「あとには退けない戦いです！」 (Ato ni wa Shirizokenai Tatakai Desu!)
“The Battle We Can’t Back Down From!”
At long last, Girls und Panzer delivers its finale in typically spectacular style. It almost seems something of a miracle that the show managed to keep up its high standards, never once faltering as it continuously exceeded the expectations set by the preceding episodes. Every week I found myself wondering just how they’d top the events of the most recent episode, yet somehow they always managed to and this finale is no exception. Without a doubt, it serves as the perfect ending to such a brilliant series, laden with high tension, action, glory and emotional outcomes.
This may be the second week in a row that we see the Maus, but it certainly hasn’t lost its terrifying edge. The sheer power was such a step above what Oarai had to offer that I was sure they’d take the logical route of ignoring it and going for the flag tank – it didn’t appear to be the speediest of tanks after all and they would probably be able to outrun it and obstruct its line of fire within the narrow streets of the town. I had kind of hoped that they would ignore it – that there would be some small hitch that Oarai wouldn’t be able to overcome and would have to avoid instead and their victory over it disappoints me ever so slightly. But at the same time, the ridiculous methods they used to take it down vastly overshadow any feelings of disappointment with this outcome – it truly displayed the absurdity and tactical thinking I’ve come to know and love from Girls und Panzer with their last ditch efforts which leave everyone else in shock. Who would ever have thought of using tanks in that way to take down a Maus? I can only imagine the writers cackling in glee as they thought up this stuff – Girls und Panzer must have been a huge amount of fun to work on.
In this final episode, it’s a treat to see just how the Oarai girls have grown and evolved since they were first introduced, each in their own ways and continuing to play to their group’s strengths. As a group, their coordination has come a long way, allowing them to pull off complex strategies and manoeuvres that failed previously in the series. The volleyball team show off their guts, Hana demonstrates her spectacular aim, Mako her driving, the student council their recklessness, and many many more. It was a pity to see the Hetzer finally give up, but it had already more than pulled its weight in this battle – the student council team accomplished miracles with it. I think one of my favourite developments comes from the first year team who have come so far since the times when they would flee in the middle of a battle. Now they request being thrown right into the action, make great use of tactics, and even manage to read and avoid an enemy ambush. How’s that for growth? Heck, after all this time, even Saki finally has something to say, revealing her seiyuu as Komatsu Mikako!
Of course, in the end, everything comes down to the climactic showdown between Miho and Maho. We’ve always know this would be coming, ever since we learnt that Maho was the Teru to Miho’s Saki, a final standoff was always going to be inevitable and this is what the series has constantly been building towards. It certainly did not disappoint. The tension was palpable, the near misses vastly enhanced the sense of danger and the decimation of Oarai’s forces outside the small high-school arena added far more intensity to the moment. I’ve said it before, but I really love it when plot elements come full circle, so it was glorious to watch as Miho and co. successfully pulled off the very tactic that failed against Gloriana in order to take down Maho.
And let us not forget the aftermath – the joy of all the spectators, family and former opponents alike. Everyone was hoping for this outcome, perhaps some were even expecting it. I know I was. It’s great to watch the two rival sisters reconcile and part without hard feelings, with smiles on their faces. There’s something extremely touching about that. Heck, even Shiho was willing to acknowledge Miho in the end – it was only a clap, but it holds great significance and perhaps even acceptance of Miho’s deviation from the traditional Nishizumi style. These scenes, along with the Oarai crew driving in formation off towards the giant carrier ship, made for a spectacular ending to a magnificent series.
tl;dr: @MoombaDS – #Garupan comes to a close in a magnificent way. Here’s to hoping for season two!
- Some awesome reactions this week, from Mako’s ecstatic leap, the startled expressions of the crowd, and Saori’s confusion, to the myriad of faces Momo puts on!
- It’s always funny when someone is taken out while gloating!
- Hiding behind a lamp post eh?
- I kind of worry about Aya given how frequently her glasses break.
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)
Well there we have it. The best show of 2012 (and by extension, of 2013 so far) has concluded. Not once did it disappoint and I can probably rank it well within my top anime of all time. Now I have to write some sort of final impressions as a send-off but I really don’t know where to begin or what to say that would do the series justice. Few shows have managed to excite me quite as much, even as someone who was not originally a tank fanatic. Even fewer shows have managed to rise so high from the obscurity with which they started – no other show comes to mind as having climbed from such low expectations to such a magnificent success, both as a work, and in a financial sense. Before it aired, I never once would have guessed that it would have turned out quite this enjoyable. I expected the typical fan-service and pandering that similar series (Upotte!! I’m looking at you) tend to employ, riding mostly off the concept that the characters were young girls. Instead I found brilliance in all fields, from audio to directing to storytelling and tactical warfare. This was not what I expected, not at all.
So let’s start by talking about what is probably the single most important aspect of an anime – the storytelling and writing. Okay sure, at times it was not the most original of material and perhaps some would bring plot armour into the equation and various other tropes which could belittle Oarai’s final victory, but despite this, it was always easy to get invested in the battles – to feel the tension as the teams faced off in increasingly brutal battles filled with absurdities at every turn. I’ve heard criticism of the characters, but I always found them to be a joy to watch – they were colourful and diverse and even if you didn’t like them all, there was bound to be someone in there who would strike a chord with you. Me? I was quite a fan of Darjeeling, Katyusha, and Mako… and almost everyone else to be honest. What can I say? I liked the characters a lot, especially many of the opposing teams. At times, it was quite difficult to choose which side to root for! My only gripe with the series as a whole is that I might have liked to see Oarai lose in the final round and come back stronger in a second season, giving an excuse to revisit the tournament but with the teams we never saw in this one. Of course, I’m equally happy with how things turned out in the end!
I actually love ‘friendship’ as a theme, regardless of how many consider it to be ‘childish’ or overused or something similar. It’s one of the reasons I love FAIRY TAIL, both in anime and manga format, along with shows such as Nanoha, STRIKE WITCHES, and a myriad of other similar series. Girls und Panzer was no exception, choosing to demonstrate how friendship can reinforce resolve to overcome greater odds (along with superior tactics). Flexibility and the willingness to go back for fallen comrades over militant training and rigid plans is why Miho’s style wins out over Maho’s in the end. As she said in her final scene, they never really stood a chance.
From a directing standpoint, Girls und Panzer was fantastic. There was always impact and drama in the choice of angles for almost every shot, with this finale showcasing the brilliance of many of the techniques used. Perhaps one of my favourites takes the form of the first-person tank camera which always works well to thrust us right into the action as we see things from their viewpoint. Even the CG is used well and never feels horribly out of place like it might in some certain other shows, making this series quite a treat to watch from a visual standpoint.
Audio is a big one for me and I think it’s one of the areas in which the show excels. I’m not just talking about the music (which was definitely awesome, especially the use of old war songs as themes for the different schools) or the seiyuu, but the sound design. This isn’t really something I bring up in anime posts much – usually if I talk about audio the focus will be on the music but I feel like I’ve already babbled enough about just how brilliant Hamaguchi Shiro is – but it feels like it played quite a large role in what made Girls und Panzer such a thrill to watch. There was something so incredibly satisfying in the sound design, in how visceral every explosion felt, the sheer power of the cannons, the weight of the massive engines. It was almost like being there. Just as a perfect example of what it was capable of, let’s look at the Maus and how even the sounds used for it dwarfed everything else. It felt like a real beast which could easily crush just about any of Oarai’s tanks. I love that.
In the end, I’m actually rather sad to see this series end – I’ll miss seeing Oarai fight their way out of sticky situations through clever tactics and reckless do-or-die manoeuvres. I find myself wanting more despite being relatively satisfied with the conclusion. It would be a crime if there was no continuation given how successful the show has been. Soooo… season 2 for the world cup?