They enjoy the beach in swimsuits. Mamiya cuts a dashing figure in hers and is admired by most all, though she has eyes only for Kuki–not to mention delusions of a night on the beach with her. Mamiya gets a real-life reward when Kuki puts a hibiscus from their drink in her hair, declaring it cute.
Chibi-Kiku, the pilot, is more interested in finding a replacement for her plane destroyed by Aldebaran. She finds her dream, an A6M2-N Rufe. However, its pilot doesn’t believe Chibi-Kiku’s piloting skill and challenges her and Atsuko to a race. The stakes are: he’ll give Chibi-Kiku the plane or Unebi‘s whole crew will parade naked down main street. Our daring vice-captain accepts the challenge, confident in her crew, despite the plane Chibi-Kiku has to use is a decade older and 100kph slower. Her confidence in Chibi-Kiku is well placed as she wins through skill, strategy and the Unebi crew’s work on the old plane (including tuning the engine and dropping the drag-inducing floats).
Obama also has other interests than sunbathing, though Kobayakawa coming along as guard-dog saves the men of the island from her. The two do stop the Gestapo agent we met last volume from hurting a pair of kids, leaving him disabled on the ground.
Waiting for HMS Aldebaran to get her damage from Unebi repaired on the east coast of Africa. Mary works out her frustrations by shooting cans on the dry-dock wall. Ann comes up and works out her sexual frustrations on Mary, who manages to enjoy the experience while still maintaining her accuracy with a rifle.
Captain Joanna throws cold water on this exercise, literally. She has arrived with the cruise HMS Europa (which looks exactly like HMS Exeter) to hunt Unebi. Before she can do more than take Ann and Mary aboard, Nina shows up with U-800 and her torpedoes. The poor dock suffers hits from both Nina’s torpedoes and a collision with Europa. Mary saves them from further attack with a shot right through U-800‘s periscope lens, forcing Nina to break off.
In this volume Kurihashi-sensei has done a better job stringing the tales together into a longer narrative. The focus is still frolicking fun with the girls. His artwork of both girls and ships remains good. Once again, an interest in naval affairs helps to enjoy this manga.
Art – 8
Story – 6
Characters – 5
Yuri – 6
Service – 6-8 (depending on your particular fandom)
Overall – 7 (lower if ships do nothing for you)
While I enjoyed this volume, I liked the first one better. I found the fanservice humor growing less funny. Perhaps it was my mood at the time, or maybe the jokes lack staying power. Looking back, I think the two volumes are comparable. Also Mamiya deserves better characterization than a horny schoolboy with long hair, breasts and a nice figure. I’d rather see a real relationship between her and Kuki (or between any other characters) than the jokes we’re given.
Thank you so much George, for this review! I think I might have stabbed something if I were reading this manga, so I’m very happy you were there to take this on. ^_^