Any show that’s got girls in fish suits doing a silly dance on a flatbed truck to taiko drums has to be awesome.
Again, Girls und Panzer blows expectations away. It’s unbelievable how good this show stays week after week. This week, we had the ‘friendly’ match between Oarai Girls’ Academy and Saint Gloriana Girls’ Academy. Their first battle, and against a seasoned opponent with equipment that was not a good matchup for the Oarai girls, isn’t really a recipe for success. And predictably, it is a loss for the girls of Oarai, but in an honorable way. Parts humiliating, parts reassuring, and parts ludicrous, but all of it was instructive for them, and a hoot to watch.
Just an example of great use of varied shots to convey the battle.
The battle itself was superb in both concept and execution on the part of the show. There was a fear that the terrible framerate of the first episode CG segment would be back, and that same shot was back, but it was really the only bad spot throughout the whole fight. The rest of the fight seemed to have much better animation and composition of shots. First, there was a segment in the rock quarry, where the Oarai girls tried to set up an ambush, and actually had it working, but missed all of their shots. After losing their collective advantage, things went bad as the first year girls in Team D got spooked and actually bailed out of their tank, running away on foot, while Momo went crazy, firing erratically and missing everything, until the Seitokai Team E tank got untracked and fell in a hole. Down 40% of their force, and pinned in against superior firepower, Miho decides to use the local terrain to their advantage, and has the remaining three teams run for the town itself!
Running for Oarai town.
This is where it really got fun and ludicrous. As the home team, and with most of the girls actually from Oarai, Teams A (Ankou, our protagonists in the Panzer IV), B (The Volleyball team in the Type 89), and C (The Famous Generals team in the StuG) were able to lose the Gloriana girls in the streets, and lay a couple very creative ambushes for them. Using their flags to hide next to a store, Team History Club takes out one of the Matildas with a shot at point blank range, and the Volleyball girls get a point blank shot on another Matilda, with a clever ambush from a parking garage, but their underpowered gun isn’t enough to disable the enemy, and they’re taken out. The StuG then gets taken out when they’re tracked by their flags, even though they were able to hide behind the fence. So now it’s four against 1 in the Panzer IV, and they look trapped in a dead end when all of a sudden Team E shows up to help even the odds, having fixed their track. But Momo misses from point blank range, and in turn gets blasted by all 4 enemy tanks, but that gives Mako the chance to get them out of there, with Hana tanking out another Matilda on the way. Miho then uses some brilliant strategy to take out the other two Matildas, leaving just the heavily armored Churchill captained by Darjeeling. Deciding to go for broke, she has Mako flank them and tries to get off a shot into the side of the turret, but doesn’t quite get there, and instead they’re dispatched.
Great lighting effects as well during the fights helped to make it convincing and fun.
The town setting really made this fight exciting. Using varied camera angles, such as a ‘first person’ view from one of the Matildas as it overpursues and smashes into a storefront, or using a fixed camera view and having the PanzerIV drive off the screen to the left, only to reappear having made a quick turn and shoot another tank, and also keeping the suspense up by mixing up whether we’ll see the hit first or the shot first. Sure some of the moves are a bit unrealistic, and the Panzer IV is probably not that fast or nimble in real life, but it was all in keeping with the show. Nothing was SO over the top that it was just straight up unbelievable.
Mako gets off the throttle for the turn, and that causes a plume of soot from the exhaust.
It’s really the little touches that make this show even more great. Things like them watching the tanks be hauled away on flatbeds, or the store owner whose shop got smashed rejoicing because apparently any third-party damages are reimbursed, so he can now rebuild his shop. Or the cloud of exhaust out of the back of the Panzer IV when Mako guns it. Or the screeching sound when the Type 89 turns at a high speed. Or Saori showing concern for Miho hanging out of the top of the tank, giving her a chance to explain the protections available. And they’ve done a fairly good job being accurate as to the capability of the tanks, even though what that boils down to is that the Oarai girls are almost hopelessly outmatched – outgunned and outarmored. Even their overall most capable tank, the Panzer IV, is handicapped by the short barrel original gun (Someone pointed out that the gun is now wrecked after being shot by the Churchill. Is this their chance to upgrade to a later, more powerful, gun?) (Yeah, I’ve been learning a lot about these tanks reading other blogs about this show, it’s a lot of fun).
Usually I don’t have much to say in this section. And I don’t have anything to say about the show that it did badly this time either! So let’s use this section to talk about some of the things that happened besides losing the tank battle that seem bad now.
How will Hana get back in her Mother’s heart?
Maybe the most important thing was that we got some character development for Hana. While walking around Oarai after the match, Saori spots a cute guy pulling a rickshaw. It turns out that Hana knows him, and he comes over to say hello, along with Hana’s mother, who is riding inside. As Hana introduces the other girls, Yukari blurts out that she’s in the same Sensha-do team with Hana. But Hana’s mother can’t accept that she’s doing something so barbaric or that she “would touch tanks with the same delicate hands you arrange flowers with!” and collapses. After going home, Hana explains that she feels her flower arranging feels lacking, and she wants to find something more powerful to add to it. Unfortunately her mother, feeling that Hana’s arrangements have perfectly embodied the family style, is offended at this repudiation of their style in favor of ugly, noisy tanks that in her opinion should be turned into scrap metal. Hana holds her ground and declares she won’t quit, and her mother decides to disown her right then and there. Refusing to be crushed, Hana is sure she will find a way to make a flower arrangement to get back into her mothers heart and open her mind. Hana shows a nice inner strength, standing up for herself under pressure from her mother, and even trying to lend that strength to Shinzaburou imploring him to smile for her.
The First Years apologize for their desertion.
There’s also room for some character development for the other girls in the Sensha-do team. The Team D’s first years, who abandoned their tank on the battlefield, are waiting for Team A to return to the ship, and immediately apologize, both for their lack of faith in Miho’s Commanding and their own cowardice, and vow to do better. Seitokaichou Anzu also declares that Miho will be the force commander from now on, and presents her with a gift from the Saint Gloriana’s team, whose captain Darjeeling had been impressed with Miho, claiming that she was more fun to battle than her highly decorated sister, and hopes to fight her in a ‘real’ match soon.
And that leads us directly into the final scene of the show: the draw for the National Tournament! But Miho has drawn them against Saunders, which appears to be an American – styled team with Sherman tanks. Not only that, but they’re one of the teams Darjeeling mentioned at the beginning of the match last episode that fight in a ‘vulgar’ manner. (Pravda being the other). Will it be a dirty tricks fight? The Sanders team certainly seems happy about going against Oarai. But I also noticed a couple other things about the draw. The way the bracket would work out for Oarai, they would fight all three of the teams we’ve heard of: Saunders in the first round, the Russian Pravda team in the 3rd round (semifinals) and if they both got there, Saint Gloriana again in the finals. We haven’t heard anything that I recall about either of the possible second round matchups for Oarai, which appear to be the French Maginot Girls’ Academy or the Italian Anzio High School. And while of course it’s giving the show away, aren’t we all pretty sure that Oarai will make it to the final?
Well, I’ve waited until all the way down here to mention it. The ugly this week HAS to be…
At least the Seitokai team joins them, but wow. It’s also pretty awesome and over the top.
Also for more information about the tanks we’ve seen in the show, Nova has put together a nice primer on their capabilities, shortcomings, and strengths. I found it a good read, and more information is fun for the show, because they’re definitely keeping things at least somewhat realistic.
And now enjoy some screenshots!