Intro page of the manga, showing Commander Kuki (aka "Cookie")
Kurogane Pukapuka Tai is a World War IIyuri comedy manga series following the exploits of the fictional Imperial Japanese Navy commerce raiding cruiser Unebi — which is entirely crewed by women except for the captain (who does nothing but drink tea, tend his bonsai, and sleep, it seems). They encounter a German U-boat, the U-800, also crewed entirely by women, and a British destroyer, the HMS Cutlass, commanded by women; most of the women appear to be exclusively interested in the other women. Obviously, the historical accuracy here is high!*
Especially with the Nazi persecution of homosexuals in general and lesbians (to a lesser extent) in particular.
That said, the military details aren't utterly ludicrous; the mangaka is obviously a bit of a military otaku as well as a Yuri Fanboy. All the ships are fictional, of course, as are the military operations, though they're roughly plausible; there were commerce raiding cruisers and the like, described on The Other Wiki. The backstory of the Unebi is based on the raiders Aikoku Maru and Hokoku Maru; the Unebi, however, is a military vessel in outline, although supposedly construction began as a civilian ship, while the real-life raiders were civilian freighters in outline.Most of the time, of course, it's simply a device to have sexy women-in-uniform fanservice and plenty of sexual and romantic girl-girl comedic action.This work shows examples of:
Absolute Cleavage — Captain Ann wears her tropical uniform shirt like this; it's generally unbuttoned to below her breasts, which are definitely not supported by a bra.
The Unebi is completely fictional, though with a plausible backstory except for the claim of it being modified on the slips from a commercial vessel; its appearance is all warship. It is a shortish cruiser that mounts two turrets each mounting a pair of 30cm (12") guns; these were taken from the scrapped battleship ''Settsu'', making the Unebi a small pocket battleship, similar in conception to the German Deutschland (Graf Spee) type although significantly smaller.
Such a ship is actually mentioned in US intelligence reports on Japanese ship builds of the period, explicitly as a Japanese take on the German concept. It was supposedly called Chichibu and the USN was so convinced of its existance they built the Alaska-class "large cruisers" to fight it.
The U-800 is a fictional member of the very real Type IXC U-boat, a long-ranged type quite possible to have in the Indian Ocean attacking British supply lines.
HMS Cutlass is a C class destroyer of the Royal Navy. All the real C class vessels were by 1943 transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy, but two of the very similar D class remained in service. It's likely the mangaka just chose to use a C class to allow a name beginning with 'C', ignoring the minor historical inaccuracy. None of either class appear to have served in the Indian Ocean, however.
HMS Aldebaran, which Captain Ann is transferred to command after the writing-off of the ruined Cutlass, is a fictional member of the quite real Royal Navy ''Arethusa'' class of light cruiser.
Bare Your Midriff — the new outfits designed for Kurushima and Nojima for the fashion show.
Beach Episode — U-800's all-girl crew visit Penang, a Malaysian island occupied by the Japanese which was really used as a U-boat base by the Germans in WW 2. Beach volleyball in anachronistically modern swimsuits ensues, but the fun is abruptly ruined by the arrival of the Gestapo?
Berserk Button — Mamiya's is anyone who threatens or disrespects Commander Kuki.
In case of Commander Mary, anyone who attracts Captain Ann's attention.
Bling of War — many characters are pretty much only ever shown in full dress uniform with all the trimmings; Commander Kuki is always in Imperial Japanese Navy full-dress blues, and immaculately put together, while U-boat Captain Nina Stortebeker is in full Kriegsmarine dress uniform even after months at sea, including a Knight's Cross around her neck.
Bloodless Carnage — at first, and most of the time we don't see any deaths or even blood.
For the first time we see someone seriously hurt (and for a while, we don't even know how badly) in chapter 3, which is generally Darker and Edgier. It adds a somber undercurrent to the series. It puts us on notice that the characters can get hurt, and can die, and that they are really at war, and not just playing on the Lesbian Love Boat.
On the other hand, no wounds result from seemingly more dangerous situations, like the British boarding attack on Unebi (during which no shots were fired), or the following three-ship, point-blank rangecannonade.
The Captain — each ship has one, of course, but Kuki seems to fill in for her boss a lot.
Cast Full of Gay — of the female cast so far, only gunnery officer Obama has been portrayed as heterosexual.
Clingy Jealous Girl — Commander Mary, who's very familiar with Captain Ann's wandering eyes and appetites. Ann generally silences her with a kiss, and the resulting Post-Kiss Catatonia she seems to be so good at causing?
Clothing Damage — several times, but most notably with Captain Ann; Mamiya's katana strips her of everything above the waist, except for a shoulder holster with concealed second revolver and a very conveniently placed leather strap across Ann's chest that just hides her nipples.
Daydream Surprise — we frequently get this, especially from Mamiya, who often lapses into dreamy-eyed imaginings of her rivals for Commander Kuki's love dying and Mamiya performing impossible feats of heroism to win Kuki over.
Furo Scene — Obama, wakened from sleeping (in her bunk!) by the weeks-without-bathing stench of Captain Nina Stortebeker, strips her naked and throws her in the tub, followed by violent scrubbing with a broom. Then she throws all of the U-800's crew in the bath.
Ill Girl — it looks like pilot Kurushima is going to become one of these. Her dojikko clumsiness appears just cute and funny at first, but then we realize her right hand isn't working, even though nothing appears wrong with it. She's hiding it from her superiors, and thinks she's hiding it from her partner Nojima, but of course she knows — but isn't telling anyone because she doesn't want to fly with anyone else. Might be some kind of neurological damage.
Implausible Fencing Powers — Mamiya, who manages to inflict Clothing Damage on British merchant seamen who don't respect her Cookie, slices Commander Mary's scimitars in half with her katana, deflects Captain Ann's bullets and then cuts her revolver in half ...
Improbably Female Cast — And how. There's only one man on the Unebi, the elderly, Zen Master-like Captain, no men at all on the U-800, and while the crew of the HMS Cutlass appear to be largely male, they're pretty much just a Redshirt Army. The captured British seamen in chapter 1 have more of a speaking part than anyone else male; at first, they think they can escape, but seeing the women put on a fashion show of new tropical uniforms convinces them they might be better off where they are.
Katanas Are Just Better — at least in Mamiya's hands; she defeats other swords, guns, and is taking on the 4.7" guns of HMS Cutlass armed only with one until events intervene. Of course, even this doesn't match her dreams of glory in which she chops up whole fleets ...
Kiss of Life — Kuki rescues Mamiya from drowning and performs this; of course Mamiya awakes with their lips touching, and falls instantly and completely in love. Kuki's wet, clingy shirt doesn't help the lust aspect, either!
Ms. Fanservice — Gunnery officer Obama Mifuyu, the only out heterosexual woman in the series, who's constantly unbuttoning her uniform shirt (she gets too hot in the tropics) and telling everyone how she needs a MAN. Royal Navy Captain Ann runs a close second, dressing as revealingly but in a far more obviously predatory way. Obama is just as predatory, however, it's just less obvious.
Ojou Ringlets — Gunnery officer Obama (not that one), possibly the only heterosexual woman on the Unebi, and certainly the only one we've met yet. Her BFGs (12" guns from an old battleship) are not compensating for anything, honest.
One Head Taller — the crew of the Unebi's observation seaplane, short pilot Kurushima and tall navigator/gunner Nojima, with plenty of opportunity for this trope to show up.
Reasonably historical, as it was the current British service sidearm.
Schedule Slip: It appears that after a gap of a few years, Vol.2 is now out in Japan.
Mainly due to MC Axis, the magazine that this series is serialized in, is seasonal and is published every 3 months.
Shotacon — Gunnery officer Obama Mifuyu's headed toward that territory.
Shout Out — An end-illustration to chapter 1 has commander Kuki and XO Mamiya acting out the "I'm the king of the world!" scene from Titanic. Good thing they're in the tropics, no?
Spot of Tea — the very first thing we see of HMS Cutlass is a teacup, that of Commander Mary — who, we see in on the next page, sips her tea with pinky finger raised high, signifying her more ladylike, prissy demeanor compared to Captain Ann's more earthy and aggressive nature. Ann grasps her cup firmly. Tea leads to sex, naturally. The Unebi's captain is also frequently seen drinking tea.
Stock Underwear — the British merchant captain whose clothes are cut off him by Mamiya is wearing stripy boxers/long underwear, while the Captain, as befitting a traditionalist, wears fundoshi (we see him towelling off bright and early in the morning after, presumably, a brisk cold shower, as part of his unchanging daily routine.)
There Is Only One Bed — When Commander Kuki lets Mamiya stay in her quarters after Mamiya's quarters suffered battle damage.
Another possibility is that Commander Kuki simply enjoys Mamiya's suffering.
Those Wacky Nazis — in a series that loves to play with tropes and stereotypes, the Germans are in no way excepted.
Captain Nina Stortebeker is a blonde, warrior-braided valkyrie straight out of Wagner. She puts on the Reich well, almost always appearing in full-dress uniform with a Knight's Cross at her throat, but with individualistic touches as befits a submarine commander, a breed not given to too much conformity. Her peaked cap is generally off-center and her sleeves are rolled up. She also fits the Nazis-as-perverts trope, with her obsession for the ripe odor of her "maidens" after weeks at sea, which is shown as a spiritual connection to her crew in her mind. Nina also carries a whip, playing further into that trope. She also meets the Oskar Schindler trope, since we find out she's been hiding a Jewish crewmember from the Gestapo.
The Chief at Penang shares Nina's smell fetish, and the general low opinion of Nazi ideology.
The Gestapo officer sniffing around Nina and her crew is the complete stereotype, complete with pince-nez glasses ŕ la Himmler.
Tomboy and Girly Girl — the seaplane crew, short-haired cute little tomboyish pilot Kurushima Kiku ("Chibikuru-chan") and tall, calm, womanly Huge Schoolgirl-type navigator/gunner Nojima Atsuko ("At-chan"). They both bond over their pain of always being singled out because they're not normal height, among other things.
Unwanted Harem — Commander Kuki is desired by at least three women: her XO, Mamiya; German U-boat commander Nina Stortebaker; and British Captain Ann. All three are very competitive. Ann, meanwhile, is desired by her Number One, Commander Mary.