「これが本当のアンツィオ戦です!」 (Kore ga Hontou no Anzio-sen desu!)
“This is the real Anzio battle!”
At last, the final OVA of Girls und Panzer! Flash back with us to Oarai’s second round, featuring the Italian-themed Anzio. Having been unfairly left out in the main series Anzio is compensated with somewhat more focus than the other schools. We start with a rousing address by the charismatic Anchovy (Yoshioka Maya, working a double shift) and set to an arrangement of ‘Funiculì, Funiculà‘. Her deputies: Carpaccio (Hayami Saori) and Pepperoni (Taichi You). Anchovy is definitely our main character this time. She wields a riding crop and her subjects call her Duce. So she’s basically Mussolini, to the point where I feared her school would string her up if she lost. But unlike the real Mussolini, Anchovy the people’s hero, prudent in victory, magnanimous in defeat, etc., etc. is a lion leading sheep. Not only is her team rather ditzy, Anzio shares a similar story to Oarai in that they’re dirt broke, except for them it’s played for laughs (and I question the financial savvy of floating your school on an aircraft carrier). Since there seems to be no expectation that anyone knows anything about Italy other than Rome, food, and national debt, that’s all they get. Perhaps it’s because they’re so pitiable that they turn out to be the most sympathetic opponent to date.
While I’m sure that most people watching came for tank on Italian tank action, this OVA also makes an effort to squeeze itself into the main Girls und Panzer continuity. Released at another time, it could easily have masqueraded itself as an episode 7.5. There’s still plenty of references to future developments, growth for our characters (like team Rabbit still learning how to drive), and even cameo appearance from teams that are yet to be. Most significant this time, though, is the History Club, who are not only deeply involved with the preparations and practice against Anzio (the most detailed we’ve seen yet) but one of their members also has a personal connection with the Anzio team. Since we already know that Oarai wins the match it’s necessary to keep the battle interesting in a different way, in this case, with a human element.
Not that the battle isn’t a big deal by itself. Let’s get to that, shall we?
Introducing the Anzio lineup! Their musical theme: an arrangement of ‘Fiamme Nere’, the battle march of the Arditi, an elite division of World War I Italian stormtroopers. Their tanks: also Italian, and that’s not a good thing. For the first time in Girls und Panzer history Oarai is not the complete underdog, and it’s Anzio that has to resort to unorthodox tactics. But after their facade collapses the match degenerates into an uncoordinated slugfest, which is a change from the tight tactical plays we’ve come to expect from Miho. Let’s go through this mess tank by tank.
The Carro Veloce CV.33 is pathetic. In every other army they won’t be considered real tanks but tankettes, which are more akin to jeeps with treads. To demonstrate exactly how useless they are the Duck Team’s Type 89B takes on five of them. At once. This is the same Type 89 that doesn’t even have a proper anti-tank gun and has never, and will never again, score any other kill in the anime series. This kind of performance is why the Italians nicknamed the CV.33 the bara d’acciaio or ‘steel coffin’, because there’s not much you can do with them other than squeeze into one, annoy the enemy until they decide to waste ammo on you, then die.
The Semovente 75/18 is technically not a tank either, but a self-propelled gun that provided much needed firepower to the Italian army. Since its design was inspired by the StuG III it’s apt that Caesar’s friend Carpaccio also mans one. It’s also funny how everyone just lets them have their little grudge match in the corner, especially since the StuG III still nominally has the biggest gun in the Oarai team and you’d have thought they’d like it doing something important. Alas all the instruction about stopping and aiming was for nought because whereas Miho vs Maho was a match of complicated feints and daring manoeuvres Taka-chan vs Hina-chan is a brutish fight without finesse. I suppose it’s not just a duel, it’s a joust. But it still ends in a wash. Sorry, StuG fans.
Last (and surprisingly least) is the Carro Armato P40. This is what passed for a heavy tank in the WWII Italian army. In reality it’s little more than a slightly bulkier, less ergonomic Panzer IV and even in the hands of Anchovy performed no better. What is arguably a tactical mistake leads the Anzio flag tank into an Oarai kill zone where it is summarily dispatched. This also makes the Anzio match the only one where Oarai completely annihilates the opposition. Not a single enemy tank survives. Isn’t it sad, Anzio?
Fortunately, this is the kind of anime where defeat means friendship, and even having her hopes and dreams dashed doesn’t weigh on Anchovy too much. Unfortunately, Girls und Panzer still needs to explain why she was conspicuously missing at the finals. Turns out, Anzio simply partied too hard. Anzio: their appeal is in being miserable. It does make you want to give them a hug.
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)
(Hopefully not) Final Thoughts.
Let me get something straight: I’m a pacifist. I’m from a generation where war is hell, peace is the way, and we’d join hands around the campfire to sing Kumbayah. Life is precious. Violence is the last resort. Harmony forms the very fabric of my soul.
But, damn, tanks are cool.
I know there’s some people who identify themselves as military otaku. I’m not one of them; I won’t be rattling off any materiel stats or going to bed hugging my Erwin Rommel pillow. But you don’t have to be a hardcore tank buff to appreciate the design of these rugged killing machines, the same way you might appreciate a shark. Perhaps, as seen in the Caesar vs Carpaccio bout, tanks tap into some of the medieval romanticism of mailed knights charging on their trusty steeds. Heavy plating and big guns just overflows with machismo. Which makes it ironic that it’s Girls und Panzer with its 99% female cast that lets us indulge in fantasies of halcyon days of yesteryear, before air power drove dedicated armour confrontations out of business. And since it’s ultimately a sports anime and not a war anime it can strip out much of the nitty-gritty and often horrific details. No tanks cooking off here. Panzerfahren is a safe children’s pastime. Totally.
Although this OVA wasn’t exactly the best of Girls und Panzer–it’s not even supposed to be the climatic battle, after all–it is a reminder of all the good things that GuP has consistently offered. Sure, one may raise an eyebrow at its absurd conceit or its exaggerated battles or its relentless idealism, but one should also raise a salute for how unashamedly it delivers those things in high quality. I’m usually hesitant to ask for sequels of anime but since Girls und Panzer has so far been the gift that keeps on giving I feel like I can allow myself to be a bit optimistic. The movie’s been confirmed. Give us a second season too.