Full title is “ガールズ&パンツァー プラウダ戦記”.
“ガールズ&パンツァー” is Girls und Panzer.
“プラウダ” is Pravda.
“戦記” is senki, meaning a military story of some sort. Thankfully, the cover tells you that it should be translated as saga.
This is a spin-off manga for Girls und Panzer universe. This story takes a specific focus on Katyusha in her younger days in Pravda school.
The story begins just as she enters Pravda school as a freshman on day 1.
Katyusha in this manga is a lot more edgy and hostile toward others as she attempts to climb the ladder of command within the school. We also see a younger version of Nonna with shorter hair. Both of them are of the same age. Hard to believe, I know.
There are currently three volumes to this series. I have only volume 1 in my hands though. When I tried to order, volume 2 & 3 were out of stock. Of course, a day after I made an order, they were restocked… Since I make only one order (from Amazon Japan) per month, I am going to have to wait.
Anyway, the timeline of this manga is about 2 years earlier, meaning Nishizumi Miho isn’t even in Kuromorimine, and Maho is only a freshman as well. We also get to see freshman Darjeeling.
Katyusha, as soon as she enters the school, makes it clear that she hates to see mediocrity being accepted and subsequently rewarded. She makes it clear that she wants to go to the top as the champion of National High School Sensha-dō Tournament.
In order to do so though, she must be able to defeat Kuromorimine who will get in her way one way or another. And to do that, she feels that she must rebuild Pravda tankery from ground up.
And she does exactly that. While she acts as a clueless girl in front of seniors, she trains and builds up trust from fellow freshman. Nonna, who recognizes that Katyusha has what it takes, soon becomes her right hand girl.
Indeed, Katyusha is not all talk but no action type. She acts when needs to be. She can also be kind when needs to be. She does show great promise as a tank commander. However, Nonna is a better tank commander if we are talking about commanding a single tank. Katyusha’s strength is her foresight and leadership both of which Nonna lacks.
In other words, Katyusha is a leadership material while Nonna is better off being an elite tank commander.
Granted, Katyusha is a midget. She is tiny but she shows that she has the tenacity as well as the brain to make things roll even when faced with great danger.
Within volume 1, she regains almost complete trust from fellow freshmen by shielding them from seniors’ harassment as well as being able to grant fellow freshmen more bath time and such.
Finally, those who have watched the official anime may recall that Pravda did win the national tournament with Katyusha. She does achieve what she has initially set out to do. Granted, if Miho didn’t screw up, Pravda may have lost, and Kuromorimine may have won their 10th consecutive title. But that does not take away a fact that Katyusha laid the foundation to be able to fight Kuromorimine to begin with.
What this manga does is fill the gap between.
My verdict on this manga is: Get it. Absolutely get it.
In a sense, this manga is somewhat similar to Ribbon warrior. Both have a far darker tone than the official series, but I feel that should be the reality. A national tournament is never going to be all happy-do event. It takes a lot off efforts to win such a tournament, especially a national one.
The official series never really takes on the darker side of emotions. This spin-off manga does, and so does Ribbon warrior. A victory of this size does not come cheap after all.
P.S. Scalation for this series is available.