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GIRLS UND PANZER Review: A Well-Told Story of Schoolgirls and Tanks

Girls und Panzer takes the often poorly executed idea of ‘cute girls doing cute things’ and crafts a wonderful experience from it. The aforementioned premise is the sum of many shows throughout the last several anime seasons, although many of these seem to just fall flat. In fact, Girls und Panzer is able to deliver a robust experience beyond the one-dimensional premise it might get associated with.

The basic idea of Girls und Panzer is that there is a form of martial arts known as tankery, which more or less involves the operation of a team of tanks against another team with the end goal of disabling all of one side’s tanks. The reason that explains Girls und Panzer’s almost entirely female cast is that in that world, the practice of tankery is something considered highly feminine and in accordance with womanly ideals. Thus, Girls und Panzer follows Oarai Academy’s newly revived tankery team and their various exploits.

Story

The entire story for the show starts when Miho Nishizumi is coerced into joining her school’s newly revived tankery team. The show then more or less follows her and the Oarai’s team as they seek to compete in the national tankery tournament.

Of immediate note is Girls und Panzer’s ability to tell a complete story through its short run. Further, the story of Girls und Panzer ends up spaced quite well for the most part. While there is one noticeable occurrence where the show seemed to attempt to fit too much story content, Girls und Panzer is otherwise quite good about balancing and pacing the tankery matches themselves and the rest of the show. The result is a story that chugs along nicely with crescendos of captivating action spaced throughout.

Characters

Despite a somewhat short run time of a single cour with twelve episodes, Girls und Panzer was very ambitious with the amount of characters it hoped to include. For just the main school alone, Oarai Academy’s tankery team features thirty-two characters. Furthermore, there are tons of other supporting characters such as the members of other schools’ tankery teams.

The amount of characters proved too vast for the show that many of the characters’ named were only able to be introduced through a recap episode. Exacerbating the problem is that a significant amount of the characters for even the main team are introduced late into the series, giving them even less chance at meaningful screen time.

Source: peopleofgaming.com

Source: peopleofgaming.com

For the most part, the show is content to focus on Oarai Academy’s Anglerfish Team which is composed of the Girls und Panzer’s main characters. The main characters are characterized and developed well throughout the series. For example, within seconds of the audience first seeing Miho in her room, information on Miho’s familial background as well as one of her hobbies are revealed through the scene’s excellent execution. The other characters of the main team also receive their fair share of the spotlight in exploring areas like their family life or their developing relationships with other members of the school’s tankery team.

Naturally, the amount of focus on the Oarai Academy’s main team and the sheer amount of characters does mean that many of the characters remain sadly underdeveloped by the show’s end. Despite this, Girls und Panzer’s cast is able to avoid blandness due to many of the characters’ vivid and distinct personalities. Although many of the characters of the various teams and schools only get a chance to interact amongst themselves, Girls und Panzer does an excellent job on portraying each group’s chemistry.

Art

The art and animation of Girls und Panzer is simply beautiful. As has been mentioned, one of the contributing factors to each character’s individuality is the beautiful character designs for the show. The show is able to use its art to balance and contrast the more peaceful school life scenes with the exciting tankery battles that take place throughout the series.

On that note, the tanks in Girls und Panzer are depicted incredibly well, as every tank in the series is an actual model. The tanks are rendered accurately and with amazing detail a huge majority of the time. Further, the physics involved with the operation of tanks and tankery are smooth and generally depicted honestly, save for some moments where exciting writing takes precedent.

Overall

Girls und Panzer is definitely a far more rewarding experience than its initial association with the ‘cute girls doing cute things’ premise might indicate. It rises far above the banality sadly achieved by many shows in that vein. It is able to accomplish this through the effective use of its large cast, beautiful and genuine art and animation for the tankery matches, and its overall excellent storytelling.

One of its strongest points is its ability to tell a complete story in the span of episodes allotted. It has started to become more of a rarity for anime to be able to successfully weave a narrative throughout the course of its run. Despite a few hiccups, Girls und Panzer’s many strong features become even better in how they all serve to support the show as an amazing package.

4.5 out of 5 stars

4.5 out of 5 stars

 

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Categories: Anime Reviews

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