And so what was going to be a very shocking episode didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. And the fact we finally see my favorite Abyssal show up. About bloody time Wo-chan. Because there is no Abyssal like Wo. And chibi-type Wo-class is the cutest. Anyways, onto the episode, and the attack on Port Moresby!
At base, Ooyodo receives instructions from HQ about the upcoming operation, while at sea, Fubuki and the rest of Assault Force Five were out tuning their equipment when they encountered Abyssals. While Kongou, Kitakami, and Ooi are working without much strife, Zuikaku and Kaga are still butting heads. While Fubuki is worried about their proximity to the enemy forces, Zuikaku brushes it off.
In a bid to display her mettle, Zuikaku takes a forward position to launch her planes when a torpedo heads her way. Unable to do anything about it, Kaga swoops in and takes the brunt of the attack. Arriving at base, even though Fubuki and Zuikaku tries to take the blame, Kaga merely says she saw the sliver of hope in a desperate situation and took the chance. She doesn’t want any of the Admiral’s ships to sink, even if it’s CarDiv5.
Before any more can be said, Kongou makes the case it was merely bad luck and says that a repair bucket will do the trick. Tone, Mutsu, and Nagato though arrive, and explain it can’t be done. With their expanded territory, their supply lines are much more perilous and they do not have any repair buckets to use freely. With the main Operation MO fleet having sailed, Shoukaku arrives to volunteer herself in Kaga’s place.
Back at the courtyard, Mutsuki and Yuudachi reassure Fubuki. She has been stressing out over the decisions she’s made so far as flagship. Though her friends state it’s only her that can keep them in line. Heading back to her room, she was about to ask Zuikaku something before she’s summoned to the Admiral’s room.
Clearly stressed, Nagato merely tells her to relax, since the Admiral won’t scold her for Kaga’s docking. She instead asks her if she would agree to Shoukaku taking Kaga’s place. She agrees, and the next day, as the other naval base’s fleets set off, Assault Force Five deploys, with Shoukaku telling Zuikaku they have to do their best in place of CarDiv1, and that she’s happy she finally got to go out in a sortie with Zuikaku. At the docks, Akagi comments as well that it has been awhile since she’s spent time with Kaga, having noted Kaga’s concern for her team. Both of the two carriers blush at their respective elders’ comments.
As Assault Force Five sails through the seas near the Coral Islands, Ooi remarks that the beautiful weather seems to be blessing the sea that Kitakami is sailing on, though Kitakami points out that she doesn’t like the look of the following squall, leading Ooi to curse the weather. Fubuki feeling some unease, asks the two carriers to launch recon planes outside of their operational area. While Shoukaku wasn’t too sure, the rest of Assault Force Five support their flagship’s decision. Even though Kongou and Zuikaku embarrasses her.
As the planes launch, the two carriers consider Fubuki’s caution in a recon mission, there must be a reason. Fubuki hopes she’s wrong, considering that she’s been informed by Nagato that she and the Admiral suspects that the Abyssal fleet had broken their codes. Just then, Assault Force Five receives word that the main Operation MO force has been hit and the light carrier Shouhou has been badly damaged. Cautioning Zuikaku, Shoukaku tells her that reconnaissance is about endurance.
After a short while, Shoukaku’s planes find the enemy carrier group, and both carriers launch a strike group which moderately damages the Wo-class Standard Carrier (CV). Fubuki has the two carriers continue on to MO Island to attack the Abyssal Base, while the rest of Assault Force Five mops up. Giving them some fighter escorts, Shoukaku and Zuikaku head there. Fubuki though has them all stay under radio silence.
While en route, Shoukaku teases Zuikaku about her friendly relationship with Kaga, her younger sister denying it. But it’s clear to Shoukaku that the tension and friction between the two has subsided, even though outwardly the stoic and arrogant girl from CarDiv1 and the tough and hyper girl from CarDiv5 are still at each other’s throats. Out of the blue, Shoukaku is attacked by Abyssal fighters, and from the nearby islands in the squall, another Wo-class CV, this time a Flagship-type.
With Shoukaku damaged and telling Zuikaku to leave her behind as a decoy, Zuikaku has them go both into the squall as she remembers Kaga’s words from earlier. Asking her to believe in her, they head in where the Abyssal planes cannot follow, though the Wo-class orders her force to go another way. Back at Fubuki, she is thankful that the worse-case scenario has not happened, only for her to realize what was wrong and head towards the carriers she left behind.
Clearing the squall, the end up facing the enemy fleet. They are saved from an artillery shelling by the escort planes they gave to the rest of the squadron, though the torpedo bombers they launched were all shot down. Regardless, the timely arrival of Fubuki and company destroys this force, with Fubuki shooting and damaging the flagship Wo. A Ri-class Heavy Cruiser (CA) mimics what happened earlier in the episode and sacrifices itself for the flagship Wo. Realizing she was outnumbered, she venomously stares at Fubuki before retreating.
As news of the group’s accomplishments reaches the base, Kaga isn’t surprised at all, and repeats something she said earlier, that ‘they are all talented girls’.
Well, that was a bit enjoyable to say the least. At first the episode seemed to bill itself as the Midway operation, with the Abyssal fleet having broken the naval code of the human forces. But it all became much clearer in the episode since the operation was called ‘MO’, the same one used for the Japanese invasion of Port Moresby. The inclusion of Shouhou, Aoba, Furutaka, Tenryuu, and Tatsuta in the main Operation MO force from the other naval districts was a clear sign. As was Shouhou being heavily damaged (sunk in real life). Granted iirc we broke the IJN naval code even before the war.
Flagship Wo not being sunk but damaged mirrors that of Yorktown being the flagship for the American forces at Coral Sea (being VAdm Frank Jack Fletcher’s flagship for TF 17).
The only ones who aren’t in the actual order of battle in Coral Sea was Kongou, Kitakami, Ooi, and Fubuki. Other than that, Shoukaku being damaged is historical, and I can only assume that the Wo-class that was killed was the stand-in for the Lexington, while Zuikaku’s decision to go into the squall mirrored the real Zuikaku’s hiding on the second day (May 8th) from American planes in a rain squall. Zuikaku was also undamaged even though she was the focus of some aerial attacks by the Abyssal forces.
In all, Operation MO seemed rather close to its real life version.
As for the characters, I do like the fighting-but-friends aspect of Zuikaku and Kaga. I love Zuikaku, she being my first ever crafted ship (a joke build using 555 Fuel/Ammo/Steel/Bauxite) to clear the ‘built a ship girl’ tutorial quest. Kongou and the torpedo lesbians seem to be less grating on the nerves, well in all reality I’m mostly annoyed at Ooi, but I think that aspect of her was delibertly played up during the past few episodes. Maybe more so in the game, I never paid attention.
In a sense, the title seems misleading. Zuikaku and Kaga have always had the open rivalry, even in the games. Shoukaku and Akagi were more older sisters who sighed at their younger sibling’s antics, but since coming together in the same fleet and bonding with the glue that is Fubuki, it seems their relationship is repairing, or moving towards a better direction. They’ll still throw barbs at each other, but it is the steady acceptance that I like. I found it to be…either completely gone in the fandom, to the point Kaga is torturing Zuikaku, or the other end, where it’s nothing more than a precursor to yuri hate-sex in doujinshi. This somewhat softer middle ground in the anime makes my heart warm.
Regardless, it was an enjoyable episode, I was worried Shoukaku would end up meeting Kisaragi’s fate, but considering both crane sisters limped home to Japan in the real battle, there really wasn’t much worry.
Up next, the famous Hotel makes her appearance. Yamato’s fame was more due to late war and after the war. If there was a ship that in the minds of the Japanese people symbolized Japan’s naval prowess early in the war, it would’ve been the Kongou sisters (particularly Hiei who served as Emperor Hirohito’s transport in the 1930s), maybe even Fusou or Yamashirou, and Nagato. But ah well, ICE CREAM FOR ALL.