Friday, November 13, 2009

Kurogane Pukapukatai vol 1: Best WWII Parody Yuri Manga Ever

Sorry about the recent scarcity of posts. > <; It's been a busy(er than usual) week this past week. (Although my free time yesterday evening was spent enjoying the free food bounties of my college's Julia Child Day >_>;- I mean, the chocolate was right there...saying "Eat me, my puppet Katherine. Just pick up a skewer. That's it.")  And nothing says "yay, no work this evening!!! Hahahahahahaha!!! XD" quite like being able to read a good old-fashioned yuri screwball action-comedy, like Kurihashi Shinsuke's Kurogane Pukapukatai.  (Well, I can think of other things...but let's just run with it. ^_^)

Kurogane Pukapukatai is about a Japanese commerce raider called the "Unebi" that is manned by an all-female crew (aside from the elderly male captain, who merely sits in the ship's bridge while adorably sipping his tea, a la Kuroshitsuji's Tanaka). The Unebi mostly clashes with the British navy as a result of its intent to eliminate British cargo ships transporting goods between Britain and its colonies. The historical setting is well-realized (complete with Kurihashi's lovingly detailed, yet never detracting, descriptions of the ships and submarines), considering the massive handwave of having women in military leadership positions in WWII- or serving in the military, period-, but all one really needs to know is that, aside from the Unebi's Gunnery Officer Obama (yes), the female cast is quite gay. The sword-toting Executive Officer of the Unebi, Mamiya, is smitten with her thickheaded yet highly competent Commander Kuki (who favors guns), who once saved her from drowning (which of course, means mouth-to-mouth resuscitation)- as a result, Mamiya also acts as Kuki's bodyguard. A pilot who does reconnaissance missions for the Unebi, named Kurushima Kiku (nicknamed "Chibikuru"), and her flying partner Nojima Atsuko (nicknamed "Atchan") are close, but somewhat more ambiguous; they could simply be friends, but they could also easily be seen as more. The Unebi has a run-in with the "Cutlass", a British destroyer commanded by Captain Ann, whose wandering eye for women (including Kiku) sometimes lands her (and an unwitting Kiku) in trouble with her cutlass-wielding girlfriend, Commander Mary. Fortunately, the Unebi has an ally in Nina Stortebeker, the Captain of a German U-boat who also likes Kiku and women in general. Towards the end, a member of Nina's crew named Elsa appears to be interested in her (with Nina reciprocating), but Nina transfers Elsa to the Unebi as a result of the Gestapo beginning to shadow her. (Elsa's Jewish.)

Despite the surprisingly poignant ending, Kurogane Pukapukatai is a silly screwball comedy through and through. Lowbrow, slapstick humor abounds, and the setting is largely an excuse to see women shooting, slicing, and blowing things up. And hitting on or flirting with each other. It works for me. :) There isn't really any character development, and hardly any character depth (plus, Kurihashi doesn't seem to have any particular direction in mind for the story), but I don't care as long as said characters continue to entertain.

The art isn't Mokona Apapa-stellar, but it's solid and serves the story well, especially during the action and comedy scenes.

Light as air (despite the ship and submarine trivia), but recommended for something fun, action-y, and yuri-packed that's different from the usual. ^^

Story: B
Art: B
Overall: B


Snark said...

I've been meaning to read this for a long time, thanks for reminding me =D

Just one question though, this doesn't get really serious and depressing at the end does it? I've seen quite a few comedic series that suddenly get downer endings out of the blue, and it pisses me off >_>

Katherine said...

@ Snark- You're welcome. ^^ This series doesn't get serious and depressing- at least not through this volume. Volume 2 hasn't been published yet. But Kurihashi Shinsuke seems to have a good grasp on knowing NOT to overreach the abilities of his own series, so I don't think (*crosses fingers*) that it'll suddenly switch from being a yuri screwball comedy to a yuri melodrama towards the end.

"The Swine Killer" said...

Jewish soldiers? In Hitler's Army?

I thought it was a joke at first (lesbians in the Kriegsmarine at time when homosexuals were being sent to concentration camps?) but then I found the book "Hitler's Jewish Soldiers The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military" by Bryan Mark Rigg.


Katherine said...

@ "The Swine Killer"- I thought it was just another handwave at first, also. (Like you said- lesbians in the Kriegsmarine? Not to mention the British and American navies...) Who would have thought that an anachronism-riddled screwball parody sex-comedy manga would be educational. XD