Girls und Panzer – 11

Girls und Panzer 11 (8)

Hey, it takes time to get those sparkly eyes just right, you know.

If you’re like me, you’ve been counting down the days for this release for at least the past week. The two-and-a-half month wait for the penultimate episode of the best anime of 2012 is finally over, and, well, if you were disappointed, I’m curious what you were expecting. With still an episode to go, it didn’t deliver anything climactic, but we got plenty more of what we know this show is the best at: wonderfully directed tank-on-tank combat, from start to finish.

Girls und Panzer 11 (23)

Oarai team decides the match is not worth the trouble and just go to the nearest White Castle instead…

As Eri Kitamura said in Engrish, all’s fair in love and war. If you recall, episode 10 ended with the tournament final starting between our heroines of Oarai Academy and our heroine’s sister’s team the Black Forest Peak Academy. Miho started with a greater than 2:1 disadvantage in tanks, quickly made into almost 3:1 by the online girls’ tank getting taken out. Unable to take on the opponent head on, she had no choice but to be creative. Yet her tactics were also evolutions of those she had employed before. She took the cover of smoke the volleyball team had used against Saunders in episode 6 (a grenade in that case) and used it for the entire fleet to escape. By fleeing to higher ground, they managed to put themselves in prime attacking position, like their first tactic during their friendly against St. Gloriana in episode 4. And she had stuck the student council team as a free-acting wild card to pester and cause chaos in the enemy line in order to aid escape, much like against Pravda in episode 9. That one was glorious. It’s as if Anzu isn’t happy only to be the protagonist of that other series, she has to steal the spotlight in this one whenever she appears. Basically, there was no technique that Oarai could afford to ignore if they wanted to leave victorious against the much more experienced, much better equipped Black Forest Peak team.

Girls und Panzer 11 (14)

Generous use of split screen in this episode, more than any of the recent episodes. It works.

Now, there weren’t any truly intense or heart pounding moments, but it’s hard to find fault in that when a. this is just the beginning of the match and b. the visuals are just so damn good. Seriously, this is heads and shoulders above anything else I’ve seen in late night anime, if not technically, certainly stylistically. I’ve harped on the point before – Girls und Panzer‘s cinematography reminds me more of live action shows and movies more than anime. Quick cuts, budget-saving stills, and nonsensical camera angles in most action scenes in anime create a wholly artificial feeling. They make for great looking stills, and sometimes even great looking clips, but generally lead to scenes that end up feeling messy and uncoordinated.

Girls und Panzer does none of that. Instead of cutting from tank to tank, we get a series of quick zooms and pans with split screen used to show the girls confirming that the smoke launchers are ready. Instead of a cut from the student council tank to the Black Forest Peak tanks, we get a quick zoom out from one to the other. Overall, moving cameras abound, often tracking the tanks or just showing through the barrel views. Wide angle shots are interspersed, used effectively to communicate the general layout and situation of the battlefield quickly. Angles are kept consistent so that we never have a disorienting shift from shot to shot. There’s a sense that we are observers of events taking place, not that the events are taking place in order for us to observe them (the actual truth).

Girls und Panzer 11 (19)Girls und Panzer 11 (17)

Effective use of faraway shots to give us a lay of the land. Notice the consistency in camera location relative to the mountain so that we don’t get turned around between cuts.

I have to point out the one disappointing part of the episode: Miho’s run. It was so beautifully animated, but also an utterly wasted opportunity. I mean, did you see those key frames? Single cut pan from her tank all the way to the first years’ (with the nice zoom out before that showing the path she’d have to take), in a moment exemplifying her radical style of tank combat. Intentionally or not, she was driving home the point in the face of her unforgiving family-cum-enemies, that yes, she is strong enough to save everyone and still beat your ass. What a powerful statement!

But then they had to give her jumps no arc.

Girls und Panzer 11 Miho Flies (4)Girls und Panzer 11 Miho Flies (5)

Girls und Panzer 11 Miho Flies (3)

What makes this especially painful is that Miho’s animations were mostly spot on. Just, the physics was way off (click bottom image to see full video).

I’m not asking that the show take a realistic approach to human movements. It’s anime, where even in a serious non-fantasy show like Psycho-Pass features a character scales a wall that would leave David Belle impressed. But at least make her look like she isn’t on the Moon. Or better yet, emphasize the difficulty of a regular teenage girl like Miho clearing those significant gaps between the tanks. Make her miss the jumps, having to grab on the edges with her hands and pull her body over. It would have made the pan less smooth, but a single cut would have still been possible, and seeing her actually struggling would have made it even more badass.

It would have been alright in any other series, but you’ve trained me to expect more from you, Girls und Panzer. That could have been the scene of the episode. That should have been the scene of the episode.

Girls und Panzer 11 (7)

But hey, I can let it slide. We’ve still got the finale next week, after all. This was a fine return for the series, a reminder of why the first 10 episodes had left us so very disappointed at the news of the delay. Heck, plenty of fanservice too, with each of the defeated enemies (the ones that matter, anyway) making some sort of appearance. And for the tank lovers, the legendary Panzer VIII Maus made an appearance at the end. Seems kind of like a game breaker considering that none of the Oarai tanks seem to be able to damage it at all, but this is the sport that allows a team to field 20 tanks against an opponent’s 8 after all. The big question is, what devious trick will Miho come up with to take it down? Given that it’s urban warfare time, I bet they knock a building over onto it. Alas, we are going to have to remain patient for just one more week before we get to see the thrilling conclusion.

Girls und Panzer 11 (6)

Maho has been impressively calm and collected throughout the match. Surely she has some more tricks up her sleeve for her little sister.

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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 – 11”

  1. Highway says:

    As always, this was tremendously enjoyable! I actually took the time (and deferred my gratification!) to watch episode 10 before episode 11.

    I thought the jumping scene was a little gratuitous, but was actually glad it wasn’t made more dramatic. It was already a bit sketchy that they spent a few minutes playing around in the river, letting Black Forest Peak catch up.

    I thought one of the overarching themes of this whole episode was how much Miho values everyone. Never leaving someone behind, even if it’s putting them at a disadvantage. Dragging the Leopon team up the hill, rescuing Usagi. It’s a value that is worthless to Maho and Shiho, where the other tanks are only there to help you win, and if they need to be discarded, that’s what will happen.

    I thought the biggest tactical blunder was in not immediately turning tail as soon as they saw the Maus show up. They needed to get the hell out of there, not try to fight it.

    • Hecaton says:

      If you pay attention, Miho and Turtle team started backing off the moment they saw Maus. It’s just tanks couldn’t reverse fast enough.

      • Highway says:

        I disagree. There was nothing like an order to retreat given, and no sense of urgency about getting out of there until *after* the Mallard team had been overturned and the Hippo team had been untracked. If an order had been given, they had plenty of time to get out of that alley unscathed, as slow as the Maus was in getting pointed down there.

        • ScrewySqrl says:

          Miho DID immediately call for retreat.

          • Highway says:

            Hmm, I didn’t hear that at all. I’ll have to watch again. I definitely didn’t remember a decisive order.

          • Highway says:

            Watching again, Miho’s retreat order was a good 30 seconds after recognizing the Maus was there and blocking the way (but definitely before attacking), so I’d have liked to see it sooner, but the bigger problem was that as usual, her team broke down and didn’t follow orders, instead standing toe to toe and slowly backing up and firing.

            • Hecaton says:

              Yes, her retreat order is just a split second before Maus fired its cannon, but her team and turtle team DID start backing off the moment they saw Maus, only Mallard team that’s frozen in place.

  2. JPNIgor says:

    I just had to facepalm to that girl trying to head Maus head on. And to that Parkour-ish jumps made by Miho. Damn, they just seemed so impossible. They could have done different camera angles to make it a little less impossible. And the Student Coucil team messing with the enemy’s line was so awesome and funny XD Girls und Panzer couldn’t be better.

    • lvlln says:

      They could have pushed the tanks together a little more and given Miho a running start before the jumps, which would have made them more believable. As well as giving her an arc when jumping so that it looked like gravity was pulling down on her. Her movements were pretty close, though – the waving of the legs in the air was a little off, only made possible by how unrealistically long she stayed in the air. A more believable jump would have been a lot faster and more compact.

  3. KLACMAN says:

    yea finally we get see final 2eps yet how they did OH (bleep) they brought a giant tank called the MAUS & own’d both clone tank team & history team!!!

    i know got wonder how finale ep will be like?

  4. PanzerJäger says:

    I have to say, this was a good episode. They cited the short comings of the heavy tanks over rough and soft terrain and that the tiger had a blue interior light. But also how the prez team shout out the panthers drive bogeys, that it wasn’t put out of the match. Partly because all German produced tanks where front sprocket drive. Love the use of the the Hetzer. And Miho’s jump, could have been done better. From an aerial shot the tanks looked close enough, yet for that little bit a gap had formed between them. But she need a moment and she got it. And that Maus. 200 tons of tank, that’s gonna be hard to beat. In fact, if you add about 100 tons to it, you reach the wieght of a Zubr class assault hovercraft at empty. That’s a heavy tank, interesting how they might knock it out, or maybe just run from it. I wish they didn’t get the StuG, at least we still have the Panzer IV. I really can’t wait for the final episode and i hope for a season 2

    • Highway says:

      I was wondering why Anzu didn’t two-shot the Panther: take it’s track out first, and then knock it out of the match by shooting through the rear armor when it can’t run or turn. Isn’t that what the point of the Hetzer was? Why give them a chance to get back in the fight (again) at all?

      This is the first time we’ve seen the StuG knocked out of a match since the first one with St. Gloriana. Time for someone else to shine!

      • PanzerJäger says:

        I suppose the StuG has has the limelight enough, guess its down to the first years to finish the job. And yeah, it would be preferable if Anzu did try to disable the panthers, however, they have the advantage of a turning turret, so it’s safer to loose off one shot into the tracks and then scramble. But good use of the Hetzer, even though history points to it being fairly slow, but it’s low profile is unbeatable.

  5. BlackBriar says:

    Girls und Panzer returns just when I was about to lose all hope of seeing the end. It was a long wait but the entertainment and quality of the episode proved to be worth it.

    To be honest, releasing smoke launchers while they have teammates driving one behind the other doesn’t look like a good idea. They might mislead one of their own and risk giving the opponents an advantage. The smoke tactic would have been better if the tanks were side by side.

    Yikes! That Maus tank is a beast. How much money was spent on that one tank? Where is its country of origin and how much time and money would it take to build one? Massive fire power for offense and dense armor plating for defense. It’s a tactical cheat. I admire the girl that wanted to take head on but this is time for brain not brawn.

  6. Soul says:

    The character design looks good!!!And the girl in the first pic is really cute :D

  7. HannoX says:

    Woo-hoo! It’s back! And that’s how to use a Hetzer! I do think they should have taken out that Panther after they shot off its track. After all, while they were running away it could swing its turret around and perhaps take them out. German tank turrets weren’t the fastest ones when it came to rotating, so the Student Council should have had enough time to load and shoot them again. They could certainly have done that quicker than they could scoot out of range. And they left an opponent that could be repaired and get back into the fight.

    I think they could have skipped Miho’s leaping from tank to tank and have used something more realistic. Just the fact that she decided not to abandon them was enough to demonstrate how much she values her team mates, which was the most important part of that sequence. I couldn’t help thinking with that kind of leaping ability she should be in the Olympics competing in the broad jump.

    According to my reference the Maus had 180mm of armor on the side and rear. The Porsche tiger is probably the only one Orai has that has a chance of penetrating that. Of course, others could probably blow off the tracks and wheels to disable it long enough for the match to finish before it can be got back into action. They certainly can’t slug it out with it. They’ll have to lure it into a trap of some sort. Or they could out run it. It only had a speed of 20 kph. But I think they’re going to take it out.

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