Girls und Panzer – 09

Strike Witches 2 12 Shin Reppuzan

Yoshika will Shin Reppuzan your ass!

Sorry for the troll lead pic, but the Strike Witches fan in me couldn’t help but get excited at seeing that series’s ridiculously badass character (no small feat!) return in a spiritual sister also as its most ridiculously badass character. Of course, I’m talking about Misato Fukuen, voice of both Yoshika Miyafuji and Anzu Kadotani, the latter of whom went on quite the impressive run this episode against improbable odds facing 4 better-equipped, better-armored Pravda tanks. Well, she had the rest of the Turtle team backing her, but damn, that was as close to a solo performance as we’re likely to get from this show. And it wasn’t even the highlight of this near-perfect episode of Girls und Panzer.

Girls und Panzer 09 (2)

A little disappointing that Momo had to take the backseat literally but that was probably a good thing overall.

The show is making it very easy to make the comparison between Anzu and Yoshika with the former’s continual lackadaisical attitude towards everything despite being the student council president. The flashback explanation of the previous episode’s cliffhanger was hilarious in its simplicity. The school is going to shut down? The school used to be good at sensha-do, so let’s do that! It doesn’t matter that the program hasn’t been active for years, we can win the championships in our first year if only we try hard enough! Her dumb optimism was definitely giving me flashbacks to Yoshika’s heroics in her series (particularly the movie).

The entire episode was contained within a match from start to finish – the first such episode – yet it managed to provide the half peacetime/half battle split that the show’s action-focused episodes have been. And maybe it’s because the girls were actually focused on their tasks and working together as a team, but the lull before the fighting restarted was extremely entertaining. The leisure the girls enjoyed even during the match were the best parts. Yukari and Erwin singing during their scouting mission, the Sodoko trio wrapping themselves up in a blanket for warmth, and the Pravda girls eating rations while doing the squat dancing that Russia is so famous for (actually a Ukranian dance called Cossack). Speaking of dancing, the anglerfish song and dance returned in a particularly touching scene as Miho made one final effort to boost morale before the fighting started anew. The girl is starting to come into her own as a leader.

Girls und Panzer 09 Anglerfish jump

Despite being shown for less than 30 seconds total in the entire series, that this dance has become so significant is pretty cool.

If you’re a dirty pirate like me, you probably noticed that Katyusha returned this episode in instrumental form as a background piece. But if you are following the rules and watching this show through Crunchyroll, you once again missed out, as it was replaced by a classical piece. This is consistent with the hypothesis that licensing issues caused the omission in the previous episode. It wasn’t quite as big a loss this time, but the new music felt unfitting during the aforementioned squat dancing.

The second half of this episode was easily the best 12 minutes of the show yet, drawing successful elements from the previous battles and adding new twists of its own. The chase and the race to the flag tanks were reminiscent of the Saunders match, while Anzu’s run-and-gun tactics reminded me of the Anglerfish team’s massacre of most of St. Gloriana at the end of their first match. Yet this one was more exciting than either of those, thanks in no small part to the raised stakes. I’ve been critical of the drama in this show, but when filtered down to such simple terms – win or lose the school – it was hard not to get hyped up rooting for the Oarai girls. With every volley fired at the flag tank potentially carrying the shell that would shut down Oarai, the feeling of desperation was palpable. The girls were in overdrive mode, sacrificing everything to keep their flag tank safe, but even with all their effort it was hanging on by a thread, made to bounce around from the endless series of shells exploding around it.

One thing that occurred to me in this scene was that the production team must have used a physics engine to simulate the tanks’ movements. Sure, they could have been done by hand, but the reactions to explosions looked too darn believable for that. I’m not aware if this is a common thing in the industry; CG mechs tend to break the laws of physics quite easily and go unnoticed for obvious reasons, while CG cars tend not to go through the kinds of barrages the tanks in this show have to. And humans in shows like Black Rock Shooter, AKB0048, or Strike Witches tend to be animated by hand. I’m a big fan of more anime moving to CG as a shortcut for hand drawing, and the prospect of proper physics being integrated as a standard in the industry has me salivating. I’ve said it before, but it’s clear that the production team has put major investment into its CG, and it’s paying off in spades. The frantic scrambling of the Oarai flag tank was one of the most beautifully tension filled scenes I’ve had the pleasure of watching in anime. I was getting chills.

Girls und Panzer 09 Flag Tank (3)Girls und Panzer 09 Flag Tank (2)

This part was what got me thinking about the physics engine. You can clearly see pieces of the tank fly off in the 1st shot.

The episode had to end on the most cliche of cliffhangers (though I have no doubt in my mind that Oarai will come out on top), which admittedly induced a little groan. But just like the ending to the previous episode, it used the cliche the right way, presenting it immediately after an awesome action sequence when we were too sucked into the badassery to care about anything other than how cool everything was. It’s always great seeing the girls employing pragmatic tactics that can be forgotten about with the focus on the tanks. Saunders’s espionage in episode 6 was a good example, and this episode featured Miho ordering Yukari to leave their tank to scout and the Hippo team to hide in the snow for an ambush, which proved to be critical for Oarai’s (presumed) victory. Plenty of shows are able to tell us how awesome a character is at something, but few are able to show it to us as well as Girls und Panzer does with Miho. Considering tank battles are something that most of us are not at all familiar with, this is no small feat, and the staff has plenty to be proud of, no matter how the next 3 episodes turn out.

Girls und Panzer 09 Commander Miho

Win or lose, one thing is for sure: Miho has her commander pose down.

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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26 Responses to “Girls und Panzer – 09”

  1. Highway says:

    Admittedly, I haven’t seen a lot of anime series, especially action ones with CG, but it really seems like GuP is setting a really high standard for the regular incorporation of CG in an action show. I’m pretty sure you’re right about physics modeling, and another key part is that they are modeling so many different parts of the tanks individually: Individual road wheels, tracks, and other appurtenances react independently when they are affected by impulse, such as an enemy shell. And while this can really only be seen in the frame by frame viewing, it still makes a difference in the way it looks at full speed. The other thing they’re doing very well is light source modeling, and the stark lighting from the guns firing on the front face of the tanks is great to see.

    It’s kind of hard to remember how sketchy it was starting out, with that opening scene where we all complained about the pasting of girls in hatches and horrible texture they used.

    As for the episode, I thought it was great how they tracked the up and down and up of the Oarai girls’ morale. Waiting in an almost impossible situation can wear on anyone, and they did a good job showing how their initial high energy burst waned as the hours dragged on, they got colder, and the situation seemed more desperate. Miho’s last ditch effort to raise their spirits worked, and it was only to their benefit that the Pravda representative showed up at that moment to interrupt them.

    And to end on a cliffhanger like that, after a battle that had so much tension, even when you know that Oarai has plot armor, it just was amazing to me how exciting it was.

    • lvlln says:

      The snow scenery in this episode was quite beautiful, but I don’t actually think the show has improved drastically since the 1st episode, from a technical and visual art perspective. While it was well within the bounds of suspension of disbelief, the way the ground was rendered was still quite weak, basically looking like a CG rendered plane – which is what it was. The great use of particles for the explosions, the snowing, and tank parts, and the top notch choreography and cinematography made that easy to ignore, but still a consistent technical issue that I expect we’ll keep seeing in the current “generation” of CG in anime.

  2. CarVac says:

    The more impressive computer animation was the smoke wafting off of the Student Council tank as it flipped over. Volumetric CFD smoke, dynamic lighting and self-shadowing and a bit of global illumination, tracks in the snow. Awesome.

    • lvlln says:

      The plumes of smoke and snow particle effects were definitely very impressive. Seeing the snow actually blow up in a believable way around the Oarai flag tank was just so much more satisfying and tense than it would have been with the standard explosion animations that we’ve seen in all action anime.

  3. HannoX says:

    This episode really raised the bar for action sequences in all anime. The chase through the snow with Pravda in pursuit of Oarai with guns firing and snow flying when the shells hit the ground, the student council in the 38(t) attacking 4 Pravda tanks with bogie wheels flying when they hit the tracks and their tank flipping when it was hit, the chase after the Pravda flag tank and the ambush in the snow–all truly wonderful and exciting. As far as I’m concerned, much more exciting than any scenes I’ve watched of giant robots bashing each other with fists and swords.

    I’m not surprised that Momo was replaced as gunner when it was critical. And Miho is coming into her own as a commander. I think in the future episodes the Oarai girls will listen to her and not go racing off due to an excess of enthusiasm when she tries to stop them as in the last episode.

    This series has really gotten me interested once more in tanks. Since its started I’ve read Guderian’s Panzer Leader (for the 3rd time), a book by an ordanance officer with the US 3rd Armored Div. in WWII and am reading a biography of the commander of said 3rd Armored. Plus I’ve gotten Encyclopedia of German Tanks of WWII. Now I need to flip through the latter and identify the new Oarai tank shown in the ED.

    • lvlln says:

      This is a tough show to compare to others in some ways, because the style of action is just so different from the typical “giant robots,” “fists and swords,” or gun combat seen in most shows. But it’s also quite obvious from the visceral rush that it creates that it’s one of the best out there, at least among TV shows. A lot of times, it stands out for all the dumb mistakes it doesn’t make that plague action shows to the point that they’ve stopped even registering with me. There’s such a loving attention to detail with everything; even in the anglerfish dance this episode, instead of giving everyone perfect choreography, individuals were oh-so-slightly off in order to give the sense of realistic skilled dancing (though the timing was perfect, as far as I could tell).

      Movies have the high budget advantage, which is why I think 2009′s Evangelion 2.0 set the bar which has yet to be cleared by any anime. The same year’s Redline also surpasses any TV show I’ve seen.

      • CarVac says:

        REDLINE was insanely, insanely awesome action.

        But action is only one aspect of animation; in the other side of things (raw drawing quality and aesthetic sense) has 5cm/s head and shoulders above everything else, at least in my book.

      • HannoX says:

        Well, yes, budgets as well as time constraints have to be considered. And considering those, I think Girls und Panzer is doing VERY well in terms of animating the action sequences. It’s also doing VERY well in terms of building tension and delivering a visceral rush.

  4. BlackBriar says:

    This episode has left me very happy with the girls’ defiance and their willingness to fight to the end. The method of raising their morale was odd and face palm worthy. Dancing, and a dance that most thought embarrasing?

    The battle was so well done I was on the edge of my seat through the whole sequence. Hiding in the snow for an ambush was brilliant. Makes you wonder how deep and wide they had to dig into the snow and ground for the tank to fit and I imagine their body temperatures were going down as they were waiting because, technically, they were encased in a freezing shell.

    The reasoning behind forcing Miho back into the Panzer game has made me forgive the student council though their methods were still considered too extreme. Desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess. And their personalities have gotten better since they began to know what teamwork is like.

    • Highway says:

      Someone made the argument that the school closing was foreshadowed in episode one when the seitokai was threatening Hana and Saori for sticking up for Miho, that Yuzuko actually says “It’s all over for our school”, and when the line that got translated by Anzu as “We can get you kicked out of school” was actually more like “You’ll make it so you can’t come to school next year”.

      • Highway says:

        Doh, premature clicking. Anyway, their threatening wasn’t quite as extreme as it may have given the impression of. It’s mostly their personalities that give that impression, and Anzu’s lack of a smile when she’s saying it.

    • lvlln says:

      The snow ambush could actually reasonably be considered a continuity error, because of the time scales involved. The show was clearly operating in real time during the round-the-city chase, and the girls clearly didn’t have the strength or equipment to hide their tank in the time they were off-screen. But this is one of those cases where the sheer coolness makes it very easy to overlook.

      I still find the way that Miho was bullied into sensha-do to be problematic, even if the show is doing everything possible to show that the student council meant best, and she’s ending up enjoying it. Joining the team should have been her decision to make, and no one had the right to pressure her like that, especially considering that her reason for coming to the school was to avoid it. Ends don’t justify the means.

      • HannoX says:

        The ends don’t justify the means, but desperate people do things they would not otherwise do and the student council is desperate to save their school. The part where they were reminiscing about the fun times they’ve had together at their school show how much they love their school and why they’ll go so far in order to save it. And while it was not their intention, forcing Miho to join their tankery team has been good for Miho. She’s made good friends she probably would not have been able to otherwise make given her shy personality. And she’s becoming more decisive and I predict her showing in the tournament will lead to her reconciling with her family. So while she was forced to participate in tankery such participation has been good for her.

        • BlackBriar says:

          In the end, it’s a way of saying you can find something good out of a bad situation. In Miho’s case, making friends and gaining self confidence out of the harsh actions of her superiors.

      • Highway says:

        In the case of the snow ambush, it seemed like they foreshadowed it a little by the extra big slide that the StuG made turning around, throwing up more snow, almost like they made half the cover by sliding under a snowbank.

        I also think that at least some of the decision for taking up Sensha-do on Miho’s part comes back to Miho, because she wasn’t swayed by the threats of the student council nearly as much as she was swayed by the efforts of Hana and Saori to defend her, and even give up their own choice of Sensha-do, because Miho didn’t want to. So she as much chose to do it because they wanted to, and because she wanted to support her friends back, as because of the threats of the student council.

  5. HannoX says:

    It sucks to read on ANN that episodes 11 & 12 will be delayed until March, and we’ll have to make do with another filler. Hopefully, the delay will mean that the last two episodes will really deliver the action.

    • BlackBriar says:

      Really? That’s annoying. After waiting a month and a few days to see the end of Eureka Seven AO, I don’t like the idea of dragging animes out over such a period of time. It makes the anxiety unbearable and my maximum time of waiting is at least three weeks.

      • Highway says:

        Yeah, production issues raise their ugly heads once again. I’d bet that the earlier delay required because of crew shenanigans, which meant that it would have been a couple weeks anyway before their finale was broadcast, made this decision easier. Plus, it now ties in with the later BD release dates, helping to bring attention to them. BD release dates which, btw, were already pushed back to improve the quality on the OVA’s included.

        • HannoX says:

          Yeah, the director did say something about using the extra time to improve the quality of the final product. Hopefully, that improved quality will include episodes 11 & 12 as well as the OVAs and BDs. Now let’s just hope episode 10 doesn’t end on a cliffhanger!

  6. Overcooled says:

    The tank battles are just so incredibly good…I didn’t even notice the tanks using a physics engine, but now that you point it out, I’m even more impressed. I kind of want there to be a strategy game with just tanks now. Like Valkyrie Chronicles but ONLY TANKS. Or real sensha-do in schools, so I could learn to be a true lady.

    I’m kind of sad about the news of such a long delay from the comments above…As much as I appreciate them taking their time to improve the quality, there is only so much patience I can muster. With a gap this big, I just know I’ll forget everything and everyone by the time episode 11 airs…D:

    • HannoX says:

      I imagine the delay is mostly due to fallout from the earlier screwup and having to find an open time slot on TV when the new episodes could be aired (IIRC 11 & 12 will be aired back-to-back). I’m sure TV schedules are planned out well in advance and there’s nothing the anime studio can do about that. What they are doing is taking advantage of the extra time to ensure 11 & 12 will be of very high quality when they do air.

    • lvlln says:

      Have you heard of World of Tanks? I haven’t played it, but some Girls und Panzer fans have gravitated toward it. A freemium online PC game, from what I can tell. No cute girls in the tanks, though.

      • Overcooled says:

        @Hannox: Ahhh, I see. So the studio is just going with the flow and using the time productively.

        @lvlln: Never heard of it before. Maybe I’ll give it a look, although I kind of want my tanks to be super cute and filled with girls now. I figured there would be something with tanks that I just hadn’t known about. Now that I think about it, I used to play Gunbound and that was technically about tanks too.

        • ScrewySqrl says:

          WoT doesn’t have cute girls by default, but there are fan mods that do things like: repaint tanks so you can have the gold Pz.38(t) or Pink M3 Lee, and have anime girls as your voices.

  7. Brian says:

    One thing I immediately appreciated about the show was that the tanks moved like tanks. I have personally been bounced around inside of APC’s many times.

    • Highway says:

      Back in episode 2, one of my favorite parts is Saori, as they’re moving out of the tank barn, when she says “I can feel it shaking in my butt!” and they either modulated her voice, or Kayano Ai warbled it herself. And Hana chimes in “It’s so loud, too.” To which Yukari responds “That’s what makes it so great!”

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