Girls und Panzer – 05

Delicious cake, you must eat!

After the excellent episode 4, the question in my mind about Girls und Panzer was, could it keep up the great action? Was the 4th episode more than just a one-off, but rather a sign of greatness to come? That’s a bigger question than can be answered by one episode, but episode 5 did its darndest to respond with a resounding “yes.”

Also, check out Desu ex Machina’s latest FAPcast if you’d like to hear me rave with other fans about this show.

This movie wasn’t quite as good as the stuff Kyoto Animation produced – particularly lacking creativity in shots – but the light use of CG to enable some of the moving camera parts was nice.

It’s become clear that the production team has invested heavily into CG, and that’s paying off by enabling them to consistently create shots that just isn’t common in anime. This episode featured a notable use during a non-action scene, in Yukari’s infiltration of Saunders University Prep School. Some of you probably know already that I’m a big fan of in-show footage, such as the student films in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya or Hyouka. Anime art is generally clean and unblemished, and the film-within-a-film forces the animators to consider, how does this world appear to someone actually living in it? It can force them to use cinematography techniques that are more associated with live action, in order to convince the audience that this is really something filmed within the world. Some parts of her infiltration had me scratching my head – there was no way for her to shoot that, then turn the camera on herself for commentary, without giving herself away. But that aside, the first person shots were both appropriate and aesthetically pleasing.

And that’s without even mentioning how funny the whole thing was, from her poorly thought out disguise to the “special thanks” in the credits Yukari put together on her way home. It’s a good thing that the humor was so charming, because I’m still finding precious little for me to grasp onto in the story, world, or characters. I’m not expecting Shin Sekai Yori level world building, but the more that’s revealed, the clearer it becomes that the rules of this world are more out of narrative convenience than believability. The tank battles limit each team to 10 tanks, but no further effort is made to balance the sport. It allows the battles to be more epic, because the poorer and less equipped Oarai Academy girls now get to take down enemies twice their size, but whoever is organizing this should realize that without any further efforts at balancing, this sport really doesn’t deserve much respect. Kind of makes me laugh at what Miho’s sister’s sidekick said in the first scene about the unwritten rule among practitioners.

Which brings us to a pretty major character introduction in this episode, Miho’s sister. To be honest, I’ve forgotten practically everything about Miho’s family back story from episode 1, so maybe I’m way off base, but could it be that Miho’s dislike of tanks has something to do with her sister? Will the story of the show be of her leading her scrappy team to victory over her own sister? Or maybe her sister will put her in her place, thus leaving open a plot point for a season 2? Either would be cool, but I’m a sucker for stories where victory comes at great cost, or even ends up Pyrrhic, so I’d prefer the latter. There’s a good enough base here to build a compelling story, so it’s a shame the show seems to be taking baby steps at best towards it.

These shots don’t look particularly bad by themselves, but in motion, they’re even more wonderful.

But who cares? I just want more hot tank on tank action! I can’t say that the chase through the woods or the near misses had me on the edge of my seat, but they were still beautifully shot. The CG of the woods were quite good, not at all jarring against the real animation, and allowed for the long tank-view shots that we’re growing accustomed to by now. Considering this episode covered only the start of the match, it’s reasonable that it couldn’t match the intensity of the friendly against St. Gloriana in the previous episode. But it still managed to keep us on our toes, with the radio intercepting balloon adding a nice twist. It’s important to recognize that this show isn’t about geeking out over just tanks, but also the associated equipment, tactics, training, etc. Strike Witches featured not only the fighter planes, but also the guns and battleships used in World War 2, along with chaff grenades introduced in the movie. Likewise, Girls und Panzer gave us a covert method to spy on enemy communications, a tactic for subverting a tool that’s critical for coordinating multiple tanks. The fact that that itself was subverted so easily using SMS was a bit disappointing – the Saunders girl surely must have realized how easy such a work around was – but it left me curious as to what other non-tank-based tools these girls will exploit to aid them in battle.

It’s a shame that we have to wait an extra week for the next episode, since this one ended on the first real cliffhanger of the show, right in the middle of what’s proving to be another really fun tank battle. But at least the show’s quick pacing helps to alleviate that a bit. Frankly, a recap episode this early to a show this shallow in story and characters seems inappropriate, but hey, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann‘s 6th episode was also a recap, and that one ended up just fine. 2 episodes isn’t enough to establish a trend, but I have plenty of hope that the production team can keep this up with its high quality action. And that alone would be enough to make Girls und Panzer a show that we’ll remember fondly for a long time.

I guess we’ll have to wait, maybe sip some tea, for what is hopefully the thrilling conclusion next week.

About

A math/science geek and a self-dubbed cynical optimist. I don't care if it's deep, if it can make me feel something or laugh, it's fine in my book. @lvlln
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30 Responses to “Girls und Panzer – 05”

  1. AllenAndArth says:

    cake…
    i want to eat them Ç.Ç
    i kinda of like this series very much…as silly as it is… reminds me of the anime i’ve just finished(like 2 minutes before coming to metanorn) Nogazaki haruka no himitsu! very shoujo and cute…haruka is really moe *0*
    “Let’s make babies together”(some doujin artist often refer to their circle as their kids) best quote ever

  2. BlackBriar says:

    Girls und Panzer is pure fun. It’s amazing how just everything revolves around tanks, even cakes. What isn’t being made in its image? I applaud Yukari’s infiltration of the opposing school but it’s bad she messed when she was getting the sweet info. The school’s security seems pretty lax if just anybody can get in. I mean, there’s no ID badges or anything.

    Oarai Academy is really adopting the underdog role against these high class schools and this one has snobs unlike the last team. I feel bad for Miho. Leads like her always manage to get bitchy siblings that do nothing but put them down.

    • Highway says:

      I’ve been wondering about whether the way Miho commands a tank and a force can really be called “Nishizumi Style”. It’s hard to see Maho, from what we’ve seen of her (and from what we can think of Germans) as being as quick to adapt strategies and abandon previous plans and make new ones. Miho seems to have a pretty loose and freewheeling style, and I wonder if that’s part of what caused the issues with her family and her past with tanks. She mentions that she’s never really had fun with tanks before, and she is now, and I think it’s because she’s out of both the shadow and the pressure of her mother and older sister.

    • lvlln says:

      Yeah, this world is quite literally a tank geek’s heaven. I can’t say that I’m one, but I must admit that I’m enjoying seeing a little slice of such an obsession. Tanks everywhere, though somehow in Yukari’s case, she (thought she) was having a hard time making friends due to her tank obsession. I wish her video had gone longer. Alas she couldn’t help pushing too hard.

  3. Highway says:

    I find the world building very different from you. I think they’ve put a lot of little touches in that really flesh it out, and while the particulars of this world can fall apart if you try to think about them too much, if you just accept that it’s the way they are, the world they’ve got is a lot of fun. The people in the show accept that their schools and parts of the town are floating about on giant carriers, and that sensha-do is a girl’s endeavor with no guys ever wanting to, and that there’s a federation which covers property damage costs, and that tanks are appropriate things to have running down the streets, so I accept that, and it makes the show a lot of fun. Just going with it is what made episode two a complete riot. The whole concept of them finding tanks in the woods, in the rabbit pen, at the bottom of a lake, and then having a tank wash, fixing them up and then having a battle when most of them hadn’t even seen a tank before was comedy gold.

    For the backstory, it’s not that you don’t remember something. It’s that they’ve been letting it out really slowly, and letting the audience piece it together. And I really like the way they do the exposition in the show, with just a little bit here and there, usually in the form of Yukari or Miho explaining to Saori or Hana, but sometimes it comes back around the other way, with Saori talking about how schools used to be on land, and wondering if that was better.

    In the case of Miho, the evidence + some speculation points to her being a member of the Black Forest Peak team with her sister Maho last year, and having whatever accident caused her to have those flashbacks of sinking underwater with the other tanks up on the cliff. So basically, she had her tank drive off the cliff (assuming she was the commander). And this led to Black Forest Peak losing the match (other people have said it was against Pravda), breaking their 9-year unbeaten streak. The pressure from that is what led to Miho transferring schools to a place without a sensha-do program to get away from it, only to find that Oarai was reinstating it (a question is whether they would have reinstated it without Miho transferring?) and being pressured to join.

    They still have hints about things that we don’t know the answers to, like what is the big reason that the Oarai girls *can’t* lose? And what exactly was the mistake that Miho made (which Yukari stood up and defended her regarding, btw, indicating that Yukari had seen the match, since it was mentioned right before that that the finals were televised live).

    As you can probably tell, I just adore this show (1300-word blog posts are ‘holding myself back’ on SGK).

    • skylion says:

      This is World Building 101. If you think to much about the premise, it falls apart. So, the premise much latch onto a need in the audience. Think about it too much? Star Wars is and utter shame, Star Trek…drek. Battlestar Galatica (old or new) is overwrought. But, you have to have follow thru.

      In the world of GuP, the shells aren’t really true tank shells, so that mitigates some of the very real damage that happens in the real world due to very real ordinance.

      As long as you are able to nudge and wink yourself, you are able to receive ample rewards from (not just this show) from a fantasy.

  4. Overcooled says:

    Hot tank on tank action, ooohh yeah! It’s true that a lot of the rules don’t make sense (10 tanks max? And no one else noticed the conspicuous balloon?) but it doesn’t make the anime any less enjoyable. The battle has just begun and it already looks promising and exciting.

    I love how the cast is so huge, yet every character has their own distinct personality – even the enemy teams.

    *sigh* I want tank cakes delivered to me…

    • Highway says:

      Yeah, I think they’ve done a really great job with the different characters, and it’s not that they’re super deep, it’s just that they are making them all have quirks, and even with all the tank action, they’ve got time to fit things in. Like Kei has just a few scenes, but comes across as a friendly person, not too serious, and still driven to win. The way she absolutely broke up laughing at Yukari’s fake name was great, and then recognizing her and being friendly, even inviting her back, was great, and set up quite the contrast to Maho’s and Erika’s Teutonic seriousness, and also Darjeeling and Orange Pekoe unflappability. I think it really helps that the different groups have a set of stereotypes they can kind of base the characters on, but even then, they are able to infuse the characters with some individuality.

    • lvlln says:

      The show’s giving me Strike Witches vibes thanks to the unusually large main cast and the way the ridiculousness of the world just plays into making the show more awesome. This episode didn’t have the highs of the previous episode, but that wouldn’t be expected at this point anyway, and I had a lot of fun seeing what was there.

  5. Highway says:

    And just cause I wanted to discuss more about this particular episode, another comment (it doesn’t hurt I’ve watched it about 5 times)!

    I thought the battle is playing out pretty well. Miho’s tactical prowess comes through pretty well, and it’s not that she’s supernaturally endowed or anything, she’s just very quick to act on what she learns. When she figures out that they’re intercepting the communications, I think she does really well to set up their own ambush (with the debris chained behind the Duck tank to make it look like a larger force is trying to get away being a brilliant move), and it’s executed to perfection. Also, for the folks that were lamenting the possible lack of training, we got some more of that, *and* we get to see the benefits of their training, as in the ambush, 4 guns fire and 3 hit the one tank. And overall, the Oarai girls are showing tremendously good fire discipline. It was mentioned earlier in the episode that rounds are limited (another balancing technique, I think, and I’m guessing that they’re limited by team, not by tank). The Saunders tanks fire a lot of rounds, and if they are limited by team, then each of their tanks has half the ammo of the Oarai tanks. Because this show hasn’t let a loaded Chekhov’s Gun go unfired yet, I’m betting there will be a scenario where one or more of the Saunders tanks will be facing an Oarai tank and run out of ammo.

    I’ve also seen people wondering whether Kay knows about the radio-intercept balloon, since she asks how she’s getting the info (with the answer ‘woman’s intuition’). I think that was a ruse, in order to guard against Oarai intercepting the Saunders’ comms as well, since as we see, there’s huge advantage in making the other team unaware that you know you’ve been compromised. So I think they just wanted to make Oarai doubt that they were intercepting their comms if they knew were themselves compromised.

    Lastly, the show has definitely set up some interesting future matches (because we know the Oarai girls are getting to the finals). The teams that have been mentioned: Pravda, Saunders, Saint Gloriana, and Black Forest Peak, are all set up to battle, with Oarai fighting Saunders now, Pravda in the Semi-final, and then the winner of the Saint Gloriana – Black Forest Peak (which are in different brackets to their own semi) battle in the final. And of course it’s going to be Black Forest Peak, setting up the Miho vs Maho showdown.

    • lvlln says:

      Yeah, there’s no way that shell limit comment won’t come into play, and I suppose Saunders’s large fleet presents a good opportunity. I wouldn’t mind seeing it come up much later, though, just to hit us when we’re not primed to expect it. I also hope there will be some shell reshuffling, to give ammo to a tank that might have run out, though I don’t know if that’s possible with the weapons on the different tanks that Oarai uses. Obviously not an issue for Saunders which has 8 of the same tanks.

  6. Karakuri says:

    I joked in the first impressions post, but once this anime got into the strategy tank battles, this actually turned out to be pretty great.

    I agree that there’s not much to hold on to regarding character depth yet and I have to shut off my brain/common sense A LOT when it comes to accepting the kind of society they live in (I think the part about the guy being excited about a tank blowing up his shop was the #1 thing that bugged me thus far), but it is undeniably fun to watch.

    • lvlln says:

      Yup, the show really asks a lot from your suspension of disbelief. But you don’t mind, because it can be so rewarding. It does an impressive job of making the battles exciting and also make sense. We easily understand why Miho is winning, and that helps us get more sucked in.

    • Highway says:

      My mantra has been “Just go with it.” Whatever they ask you to believe, it’s been worth believing, because as lvlln says, it’s been very rewarding.

  7. Foshizzel says:

    I want one of those tiny tank cakes omg they look good! Also the tank themed cafe? BEST ANIME CAFE EVER <3

    Also AMERICA! Finally we get to see some hometown reps with the blonde girl and oddball huh? Interesting nickname and speaking of oddball I loved her tank themed bedroom it really sets her background quite well.

    • lvlln says:

      It’s funny how the nationality of the students seem to match their teams. But they’re all actually Japanese, right? I like those Saunders girls. Very easy going, takes espionage a lot less seriously than one would expect. Then again, they were planning on committing espionage themselves, so I guess they saw that as fair play.

      • Highway says:

        Yeah, they’re all Japanese, and fighting in the Japanese National High School tournament (which somehow changed from the 63rd to the 74th between Ep 4 and 5).

        I think they’ve been kind of setting up the ‘good’ teams versus the ‘bad’ teams with this, with the Americans and the British the friendly, congenial, but still serious about winning teams, and then the Russians and Germans as the ‘bad guy’ teams.

  8. HannoX says:

    Lots of good stuff in this episode, though you had to read between the lines for some of the info imparted. For example, Saunders having lots of tanks, but limited to only 10 in the match, against Oarai’s 5. That harkens back to how the Americans had many more tanks available by 1944 than the Germans. Also the fact that schools with more money can field more tanks. Lack of money may be the reason why Oarai didn’t replace their damaged gun on the Pz IV with a high velocity 75mm. Perhaps one reason Oarai needs to do well is so their school can have more funds for their tank team in the future.

    I’m glad they repainted their tanks in a more subdued color scheme and that the History Club got rid of the banners. They are clearly learning and quickly. I loved the ambush with the StuG III–that’s how it should be used. When they showed the Saunders girls staring down its barrel my reaction was “Holy Shit!” Almost like I was the one it was aimed at. That was a good set up by the anime team.

    Good tactics can beat numbers and we’re being shown that Miho is a fast thinking, flexible commander with an excellent grasp of tactics and that the Oarai girls are quick to follow her orders, showing their faith in her. That’s the combination of a winning team. Though I have to agree with an earlier comment that it might be better for Oarai to lose to Black Forest Peak in the final. More realistic and a set up for Season 2 or a movie.

    Panzer vor!

    • Highway says:

      If the show is successful enough with pre-sales to really indicate a second season, I’d be interested in that. But if there’s a question about it, I’d rather not be left hanging. Plus, if the theme of a sequel or continuation is Miho finally outshining her older sister, they’d have to come up with a different tournament to have them fight in, because Maho is a 3rd year now, and will graduate high school. And additionally, they’d have to come up with an ending that was good for this series, not just Oarai losing in the finals, but something that Oarai does to gain a huge amount of respect or something.

      • HannoX says:

        Miho doesn’t have to beat Maho, only win her respect. And as the newcomers should Oarai make it to the finals and almost win that should gain them a huge amount of respect from the other schools,especially since most of their tanks are badly outclassed by those of their opponents. And such an ending should satisfy viewers, except for those who insist the underdog heroes must always win. But I do think this will be another underdog team wins anime (though there are some sports animes where the underdog team just barely loses to the top-rated team).

        So far the makers of this anime have kept me entertained and not just by throwing lots of tanks on the screen, especially the more obscure ones. If there’s a second season, I think they’ll come up with a way to keep viewers entertained again.

        Perhaps there’s a kind of Grand Tournament where the top high schools compete against university teams, perhaps super teams with the high school students as one team and the university students another. Or the users of Axis tanks battle the users of Allied tanks so Miho and Maho are on the same team.

        One way to kick off a S2 would be for Oarai to get upgraded tanks, keeping the StuG III and Pz IV with a high velocity 75mm gun, but replacing the others. This could be because they recieved significant funding due to their showing in the tournament.

        Oh, wait, if this is the National Tournament now, then S2 could be the International Tournament. And that again could mean the top teams form a super team to compete against super teams from other countries. Then once again Miho and Maho would be on the same team.

        So there are several ways (no doubt including some I haven’t thought of) that there could be a S2.

        • Highway says:

          They did mention in Episode 1 that the World Tournament would be held in Japan in a few years, and that was why they were reinstating the program. That could definitely be something they do for a season 2. And yeah, it’s one of those things that you need to trust the staff on. They’ve done a great job with the whole thing.

        • Highway says:

          Hmm, something else I just realized about Miho being successful in the tournament but not necessarily winning: Maho was the MVP of the tournament last year, but her team didn’t win. So maybe there could be a situation where Maho’s team wins, but Miho is named MVP.

          Moving on to a setting where the whole of Japan is one force would be quite a different challenge, since you’d expect Miho and Maho to be put on the same team, again. That might be an interesting source of conflict, especially with Japanese attitudes regarding deference toward those senior to you.

          • HannoX says:

            I hadn’t thought about Miho possibly being named MVP. Good point.

            And, yeah, it could be pretty interesting for Maho and Miho both being on the Japan team for the International Tournament. Especially if the setup was something like Miho being a platoon leader and Maho commanding the company assuming the teams are larger in the International (maybe up to a battalion of 50 tanks per team?). It’d be especially interesting if Miho decides an order issued by Maho was wrong and disobeys it.

  9. skylion says:

    So, is it wrong of me to rename this show Tank Lolis? It is the Year of the Loli after all…

    • Highway says:

      I don’t know if anyone besides Anzu and Team Rabbit counts as lolis. That still puts them at a much lower loli-ratio than Oda Nobuna.

  10. Highway says:

    Oh, I’ve been grinning at the B-Side for Enter Enter Mission today, basically Team Ankou saying what they like about Sensha-do.

    Yukari: Panzer wa Jinsei, Jinsei wa Panzer!

    Everyone: “oshiri ni hibiku bui juuni” (the rumble of the the v12 in our backsides) :)

  11. Highway says:

    For more fannish stuff: A tour of Oarai showing the places they went in the tank battle in Episode 4. It also looks like the town is really interested in the show, with posters everywhere.

    • HannoX says:

      Now Oarai needs to get a Pz IV it can set up in a park. But I suppose they’d have to settle for a mockup.

  12. Anglerfish says:

    Sgt Oddball is a reference to a similarly named tank commander in the movie Kelly’s Heroes

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