Thursday, August 8, 2013

Counterfett Does Anime: Girls Und Panzer

Well, hey there gang. Counterfett here, with another Thursday morning on the inexorable march to the weekend. I've had a crummy week thus far, and I'm hoping to turn it all around today. So here's hoping. Anyway, I watched the subtitled version of Girls Und Panzer, which I had been holding off on, since my usual outlet didn't have it yet. But after I found a good source and sat down for it, was my mind ever blown!

Occuring in a sort of alternate world where the pre-eminent girls' sport is Panzerfahren (sort of like Kendo but with tanks), Girls Und Panzer is the story of the nearly defunt Ooarai Girls' School, and their attempt to stay in business by winning the Panzerfahren World Championships, despite not having a team. What ensues is sort of like The Bad News Bears meets Kelly's Heroes.

  • Interesting setting. The world in which Girls Und Panzer is set is a lot like our own, but in a sort of alternate reality. Schools are run off of giant ships, which house both the school, and a city population to supprt them. Tank battles are run between schools with special ammunition and tanks modified to not spall and shred the girls inside.
  • Tank action! Someone went to a lot of trouble to make the tanks used real to life. Not to say they're perfect; there were parts even I knew were unrealistc, and I'm hardly an expert. Nevertheless, the armored fighting vehicles are largely accurate to their actual capabilities, and the action sequences have a certain authenticity. What creative license was taken  didn't bother me much, so hopefully wouldn't be offensive to other tank afficianados.
  • Fun characters. The Ooarai team's tank crews are an interesting bunch, and all are motivated for their own reasons, like the Volleyball team who wants their club reinstated, to Team Anglerfish (the main characters who were basically all blackmailed into participating). There's also the freshman team (spirited incompetents in an M3 Lee), the Student Council, the World of Tanks nerds, the Auto Club (mechanics in a dilapidated Tiger P), and the Safety Commitee. Even better is the reality challenged History Club, who use their StuG III to reanact historic battles in the most inappropriate of ways (like the seige of Malta? With tanks? They're the best).
  • Levity. A lot of times, even a good, serious anime seems diminished when they put in off topic 'Omake' segments. Hellsing Ultimate seems a prime example of this, when they put in weird comic relief at the most inappropriate of times. Girls Und Panzer, however, is a bit different. You can see the lighthearted bits for what they are, but it's not insulting. Like the Anglerfish Dance. You roll your eyes, but then you don't fast forward through it either. And even the Anglerfish Dance is worked back in as a serious story element later, which makes having sat through worth it.
  • Names. With a few exceptions (like Mako, I can remember her name), I can't keep most of their names straight. I had to resort to either their other hobbies or their crew position, like gunner, commander, radio, etc. This seems to be cropping up alot, but in real life there's only been a few series where this has been a major problem for me, and sadly this is one. At least, unlike Highschool of the Dead, Girls und Panzer has other redeeming qualities.
That's it folks, that's really all the bad stuff I can think of about Girls Und Panzer. Except maybe that it's only twelve episodes and some specials (more of that lighthearted stuff, it's mostly kept seperate). It's a rare series where you will fins me saying I wish it was longer, but this is one of them. If you like anime, watch it. If you like tanks, watch it. If you don't like either, well, this might not be your cup of tea, but then how did you get to my blog anyway? Go back to google and try harder next time!


paws4thot said...

Panzerfahren should translate something like "making journeys by tank", and doesn't necessarily inply fighting the tanks.

Still, it does have some appeal from your review.

CounterFett said...

I know, and they call it something different entirely in Japanese. I forget the word for tank but it's something like Sensha-do. Which should be something like 'Way of the tank.' Probably why they went with Panzerfahren. And why I used Kendo as an example. Same etymology in the original language.