“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…