「一回戦、白熱してます！」 (Ikkaisen, Hakunetsu Shitemasu!)
“The First Battle Reaches Its Climax”
At long last, after two excruciatingly long weeks we have the continuation of Oarai’s battle against Saunders. It’s been a hard wait – Girls und Panzer is easily one of the most enjoyable series airing this season. Even if their victory was pretty much set in stone (they could hardly be knocked out in the very first round of the tournament), there was a desire to see exactly how they would manage to turn things around despite the odds against them. And they certainly did turn them around, in a pretty spectacular manner too!
It’s ironic really – Arisa’s use of dirty tactics is probably what ultimately led to Saunders’ loss. While the amazing tank battles are one of the biggest draws in Girls und Panzer, I find myself really enjoying learning more about the characters themselves and seeing how their mentalities clash. On the one hand we have those like Arisa, who treat these battles as though they were no different to war, always willing to resort to dirty tactics and doing whatever it takes to win. But on the other hand, we have those like Kei – those who see it for what it really is, a sport in which good sportsmanship is just as important as winning. Saunders’ original plan for the battle was to crush Oarai with sheer numbers. If Arisa hadn’t been discovered intercepting communications, Oarai probably wouldn’t have managed to ambush their flag tank leading to Kei’s discovery of the use of unfair tricks under her command. Given their original strategy, she probably wouldn’t have felt the need to even the odds out of ‘fairness’ in repayment for her subordinate’s actions and Oarai would’ve been crushed under the weight of ten Sherman tanks. To be honest, I feel a little bad for Arisa (nah, I don’t really) – it’s one thing to use underhanded tactics and win, it’s another to use them and lose. Some things can almost be justified if they bring victory.
Part of the loss probably comes from how much the other team actually underestimated Oarai. Even after the first ambush, Arisa failed to suspect that they might be on to her tricks. Things could have gone very differently if she’d realised how they managed to formulate such a clever ambush. But really, I can understand why none of the other teams wanted to take Oarai seriously. Erika said it last week, insulting Oarai’s worthiness to be in the tournament. Unlike all the other teams, Oarai lacks a theme – they’re not modelled on any single country. Rather than have tanks which match those of a given country, they have an assortment of old tanks that don’t really put on a unified front. I can see how this would be frowned upon by the other teams who even go so far as to match the personalities and lifestyles of the countries they’re mimicking. Heck, Darjeeling’s sense of humour is so British that even I can barely keep up with what she’s saying at times!
Miho’s wish for another tank during the battle could well be foreshadowing. There’s still a team of three characters who have yet to be introduced – the rather odd group shown in the OP. My gut feeling is that they will join up with the others at some point, giving Oarai a sixth tank to work with. It’s pretty cool to see just how strong Miho can be as a commander. Of all the girls from Oarai, she has the biggest reason to be affected by the situation they got themselves into – she should be the most severely affected by it given her past experiences. Yet she’s able to overcome it in order to lead them to an eventual victory with a rather risky gambit. That’s some pretty strong willpower right there. She certainly deserves Kei’s newfound respect (and possibly even love).
Girls und Panzer tends to do a pretty damn good job with atmosphere. It has the militaristic and awe-inspiring feel nailed down for the tank battles, easily standing alongside (and frequently ahead of) other similar anime. But it’s the humour that really adds something amazing – it never takes itself too seriously. All of the cuts are just the right length, no joke feels like it’s running on too long and even the scenes used for effect never feel like they’re overdone to the point of losing their impact. Case in point, when the volleyball team runs across Saunders’ flag tank, we have the awkward staring contest before anything happens. These scenes are effective and funny when handled correctly. Some studios fail when it comes to this – they draw these moments out for too long at which point you start drumming your fingers impatiently while waiting for it to end. I can remember Kyoani doing it quite frequently in Nichijou and a recent episode of K did exactly the same thing. It makes me unreasonably glad that Girls und Panzer knows when to stop before it reaches this point. Of course, we can’t mention atmosphere without saying something about the awesome juxtaposition of Arisa suffering from several stages of grief (Denial, anger, and depression) with some crazy bluesy music!
There is one issue I have with this episode, or rather with the end of this episode and how it will likely lead into the next. I have never really been a fan of drama for the sake of drama, and that’s certainly what the final development of the episode feels like. The obstacle that needs to be overcome should be the tournament itself, not the issue of a potentially missing driver keeping them from being able to participate in the tournament at all. It’s a ploy that I find overused in anime – to introduce obstacles to the main obstacle itself with drama that often feels forced and unnecessary. The up-side is that there’s no guarantee yet that it will take this route even if it looks like it might, and it lets us see that Maho isn’t quite as evil and unfeeling as her exterior suggests. It’s entirely possible that her loaning of their team’s Focke-Achgelis Fa 223 will allow Mako to make the journey and return before it actually causes any significant problems.
With the revelation of who’s advancing onwards to the next round, we have a new team to keep an eye on. It was already a sure thing that Maho and her German team would be advancing (I’m still positive that Maho vs Miho will be the final showdown), but this was our first time actually seeing the Russian team, Pravda, in action. From the looks of things, they’re a rather brutal and merciless group!
tl;dr: @MoombaDS – Spectacular tank battles, clever humour, and clashing viewpoints. These are the things that make #GaruPan one of the best shows this season!
- The volleyball team captain needs to learn to stop using volleyball terminology in tank warfare! It makes no sense at all!
- This week the theme for the US team was The Army Goes Rolling Along.
- Wow, I thought Momo was just a crazy fiery killing machine. To see her lose heart so easily…
- Tanks are safe they said! The interior plating keeps you from harm inside they said! Dude. That looks like fire. Fire is not safe!
- In the end it was a well deserved victory, not without its losses. It’s amazing to see how well Oarai are coming along with their tank operation.
Full-length images: 27.
ED: 「Enter Enter MISSION !」 by 渕上舞、茅野愛衣、尾崎真実、中上育実、井口裕香 (Fuchigami Mai, Kayano Ai, Ozaki Mami, Nakagami Ikumi, Iguchi Yuka)