Girls und Panzer -12 [END]

Girls und Panzer 12 Momo Cries

“There there, we still have a couple of OVA episodes to look forward to.”

It’s times like this that I wish I were a more eloquent writer, because there is clearly no way that I will be able to do justice to this finale. Suffice it to say, that was the best damn final episode to a show I’ve seen since… probably 2010′s Katanagatari. Continuing off the previous episode, it just kept building the tension up and up, all the way to the sweet, sweet release in the joyful finish. Seriously, when the final white flag was raised, I was already in tears. And I was watching this in public!

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One of the things I wrote in my first post on this series was that “the talent behind this show gets it” with respect to action. I feel like I’ve been finding different ways to write that same thing again and again with each new post. So I’m not going to repeat myself (too much) here. To sum it up, this was how the final episode was supposed to be: in a show that never stopped delivering on the intensity and the thrills, in delivered the most intense and thrilling action sequence yet. Then 10 minutes later, it topped that.

Of course, I’m referring to the Maus takedown to start the episode, followed by the climax proper featuring the Nishizumi sisters’ duel. I had predicted last week that the Oarai team would bring down a building on it to disable it, but in retrospect, that’s far too crude a method for Miho’s girls. No, anything less than teaming up to put a tank on top of that tank to buy time to attack its weak point would have been acceptable. Even if it meant that the student council’s Turtle team had to pay the ultimate price.

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To quote Saori, This tank is so big that other tanks could ride it!

Then that final one on one between the flag tanks. How sweet was that? I’m honestly at a loss as to where to begin. There was the pre-battle showdown between the sisters before they started circling each other. There was the Leopold team with its last stand against who knows how many Black Forest Peak tanks to block the choke point. There was the cat and mouse chase weaving through the buildings, punctuated by the occasional shot that would rip off some of the Anglerfish team’s Panzer IV armor. There was that one long under-the-barrel view shot that was giving me flashbacks to when I used to play Rocket Arena on Quake 3 back in high school.

I guess it’s at least easy to choose where to end, naturally the final approach that ended in the Oarai girls’ victory. As Hana herself said immediately prior, it was all of our characters’ hard work and effort, their hopes and dreams coming down to one final dash, one final shot. It was the quick draw in a western or the simultaneous sword slash in a samurai movie. It was Nono and Lark joining for an Inazuma Double Kick. It was the main character leaping to his friend’s aid with a cloud of moths close behind. It was Kyon telling Haruhi that ponytails turned him on. It was Simon jumping out of Lagann to punch the Anti-Spiral in the face. In short, it was the defining moment in this series. In a series that had already been filled with them, this one topped them all. As it was supposed to. I mean, just look at the damn thing! That descending boom cam shot while the Panzer IV drifted around the other tank right before they both fired was fucking gorgeous!

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I think what this show did so well was to build a real sense of desperation. Let’s face it, this was really just a sports show with the very overdone twist that the athletes were playing for their school’s survival. It made the most of that context by capturing the thrill of competition when on the field. When nothing else matters, and you and your teammates are focused only on working together to make victory happen. The already mentioned-and-raved-about excellence in direction, cinematography, and animation made it all possible. Watching Oarai win and its students celebrate in pure ecstasy was like being back in college in 2004 when my hometown Boston Red Sox won the World Series. The girls’ joy was my joy, and even more than a baseball team whose matches you see on TV, I had been with them every step of the way. The ending might have been a bit abrupt, but really, did we need to see anything beyond the girls being welcomed at home during their return parade? That’s the last we’re supposed to see of any championship team until the following season.

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The use of the instrumental version of the ending theme for this scene was literally perfect.

I’ll admit that I’m still curious about Miho’s sensha-do versus the Nishizumi style. Darjeeling helpfully explained last episode about the Black Forest Peak’s rigid structure that was prone to go haywire when things didn’t go according to plan, and that really does contrast a lot against Miho’s style of continually thinking on her feet and adapting to changing conditions. Of course, she never had any choice but to be extremely resourceful; the only time in battle when Oarai wasn’t severely outnumbered and outgunned was at the start of the St. Gloriana friendly match.

But there’s also another thread, that of leaving no one behind, that the show made a point to feature greatly. The very act that cost Miho’s team victory the previous year, saving an ally from the water, was repeated in grand fashion in the final match. Yet Miho was also willing to sacrifice her teammates to achieve victory; in the end, her Panzer IV was the only Oarai tank left standing as the other tanks all faced impossible odds in order to allow her to go one on one against the opposing flag tank. Maybe the important distinction is that her teammates chose to sacrifice themselves to support the team, as they went to their “deaths” without regret. When you save your friends, they will save you back ten times over; after all, the saved Rabbit Team took out 2 of the Black Forest Peak tanks in the city via a couple of clever ruses. Or maybe the important distinction is between sacrifice via actual injury and sacrifice in-game.

Girls und Panzer 12 (7)

I rather like just how stoic both sisters always are, even in the heat of battle. That made this muted scene all the more heartwarming.

Series End

Girls und Panzer OP Title Screen

I’ll be the first to admit that I was deeply skeptical of Girls und Panzer. Before the series aired, I flatly denied any possibility that it could even come close to matching the magic of the big dog of the genre, Strike Witches. The first episode caught me off guard with the gimmicks bookending the episode, I still didn’t think much of it. The following 2 episodes’ rather mundane cute girl antics had me convinced that this show would be nothing to write home about.

Then the 4th episode happened, and the rest of the show happened. There was still the minor speed bump of episode 7, but it never once descended to the quality of the first quarter of the series, and in the things that mattered, it never stopped getting significantly better. When it was already starting from a position far ahead of every other action show around, that’s a pretty magnificent feat. The overall pace was positively sublime, escalating the stakes with each match, starting with the friendly against St. Gloriana, the first tourney match against Saunders, the reveal of saving the school against Pravda, and the final against Miho’s former school, Black Forest Peak. All the tiresome school girl antics took a backseat for the singular goal of winning that next sensha-do match.

Girls und Panzer 12 Oarai with Victory Flag

I’m not too big on rating shows with numbers. I choose to do it to keep my MAL updated and because I’m a statistics geek, but I always thought that a single number was inadequate to properly reflect the qualities of an entire show or movie. So I wasn’t thinking too deeply about what to rate Girls und Panzer after its first 10 episodes finished 2.5 months ago. I knew at least that it was easily the best show of 2012, but giving it a 10/10? That thought hadn’t crossed my mind.

After the show’s return with these 2 final episodes, I cannot in good conscience give it anything less than a 10. It wasn’t perfect, but it was special, and most certainly a masterpiece. I don’t know when a show like this will come around again. The technology is certainly available, and the directorial style was hardly novel. If not the same group of people, I’m sure some other ambitious group will replicate the success, except also with some depth in characters in story to go with the action. But given the trends in the industry, I don’t know when that perfect storm of talent, ambition, execution, and a bit of arrogance will happen again. In the meanwhile, I guess I’m happy to hold myself over by rewatching the series on Bluray. Panzer vor!

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Many thanks to Fosh for the captions!

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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23 Responses to “Girls und Panzer -12 [END]”

  1. Highway says:

    This episode was just about as perfect as it could get. The team concept was so important – The big team of 8 tanks, the small team of Miho, Hana, Yukari, Saori, and Mako – all of the work that Oarai did to get there paid off, and Miho’s own style was recognized and lauded by both Maho and Shiho. We never saw the inside of Maho’s tank. It was just her. But for Miho, it was these girls who accepted her and helped her. And all of them joined in on that final action.

    I go back to what Hana said when they were worried about the school closing in the break in the action against Pravda: “There are some flowers that can only bloom at Oarai.” Miho bloomed spectacularly, in a place where she was able to shake off the weight of being a Nishizumi, a place where her talent for commanding was needed to make up for the rest of the deficits that the team had.

    There are so many things I’ve loved about this series. It can’t be broken down into component parts, because like you say: When you do that, you end up with a sports anime about high school girls having to win the tournament to keep the school from closing. And it’s girls and tanks. It sounds so dumb. And in different hands, it would have been dumb. It could have been so corny, so bad. But the love that the staff had for the show really showed. They certainly did ‘Get it.’ And they treated it with seriousness and respect, and we got a fun, exciting series that I’d have said was the best of 2012, and is way ahead for best of 2013 so far. I just hope it doesn’t fall through the cracks because of the delay, and gets the recognition it deserves, since so many polls left it off in 2012.

    • Myssa Rei says:

      Wrong. Read Little Army, it was Maho’s intent all along that Miho find her own way apart from the Nishizumi school, and she’s played a part she likely HATED for years just to see things come to fruition.

      Shiho however is much more unreadable. In every related media, especially Little Army, she’s literally been dismissive of Miho. She treats her pretty much as a space tire, really. So with this in mind, there are a lot of ways to read her “slow clap”, and many of them are ironic.

  2. Foshizzel says:

    Hnnnng I miss Girls und Panzer already and you are welcome Lvlln xD

  3. Myssa Rei says:

    As I said in other places, roll on second season! The World Cup is on the horizon for the setting, and this little melee was pretty much a proving ground on who’s going to represent Japan for that particular competition. And with the addition of an international setting, we can finally put to rest one final plot point from Little Army: Emi. You see before she left for Germany, she promised Miho to finally meet again when both of them have found their own ways of Sensha-do. Miho has finally found hers, and if the stars align, and the German team gets featured, we can see if Emi was able to find hers.

    Seriously, read Little Army. It gives a lot of context to the stuff happening in the background, particularly Maho’s stake and motivation in all this. After all, what is her most iconic line:

    “As long as I’m the inheritor of the Nishizumi school… Miho will be free”

    • lvlln says:

      Interesting, is Emi a childhood friend character for Miho? Thanks for the link, I’ll definitely be checking it out. It’s nice to know that there is more content available for a possible season 2, but even if there weren’t, with how it’s selling, I would hope that the Japanese publishers would see a good opportunity to cash in. I don’t have the best sense with these things, but it seems to me that there are still many unexploited opportunities to make money off this franchise. They need to start pumping out figures like Strike Witches, and maybe model tanks? Do a cross promotion with World of Tanks, which is pretty huge right now?

  4. skylion says:

    Excellent work all along my man. You managed to capture everything I would have loved to have said. I only hope the fans are willing to buy this one up, it needs more love.

  5. PanzerJäger says:

    I have to say, this episode was by far the very best, from knocking out the Maus with the sacrifice of the turtles, to the first years using their experience from watching movies. And the leopon last stand. That was truly the best, holding back the flood of kuromarine tanks, knowing that they could not falter. I hope that there is a second season, I love watching the epic battles and how Miho overcomes each problem with a new inventive way. And there are many tanks they haven’t introduced, maybe Oarai could invest in a King Tiger with the “Porsche” turret (was actually made by Henschel), and I actually do want to know what happened to Emi, and also her sister. It could be a family face off, with the Nishizumi sisters teaming up to take on Emi and her sister. But alas only time will tell, but thanks to Ilvlln and Foshizzel for entertaining me with these reviews.

    • lvlln says:

      Yeah, what they’ve built up with this series is too much to stop at just one season. Especially the technology they must have developed and polished for the action scenes needs to be exploited again. There are also a lot of areas that could still be improved on, story-wise, so if we get more, we could very well have this decade’s Strike Witches, improving with each iteration.

      • PanzerJäger says:

        Yeah, I’ve got friends who do a lot with film and animation techniques, and they commented to get some of the action scenes, they would be using some very tricked up gear, especially to get the fluid movements with the tanks over rough terrain and also when a tank is hit, the way they react, one of the best examples is when the 38t got hit by the IS-2 of Pravda.

        I think with the story, they could seriously move to a world stage, traveling around the world, to pacific atolls, to the desert, to Europe, the birthplace of tank combat. And that’s where I think that the Nishizumi’s should end their bad blood with Emi and here family. And they could also go deeper into the different marks of tanks. I for one would love to see a mid to late production tiger, or a Panther ausf.g with its various upgrades(a few models had night vision equipment). But this series has a chance to reach both the fanfare and also potentially the prestige of strike withces, they just need to keep this winning formula they have displayed early on. I hope for a second season, so many questions I have that needs answers.

        • lvlln says:

          Oh man, some Afrika corps style desert tank action sounds sweet! Not a lot of cover or concealment in such a setting I guess, but I’m sure the team could come up with something fun.

          • PanzerJäger says:

            I say that desert warfare would be the best, a whole load of new factors, like soft sand, heat, and absolutely no cover, but at least you can see your target. The best option would be to half bury the StuG and then go huntin. And then Europe, the hedgerows of France, the flatlands and marshes of Scotland along with its mountains. Damn, now I will be disapoint if they don’t make a second season

          • HannoX says:

            There’s lots of potential concealment in a desert–it’s not all flat, bare terrain. There are hills, even mountains, wadis and scrub brush in places. And you can use the heat haze during the hotter parts of the day for concealment. Then there are critical features like an oasis and its vegetation to hide in while the opposing side tries to capture it for points. A point system rather than just taking out the opposing flag tank could make for great matches with of course taking out the other side’s flag tank worth lots of points.

            A desert campaign setting would be wonderful!

            • PanzerJäger says:

              True, and with things like oasis’s they could incorporate a tank overheat or even cameoflauge as some oasis’s are extremely dense in terms of shrubs and plants.

              Another thing but wouldn’t be likely but would be cool to see, anti tank infantry support. Could image that. Urban combat would become so much more dangerous. And I would laugh if one said “a panzerschrek, time to unpimp their rides”. But of course that would be dangerous considering they use live rounds. But they can do so much more in terms of combat environments and more tanks to introduce.

  6. KLACMAN says:

    well yep this series show stealer to watch indeed epic grand finale all wonder when s2 & dub is coming?

  7. BlackBriar says:

    The best episode and the perfect way to go out: with a bang. I don’t think I’ve ever this excited about a tank battle. It pulled all the stops and the fight between Miho and her sister was definitely edgy. You could feel the desperation between the two even though you’re not there at all.

    The turtle team sacrificing their Panzer for the others to get an advantage over the Maus shows that the girls are very much ready for an actual war scenario. In war, there are always casualties.

    These last two episodes were worth the long break the series took before closing curtain. It will surely be missed. Girls und Panzer had a perfect balance of good storytelling and character development. Especially for Miho going from a timid little girl regretting and running away from her past to a confident commander who puts her teammates before herself. It’s was a good run and I wouldn’t mind seeing another season coming up.

    Side note: I wonder if Girls und Panzer will be treated as a special exception for the Year Ender posts of 2013 because of its long break period.

    • lvlln says:

      If Highway and I are still here at the end of the year, I can guarantee that we will make sure that Metanorn gives it the recognition it deserves!

  8. Vinchester says:

    This show is certainly a dark horse of the highest degree!

    I only took it up after EP11 aired earlier this month. My only interest in the series was the tanks – I love WW2 tanks and am a WoT gamer. At first I was very skeptical of sticking junior highschool girls on whatever men’s interests. Surely it’s a cheap way of appealing to men.

    Girls und Panzer proved itself firstly with Miho’s tactical genius. As a viewer and a tank enthusiast, I honestly couldn’t see how the hell Oorai could prevail in any of the overwhelming matches against superior foes. I was like “Boy how are they going to survive this!?!?” But Miho’s show-stealing tactics are truly exciting to watch and have always made me cheer in admiration afterwards. Only good animes make me do that!

    The show runs on the fine line between realistic and Rule of Cool. When you see girls on tanks, you instinctively know that this is entertainment – you can’t take it seriously! (enhanced by Commie Subs’ liberal use of German words, those made me lol so many times) But entertainment it was! We get to see our favourite tanks in glorious anime action! I’m happy to say the least.

    Judging by its success I’m sure we will see season 2 very soon. I hope we’ll get to see new tanks, new rivals and new match rules.

    • Highway says:

      You mention both liking tanks and Miho’s tactics pulling things out, and I think that contributed to one of the biggest strengths of the show: it never broke any hard rules about the tanks. When someone took a hit that should have knocked them out, it did. When a shot shouldn’t have taken them out, it didn’t. There weren’t any magic wins, just slightly implausible ones. Miho’s strategies were unconventional, sometimes outright crazy, but they weren’t fake.

      Sure there were some things in the show that were not quite realistic, for the sake of action, like normalization of speed. Some tanks moved way faster than they should have, that’s for sure (the Churchill and the Maus, especially). But I think it’s easy to forgive those things, because they didn’t treat it as silly.

      • Vinchester says:

        Yeah the anime has compromised some realism for the sake of good action scenes and I can live with that. Apart from the speed you mention, tanks also don’t shoot on the move (which they do all the time) and definitely can’t drift!

        On the other hand if we were to approach tank warfare more realistically, I think we will end up with matches of camoflaged snipers’ patience engaging at 1000 meters, and I think that would bore a lot of people.

        Another thing I hope the sequel will change is Oorai’s constant state of being an underdog. While it is exciting to cheer for them to win an unlikely match, it does rule out a lot of the “fun” conventional tank battle like slugging it out directly with the enemies because Miho is forced to do hit-and-run simply for survival. If both teams are more closely matched in power, then we will see a battle where a full range of tactics can be used. That could mean heavy tank action where tanks exchange shots at each others like a heavyweight killing machine that they are.

  9. HannoX says:

    The anime team certainly used the extra time they had to great effect–what a marvelous end these last two episodes were to a great series! There were so many parts that were just perfect from the Turtle team using their Hetzer to ambush and take out opposing tanks, the way they took out the Maus up to Leopon team blocking the choke point and slugging it out toe-to-toe with Black Forest Peak like a bar room brawl with broken beer bottles. You practically expected to see blood streaming down the tanks! And topping it all was the duel between Miho and Maho.

    A second season is definitely needed. The production team can’t just let the team they brought together and the techniques developed for this series go to waste rather than using them again. And since they did mention a World Cup they certainly left themselves a natural hook for a second season.

  10. Awesomeman!234 says:

    I didn’t cry when I saw the episode, yet now I’m sobbing like a little girl. I hope your happy!

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