Fall season had no shortage of anime worth watching. Just look at the range of different shows offered. For your weekly shonen fix there was the second cour of SAO. Shinsekai Yori had amazing world building with unnerving atmosphere. Chuu2 nicely fulfilled the purpose of moe shenanigans with a hint of drama. It’s hard to pick one best show so I’ll just go with the one which was the most pleasant surprise. That’s Girls und Panzer.
It certainly surprised me most as I had set the least expectations for it. High School girls and tanks, there’s no way this could work, right? Oh, how wrong I was.
Military shows with little girls had never been my thing. Strike Witches certainly didn’t have much to do with realistic aerial combat instead opting for constant pantsu service. Upotte was utterly uninteresting to me because I could never get over the “anthropomorphic little girls as assault rifles” thing. Girls und panzer skips the anthropomorphization and lets the actual military hardware take the stage. In fact, when it comes to fan service, Girls und Panzer features next to nothing.
Oorai Girls Academy is one of the schools to practise the sport of Sensha-do, the art of operating tanks. The story follows 5 girls in the Sensha-do club as their school participates in the national championships. The girls start as cardboard cutouts but gradually build up some actual characteristics. Oorai team has basically a grab bag of different tanks from all nationalities but all other competing teams have their specific country-themed loadouts. St. Gloriana team naturally drives british tanks and Pravda High School opts for Soviet hardware. Tanks are accurately replicated of their real life counterparts.
I generally avoid downloading trollsubs but I got to admit that Commie’s German-laden subtitles really enhance the experience. Basically some of the common anime expressions are substituted with their german equivalents. Commie also provides a secondary subtitle track which omits the germanisms for those people who can’t stand fun.
Girls und Panzer spans several different genres. There is your usual high school slice-of-life for the first few episodes. When the Sensha-do championship begins, the main focus switches to a tournament format vaguely reminiscent of Saki. All episodes feature at least some tank action so the show won’t leave you bored even if you watch it only for the tanks. On their own, these elements wouldn’t make a compelling anime but the main appeal of Girls und Panzer is how they work together flawlessly.
On the technical side, the execution is suberb. The hand drawn animation might be only on par with other shows but what truly stand out is the flawless 3D integration. Only downside seem to be the delays that plague the production. With already two recap episodes within a time-frame of 10 episodes and last two episodes being pushed back three months, one can only wonder what sort of troubles did the rookie studio ran into. If the sales are of any indication, they should be swimming in money right now.
If you can get got over the cheesy premise, Girls un Panzer is definitely worth watching. It’s a shame it’s on hiatus right now. Like a lot of other people, I am eagerly waiting the last two episodes to conclude the Sensha-do tournament and wrap up the story nicely. Still, three months is a long time.