Girls und Panzer DVD Complete TV Series (Hyb)
Stuart Friedberg - Nov 12 2013
Charming. Brief, unrealistic, but much more than moe.
After this show was announced and before it started airing, there was considerable fan chat about how it would be just a cookie cutter moe show with a goofy premise. As the show started airing, it easily cleared that preconception. I found Girls und Panzer to be very charming, and found the "goofy premise" amusing and interesting enough to easily sustain one season.
Given the size of the cast (about 30 girls on a SMALL team) and the duration of the plot, most of the girls are one dimensional characters and many get few, if any, lines. The director plays with this. There's a tank with a crew of six timid, cry-baby first year students. Another tank with a crew of four jocks from the volleyball team. Another tank with a crew of three online otaku. One with a crew of four military history nuts (who do get some significant lines). For most of the cast, treat the individual tanks with their crews as the interesting characters rather than the individual girls.
The director also did some interesting stuff with pacing to keep things exciting and moving rapidly. The show starts with a lengthy flash-forward into what turns out to be episode four. In medias res, indeed. A much dreaded quarter-final tournament battle is resolved by a short scene of enemy tanks smoldering, to let the episode focus on the Oarai team's preparations. Both the semi-final and final battles end in cliff-hanger cuts, the semi-final cutting to the next episode. (This was agonizing during the initial broadcast session, but fortunately just a big tease when you've got the DVD set and the remote in your hand). So the show is certainly not structured as a 4-koma or slice-of-life show, and is not the tedious drawn-out mess that most shonen fighting tournaments turn into.
This is probably a good place to mention that the show had some serious problems during production. I don't know how much this affected the content of the final 12 episodes, but two filler episodes had to be thrown together to fill holes in the broadcast schedule and the final two episodes were broadcast the season after originally scheduled. The fillers are nearly 100% animation reuse, although they do contain some additional background information on cast and environment, especially the 2nd one. The filler episodes are included as extra features on this DVD set, and were originally broadcast between episodes 5&6 and 10&11.
The world of Girls und Panzer is MOSTLY the world we know. The exceptions are pretty significant. The girls schools we see are atop ships. BIG ships that resemble aircraft carriers in general outline, but the smallest school ship we see would utterly dwarf the largest aircraft carrier ever built. This oddity is lampshaded, but not really explained, in episode seven. At the Oarai school, the list of electives includes what you'd expect for a traditional Japanese girls' school: calligraphy, flower arranging, incense, kyuu-do (archery), kendo, aikido, then goes a bit weird with magic and "ninja" and, of course, tankery aka sensha-do. Other schools have British, American, Italian, German and Russian flavors. Fortunately, their rivalries at sensha-do do not equal the ferocity of the second World War.
There's a plot McGuffin that requires Oarai school to resurrect their 20-year-cancelled tankery program, and Miho Nishizumi is drafted into the program. Unfortunately, she transferred to Oorai specifically because there was no tankery at Oorai, setting up the 1st emotional tension. She's from a leading tankery family and had a professional falling out with her mother, the family leader. This is hinted at and revealed gradually as a 2nd and larger emotional tension. In fact, Miho's behavior as she gets out of bed on the very first morning of school only makes sense when you have that bit of backstory.
Miho is not an especially assertive or aggressive character. But she commands her team, and her tank in particular, like a samurai. There are a couple of tank battles that devolve into street-width maneuvering and point-blank exchanges of cannon fire. I was very strongly reminded of one-on-one sword clashes in classic samurai films. It may not be good real-world tank combat, but it makes fine sensha-do and television!
As a piece of fridge logic (another sign the writers and director have done a good job with the script), Miho's mother says something to the effect of "To win gloriously, you must sacrifice grandly" while calling Miho on the carpet for being squeamish, a wimp and generally a disgrace to the family. But, firstly, Miho was observing the higher principles of sensa-do, not merely the mechanics of tank battle, in the incident that caused this lecture. In that sense, she won gloriously indeed. Secondly, when Miho commands the Oarai team, by no means does she throw her tanks away, but she does risk (and ultimately sacrifice) her teammates for team victory. This is most prominent in the final battle against Kuromorine, the German-flavor school, whose team is commanded by her elder sister and totally indoctrinated in the Nishizumi family style. Tanks for the irony.
Visually, Girls und Panzer looks very nice. Character designs for the leads are distinctive, many of the background characters blend into a moe-ish mush. And I'm sure that's intentional. The three hall monitors, for example, might as well be triplets. Hair colors are sensible, given each school's flavor and each character's eccentricity. The 3D GCI for the tanks blends into the more conventional animation without jarring. While some tank maneuvers shown are really not possible, there's a pretty convincing sense of mass and interaction with the ground.
Sound is also good. Dialogue is clear, engines rumble, treads squeak (not as much as they do in real-life, though), impacts sound believable. Cannon fire is a muted from real-life, but that's probably for the best. In many scenes, team tanks advance into the field to country-appropriate marches, which lend a definite air of WW II film to several episodes. Due to international copyright issues, a very popular scene of the Russian-flavor Pravda team advancing while singing the WW II war song Katyushka was edited both for online streaming and this DVD set release. On the DVDs, the scene's soundtrack is an instrumental, and I'm not sure what the melody is.
michael t. sicotte - Feb 23 2014
can't stop watching
this anime is one of the best I've seen in a long time. It is now one of my all time fav's. I'ed recommend this one to anyone it will be a must for any one like "summer wars".
Luke D. D'Isernia - Mar 23 2014
Rating: Pretty good!
Don't be fooled by it's premise, this is a surprisingly good series.
When I first heard of this series I originally thought oh great a series about high school girls and tanks, another series that will probably be nothing more than an excuse to show high school girls in skimpy swimsuits, etc. Don' t be fooled by its premise, it is actually a good series with a good story line. It is also an anime series that you can let a twelve year old watch and not have to worry about adult situations, cursing, and over the top violence which I have found difficult to find outside of a studio ghibli movie etc. This series is worth watching, but I would suggest that you hold off on getting the oav collection, see why with my review on the oav collection.
Ricardo Papa - Jan 6 2015
Russian song by Pravda going into battle missing even from the sub version. have seen the original and the song missing makes me feel cheated. rest is good.