Mako can feel the electricity in the air.
|Let’s get the bad news out of the way: as you’ve probably heard, this is the last new episode of Girls und Panzer we’re going to be seeing for a while, as we’ll be getting a recap episode 10.5 this coming Monday, with the final 2 episodes airing some time in March. It is a damn shame that production issues are delaying this; seriously, we don’t need more studios ripping off Shaft. Still, Code Geass, Bakemonogatari, and Magical Girl Madoka Magica did fine, so I’m sure Girls und Panzer will too.|
Probably a good thing that the mechanics got this one.
Predictably enough, the previous episode’s cliffhanger was resolved almost immediately by Oarai coming out on top. With just one more hurdle in the form of Miho’s own former team standing between Oarai and survival, this was very much another transition episode, in the same vein as the 7th episode or all of the first 3 episodes. And though there were some missteps, this was as good of a transition episode as we’ve gotten from this show.
The show’s clumsy peacetime character building sequences have generally been boring, but it has also had moments of excellence with its camera work, such as Yukari’s espionage film in the 5th episode. This time, we got the classic one-shot gag of Yukari explaining their newly reconstructed tank’s weaknesses as it broke down in one smooth sequence before our very eyes. Like in that espionage film, the CG was used subtly to great effect. The 2nd new tank making an early appearance in the parking lot was a nice bonus for observant viewers. Anticipation was the word of the day, and the wide long range shots of the tanks being moved via train or parked in their garages on the day of the match helped to kick that serene tension up a notch.
Hey girls, notice something in the corner over there? (Turns out they already knew about the tank)
The big payoff for the first half was the montage of the Oarai girls spending their last night together. These girls have earned our love and respect through their actions on the battle field, and now is the perfect time to start cashing those chips in. The student council has gotten the most attention out of all the side characters, and watching them eating chicken katsu together like the old friends they were was particularly poignant. On the other end were the hyped up 1st year girls watching tank movies, not unlike athletes watching Rudy together before a big game. It didn’t make any sense that the films starred men, and this seems like a very odd oversight for this show. The whole montage was mercifully short, giving us a taste of the mood of each of the groups (we didn’t even directly see the volleyball club) without being overbearing. This is efficiency in directing.
Psh, men driving tanks?
Unfortunately, some of the directorial decisions left me scratching my head. The conveyer belt of enemies-turned-friends immediately before the match was eye-roll-inducing. This particular shonen trope often plays out in sports tournaments, but they didn’t have to practically line up to take turns, literally in order of appearance. And the Anzio team, about which we know virtually nothing, got double-shafted, first with their match in the 7th episode, and now in this one. It seems odd and perhaps needlessly completionist that they were in the show at all; Girls und Panzer would be a better show if they had been cut altogether.
The online nerd crew that makes up the Anteater team could have been cut safely as well. Their character designs might be pleasantly oddball – even if Momogawa means that the count of eye patch girls in anime this year has reached triple digits – and Nekota’s voice might have that perplexingly erotic Frau Koujiro quality, but they were given literally a minute of screen time before being thrust into battle where they got even less before being knocked out. The bumbling-into-taking-one-for-the-team gag didn’t elicit more than a smirk out of me, and the best I can say about it is that it was short. It’s clear that they and their tank were put in just for comedic relief, but time spent on them would have been better spent showing more of the characters we’ve already come to know and love. For example, this could have been the automotive club’s turn to shine. Them getting their own tank made me smile, partly because it was giving them their moment in the spotlight, and they didn’t disappoint by becoming a non-factor in the match almost immediately.
Aside from the Anteater team, the battle got off to a fine start, with a seamless transition from conversation into the first volley of the match.
Again, we’ll have to wait a few months until we find out which of the Nishizumi sisters ends up on top, and whether or not Oarai gets to continue to exist. My money is on an Oarai victory; the show is just too hopeful not to do that. Even if they were to lose, I’m sure some wealthy entity would swoop in to save the school; it’s just that positive a show. The matches in this show have only gotten better with each round, so I’m expecting great things in the final 2 episodes; indeed, the major production delay means that we should expect only the very best.
You know shit’s about to get serious when the main characters get to be the flag tank.