March 03, 2015
We pick up shortly after the end of last episode, with Foobie Force escorting a badly damaged Shokaku to a mysterious location that only Kongo knows about. And who better but a British-built battleship to know the location of the new Japanese fleet base called Camelot!
Which is a much nicer sounding name than what we usually remember it as, Truk Lagoon. "The Gibraltar of the Pacific." "Japan's Pearl Harbor." Easily the most important IJN base outside of the Home Islands themselves, in real life Truk could do everything but build new ships or do major repairs. After spending a good half-hour to an hour examining terrain maps and satellite photos, I'm forced to conclude that Foobie Force is approaching Uman Island, which is an odd choice of place for the Production Staff to use. To be sure, there was a Japanese presence on the island, a small base on the outcropping on the left of the picture. But the Administrative Center for the IJN was one island to the North, Tonoas. A much larger facility, that, and one that'll match up better with what we'll be seeing soon. Perhaps they decided not to use an actual place where so many soldiers and sailors really died. If so, good call, I'm okay with that.
More importantly, Mutsu told Kongo that there's a new, special ship based there, and that by the time Foobie Force arrives, the rest of the Naval District will have relocated. The two carriers resolve to head directly to the repair bays, while everybody else is... um... everybody else.
After making landfall on a seemingly pristine jungle island and being threatened by a large snake which has absolutely no symbolism attached to it at all, there is some doubt as to Kongo's navigation skills. As the bickering continues, however, a gigantic parasol makes its way out of the underlayer, drawing everybody's attention. Sideways glances are shot at the others, and the ships of Foobie Force spread out, taking care to avoid exposing their backs to each other, for there is sunburn about and that parasol won't protect everybody. The fighting, once it begins, is vicious and short.
Ladies and gentlemen, Yamato. The crowning excess in the Imperial Japanese Navy's battleship-heavy strategy. A ship that, even in the increasingly air-dominated battlefields of the Pacific, could have made a massive difference in any number of ways around Guadalcanal. Yet due to her massive size, she was unable to sortie for fear of chewing through too much fuel. Designed to go into combat outnumbered and still prevail, when the old Kirishima went up against USS Washington and USS South Dakota, Yamato was snug in harbor. Not that I'm bitter or anything.
The new base facility! It's very... um... deco-ish, isn't it? I mean, I'm cool with that, I love me some Art Deco, and there's even some pre-dreadnought design influences involved, too. Inside, everybody gets resupplied (i.e., has dinner), there's some light "Hotel Yamato" joking, which she of course hates, damaged ships go through their repair timers, and all is right with the world, right?
Not as such, no. Nagato and Mutsu have come to the conclusion that Operation MO was a tactical victory but a strategic defeat, just like real life. With the Abyssals reading their codes, they've got a problem and they know it... but, unsure how to proceed, they decide that it'd be best to give Operation MO another shot.
Mutsu! She looks sad here, but she shouldn't be. With her suggestion of going after MO again, she's managed to give the Production Staff the out they need to avoid the massacre of Midway if they so desire to. See, in real life, you had the whole Doolittle Raid thingy, which more or less led to MO being pushed back to July while Kido Butai (in theory) blocked off the last attack route to the Home Islands, via the Central Pacific and Midway Atoll, while another force captured some of the worst territory in the world and prevented attacks coming via Alaska and the Northern Pacific. After that was dealt with, MO could be executed whenever Japan felt like it. Except we know it didn't actually work that way. If the anime decides that there isn't an Abyssal Jimmy Doolittle, then MO can go right away, and Midway doesn't happen. Now there's a brilliant strategist for you! Meanwhile...
...Frodo, Merry and Pippin hear the true story of Yamato-san. The most powerful shipgirl in history, yet never having been in a battle. Her 18.1" guns the largest ever, hidden away to prevent the Abyssals from knowing about her until the time is right. It all sounds very sad to Foobie. I'd like to point out that the background artists pretty much blew their entire budget for the rest of the series right here in this scene. Man, that's nice.
The next morning brings a beach day for the fleet! Everybody's out and about doing beachy things, and then I discover that it wasn't the background budget that got destroyed, but the skin tone budget! Look at that big patch of uncolored skin on the right side of her body... sloppy work, Production Staff. Frodo is being sneaky... she's all like "let's go swimming, Yamato... then we can put on our rigs and go sailing." Which, of course, the battleship would love to do, but orders is orders. Foobie, that anarchist, is all like "screw all the rules, it's not like Nagato is here."
"She's right behind me, isn't she?" Swimsuits just don't work that way in the real world, I'm sorry. The Foobster is told to tend to her knitting, Yamato is told to stay on the base, and everybody is grumpy. Later that night, after everybody has gone to sleep...
...Fubuki has some questions for Yamato, foremost among them is how she walked out here without leaving footprints. It turns out that the big ship comes out every night to look at the ocean and wonder what it would be like to sail upon them like everybody else. Instead, she's forced to hide inside and cook meals. Well, no more! Tonight, with Foobie's help, she is going to claim her birthright!
Well. That's... yeep. Good lord, heavy metal indeed. And then, just as Fubuki is getting ready sail out... Yamato's stomach growls, indicating she needs resupply. Yep, she's out of fuel. Cue sad trombone. Well, nothing for it...
...MUST. FEED. What in the name of Brillat-Savarin is that pile of... something. It almost looks like there's laser weasels living in the damn stuff. Despite its unappetizing appearance, the two resource hogs stuff themselves until Nagato shows up, grabs Fubuki and takes her to The Office. There, the kempetai is waiting.
Or Mutsu! We go over the whole "heavy resource use" spiel again, and how they know she's not getting any practice, but as soon as they can feed her needs, she'll be part of the fleet. And while they know that Foobie was just trying to help, she still disobeyed a direct command. There will be punishment. Terrible, terrible punishment.
She has to RAKE THE ISLAND! BWAH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAAAAA! Or, y'know, dig for clams for the night's meal. One of the two. RAKE THE ISLAND!!! RAKE THE ISLAND!!! Meanwhile, after breakfast...
...Foobie builds a raft, with which she can take Yamato out to sea! It's a brilliant plan, one worthy of the legends. Sure, it's not quite as good as sailing yourself, but it's about as good as anybody can hope! Except for one teeny tiny little problem.
That being Fubuki, at least in comparison to Yamato. In real life, the battleship outweighed the destroyer by about 68000 tons. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that no matter the faces and grunting noises she makes, Foobie just can't pull Yamato off the beach. It's at just that moment, however, that the other two hobbits show up.
Hooray! The big'un gets to play on the water. Everything is right with the world, and lunch won't be ruined for everybody else at the same time! You'd think this would be a good time to end the episode, and you'd be right... but the Production Staff, it disagrees with you! High, high above...
...some Abyssal planes are in the area, perhaps on a recon mission. They're too far away for the destroyers to gun them down, there's no carrier on standby, and thus no fighter cover. This is bad, very bad, because... um... reasons. Well, there's nothing for it.
Yamato's nine 18.1" guns fire their special "Type 3" shells, aka sanshiki rounds. These were specialized anti-aircraft shells for the heavy guns of battleships, containing, in effect, flaming metal rods that were dispersed by a bursting charge after a certain time. They were apparently quite impressive to look at, but there is no record of them actually shooting down a US plane. Here, of course, they turn the four Abyssal fighters into greasy smudges against the sky. Huzzah, the day is saved! Now we wait for the inevitable fallout from Nagato (see what I did there?).
There is none. It's time for dinner, they'd better hurry and get cleaned up. That's it. Fade to black, roll credits, right? Wrong!
MUTSU! I'm not even going to try and describe what's going on here. There's no need. Just gaze upon its wonderfulness. Fade to black, roll credits.
Complete and total fluff. Yes, we meet Yamato, and gosh that's swell for the game players, but it almost certainly won't matter in the long run of the anime. Still, I enjoyed it for the Mutsu luv. Gotta speak the facts, though: total filler, the only important bit is that they've rebased to Truk.
I enjoyed it. Your mileage may vary.
Next episode: More zombies!
It turned out there were two volumes of it. Cute stuff for what it is. Very much too bad there's no translated version, but let me know if you want to take a look at the Japanese version.
Posted by: Avatar at March 03, 2015 03:44 AM (a38fD)
Posted by: Mauser at March 03, 2015 05:13 AM (TJ7ih)
Posted by: GreyDuck at March 03, 2015 08:23 AM (AQ0bN)
The 18.1" Shan Shiki shell seems thoroughly scary but rather poor doin's, thanks to Japanese lack of proximity fuses.
It can take a substantial chunk out of a formation of aircraft if you guess right as to where they'll be when it gets there, but the sky is big and if they know of the threat they'll be maneuvering. Supposedly the militarily useful burst is a markedly forward-directed cone-like shape of 20 degree solid angle and the better part of a km length.
With a proximity fuze rather than pre-set detonation, things get more interesting -- but I'm guessing you could actually put a much higher rate of proximity-fuzed antiaircraft fire into many more places, still with plenty of range and altitude capability, by using the ship's secondary battery. (The VT fuse scaled down to the 5" guns that most USN ships had at least a few of.) That way you can preserve or otherwise employ the big guns and still have good air defense.
Thankfully the real IJN never got those fuses...
Posted by: Ad absurdum per aspera at March 03, 2015 06:17 PM (cQAlw)
Posted by: Wonderduck at March 03, 2015 07:34 PM (jGQR+)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 03, 2015 08:00 PM (+rSRq)
Posted by: Wonderduck at March 03, 2015 11:38 PM (jGQR+)
The wreck of Yamato's sister ship, the Musashi, has apparently been discovered by Paul Allen. Unlike the Yamato, it was mostly intact. I wonder if she'll show up later?
Posted by: muon at March 04, 2015 06:41 AM (XIprt)
No, the Type3 shell was strictly an anti-aircraft round; that was the only point to it.
Posted by: Wonderduck at March 04, 2015 08:17 AM (jGQR+)
The old-school anime injoke was the bit where Yamato was standing looking out at the sea sadly at night, and all of a sudden they started in with the wailing female vocalization music, a la Space Battleship Yamato.
To be fair, some swimsuits work that way, but only if you apply a lot of stickum and double-sided tape. And you can't swim or move much.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at March 06, 2015 08:52 PM (ZJVQ5)
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at March 06, 2015 09:10 PM (ZJVQ5)
Posted by: Avatar at March 06, 2015 09:56 PM (zJsIy)
Henderson field was shelled by the Japanese, including battleships, and they used fragmentation shells.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 06, 2015 10:07 PM (+rSRq)
Airfields in that area weren't just cleared ground, because of tropical rain storms. If the field turns to mud, you can't use it. The Americans had big mats made of steel that the CB's put down and welded together, to cover the entire length of the field.
If one of those got damaged, they'd cut it off and replace it.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 06, 2015 10:10 PM (+rSRq)
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