Girls und Panzer – 06

“Would love to stay and chat, but I’ve got a ride to catch!”

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I’m thankful for a lot of things, but one specific to this year is getting to join the team here at Metanorn, which means getting to interact with all you wonderful readers. Hard to believe it’s almost been a full year. I guess I’m also pretty thankful that the latest moe+weapons show has turned out so great. This was the 3rd consecutive episode of Girls und Panzer with exceptional action, featuring the longest battle sequence yet that took up almost 3/4 of the entire episode. The story bits have me bored, but if the show keeps up this recent level of quantity and quality of tank-on-tank combat, it could end up among my all time favorites.

It really is hard not to fall for this girl.

For just this one episode, the Aya Hirano-voiced Arisa of the Saunders team was the heroine of the show. She wasn’t the commander like Miho, but as the lead of their flag tank, she was her counterpart during much of the battle. This presented us with a nice contrast between the two girls’ clearly different levels of experience. Miho played the seasoned vet, remaining calm and calculating even when her teammates started to lose hope. On the other hand, Arisa had no idea what she was doing once her main plan backfired on her. She panicked, going on long, barely intelligible rants, almost getting caught by the entire Oarai team. She was also abusive to her teammates, physically and verbally. Arisa was a character set up to fail, and boy was her episode-long downfall amusing to watch! I’ve long considered Aya Hirano as one of the very best voice actors, and the energy and emotion with which she filled Arisa in this episode reaffirmed that.

I know I’m starting to write the same thing for every episode, but I have no reason to stop until the tank battles stop being awesome. The focus of the show in the 1st half has been action, action, action, and most of it has been executed flawlessly, while displaying great creativity and talent with the way the battles are shot and structured. The only glaring misstep came early on in this episode, during the very long moment of silence when the flag tanks discovered each other. The moment itself was hilarious, but the way they exited it made me scratch my head. The Oarai tank had its cannon pointed right at the Saunders one, and there was no reason for them not to shoot and end the game right there. Why run away and give the enemy a chance to aim at you? It wasn’t an egregious error, as most action anime are littered with such head-scratching moments, but the show had taught me not to expect such things.

I know I point it out quite often, but I love that this was all one shot.

Continuing the game probably made for a better episode, though. The chase scene and eventual conclusion of the battle was quite nice. Unlike the hide-and-seek urban warfare tactics seen in the friendly against St. Gloriana, this one was all about testing the physical limits of the tanks and counting on luck not to get hit while moving. The main chase scene with all the tanks could have been shot better, but there were still some treats, like the single-cut smoke grenade serve that ended with a missed cannon shot, or a hand tracking shot of Miho’s pen that gave us an overview of the battlefield. The show never seems content to settle on a single pattern for long, quickly shifting focus to the next new thing, in this case the chase quickly turning into a sniper race. Is tank snipers a thing? Obviously there must be a range in ability, but how wide is that range? I thought shooting tanks was a collaborative effort? Anyway, I was impressed with how Hana’s race against the Saunders shooter played out; the show made sure that we knew exactly where the tanks were and what the girls were doing, and the events were appropriately fast and hectic. The bullet time finish was particularly satisfying.

Unfortunately, the drama was particularly groan-inducing in this episode. The incident with Mako’s grandmother was a convenient excuse to show off the helicopter (as well as Maho’s sisterly love), but it did stretch the suspension of disbelief that this was their only – or even best – option for getting her back home. This is a multi-day competition sponsored by an entity with seemingly bottomless pockets; the girls can’t procure transportation for a family emergency? Also, I could do without the overly evil depiction of the other schools that won their battles. I don’t need to believe that the opponents are bad people; the Saunders and St. Gloriana teams made for excellent “bad guys” despite also being very classy, good people. I appreciate the effort to inject some human drama into these games, but that isn’t the way to do it. One way that worked was through the girls’ various attitudes and emotions during battle. Momo, who had fallen in my favor thanks to her trigger-happy enthusiasm during the St. Gloriana friendly, was even more delightful this episode with her various reactions during and after the chase. She seemed cold in the class room, but apparently her true nature comes out on the battlefield.

To the show’s credit, it used actual animation rather than montages of stills.

Let me close by commenting on this post on Altair & Vega by The Patches, someone with whom I’ve been lucky enough to talk to regularly (come to his SCCSAV feminist discussion watches on Wednesday evenings; we’re watching Taisho Baseball Girls now). I don’t think he’s saying anything that’s at all controversial in his post. The world of Girls und Panzer surely appears to be no more progressive than ours. The assignment of tanks to feminine instead of masculine makes for an amusing twist and serves as an excuse to show off high school girls, but let’s see it for that, not as a sign of progress. However, I haven’t seen any reason to believe that anyone thought that it was. And of course the world of Girls und Panzer need not be any more progressive than ours in order for the show to be social commentary; Patches’s post does nothing to prove that Girls und Panzer isn’t social commentary (nor does he claim it does). It’s also pretty clear from the 1st 6 episodes that this show has no intentions of acting as feminist commentary. It’s just a simple show about high school girls making friends while participating in crazy awesome tank battles. Maybe not all that it could be, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

Hm, I see a spin off opportunity…

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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19 Responses to “Girls und Panzer – 06”

  1. CarVac says:

    I think the reason the Oorai tank didn’t shoot the Saunders flag tank was because they had an anti-personnel weapon which would be pretty much unable to hurt the flag tank.

  2. HannoX says:

    Two reasons why the Duck team might not have shot the Sherman flag tank. (1) It wasn’t part of the plan for them to shoot it, and their commander wasn’t quick enough on her feet mentally to take advantage when the opportunity arose. (2) Their gun wasn’t powerful enough to take out a Sherman even firing point blank at its side armor. According to Wikipedia the Type 89’s 57mm gun could only penetrate 20mm of armor at a range of 500m. I know they were much closer, but I’m sure a Sherman’s turret side armor was much more than 20mm.

    Of course, the real reason was so we could have that awesome tank chase with both sides firing away. It’s not surprising so many missed shots were fired during the chase. WWII tanks weren’t really capable of firing with any accuracy while on the move. Notice how both the PzKw IV and firefly Sherman were stopped when they fired and hit.

    I have to agree that the whole thing about Mako’s grandmother seems like a contrivence. But the anime team did it for a reason. We’ll just have to hope it isn’t to throw in some unneccesary drama; we already have that with Hana and her mother.

    I think they need to replace Momo as a gunner. She’s far too excitable when you need somebody who can be calm in those situations and AIM before shooting. But I’m sure the anime team will keep her there for the comedic aspects of the contrast between her normally cool demeanor and her excitability during matches. And they may plan for Momo to finally hit an opposing tank at a critical moment.

    • lvlln says:

      The show’s definitely doing a fine job making things entertaining through realism. It really is hard to hit a moving target while moving, and it’s nice seeing Miho use that to her advantage. The way the girls are assigned, on the other hand, seems mainly for enhancing the comedy, rather than maximum efficiency. Arisa doesn’t have the maturity needed to lead a tank, much less the flag tank, and Momo shouldn’t be a gunner.

    • Highway says:

      The teams are set based on their relationships, and then they came up with roles from within the teams. Which honestly isn’t an awful way to do it, given the short time frame. Having teams that are already close (or mostly already close) is better short term than mixing everyone up. In truth, the 38(t) probably can’t effectively be crewed by three people anyway (and it’s pretty outclassed in these battles anyway, with the only weaker tank being Ahiru’s Type 89), especially without a loader. They’re glossing over that (maybe Anzu should really be the combo Loader and Commander, but that’s an awful lot of work for her to do, given her demeanor), so people are kind of thinking it’s just Momo’s zeal that allows her to be both gunner and loader. There was a great 4th wall busting effect with Momo this episode, when she came out of her split-screen box to yell back at Yuzuko.

      • HannoX says:

        I know the teams are set based on their previous relationships with each other and I agree that was a good way to assign them since they were already teams. But for effectiveness it seems that Momo and the 38(t)’s driver (don’t know her name) should switch. But I don’t see that happening. Momo as gunner is obviously comic relief. And the plan may be for her to finally hit something when the chips are down.

        • Highway says:

          Do you really think they’d be better off with Momo driving? Here’s how that might go: “CHAAAAAARRRRRRGE!!!!” I think she’s in the right place in the turret, where she can’t really *hurt* the team, just not really help them. The 38(t) isn’t really much of a threat to any of the enemy tanks anyway. Yuzuko’s the right driver for that team. If anyone should switch, they could put Anzu in the turret, but then she couldn’t relax and eat dried sweet potatoes.

          • HannoX says:

            I hadn’t considered that. Momo would be a very dangerous driver. It’d either be, “Chaaaaarge!” or “Run away! Run away!” There’d be no happy medium with her.

  3. BlackBriar says:

    That’s was an epic battle. I was anxious to see this since episode 5.5 was just a recap of introductions. For a contest, the participants are really sadistic. If they act like this now, then there’s no telling how they’ll be in a real war.

    Arisa was the highlight. The crazy chick is willing to do anything to maintain dominance and she has restraint issues since she doesn’t plan before she acts when she’s on an adrenaline rush. I guess she thought that with eavesdropping, there was no need for a backup plan but her underhandedness cost her the match. Karma for being abusive to her teammates, physically and verbally.

    I like the way both teams strategize to take the other down. The use of various tactics on the battlefield. It gives them the opportunity to improvise when one plan doesn’t work out, using Arisa’s blunder as a reference. If the girls ever get into a war, they’d be well prepared.

    • lvlln says:

      Yeah, so far, we’ve seen that Miho is very good at coming up with tactics on the spot when things go awry. I’m sure it’s an important skill in real war, where plans are often disrupted. It’s a talent that’s probably going to take Oarai far in this tourney.

  4. Highway says:

    Yeah, like others have mentioned, there was no chance of Ahiru team taking out Arisa’s tank, even with a point blank shot. And at that range, there was no hope of declining the gun enough to hit the Sherman’s treads, which would have been the only way that the Type 89 would have had any chance of disabling the Sherman. So not firing was a sound choice, and acting like a flushed duck may have been exactly what was needed to get Arisa to lose it and chase them, instead of running away and regrouping after realizing her radio interception strategy had gone wrong.

    I personally find the non-tank parts of the show interesting and worthwhile. Are they high drama? Heck no. But they’re also allowing situations to happen where other people can shine. I think the overall message of the show, aside from “it’s cool when girls have tank battles” is the importance of friendship and support. Hana’s resolve to bring a new facet to flower arrangement helps Miho to redouble her efforts to do her best. Miho provides encouragement to her team to not give up, but has a hard time not doing so herself, likely remembering her past failures, until Hana, Yukari, and Saori come to her support. And Mako’s crisis allows support from a completely unlikely source, the previously cold Maho. Without that happening, Maho’s personality is mostly tied to Erika’s, who is insulting and mean. Maho’s gesture turns the tables on that, and I think it reframes her from a bad guy like you think she is, to ‘just’ an overly focused person who doesn’t stop in pursuit of her goals. It also adds another aspect to the relationship between Miho and Maho, and maybe helps to break down whatever walls went up between them after last year’s tournament. I think the only really ‘bad guy’ team is going to be Pravda, given what Darjeeling said about them. Although she said the same about Sanders, but then Sanders self-handicapped, in defiance of that reputation, after Kay found out about Arisa’s secret eavesdropping.

    • lvlln says:

      Ah, I see. I wish the show had communicated it clearly that the Oarai tank had no shot. An off-hand comment while they were fleeing would’ve been enough.

      • Highway says:

        I think that’s one of the times where it’s a directorial / screenplay choice that has to deal with a wide range of knowledge in the audience. The people watching the show who know more about tanks and tank combat will already know it (and will think that saying something is ‘dumbing down the show’), the people who don’t know would need an explanation (and are confused when they don’t get one). But we’d already seen in the show that the Type 89 had been in a similar situation against the Matilda, and come off very badly. So even assuming that they had learned from that previous situation, the viewer would realize that they probably can’t beat the Sherman, so their run away tactic is acceptable.

  5. Highway says:

    I noted some other great visual shots in my SGK post, with my favorites being the short depth of field shots they used with the Shermans (the Firefly gun, and then joining the battle), the camera fixed to a point just past the Firefly’s gun as it rotated, elevated, and fired, and the overhead shots of the battlefield helping to reframe the relative positions for everyone.

    I also have a comment caught in the spam filter. :(

  6. AllenAndArth says:

    this episode kicked ass…
    but i keep thinking…imagine when these girls decide to get a driving lisense

    • AllenAndArth says:

      imagine if Misaki(sakurasou no pet na kanojou) were to be in charge of a tank O.O
      bad images…bad images

      • HannoX says:

        Better she be the commander than the driver.

        • Highway says:

          I dunno, from what I saw of her driving, it wasn’t that she was hitting things, just a menace to the safe and orderly flow of traffic and safety of pedestrians. That’s the person I *want* driving the tank.

          “Kamiigusa, get us over there NOW!”
          “Ryokai!”

  7. Ghost says:

    Someone said that the actual tank the Oarai team used as their Flag tank in this episode didn’t have the fire power to penetrate the armor of a Sherman, and considering how puny that cannon was, I’d believe it. So that’s why they ran.

    • lvlln says:

      Yeah, recap episode 10.5 explained that. Would have been nice if someone had mentioned it during the episode itself.

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