What’s it about ?
Girls & Panzer with boats. Well, kinda.
In the future, Japan has been half-submerged, and it seems the big thing is naval patrols by ships entirely crewed by women, the “Blue Mermaids”. Before that, though, they have to go through Marine High School, which includes a long practical period where they indeed crew ships with no onboard supervision. Of course, they have already studied and chosen their specialties beforehand : engineers, navigators, communication officers, cooks, doctors… and, er, weaponsmasters. Because those school ships have live ordinance.
The destroyer we’re following, the Hanekaze, has a crew of 31 by my count ; for obvious reason, most of them aren’t really developed.
Akeno, our protagonist, was a surprising choice for captain ; she didn’t have the highest grades, and is a bit clumsy. On the other hand, her essays about seeing the crew as a family must have struck a chord with the instructors. She certainly does seem to have a good head on her shoulders during this episode.
Mashiro, her deputy, is more what you’d expect ; top grades, very serious and by-the-book. On the other hand, she takes more time to process when something unexpected happens, and has trouble handling Akeno and her free-wheeling, casual attitude.
Moeka was Akeno’s childhood friend and they made a promise of becoming Blue Mermaids together… which is slightly impeded by her becoming the captain of another ship. But hey, they’ll see each other back after practical training !
Ms Furushou, their instructor, gives them barely a few words before they’re off for their maiden trip. She doesn’t come with them, of course ; she’ll be waiting at their destination. And when they’re late, she comes on one of the instructor ships and… has it fire at them ??? And when Akeno eventually orders to fire back to cover their escape, Ms Furushou has them branded as outlaws gone rogue ???
What the heck is going on ?
Lavish portrayals of the ships and their weapons, of course. Well, at least we don’t get much of the other kind of fanservice.
What did I think of it ?
Let’s be honest : the writers messed up the first half of the episode, with long scenes of nothing happening and way too little being established about either the main characters or the world. That’s really, really boring.
On the other hand, once the unexpected starts happening, Akeno steps up, and we get to see the crew together in action ? That’s much more like it ; and the insanity of the plot twist has a lot of charm in itself. It’s probably a training exercise for the “crew of leftovers” (what does that even mean ?), but it’s a good excuse to have our heroes fend for themselves for a while.
I’m actually quite interested in seeing where this is going, provided it can keep its mystery going.