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Manga / Gunka no Balzer

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Gunka no Baltzar (Baltzar Militarismus) is a military seinen manga by Nakajima Michitsune, telling the story of a military officer's life in a world of wars, politics and military reform.

Gunka is set in an alternate world resembling mid-late 19th century Europe. Major Bernd Baltzar of Weissen—a regional military power—is a rising star due to his performance in a recent war; his career takes a surprising turn when he is reassigned as an adviser and military academy instructor to the newly-allied state of Baselland.

But Baselland's army is out of shape for modern war and its citizenry are anti-militaristic. Baltzar has to deal with the military's conservatism in order to make Baselland into a worthy partner in its alliance with Weissen. Other events seek to compound Baltzar's troubles internally in Baselland, and externally in Weissen's relations with the other major powers on the continent…


A side story titled Yuukoku no Liebknecht is being produced, focusing on the character Rudolph von Liebknecht.

Gunka No Baltzar provides examples of:

  • Anti-Cavalry: In chapter 22, Baltzar's combined forces form into two infantry squares when Nielson's unit attacks them with a cavalry charge. The cavalry actually manage to break one square and inflict some casualties with their halberd-lances.
    • In chapter 26, Baltzar and his students manage to completely massacre an elite cavalry unit by trapping them inside a ring of barbed wire and gunning them down with new rapid fire artillery guns.
  • Armies Are Evil: Baselland’s civilians are staunchly anti-militaristic, and it shows in their attitudes toward Weissen and Baltzar's gun salute.
  • Arranged Marriage:
    • Empress of Erzreich arranges some of these between her grandchildren and Baselland's two princes and her grandchild to Weissen's royal family. As tensions rose, Reiner nixes his berothral and the other arrangements are forgotten.
    • Jurgen and Helmut are fiancees. Jurgen likes the idea yet Helmut is ambigous because she is smitten with Baltzar.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Baltzar points out that this attitude amongst Holbaek's commanders led them to suffer a number of significant defeats in the First Norden-Trade War. In chapter 20, the first volley fired by the Baselland regiment seems to have halted the attacking Holbaek force. Then the Holbaek officer orders a bayonet charge.
  • Batman Gambit: Rudolph's plan to allow the Weissen military more autonomy relied on his knowledge that Baltzar, out of desire to minimize bloodshed, would report to his superiors of a planned coup by officer cadets resulting in the suicides of the conspirators which would in turn inspire nationalist and military pride in the citizens. It worked.
    • As revealed in chapter 16, Rudolph is responsible for starting a second war between Weissen and Holbaek over the Norden-Trade Duchy by providing Holbaek with war funds. Baltzar and Reiner were deliberately kept in the dark on international developments by the General Staff Chief during the secret negotiations, so that Reiner would willingly sign a military alliance with Weissen.
  • Bayonet Ya: Bayonet charges are employed on two occasions in the series, but none of them are successful. Weissen's rifles use knife bayonets while other countries use spear bayonets.
  • Berserk Button: During the international conference a foreign diplomat suggests to August that Baselland shouldn't demand an "unreasonable" settlement from Holbaek as "only 200 of their soldiers lost their lives" in the recent war. As August directly witnessed that event, he is enraged by this comment.
  • Blade on a Stick: Instead of lances or sabres, Holbaek cavalry use halberds as their arme blanche.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: Subverted. Reiner is given an ornate lever-action rifle to use on the hunting trip with the General Staff Chief, but he opts to use a regular Weissen bolt-action rifle instead.
  • Bling of War: Granted with the work set in the latter half of the nineteenth century. In Weissen, the officer candidates and officers in the General Staff Chief's council wear hussar jackets with gold lace. The Baselland cavalry division students wear a pelisse with their hussar jackets.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Averted. Bloods, corpses and wounded soldiers whom needs treatment are shown.
  • Blood Knight: This is how Captain Nielson is introduced. Lose 600 men to probe the enemy's defenses? No problem. His post-battle dialogue makes him look like someone who sees combat as a sport.
  • Cavalry Officer: Captain Nielson is one, as a commander of a unit of halberd-armed lancers.
  • Cavalry Refusal: Type A. The Baselland police force and regular army were never mobilized to face the workers' uprising, leaving only the military academy to face the insurgents. Later we see that the police and army were deliberately stood down by Franz and Rudolph.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Baselland soldiers say that they'll do everything in their power to protect Prince Reiner even if it means being a human shield. A few chapters later...
    • The "beehive" Mitrailleuse gun is a literal one, to be briefly dismissed then shows up as a lifesaver.
  • Child Soldiers: The Baselland cadets are very young but are treated as any other soldier across the many battles, killing and get killed.
  • Citadel City: The inner section of Baselland's capital city is arranged like a star fort.
  • Civil War: At the story's beginning, Baselland's government is polarized into two factions: the North, many of whom are industrialists with ties to Weissen, and the South, who are mostly nobles, farmers and allies of Ezreich. The traditional-minded Crown Prince Franz gets most of his political support from the South while the progressive second prince Reiner gets more support from the North. Fearing the North's growing financial and political power, Franz and the aristocrats of the South commence a civil war with support from Ezreich troops. For his part, Reiner is hesitant to call upon Weissen for help, since that would be an invitation for Weissen troops to take over the country. The North eventually wins the conflict and Reiner officially abolishes the Baselland monarchy as part of his plan to make Baselland into a strong, independent country.
  • Coat Cape: Chief of Staff von Stauffenberg wears one in chapter 18.
  • Cool Helmet: Holbaek soldiers wear a type of medieval helmet while the cavalryman and officers wear cuirassier helmets.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: When Marcel is captured by the journalists, they attempt to extract information from him by "manicuring" one of his thumbnails. Fortunately he is saved by Baltzar Just in Time.
    • It is revealed that Rudolph was captured after failed coup by military police and subjected to this. The reason for his release is still in mystery.
  • Conflicting Loyalty:
    • Baltzar is torn between his loyalty to his country and his desire to help Baselland anyway he can yet limited to do so because of politics.
    • Jurgen is in dilemma between 1) his friendship to other cadets, his love to Helmut who is loyal to the academy, and Baltzar and 2) pressure from his parent and fiancee's parents.
  • Draft Dodging: Paul attempts this by drinking tobacco juice to avoid participating in the war against Holbaek. Baltzar interrupts the act by kicking the tobacco juice and offering a bottle of castor oil. Tobacco juice will make you really sick, so please do not ever try drinking it to dodge drafts! He doesn't do it and ends up joining the Baselland contingent.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: The captain in command of the Hoppsted garrison just doesn't care about his duties; as far as he's concerned, he's guarding a path of a quiet supply line. When Baltzar reprimands him for his garrison's lack of combat readiness, he snubs Baltzar back and makes him look like an officer with little practical experience.
    • Reiner's hardball attitude during the initial meetings at the peace conference earns him scorn from the other delegates.
  • Easy Logistics: Averted. The author gives attention to troops needing enough water and rationing the food supply when the characters are conducting a retreat after a battle. Baltzar also emphasizes the importance of not setting fires and rotating sentries when encamped.
    • Later he also explains to Dieter the advantage of having railways is they can send army and supplies quicker than by horse carriages and as they built the railways in Weissen's standard the popular supports will sway in favor of alliance of Weissen and Baselland.
    • As they are besieged by the coup's forces, Prince Reiner and the teachers predict they have only rations for 20 days.
    • As the Northern army marches south to pursue Franz, Jurgen correctly deduces that his cavalry force won't be able to delay the army by attacking their vanguard or scouts. Instead, he focuses on attacking the army's supply convoys, which drastically slows them down.
  • The Engineer: Dieter Strunz. What does he do when he's supposed to assemble with his regiment? Seek out a mitrailleuse and Squee! over it.
  • Ensign Newbie: Pretty much all of the officer cadets who are sent along with the Baselland volunteer regiment to the Norden-Trade Duchy. Each of them has to lead a unit of 50 soldiers and are pretty much dropped into the water in their new positions. Fortunately, the regiment has a few NCOs to help them out.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Weissen Army Chief of General Staff didn't have his name revealed until volume 5, as Holst von Stauffenberg.
  • Evil Former Friend: Rudolph to Baltzar, after the failed military coup in Weissen.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Baltzar seems particularly good at this.
    • When Reiner challenges Baltzar to a demonstration to show whether Baselland or Weissen military tactics are superior, Baltzar soundly beats him. Instead of holding a grudge, Reiner quickly sees the wisdom in Baltzar's methods and becomes one of his staunchest allies.
    • While they never battle each other directly, the previously dismissive Hoppsted garrison commander quickly defers to Baltzar's leadership when he is defeated in a Holbaek surprise attack, and also becomes a close ally of his.
  • Fake King=/=Body Double: Or rather fake princes. The people we know as Franz and Reiner are two Body Double-s randomly chosen as the real princes have been kidnapped and gone missing for years.
  • False Flag Operation: Conspirators associated with Rudolph attempt an assassination on the Weissen king disguised as Erzreich gendarmes and liquor gangmen.
  • Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: As expected, the conflicts in this series have close parallels with those in our world.
    • The First Norden-Trade War of 1863 is based off of the First Schleswig War between Denmark and the German Confederation. Though the politics behind Weissen's decision to intervene are closely related with the independent attitude of the Japanese Army during the 1930s.
    • The Second Norden-Trade War of 1870 resembles the Second Schleswig War.
    • Weissen's disputes with the Ratov Empire over passage rights across an eastern strait appears to be inspired by the various political crises and political wrangling over the Turkish Straits from the 1840s to 1914.
    • The political conflict between Weissen and Erzreich is inspired by the Austro-Prussian German question.
    • Later at the Civil War arc, the northern part of a country which is more into industry and its southern part which is more into land, therefore agriculture. Their dispute is mediated with voting, in which the south lost. Being Sore Loser they are, they try to get what they want with force and launch an aggression. I think we can also describe American Civil War here.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Weissen is a Expy of Prussia, while Baselland resembles one of the southern German states (most likely Bavaria) before the 1871 unification.
    • The Ezreich Empire is the obligatory Austrian/Habsburg Expy.
    • The Republic of Friel is an Expy of France while the Ratov Empire is one of Imperial Russia.
    • The Kingdom of Holbaek to the north of Weissen is an Expy of Denmark with a significantly more potent naval force. Also, there are elements of Sweden.
    • The Norden-Trade Duchy is an Expy of Schleswig-Holstein.
    • The empire that collapsed before the start of the story is almost certainly an Expy of the Holy Roman Empire.
  • Foreshadowing: As Rudolph points out to Baltzar and Reiner in chapter 16, many of Weissen's neighbors have unresolved grievances against the country; at the end of the chapter, Weissen declares a second war against Holbaek over the Norden-Trade Duchy.
  • General Ripper: The Weissen General Staff Chief is this; he is a hardline militarist who has a great amount of influence over the civilian government, and he advocates expansionism at the expense of friendly relations with Weissen's neighbors. Though, he is mostly calm as he is the Captain Ersatz of Moltke the Elder.
    • Downplayed when he is persuaded by Baltzar that Baselland's military contribution from the academy to the Second Norden-Trade War should be minimized as much as possible. The General Staff Chief is only interested in Baselland's formal (even if it is nominal) participation in the war.
  • Geo Effects: During the "shooting trial", Baltzar's team takes advantage of the cover and concealment provided by the vegetation and rocks against the infantry line; he also sends two soldiers to shoot from an enfilade position. In chapter 20, Baltzar defeats the enemy's bayonet charge ordering the regiment to fire a volley once the enemy begins climbing the frontal slope of their defensive berm.
    • Later, barbed wire is used to restrict the movement of attacking enemy cavalry into a position easily targeted by mitrailleuses.
  • The Ghost: The sickly King of Baselland is often mentioned by the characters and never seen, but the real political power has shifted to his sons.
    • He makes his first appearance in chapter 37 and starts communicating with others (with simple desk bell and Morse Code) at chapter 38.
    • The same trope applies to the King of Weissen. He's far from being a "Supreme War Lord" as are his real-life counterparts, because the Chief of Staff has the most political influence in the country. The king makes his real appearance in the story beginning in chapter 30. Unlike his military leaders he is much more of a liberal idealist in the mold of Prussia's Friedrich III.
  • Glory Seeker: Because Baltzar was the only officer cadet to survive the failed coup, the Chief of Staff (and many other people) suspects him of being one, and has Yuri and Dimo as investigators hidden under their official role.
  • Great Offscreen War: The civil war caused by the collapse of an empire fifty years ago in central Europe is briefly mentioned; Weissen and Baselland were once members of that empire.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Baselland troops form a human wall against Nielsen's cavalry so Balzer, Reiner and the others can make it into the forest.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Baselland was spared the destruction of recent wars due to its geographical location and was able to thrive as a result. However, the isolation (and the Crown Prince's policies) meant that Baselland was unable to develop a railroad network and its military has stagnated to Napoleonic mass formations and smoothbore muzzle-loaders.
    • Ruritania: Balzar comments they have some shades of these.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Some group of people use a massive strike and the suppression of it to lower public opinion of Reiner and possible alliance of Baselland and Weissen. Then Baltzar makes a maneuver at the funeral of Academy Cadets who dies to suppress the strike to do the opposite.
    • Minor but as the Academy is besieged, the attacker use the Baselland Army's own cannons and the tables of trajectory which were made by the students.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Reiner's "shooting trial" pits a 50-man platoon armed with smoothbore muzzle-loading muskets and trained in close-order drill against Baltzar's handful of men equipped with bolt-action rifles. The results were not dissimilar to any Prussian in 1866... Justified because Baselland's army has never really accepted post-Napoleonic military developments before Baltzar's arrival, due to the country's isolation.
    • The academy's cavalry division is totally alien to the idea of using cavalry for anything other than a mounted charge. When Reiner reads Baltzar's essay published in a foreign military journal on the obsolescence of cavalry, he proposes a race between the cavalry division and a new "cavalry replacement" of Baltzar's choice. He ends up using bicycles with Helmut. Helmut wins the race and crashes into the finish line, putting her fellow cavalry students to shame.
    • The Hoppsted garrison commander positions his troops right on the edge of a coastal cliff, without any entrenchments and in close-order formation while engaging a Holbaek landing force. Holbaek's warships supporting the landing then batter the defenders to bits.
    • Franz attempts to quickly resolve the siege of the Baselland Military Academy by ordering his troops to charge, ignoring the fact that his troops haven't had time to set up their artillery yet. He assumes that since the defenders are only military cadets, they'll quickly collapse, and gets a rude surprise when the entire attack force is massacred thanks to Baltzar's training.
    • Actually Justified during the Civil War arc. When the Northern military units begin assembling, controlling them becomes almost impossible due to the lack of a centralized command structure. Instead, Reiner takes a hint from Baltzar and simply orders his troops to mass and attack the enemy force head on. Sometimes, the simplest battle strategy is the most effective one, as even the most disorganized army can understand the concept of just moving forward.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Most of Baselland's soldiers (and most of the infantry students at the academy) can't hit a barn at even 25 meters from their noses. Their flintlock muskets aren't rifled, and the training does not encourage individual skill improvement. This gets better when the Baselland regiment sent to Norden-Trade gets armed with Weissen rifles and participates in shooting exercises out of combat.
    • The conspirators who capture Marcel can't hit Baltzar at spitting distance with their revolvers, even when he runs out of bullets and starts stabbing them with his dirk (boy these bad guys suck at everything, don't they?).
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Marcel Janssen, a very-much abused cadet in the Infantry Division, scores the best (he nearly got the bulls-eye) during training in chapter 3. He was using the same crappy model of musket as his classmates, so that feat of his at the firing range is improbable (if not downright impossible)! Later, he manages to preemptively nail a striker through the heart across a river using the same old musket. Ouch!
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: Weissen's and Ezreich's bolt-action rifles closely resemble Karabiner 98ks, but they are depicted as single-shot weapons using paper cartridges and Minié bullets (the former trait should actually apply to the Prussian Dreyse needle rifle but the Dreyse could be easily mistaken for other long arms of the time period since its only difference from muzzle-loaders is its breech loading mechanism); Baltzar is seen cleaning a cap pistol in the first chapter, but he uses a Lefaucheux revolver in a flashback chapter and a LeMat revolver later on in the story. In chapter 19 Weissen coastal guns are modeled after an 8-inch British gun from the 1880s. A Weissen officer is seen with a French Modèle 1892 revolver in chapter 21.
    • Word of God said the 98K is used because it is more symbolic (industrial might vs the traditional brute force of sheer manpower alone, and the incredibly obvious visual distinction from muzzle-loaders). Lever-action Winchester rifles show up for some odd reason or other in volume 4, alongside muzzle-loaders. One wonders why the transitional cap-lock Minie rifle hasn't made an appearance or why Baselland hasn't made a breech-loading conversion of its muskets chambered for Weissen ammunition.
      • For the latter, it could be explained by the rapidity of the events happening in the manga, which would preclude even a small batch of converted weapons. However, we do see Reiner's purchase of a local arms factory, which could produce converted muskets later in the story.
    • Can be somewhat Hand Waved by the fact that the manga is set in a fictional universe.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The Weissen Navy is very much looked upon with contempt by the Army and is the junior service. In chapter 18, when the navy fails to break the Holbaek blockade and loses two ships, the Chief of Staff sends a message that he would reincorporate the Navy under Army command if they continue to fail.
    • In the Baselland's Military Academy, the cavalry cadets, which composed by sons of aristocrats, is in sometimes dispute with cadets of artillery and infantry, which are composed by sons of commoners and even orphans.
    • In Erzreich Army, the artillery branch is looked as less glorious than cavalry and infantry branches. But thanks to Colonel von Rendulic's efforts, their prestige has has gotten better.
  • Leave No Survivors: Nielson executes the wounded Weissen soldiers left behind by Baltzar in Hoppsted village. Baltzar's comment that the world doesn't live in "the dark ages anymore" implies that there are cultural and institutional norms against that kind of behavior, but Nielson isn't having any of that.
  • Magnetic Hero: Baltzar to the Baselland Military Academy students. His genius, nice personality, good speaking skills and helping hand to defend them makes the students in the Cavalry, Artillery and Infantry look up to him. Another reason Baltzar is nice to the students is because if he acted like a jerkass to them, they won't hesitate to shoot him in the back in the future.
  • Malicious Slander: Baselland journalists associated with labor organizations portray the suppression of the worker's uprising as a deliberate massacre of civilians, and Reiner as a puppet of Weissen. Baltzar fights back by organizing a funeral ceremony through the capital city for the students who were killed in action to gain the sympathies of the cityfolk. Later, we see that the journalists used high-quality cameras and printing equipment, courtesy of Rudolph.
    • In chapter 15, the same journalists intend to publish documents which paint Reiner as an usurper.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Rudolph to Franz. He has also been providing the Crown Prince with modern equipment and training from Erzreich as a counter to Reiner's modernization program.
  • Military Coup: Rudolph planned one as a junior officer in the Weissen Imperial Guards against the country's weak National Assembly and the influence of capitalists; the coup failed, but the attempt gained the sympathies of the citizens and it led to the Weissen military's expanded autonomy.
    • Both August and Franz pull attempted military coups simultaneously, practically starting a civil war in Baselland.
  • The Mole: Weissen not only sent Baltzar to Baselland to teach but also spy on their military strength as the Weissen government wants to annex Baselland into their country whether by peaceful or hostile means. Baltzar is uncomfortable with this.
    • Yuri Heseen and Dimo Baumann—the two officer cadets accompanying the Baselland regiment are also tasked with reporting back to the Chief of Staff if Baltzar begins to show political ambition from his actions. We later learn that Yuri has personal reasons for keeping on eye on Baltzar; his brother was one of the ones who committed suicide in the failed coup d'état eight years ago.
    • Weissen ambassador to Erzreich is actually in plot to kill Weissen king which is orchestrated by Rudolf and, possibly, Erzreich empress.
  • More Dakka: The Montigny ''mitrailleuse'' volley gun shows up in chapter 18. Dieter gets really excited seeing it but Baltzar thinks it would be useless on the battlefield, citing the weapon's many shortcomings. The design suffers from Crippling Overspecialization, as its only advantage is continuous firing for a period of time before it needs a new ammo clip while it cannot hide, change targets easily due to its limited traverse, and it more importantly, it cannot target people at long ranges, so it must be used as a mid-range offense rather than indirectly firing artillery. It is also stated that they were copied from a foreign design, possibly from Friel.
    • In Real Life, the mitrailleuse was considered terrible for everything but short-range counter ambush, but as a result of it being used in the best way possible at times, soldiers attacking the gun would have an Oh, Crap! moment while trying to kill the gunners while trying to avoid being reduced to Ludicrous Gibs (do not attack a mitrailleuse head-on). In the manga, Baltzar designs a counterambush that traps enemy cavalry in a ring of barbed wire, preventing them from escaping a crossfire between two of these guns, in a perfect example of how to use them.
  • Naval Blockade: Holbaek deploys one on Norden-Trade's ports. See Pretext for War.
  • The Neidermeyer: Reiner August Winkfeldt, also a Royal Brat.
    • He has no malicious intent, but really, his (and by extensions, Baselland's) doctrines are obsolete and from Real Life Napoleonic Era officers, he is not that rare. Later, he would get Character Development, see Royals Who Actually Do Something.
    • Franz also proves himself to be one when he impatiently and foolishly orders his soldiers to charge headlong into prepared defenses without any sort of artillery support.
  • Nice Hat: The shakos worn by the Baselland military academy students and Weissen officers like Baltzar, and the pickelhauben worn by other Weissen military personnel. The convicts in the shooting trial, the Holbaek Navy, and the soldiers of the Baselland volunteer regiment wear bicornes.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Oh, Bernd Baltzar. Here, let me list it:
    • He protected cadet who protected another cadet, his friend. In the process Baltzer anger the instructor who turned out to be a Prince.
    • He protected a shop from rioters and captured one of the rioters. Instead, he was charged as assault to innocent citizen.
    • He got info that cadets and instructors at his Academy planned a Coup d'état and ratted them to authority to minimize the casualties. He didn't calculate that his schoolmates and teachers will choose suicide rather than surrender. He was seen as Glory Seeker afterwards.
    • In Omake, he visited a high-class brothel house and discovered both patrons and prostitutes got syphilis. He arranged medical check-ups and the funding from Weissen military. Next day, he went to that brothel house again but instead Weissen soldiers (especially him) are prohibited to enter because he scared prostitutes and other patrons.
  • Not So Stoic: Upon learning that Baselland had become a republic, Empress Maria Ludovica of Ezreich becomes furious and breaks her fan in half. Her plan to take direct control over Baselland failed and Ezreich is now considered an enemy of the country's new government.
  • Occupiers Out of Our Country:
    • Some citizens in Baselland resent the encroachment of Weissen's goods and the Weissen army corps stationed in their country, which leads to scathing anti-Weissen posters distributed and random vandalisms by hired thugs; agitators like Rudolph play on this sentiment which leads to the uprising against the military academy.
    • Likewise, other citizens are wary of Ezreich's growing influence in the south, especially when Franz has close ties to Ezreich. Reiner in particular is suspicious about Franz's motives.
  • Offered the Crown: Reiner doesn't offer Baltzar a place in Baselland's royal family, but he asks for his personal support in overthrowing Crown Prince Franz, with the promise that Baltzar would be awarded with a high military position in the Baselland Army. Baltzar rejects the offer and instead proposes a secret treaty with Weissen instead.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Weissen's citizens sympathized with the coup conspirators due to Rudoph supplying photos and information to thirty five newspaper agencies throughout the country.
  • Peace Conference: Erzreich hosts an international conference after Holbaek calls for a ceasefire in their latest war with Weissen. Baltzar, his students, and Prince August are all invited to represent Weissen and Baselland.
  • Pretext for War: Holbaek uses Weissen's occupation of the Norden-Trade Duchy as a pretext to impose a Naval Blockade on the latter's northern ports; Weissen uses the blockade to declare war in response, playing into Rudolph's Batman Gambit.
    • In chapter 18 we see that the military leadership planned for this war to happen intentionally, when Reiner points out how quickly the Weissen prime minister and his cabinet decided for war.
    • The rumors of the Baselland princes possibly being illegitimate plays right into Stauffenberg's plans, since the political chaos such a revelation would cause would give Weissen a pretext to fully invade and occupy Baselland.
  • Raging Stiffie: Nielson gets one in chapter 21. One of the Hoppsted villagers sees this and tells another to "hide the young girls".
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Holbaek's soldiers were notorious for this in the First Norden-Trade War. It got so bad that they had to pay heavy reparations when the war ended.
  • Realpolitik: Later, General Groener tells Baltzar that Weissen's Foreign Office intends to remove pro-Ezreich Franz from power and put Reiner in his place.
    • And as we see when the Second Norden-Trade War begins, Erzreich signed a secret aid treaty with Holbaek to counter Weissen's influence in that region.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Major General Hermann Groener is this to Baltzar.
  • The Reveal: When Rudolph admits to being a colonel in the Erzreich military.
  • Rock Beats Laser: In Chapter 11, insurgents with illegally obtained Weissen bolt-action rifles are defeated by Baltzar and the military academy's cavalry division, all of whom are using sabers while on horseback. It just turns out that the insurgents aren't really great at marksmanship. They also are standing on one end of a bridge previously barricaded by the academy's infantry divisions, preventing their own escape when the cavalry corner them.
    • Volume 5 has the protagonists and the remnants of a Weissen infantry company running from a Holbaek cavalry unit. Infantry rifles have a difficult time with charging horses and their halberd-wielding riders, even with good training.
  • Royal Blood: The Empress of Ezreich is the great aunt of real!Crown Prince Franz and real!Prince Reiner.
    • The pair young men we led to believe as Prince Franz and Prince Reiner are not, as they are body double.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Reiner maybe a hardass but at least he cares about improving the Baselland military using his inheritance money compared to his older brother Crown Prince Franz, who mostly spends his money on parties, girls and has no interest in politics. After Reiner is shown the inferiority of his country's army he is serious on making sure Baselland can remain a country independent from superpower politics. In chapter 19, Reiner gets upset that the Hoppsted garrison commander is only interested in idling about instead of preparing for possible action with the enemy. Once he gains control of Baselland, he immediately sets about implementing radically progressive reforms such as the centralization of the army and government services, the formation of a parliament, and the abolishment of the monarchy and aristocracy.
    • Later, it is shown that Reiner is very good at using Weissen's standard bolt-action rifle, as he kills a wild boar with it from really far away.
    • The King of Weissen later makes an appearance as a potential political force against von Stauffenberg.
  • Selective Historical Armoury: Breech-loading rifled artillery does not seem to be in regular use, even in the Weissen Army. The only ones to exist so far are the Armstrong-style field guns in Reiner's secret armory. Later it is shown that Weissen's coastal artillery units use a gun based off of an 1880s British 8-inch breechloader.
  • Soldiers at the Rear: At the start of the Second Norden-Trade War, Baltzar intends to have the Baselland academy students deployed as far back as possible in battle. It would be a blow to Baselland if Reiner and the academy students were hurt...
  • Shown Their Work: When the artillery officer cadets prep their guns to fire for a salute, the process in loading, aiming and firing cannon is shown in meticulous detail.
    • Genuine military tactics are portrayed very well. The author points out the value of cover and enfilade fire in infantry tactics during the shooting trial.
    • Reiner is shown drawing his sabre with the grip guard facing him. Truth in Television as this is intended to avoid dulling the sharp side of the side.
    • The riot stage of the Strunz Metal Factory strike and its aftermath are actually closely modeled after the 1989 "Tiananmen" incident in China. In both cases, the demonstrators took over army surplus weapons, lethal force was deployed to scatter away the thick of the crowd and cut off inbound routes, and both armies gained the sympathy of non-demonstrator civilians [[ by mourning the loss of young soldiers (warning: video is explicit, NSFW)]].
    • The conduct of a siege in the gunpowder age is depicted accurately, showing parallels and saps used by the besieger to advance under the defender's guns and walls.
  • State Sec: Following real-life 19th century counterparts, Baselland and Erzreich police wear military uniforms, field cavalry, and are armed with long arms.
  • Storming the Castle: The Second Norden-Trade War ends with a Weissen assault on Viborg Fortress after a short siege.
    • In chapter 38, Prince Franz orders his army to storm Baselland Military Academy. But as the Academy is ready that group of infantry is slaughtered. The attackers have better luck after the professional military advisor, Colonel von Rendulic, comes and takes the helm.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Helmut.
  • Succession Crisis: In chapter 15, it is revealed that Reiner's plans that would've been published as Malicious Slander are authentic; he wrote them seventeen years ago to impress Franz, but as the Crown Prince looks more as a puppet of Erzreich he wants to put the plans into motion. While the plans coincide with the goals of Weissen's foreign policy, Reiner wants Baltzar's personal support.
    • And this isn't even getting into the fact that there's a good chance that both Reiner and Franz aren't even the legitimate heirs to the throne, due to the original princes disappearing during a civil uprising and the royal family secretly picking out two children who resembled them the most.
  • Take a Third Option: In chapter 19, Rudolph points out the impossibility of landing troops on the Norden-Trade Peninsula's east coast due to Weissen's decision to move the majority of its coastal guns there. As Baltzar deduces from the wounded scout's report at the end of the chapter, the Holbaek Navy invades the peninsula's naked west coast instead.
    • Prince Franz's army set a mortar in the middle of city so the Academy's artillery faces a dilemma: 1) shoot back but accidentally also shoot civilian's homes or 2) withhold shooting but get leveled to smithereens. Jurgen and townspeople, who can't show their sympathy to Academy nor directly defy aggressors, then choose to make the city a free city with an old clause of law.
    • Reiner is left in an uncomfortable position where he either has to stay back and let Franz bring Baselland under Ezreich's influence, or petition for assistance from Weissen to help put him in power, but will give Weissen pretext to annex Baselland themselves. Instead, Reiner takes the opportunity to completely reform Baselland to turn it into a self sufficient independent nation that will be more resistant to foreign influence.
  • Technical Pacifist: Baltzar is a soldier, but during the coup and the Baselland workers' uprising he is careful not to cause excessive casualties.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: In chapter 9, a demonstration by Strunz Metal Factory workers grows into a massive uprising headed for the capital city; the mob's grievances are ostensibly against Reiner's nationalization of the Strunz arms factory. However, one of the accompanying journalists point out that the insurgents do not care about the factory's nationalization at all and are just using the uprising to vent their anger. It is later revealed that Rudolph is responsible for agitating the situation to let anti-Weissen sentiment proliferate further and to discredit Reiner, and his connections with Ezreich allow him to procure a small number of modern rifles for the insurgents.
  • Trading Bars for Stripes: The soldiers (except for the team leaders) in Reiner's shooting trial are convicts who volunteered for a chance for freedom if they manage to defeat the opposing side.
  • War Is Hell: Hooo boy. This manga does not shy away from many horrors faced by soldiers and civilians alike. Soldiers fears death (obviously) and hunger if being separated from logistics. Civilians fears Losing all of their properties and knowing your female relatives get raped but helpless to do anything.
    • Several of the cadets, Helmut and Marcel in particular, become so desensitized by war it even worries Baltzar.
  • We Have Reserves: This is Captain Nielsen's attitude towards commanding his soldiers in battle.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 16: The Weissen National Assembly declares war against Holbaek after the latter enacts a naval blockade of Weissen's northern ports, moments after Reiner signs a treaty with Weissen's Chief of General Staff. The General Staff Chief suggests that Reiner send a cohort from the Baselland military academy for the upcoming war, though later this is changed to a volunteer regiment from the regular army.
    • Chapter 28: It is revealed that Rudolph may actually be a double agent working for von Stauffenberg.
    • Chapter 32: Baltzar and the students manage to narrowly avert an assassination attempt on the King of Weissen. However, it gives Weissen a pretext to postpone peace negotiations and continue the war against Holbaek. Meanwhile, Baltzar decides to join Rudolph in order to find out what he is really planning.
    • Chapter 35: August reveals that he and Franz are not the legitimate heirs of Baselland. The original August and Franz went missing during an uprising in Ezreich, and the current August and Franz were brought in as body doubles to maintain the status quo.
    • Chapter 38: Both Reiner and Franz stage simultaneous coups, resulting in a civil war that leaves Reiner and his forces besieged in the military academy.
    • Chapter 62: After assuming rule of Baselland in the wake of winning the civil war against Franz, one of Reiner's first major moves to reform the government is his decision to completely abolish the monarchy in favor a democratic government, a move sure to enrage Baselland's neighbors as they are still constitutional monarchies.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: As Baltzar points out himself, Paul's understanding of his choices' consequences means that he has the greater soldierly potential over Dieter. When he is chosen as part of the academy contingent for the war against Holbaek, he does not ponder over his future lightly.
    • Baltzar himself. He is very pragmatic and cautious as long as he can afford to be, and has risen through the ranks of the army far more quickly than is usual as a result. More than one person has stated that he has far too good a grasp on politics for his age, and that is unsettling to them.
  • Wooden Ships and Iron Men: The Holbaek Navy is still using wooden sailing warships, but they are fitted with steam engines. Holbaekis also uses a Virginia-type riverboat in coastal engagements with Weissen troops.
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace: What seems to be the result of the Second Norden-Trade War. Holbaek is militarily defeated but the Weissen-Baselland alliance is only able to gain the southern part of Norden-Trade without war reparations. However, it seems Weissen predicted the initial peace treaty would be written in Holbaek's favor, and deliberately torpedo the negotiations.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: In reaction to The Reveal in chapter 12, Baltzar plans to withdraw Weissen's military forces and focus on building a Weissen-gauge railroad network (with the cooperation of Dieter's father) in northern Baselland to woo public opinion over to supporting Weissen. This is later overshadowed by the war with Holbaek.
  • You Are in Command Now: Once the Hoppsted garrison captain returns back to the village with his battered force, he hands over command of its remnants to Baltzar.


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