Back in 2016, I watched High School Fleet, which focuses on Akeno trying to manage a school ship for survival after they became fugitives. Believe it or not, the series have staff members that worked on Girls und Panzer. With that, we are reviewing the latter, which focuses on Sensha-dou (戦車道), which basically means the way of the tank.
The story focuses on Nishizumi Miho who comes from a legendary Sensha-do family. Due to a past trauma with one of her team mate’s tank falling into a river, causing her team to lose, she transferred to Ouarai Girls’ Academy. Of course, the student council, namely Momo, Yuzuko, and Anzu targets her to join their Sensha-do team. Miho refuses at first, but her new friends, Takabe Saori, Isuzu Hana and Akiyama Yukari eventually convinces her to try it. Eventually, other members join along with Reizei Mako joining Miho’s team as they compete in the national Sensha-do competition.
I have to admit that the story is enjoyable. Obviously, the tank battles will be the exciting part. To me, the tank battles are very entertaining to watch as you don’t know what the opponent or Miho have planned. This is not surprising since other school teams try to play dirty. The American theme school, Saunder’s University High School played dirty by intercepting the radio. Thankfully, she only had four tanks opposed to outnumbering Ouarai’s quite easily.
Of course, there is Pravda High School, a Soviet Russia themed school that tries to get Miho to surrender again. Of course, it’s funny how the three hours seize fire backfires on them as Ouarai’s team manages to score a win. Also, I have to admit that it’s cool to see Miho and her older sister, Maho face off each other in a one on one match. Surprisingly, Miho manages to win as she found her own style of Sensha-do to win. It’s quite impressive given that she manages to win with eight tanks compared to Kuromorimine’s twenty tanks.
While there are a lot of funny moments, it’s nice to see how Miho develops throughout the show. While she cares about her teammates, she also resourceful and manages to outwit her opponents. This shows when she decides to sacrifices her win to save a team member from drowning when she was part of Kuromorimine’s team. This is despite her team being smaller compared to everyone else’s.
Also, it’s interesting to see the back story on why the Student Council desperately needs to win the competition. Yuzuko already subtly hinted this. Eventually, she outright reveals that school will close if they lose in Episode 8. The student council believes that if they win, their school can’t close since they are the winning team. In a way, this is just like Kousaka Honoka deciding to start a school idol group and band with 7 other members and her two other friends to save their school.
As for the characters themselves, while the cast is big, they are enjoyable for the most part. Sure, some Yuri fans will disapprove of Saori for being boy crazy. On the other hand, Yukari have a strong admiration for Miho, not just because of her tank skills. While it’s subtle, it seems that she might have a thing for her. Also, it’s interesting how Hana gained some valuable experience from Sensha-do despite her mother opposing it at first. As always, Mako manages to make her grandmother proud instead of her bickering at her for being anti-social.
As a whole, Girls und Panzer is a very enjoyable show. Sure, it suffered some production issues with episodes being delayed two times. However, the exciting tank battles and the enjoyable characters made Girls und Panzer into a very popular franchise. It spawned two movies, a bunch of original animation videos and even two video games. The most recent addition is Girls und Panzer: Dream Tank Match, which came out early this year. This game also has a translated English Asian release too.
To me, this shows that cute girls battling with military tanks and even naval ships can become a successful combination. This is not surprising since this series counterpart, High School Fleet is getting a movie sequel as well along with the usual Kantai Collection.