The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Girls und Panzer Der Film: Girls und Panzer The Movie Reflection and Full Recommendation

“Are you Nishizumi Miho? So, you’re the best tanker in all of Japan…有意思. Okay, let’s deal; seems to me your Panzerkraft is the fastest, 唯快不破. Let’s see whose craft is faster, yours…or mine? 三分鐘. If you last by then, 我放過你.” —Ip Man 3

News of Girls und Panzer Der Film was first announced during the first Heartful Tank Carnival in April 2013, shortly after Girls und Panzer‘s immensely successful television series had concluded. Tsutomu Mizushima would reprise his role as director, and at the time, the movie was set to release somewhere in 2014. However, production was pushed back, and apologies from the staff were issued: they had emboldened in their vision for the movie and now aimed to deliver a story that would surpass what the original anime had accomplished. To this end, they required additional time to produce the film, and the original runtime of 90 minutes was pushed to 119 minutes. Girls und Panzer Der Film was set to be a sequel from the TV series, following Miho and her classmates’ efforts to save Ooarai Girls’ High from closure yet again: despite their victory at the Japan National Championships, the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) reneges on their word. In a bid to persuade MEXT’s brass to change their minds, Shiho arranges for Ooarai Girls’ High to do battle with a university Panzerfahren team to demonstrate their worth and stave off doom. This time, they are not alone: they join forces with St. Gloriana, Saunders, Anzio, Pravda and even Black Forest against the university team. Together with support from Chi-ha tan and Continuation Academy, Miho leads forwards her friends to save their school once more.

Against an opponent with superior equipment, victory seems to be impossibly out of reach: led by Alice Shimada, the university team is armed to the teeth with late-WWII equipment: Ooarai and company face the university’s M24 Chaffee light tanks and large complement of M26 Pershing medium tanks. Compounding this showdown is the fact that the university has access to the British Centurion, one of the first MBTs produced, the T28 Super-Heavy Tank, and even the Karl-Gerät (a massive cannon capable of putting 2.174-ton shells 4.32 kilometers downrange). Such gear in capable hands would mean that Ooarai alone would stand no chance alone, and but Miho’s actions and unique approach to Panzerfahren during the TV series means that she’s now on more cordial terms with Shiho, and similarly, the schools she once played against are now more than willing to return at help her. Even with the full support from the other schools, this battle is a difficult one: the university team fields thirty-eight tanks, and the match is set to be an elimination round. However, despite the odds completely stacked against them, Miho demonstrates yet again that it is not firepower, but her team’s unshakable resolve, that culminate in victory: although the university team has superior training and equipment, Miho’s team is driven by resolve, fighting even against the odds to give Miho another chance at saving Ooarai. A final showdown between the Nishizumi sisters and Alice, although predictable, was most satisfying to behold: Girls und Panzer Der Film had high expectations that continuously increased as production was delayed, and ultimately, the movie is able to deliver a superbly-executed, if familiar story. Throughout Girls und Panzer Der Film, themes outlined in the TV series make a resurgence to reiterate and emphasise that friendship and respect for one another, paired with a singular determination to accomplish a well-defined task, is a powerful driver for victory.

Major themes in the movie

In choosing to continue on in the spirit of Girls und Panzer, Girls und Panzer Der Film‘s portrayal of Ooarai and the other school’s joint battle with the university team loosely parallels the Vietnam War (1955-1975); the Vietnam War was fought by the Viet Cong, the communist North Vietnamese who had wished to unify Vietnam under a single banner. The United States saw this as a threat, imagining that if the Viet Cong succeeded, a domino effect would precipitate the spread of communism throughout Southeast Asia. Theirs was a war of containment, and as the Vietnam War wore on, the American forces found that their application of superior firepower and weapons was not sufficient to demoralise the North Vietnamese forces: the latter were fighting to unify their nations and were more than prepared to fight for as long as until the foreign powers had left them alone. Ultimately, in 1973, the American forces began withdrawing their forces, as the war was resulting in much more difficulties than was reasonable to handle: besides the seemingly ineffectiveness of superior firepower, the American public had begun to grow weary of the war. While the stakes aren’t quite so high in Girls und Panzer Der Film, the underlying themes remain quite similar; the university team views this match as an exhibition match against high school students, a situation functionally identical to if some of the best players from the high school football teams around Calgary decided to challenge the University of Calgary’s Dinos in a match. In any ordinary situation, the Dinos would be the favourite to win simply because their players have much more experience and training; however, if the high school students agreed to this match for a cause, they would have a reason to play with much more effort and intensity. Similarly, while it would be quite unlikely that Miho and her allies would stand a chance against the better-equipped and better-trained university teams, she’s fighting for a very powerful reason: to protect and preserve the school that she and her friends hold dear, mirroring the North Vietnam forces, who were fighting for their homes and for a unified Vietnam. Conversely, the American conviction to stop communism was much weaker, and similarly, Alice’s reason is simply to protect a museum that she alone holds dear. It’s a reasonable raison d’etre but pales in comparison to Miho’s goal, which is selfless. That Miho and her allies succeed show the power of this determination: when there is a very strong, well-justified reason to do something, people will rally around their leader, going to those lengths to preserve and protect all that they find important to them. In the movie, Miho’s team utilise every advantage they can to take on the university tanks, and although they are out-gunned, their use of environmental elements and tricks allow them to keep up with the university team. The TV series did a fantastic job of illustrating this, and Girls und Panzer Der Film serves to reinforce this notion further.

Another theme enduring from the TV series, which is given a new take in Girls und Panzer Der Film, is the idea that the spirit of friendship and sportsmanship ultimately becomes more constructive for anyone participating in any team sports. While rivalries can become heated, and tempers flare during matches, strong sportsmanship allows everyone to cooperate and improve with one another. After Girls und Panzer ended, Miho’s earnestness and inviting, friendly attitudes towards Panzerfahren earned the trust of her teammates, and respect from her opponents. Even Erica Itsumi of Black Forest reluctantly agrees that the championship match was a good one, and resolves to work harder. Girls und Panzer Der Film thus shows the outcome of being able to build these connections. The strength that Miho projects is enough for Shiho to support the notion giving Ooarai one final chance; she articulates that it is foolish to discard a school that managed to win on virtue of skill, and when even this is not enough, Maho rallies the students from the other schools to help out. To demonstrate their support, all of the participants from Black Forest, Pravda, Saunders, St. Glorianna, Anzio, Chi-ha tan and Continuation Academy don Ooarai uniforms. This is possible because Miho’s approach to Panzerfahren, one of friendship and sportsmanship, moves her opponents. Even the strict, rigid-minded Shiho comes to accept Miho as a worthy opponent to pit the Nishizumi style against, and Maho has become proud of Miho for finding her own way. Now, when Ooarai is in a time of crisis, both Shiho and Maho appreciate the worth of Ooarai. Thus, both Shiho and Maho support Miho in their own way: Maho clearly is on cordial terms with Miho, while Shiho presently views Miho as a capable Panzerfahren practitioner. When considering that the Nishizumi school values victory and adheres to rigid principles, that Shiho now considers Miho’s approach as a skillful approach to Panzerfahren rather than a farce is a powerful indicator that her own perspectives have changed. With Maho and Shiho in her corner, the other schools follow suit, stepping up to the plate as a show of gratitude for having given them a new perspective on Panzerfahren.

One element that is new to Girls und Panzer Der Film is the presence of MEXT and their decisions. Their real-world equivalent manages every aspect of the Japanese education system, determining curricula and resource allocation towards different schools. While a bureaucracy by any definition, MEXT is still an organisation that is no different than any government organisation. They are driven by money: quite simply, money determines what MEXT does with its policies, and how resources should be best allocated. In Girls und Panzer Der Film, MEXT decides to continue with their decision to close Ooarai simply because the financial department concluded that the costs of maintaining Ooarai would be detrimental to their other aims. However, this aspect is not clear and requires some business logic to reach, as MEXT is acting from a purely business perspective: the audience will immediately sympathise with the girls at Ooarai because that’s the perspective they’re seeing. As such, the business decisions that drive Ooarai’s closure are not shown, and audiences immediately will feel that MEXT is, by all counts, unreasonable. That the official is painted in an antagonistic light serves to reinforce this notion. However, at the end of the day, money talks: behind-the-scenes, MEXT projects that losses incurred by keeping Ooarai open is potentially greater than the income from tuition fees. From a strict financial perspective, it makes sense to close the school if it can be shown that Ooarai is indeed an unnecessary expenditure. Further to this, that MEXT somehow manages to allocate the money to provide the University All-Stars Team with a Karl-Gerät can be chalked up to the fact that universities generally have a much larger funding pool than high schools. Together, these elements suggest that MEXT is not an antagonist in Girls und Panzer Der Film: while MEXT might have appeared to have reversed their decision arbitrarily, it is quite possible that Ooarai’s victory did not provide the registration numbers necessary to balance the budget. MEXT is merely acting in the interest of balancing their spreadsheets, and while this is cold (especially for the students and from the audience’s viewpoint), the business perspective would account for why MEXT is able to close Ooarai in spite of their word. The main caveat about this approach is that it provides a only nominal explanation for why Ooarai must engage the university team.

Personal thoughts on the movie

On the whole, Girls und Panzer Der Film is quite similar to the Strike Witches Movie in that both films feel like extended versions of their television counterparts. Rather than stepping out into uncharted directions, both films stick to a more familiar, tried-and-true pattern. This aspect means that the outcomes of Girls und Panzer Der Film‘s two major armoured warfare sequences in Girls und Panzer Der Film were not difficult to deduce. Moreover, the final battle plays out in a very similar fashion as the match between Black Forest and Ooarai; in both cases, battles start in the countryside, transitioning into urban warfare as the match progresses. In both cases, the opposing team has access to prototype weapons that do as much psychological damage as they do kinetic damage, and both the anime and film’s matches are decide in a showdown between the leaders of the two teams. However, Girls und Panzer‘s original success did not come from how things turned out, but rather, how it depicts the characters as reaching a particular outcome. Girls und Panzer Der Film continues on in this pattern, and so, even in full knowledge of how the movie would end, the battles were superbly exciting to watch, since it was always exciting to see just what techniques or hijinks the girls would employ to offset their disadvantages. This particular aspect is what Girls und Panzer excels at, and through Girls und Panzer Der Film, the writers manage to transfer these facets to the silver screen, making use of the longer runtime to build up the different moments and successfully depict the longest armoured engagement Girls und Panzer has seen thus far: the final battle, from when the tanks first roll out to the last tank being dispatched, is roughly 55 minutes long (46 percent of the entire movie). Despite the potential for being a drawn out battle of attrition, unexpected twists occur as the different characters employ novel and unusual tactics in doing their best to help Miho secure victory. Thus, even if the movie’s approach is not particularly novel, how the outcome is reached deviates substantially from the events seen in the TV series, giving the movie a chance to really highlight how Miho and Maho together can motivate and aid a team in fighting their hardest, as well as how all of the different teams might work together.

From a technical perspective, Girls und Panzer Der Film maintains all of the quality seen in the TV series. Battles are suspenseful and thrilling to watch; the dynamics between different participants means that the amoured warfare sequences manage to maintain a fine balance between light-heartedness and urgency. Girls und Panzer has never attempted to adhere strictly to real-world physics and parameters, and as such, the battle sequences further develop a sense of fun amidst the implausible or outrageous tactics that some of the participants employ during combat. The Rabbit Team’s clever use of environmental hazards in the Ferris Wheel to act as a distraction for the surrounded Ooarai forces, the History team’s application of quasi-camouflage to hide in plain sight and use of the smaller tanks as a ramp to boost the Heztner across a gap for taking out the Karl-Gerät are but a handful of instances where realism is discarded in favour of theatrics to Girls und Panzer Der Film‘s favour. As a movie, Girls und Panzer Der Film also makes use of wide, sweeping camera movements to illustrate the scale of things: events and battles in this film are much larger than they were in the anime, and like K-On! The Movie, Girls und Panzer Der Film capitalises on this format to portray the differences in scope. The landscapes and environments are beautifully rendered, making strong use of colour to augment the emotions or moods in a scene. Similarly, the soundtrack is befitting that of a movie: performed by a full orchestral accompaniment, the music sounds fuller and conveys a much more powerful atmosphere in conjunction with the visuals. The emotional pieces that play when the girls learn that Ooarai is closed, or the diverse marches used to represent each school, contributes to the atmosphere of each moment within Girls und Panzer Der Film. Together in conjunction with the novel depiction of Panzerfahren, these factors make Girls und Panzer Der Film an aural-visual treat that manages to keep viewers riveted until the last of the shells have fallen.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The position of “largest post this blog hosts” was once held by the Gundam Unicorn finale post, which featured some 8300 words and a total of seventy-five screenshots. It took nine hours to write from first draft to publication. This no longer holds true, since Girls und Panzer Der Film surpasses it by exactly ten images. There is enough occurring within the movie to justify a post of this size, and I encountered considerable difficulty in cutting the screenshots from 265 down to 85, much less 75. I know that some folks call these “frame grabs”, so to make it easier for them to find this particular post, I’ll include the term “frame grab” in this review’s text.

  • The KV-2 is deployed in the film’s opening match, and fires a shot that misses its intended targets, shattering the facade of Ooarai Hotel. Earlier, the shopkeeper who’d remarked during the first match between Ooarai and St. Glorianna that he wanted his shop destroyed finally got his wish: hit by a tank round, it collapses, and he cheers in exultation. One wonders if he is looking to collect the insurance money to build a new shop.

  • During Girls und Panzer Der Film‘s open beta nine-minute preview, I speculated that Miho would lose by a small margin, and indeed, she finds herself falling to Darjeeling’s Churchill yet again. This post is comparatively short relative to this one, and I came out of the preview rather excited to see what the full movie would entail. This preview only represents around 7.563 percent of the entire movie, and by extrapolation, would have meant this review that would have spanned some 35000 words, which exceeds the size of my Master’s Thesis. However, it is an exercise in futility to even consider analysing what is essentially a sports movie in that level of detail.

  • Following the match, all of the girls hit the onsen in the spirit of relaxing. Par the course for an anime movie, like the K-On! Movie did before it, Girls und Panzer Der Film entered the market to very high expectations.Much as how  some viewers felt the K-On! Movie did not adequetely depict London and push Houkago Tea Time out of their comfort zones, there are some who were disappointed by the overall narrative and delivery of what prompts Ooarai to take up arms once again. These are legitimate criticisms in both counts, since movies offer a much larger timeframe to flesh out and depict things that would be difficult to pull off in a twenty-four minute episode.

  • However, for both the K-On! Movie and Girls und Panzer Der Film, I find that what the films succeed in doing, they do well. This is and has been my approach towards almost all entertainment: what matters most is how a particular work presents an idea. When Ooarai’s students return to campus, they find that the entrance has been taped off. Anzu arrives to deliver the bad news: that Ooarai will be shutting down anyways: while a shortcut from the narrative perspective, reasons for why these things happen can be explained beyond “it was in their inclination”.

  • With this in mind, it’s not particularly difficult to work out why Ooarai is closing in spite of MEXT’s word. What is more difficult to accept would be why this approach was taken when numerous other methods, such as a straight up preparation round for an international match with the university, could be used instead. I think this would be more conducive towards a shorter movie that sets the stage for future seasons, but also surmise that the writers stepped away from this route simply because it would remove the urgency from the match (and any excuse to have the teams finally fight alongside one another as allies).

  • Kay and Naomi of Saunders University High School arrive in a C-5 of some sort (I can’t readily identify it, but it’s probably the C-5M Super Galaxy) to help Ooarai move their armour to a new location. One of the largest military transport aircraft fielded by the United States, the C-5 transport aircraft and its derivatives have been deployed in both military and civilian operations. I loved the details of the lighting in the cockpit when Kay arrives to help Miho move their tanks and save them from certain doom.

  • The next morning, Ooarai’s students set out to begin classes at a much older facility on land, away from their school ship. Each of the screenshots here are available in 1080p and as such, it is possible to visibly discern each of the characters’ eyebrows. I’ve remarked in earlier posts that anime are particularly good in conveying emotions, and here, it’s quite plain that Ooarai’s students are dejected from the news.

  • Trying to lighten things up, Saori offers Miho some crisps, and Hana partakes. There are such a large number of students at Ooarai that they are separated and dispersed based on their clubs. While the characters might be seen as being much flatter than their anime incarnations, it’s not difficult to draw this connection with everyone feeling disheartened in response to their school’s closure: sad expressions and a sullen atmosphere permeate the bus ride to their temporary school located on terra firma.

  • The girls thus try to adjust to their new lives away from Ooarai, and this older school is modelled after Kamioka Elementary School. Bearing some similarity to the facilities seen in Kantai Collection, I’m reminded of how the latest spring events have been diabolical in difficulty, demanding much luck, time and other factors from players as to detrimentally impact some of their daily lives. That’s intense, and a game shouldn’t be doing that to its players. As of late, I’ve not had the chance to game, but I have finished Valkyria Chronicles now and will aim to write a review of it shortly.

  • By evening, Yukari puts all of her rations and survival gear to good use, cooking for her friends while they wonder what will become of them. As the last light of day begins to fade, the sound of jet engines can be heard: Kay has arrived to deliver the Ooarai armour. With the tanks back in their hands, Miho and the others become much happier and resolve to make the most of their current situation.

  • The move to an older school is reminiscent of my current situation: I’m very nearly done my Master’s program and will be defending a month from now. After that, I will begin work: located in a small office converted from nurses’ quarters, this new office space is older than my office on campus. I’ve heard allegations that the site is haunted, but as ghosts seem drawn to negative energy, I’ll do my best to be positive and upbeat to project positive energy to my new workplace.

  • Momo yells at Midoriko, Moyoko and Nozomi in an attempt to wake them and get them to deliver the daily announcements. Members of Ooarai’s Public Morals Committee, they serve to enforce the rules in and around Ooarai Girls’ Academy, and work completely by-the-book. Thus, their lethargy here suggests that they are also hit particularly hard by Ooarai’s closure, and they half-ass the attendance call before stepping back.

  • The number of students rendered in this scene is impressive, and a cursory glance shows that no two students are alike. Even in a crowd of this size, Saori sticks out like a sore thumb. Despite their circumstances, the different groups of students continue to work hard and busy themselves: the volleyball team trains, the gamers lift, the history buffs play a strategy game to keep their wits about them, and the first-years practise their Les Stroud skills. Before anyone asks about the gamers, it’s not so implausible that they can lift. If you count yourself as someone who can bench press more than their body weight, I offer this expression: ʘ‿ʘ.

  • Miho and the others take a short ride in their Panzer IV, coming across a ill-maintained Boco museum: a stuffed bear wrapped in bandages. Miho is particularly fond of this character and has a large number of these stuffed animals in her room. Reminiscent of Amagi Brilliant Park, Miho manages to find herself completely immersed during a stage performances and vociferously cheers for Boco, hearing another girl doing the same.

  • When Miho and this girl reach for a small Boco souvenir, Miho decides to concede it, believing the latter to be a small child. This exemplifies Miho’s character as someone who’s ever-mindful of those around her; whether its on foot or in a tank, Miho is highly considerate. However, this girl comes across as being quite shy and takes off on short order. One of the songs on the soundtrack, I never could translate, but it appears that the bandaged bears is known as Boco. I’ve made the pertinent changes to the movie’s soundtrack listings.

  • One of the few things that I never understood was how Miho could be transmuted as “Miporin”: in my line of work, a porin is class of trans-membrane proteins characterised by their beta-barrel structures. Their large sizes mean that they accommodate for passive diffusion, and in a rather curious turn of things, porins were first discovered by Hiroshi Nikaido. So, while I do not know what the etymology of “Miporin” is, I do know that it sounds adorable.

  • Anzu speaks with the MEXT representative in a darkened office, and the lighting suggests that MEXT is to be taken as an antagonist of sorts, viewing Ooarai’s closing strictly as business. His response to Anzu’s counterarguments suggest that he is but a cog in a machine. The phrase “it’s not personal, it’s business” is an oft-used one; with origins from The Godfather, this line is utilised as justification for inconsiderate or cold decisions, purporting that a particular action is for the greater good.

  • However, business experts and seasoned managers will counter that business, as a set of interactions and agreements between people, is highly personal in nature. As such, it would become folly to conduct things based purely on the numbers alone, and for this reason, newer business models emphasise people as being just as important as the bottom line, arguing that profits improve if the personal, human side of things is allowed to be considered (to a reasonable extent) during discussions. Here, Anzu and Ami speak with the Director of the Federation of Panzerfahren, attempting to convince him to see if he cannot impact MEXT’s decision.

  • Nineteen-year-old Maho Nishizumi is five feet, four inches tall and is not a fearsome sight unless she is seated in her Tiger I’s cupola, with a throat-microphone linking her to the rest of her armoured column. At this moment, Maho is walking the family dog (a Shiba Inu) and Miho runs into her after deciding to return home. Various scenes throughout Girls und Panzer Der Film illustrate the improvement in lighting effects: volumetric lighting can be seen here, as shafts of light shine through the openings of the tree branches.

  • Miho feels quite nervous to return home: she has not had a proper face-to-face talk with Shiho at this point, and perhaps sensing that now is not the best time to make her presence known, Maho tactfully states that she’s with a friend. Miho returns to her room, a tidy space reflecting her character; it’s filled with stuffed animals and a photograph of her with Maho.

  • I’ve driven my brother to and from places countless times, but now that he’s got a license, I’m glad that he can also get himself from point A to point B. Here, Miho rides a tank under the vast blue skies and endless green fields while recalling her childhood with Maho as she drives the former back to the train station. Such spaces as depicted here have an ethereal quality to them and are eternally peaceful; the rural setting evokes feelings of longing and distance. Such settings have been used effectively to convey just this in anime such as Yosuga no SoraAno Natsu de Matteru, and Please Teacher.

  • After dismounting the tank, Maho offers her hand to Miho and help her dismount. Miho wishes to dismount on her own and very nearly falls into the pond, and while Maho catches her, she is muddied in the process. Both share a good laugh after, attesting to their closeness as siblings. While character development was limited throughout Girls und Panzer Der Film, such moments in the movie suggest that Miho and Maho’s bond as siblings is core to the film, hence the choice to depict Miho’s relationship with Maho via flashback.

  • Thus, Girls und Panzer Der Film might be seen as an opportunity to really highlight just how close Miho and Maho are: while Shiho arranges for the showdown between Oarai and the university team, Maho organises for several participants from the other schools, her and Erika included, to participate and bring Ooarai’s numbers up to the university team’s in order to match their numbers.

  • A modified attack helicopter brings Ami to the Nishizumi residence. While reception to Shiho’s character has not been the most cordial (in fact, I argued that the Nishizumi style was impractical in comparison to Sun Tzu’s approach many moons ago), the movie also serves to paint Shiho in a different light. By remarking that Panzerfahren is entirely skill-driven, she implicitly acknowledges that Miho is a capable tactician and accepts her approach towards doing things.

  • Anzu jumps on the chance when the MEXT officer suggests offhand that Ooarai might be spared their fate if they best the university, and Anzu astutely requests that the MEXT official signs a document to prevent them from discarding their promise so casually.

  • Shiho speaks with the head of the Shimada family to make the necessary arrangements for their upcoming match: pride means that the head of the Shimada family aims to kick the Nishizumi school’s lower backside to demonstrate which method is superior. However, as my Karatedo seniors say, it’s not the style, but the practitioner and the quality of instruction they provide, that determines whether or not a skill is effective.

  • With Anzu back and bearing an announcement of great importance, Yuzu asks everyone to reconvene. Momo bawls her eyes out here, and it’s one of the running jokes throughout Girls und Panzer that despite her hard outer shell, Momo has a sensitive interior prone to tears. When they meet up, the Public Morale committee is absent, and Mako’s decision to retrieve them demonstrates her commitment to Ooarai. Armed with new hope, Anzu presents the results of her negotiations: to make possible the impossible and defeat Alice, whose skill is said to be terrifying enough to take out adult teams.

  • To further stack the deck against Ooarai, the MEXT officier states that they will be playing an elimination match. Despite the incredible odds against them, Miho resolves that they will proceed nonetheless. Her determination matches those of the great heroes seen in Lord of The Rings, especially King Théoden, whose devotion to the people of Rohan was so great that even against Saruman’s Uruk-Hai army, said to Aragorn that: “If this is to be our end, then I would have them make such an end, as to be worthy of remembrance.” Similarly, Miho is ready to take on the odds for her friends’ sake, refusing to stand down until all other options have been exhausted.

“Too few have come. We cannot defeat the armies of the university.”
“No. We cannot. But we will meet them in battle nonetheless.”

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Gamling and Théoden

  • With the match about to open, Miho steps onto the battlefield knowing that she is outgunned and outnumbered in every way. The remainder of this post will be structured in a slightly different way than any of my earlier posts: block quotes will be interspersed at some moments to draw comparisons between Girls und Panzer Der Film and some of my favourite movies of all time.

  • Erika and Maho hold up registration forms for Ooarai’s Panzerfahren team, having gained authorisation from the Panzerfahren Federation. Dressed in the Ooarai uniform, they vow to fight alongside Miho in their battle to keep Ooarai open. This seems as appropriate a time as any to explain the page quote: it’s sourced from an exchange between Frankie (Mike Tyson) and Ip Man (Donnie Yen) of Ip Man 3, which was released in December 2015 in Hong Kong. This fight was one of the best I’ve seen; Ip Man is overmatched by Frankie’s speed and power, but manages to last the stipulated three minutes.

  • Impressed, Frankie keeps up his end of the deal and is not seen again in Ip Man 3. The movie follows Ip Man’s life in Hong Kong and his spending time with his wife, who is diagnosed with stomach cancer. At one point in Ip Man 3, Ip Man finds Frankie and challenges him to a fight: if he can last three minutes, Frankie will agree to stop going after him for his actions earlier in the movie. Back in Girls und Panzer Der Film, several tanks from Saunders University High also appear: having received Maho’s communique, Kay appears and joins the party.

  • Katyusha’s tsundere traits come out full force: when Nonna nails her by stating that it was technically Katyusha’s fault for sleeping in, precluding their arrival and that an early arrival would’ve been only to boost her cool factor, she’s got no retorts. The MEXT officer has some nerve to claim that Ooarai is being underhanded, especially in light of what surprises that await Ooarai’s amassed forces.

  • Darjeeling and Orange Pekoe look quite sharp in Ooarai uniforms. This entire scene is set to the song titled “学園十色です!” (“It’s the Academy’s Ten Colours!”): this song is a medley of all of the school’s major theme songs. Released four days before the movie itself premièred in Japanese theatres, Girls und Panzer Der Film‘s soundtrack consists of exceptionally well-composed songs that are befitting a movie of its scale. Each song serves to accentuate the mood for a given moment, although the downside about releasing the tracklist ahead of time was that it allowed me to work out most of the plot just from the song’s titles.

  • Making up for the fact they slept through the champion ships, Anzio’s top tankers arrive with flair, spirit and plenty of pasta. When Girls und Panzer Der Film first premièred in Japan, social media and message boards flooded with reactions to the movie. Most of these were short snippets that yielded limited insight into the actual progression of events in the film, and most of the impressions of the film were largely positive.

  • I’ve heard that negative reviews of the movie have been quite rare, but some folks did find caveats in the movie. With this in mind, Girls und Panzer Der Film handles similarly to a summer blockbuster or even Captain America: Civil War, in that the narrative just holds together (well, perhaps better than a summer blockbuster), but the fight scenes more than make up for things. In short, this movie is probably meant to be fun to further reinforce the point that taking things so seriously is not always so productive, but for the present, I will reserve my judgement about the comparison to Civil War, since I’ve not seen it yet.

  • Kinuyo of Chi-ha tan accidentally brings excess armour and sends all but six away. Boisterious, she brings to mind some of Mio Sakamoto of Strike Witches‘ traits and manages to make use of her light tanks later on in the match.

  • Miho is moved to tears with the new arrivals stepping up with the aim of aiding Ooarai in their bid to keep their school open. By this point, strength of motivation or not, the film has set itself down one path: to portray the franchise’s longest and most intense battle yet.

  • Hope is kindled, as the arrival of everyone now gives Ooarai a fighting chance in terms of numbers alone: while there are no Beacons of Amon Dîn to light (nor the associated epic quality of the resulting scene and its musical accompaniment), many have answered Gondor Ooarai’s call. The MEXT officier’s complaints are vehement, but Alice’s pride as a Panzerfahren practitioner means she will gladly allow for the extra tanks to show that they mean nothing to her forces.

  • In a manner reminiscent of Ooarai’s mixed, varied loadout every time they enter combat, Ooarai’s expanded forces number a total of twenty-eight tanks and all of the expertise of their respective school’s operators. In continuing to provide the protagonists with a varied array of armour to work with, Girls und Panzer Der Film also seems to be hinting at the idea that a diverse, multidisciplinary approach is more effective than a specialised approach: Ooarai’s combination of light, medium and heavy tanks allows the team to carry out reconnaissance, as well as deal and absorb damage. While the university team has a similar setup, their crews play by different means.

“Black Forest, Saunders University High, St. Glorianna, Anzio… Good, good, good. Many have come. Now we must decide how Ooarai will fight this war.”

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Treebeard

  • Having the different schools present mean that there are conflicting strats, but everyone agrees to follow Miho’s instructions. Subsequently, they argue about what to call the operation. The names are imaginative and fun, reminding me of the days when I was a high school student and the trickiest part of any group project was indeed to pick a title for it. The girls eventually go with Miho’s simple but concise “Operation Bumpy”.

  • With the match beginning in earnest, Ooarai’s forces move towards their destinations, as they spawn in twenty mikes apart. This battle is a fantastic example of a cooperative multi-agent system where the different agent teams work together to achieve a global optima: such a system would be considered as teamwork with message-passing and online learning. Minor jokes about each school’s national stereotypes are thrown around here for good humour.

  • The M26 Pershing Medium Tank was the M4 Sherman’s successor, boasting superior firepower and armour. During the Second World War, it was classified as a heavy tank, but was reclassified. Its low mobility and poor transmission would eventually result in the development of the M26E2, which sported a superior engine, and this would become the M46 Patton. The M47 would succeed the M46, and become developed into the M48, the template for the iconic M60 Patton, one of the most widely used NATO tanks.

“Morning glory team. Take your armour down the left flank. Sunflower, follow the CO’s banner down the center. Dandelion, take your company right, after you pass the wall. Forth, and fear no darkness! Arise! Arise, Tankers of Ooarai! Armour shall be shaken, treads shall be splintered! A HE day… a red day… ere the sun rises! Ride now!… Ride now!… Ride! Ride to ruin and the school’s closing! Panzer vor!”

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Théoden

  • Combat initially takes place under blue skies: this section of the map brings to mind the Yellowstone River in Hayden Valley at Yellowstone National Park.It’s almost been ten years since I last visited Yellowstone, and even though that trip was quite short, it was fantastic. The geothermal features of Yellowstone were a sight to behold, and the weather remained beautiful the entire way of the trip. The battle begins now, and I leave readers with one of the greatest of all the scores on the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, The battle of the Pelennor Fields, as an accompaniment to this battle.

  • One of the limitations about my earlier Girls und Panzer posts were that they never showcased the tank’s interiors. This single image in a collection of 85 will rectify that deficiency, and having reached Waypoint Neptune Hill 203, Miho’s forces organise themselves and begin attacking the university forces.

  • However, with the element of surprise lost, the university forces begin focusing their fire on the more powerful Saunders armour, leaving them unable to move. Chi-ha Tan’s forces fall back on their staple of charging forwards against Kinuyo’s requests, resulting in a handful of tanks being lost early in the match. Against the university’s aggressive charge, their front lines are breached.

  • As Katyusha prepares to return fire on enemy armour, a massive explosion fills the skies, blinding her and covering the entire area in dust. This unexpected turn of events brings to mind the moment in The Fellowship of the Ring, where the Fellowship encounters a Balrog in the Mines of Moria. A servant of the Dark Lord Morgoth, Balrogs were corrupted Maiar and could not be easily defeated: Gandalf himself fought the Balrog for four days and four nights, defeating it but succumbing to death in the process, and the Balrog’s ferocity prompts this quote when the earth around Katyusha ignites.

“What is this new devilry?”
“A Möser-Karl. A siege mortar of the Wehrmacht. This foe is beyond any of you. Run!”

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Boromir and Gandalf

  • A second explosion knocks out two of Black Forest’s Panthers. The appearance of a Karl-Gert was as surprising as when the second Death Star was operational in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, but unlike Lando, who orders the fleet to engage the Star Destroyers at close range, Maho assesses the situation differently: for the first time, she orders their units into a tactical retreat and aims to regroup with the others. In the face of this new devilry, it initially appears that even the overwhelming power of the Nishizumi style is no use against the dæmons of the Shimada style.

  • Girls und Panzer‘s approach towards realism is that it is as realistic as the plot demands, and as such, some aspects are properly depicted, such as when the KV-2’s loaders separately load the shell and propellant before firing. Other aspects openly defy physics, logic or both to amplify the sense of fun. This season’s Hai-Furi is employing similar techniques in its writing, and on the note of Hai-Furi, I did note that the episodic review for this week’s episode would be delayed if Girls und Panzer Der Film arrived first. I’ll be looking to push the eighth episode review out by no later than Friday, before the ninth episode is broadcast.

  • In order to buy Katyusha additional time and space, Nonna and the KV-2’s crews decide to stay behind and take on the incoming university tanks in a bid to get the others through. In conversations I’ve shared with friends pertaining to the movie’s plot, the equivalence of doing something similar in the real world would be to have a high school sports team taking on a university team. This setup for anything more than an exhibition match would be quite unbalanced, as the university team is expected to have superior training and experience. Since the university team in Girls und Panzer Der Film is stated to be an all-stars team, they’d likely consist of the top third and fourth year undergraduate students.

  • Despite ordering Nonna and the others to cease such an attempt, Katyusha finally breaks away from the combat and rejoins the main group. Her expression here suggests more than the mere loss of yet another tank and elimination of one of her closest confidants: she’s unlikely to have seen Panzerfahren of this calibre even from the likes of Black Forest.

  • There is a substantial difference between junior undergraduate students, and their older counterparts: the latter are generally more likely to analyse a problem and plan out the solutions before settling on one, while the former will jump straight into trying to work out an answer. University can be a humbling experience for even the best of students as they come to accept that the knowledge in this world is vast, and that one simply can’t know everything. With this in mind, the actions of the university team suggest that they’re senior undergraduate students: they do not lose their cool even when Ooarai manages to surprise them.

  • Alice Shimada is the commander for the university forces: touted as a genius in Panzerfahren, her approach is decidedly similar to Voldemort’s in that she prefers to hang out away from the main battle. Allowing their subordinates to whittle down the enemy forces, both Alice and Voldemort only enter a battle when they feel it necessary to apply their force. This stands in contrast to Miho, who, like Harry Potter, is willing to help her and his respective friends out by directly participating. Such a comparison is not meant to insinuate that Alice resembles Voldemort in any way, but rather, to demonstrate the similarities in their strategies for combat.

  • The Karl-Gerät (literally “Karl Device”) was a self-propelled siege mortar that could fire 21 to 24 inch shells out to anywhere from 4.32 to 10.6 kilometers depending on the mass of the shell loaded. Used during the Battle of the Bulge, against Soviet installations in Brest-Litovsk and Sevastopol, and against Polish resistance forces at Warsaw, the platforms required a crane to load the ammunition, could only move slowly and additional tanks to carry ammunition. Seven guns were built, six entered service and only one remains presently.

  • Since the Victoria Day Long Weekend, I’ve been remarkably busy: my thesis’ first draft was finished this week, and on Tuesday, I spent most of the day helping a friend restore his laptop after corrupt drivers and registry entries caused his OS to freeze intermittently. During the evening, I met with one of my friends from the medical school for a 10oz sirloin steak at Nick’s Steakhouse near campus: he had the week off before his medical school modules resume. On Wednesday, my supervisor was back on campus, and so, we finally set up the date for my Master’s Defense. My seminar presentation is reaching completion, and I’ll be giving a talk on that on the upcoming Friday.

  • On Thursday, I took the undergraduate summer students out to the Telus Spark Science Center to check out the Body Worlds exhibition with the hope of providing another source of inspiration for their projects. I had a Polish Poutine from the Happy Truck prior to leaving, a tasty platter of perogies and sausage covered in bacon, sour cream, scallions and sautéed onions on top of poutine. Yesterday, students from another campus were visiting our lab and the CAVE to get an idea of what some applications of VR were, and I later stepped out during the evening to play Exploding Kittens with said friend from medical school.

  • While the L3/33 failed to clear the bridge and flips over, Anzu drives the Hetzer onto the L3/33’s track, boosting it into a jump that allows it to clear the gap. This screenshot was one of the few that was posted shortly following the movie’s release back during November 21. During this time, I was reviewing Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka??‘s seventh episode and wondered when the film would be released: my site’s metrics at the time were showing a large spike of inbound searches containing the keywords “Girls und Panzer movie”.

  • The end result of that jump was not depicted in the single screenshot, but the movie affords us with more context: with the unerring skill she’s exhibited as a gunner, Anzu opens fire on the Karl-Gerät’s main cannon, mission-killing it and removing one of the most lethal forces the Ooarai forces faced up until this point. The in-movie depiction shows it as a powerful and modestly accurate weapon compared to its real-world counterparts, and numerous viewers thought it was downright un-American to give the already-powerful university team such a weapon. However, the effect of taking out this device is profound, showing that Ooarai simply won’t give in to the face of shock-and-awe tactics.

  • Continuation Academy fields a BT-42 self-propelled assault gun: built from captured Soviet tanks and British guns, only eighteen were built. Its relatively light armour and high turrent made it difficult to handle, but it could reach speeds of 53 km/h (compared to the M26’s 40 km/h). Mika, Aki and Mikko operate theirs to great effect against the university’s armour, and manage to stave off its tipping over long enough to net a few kills.

  • A shot from one of the Pershings knocks the BT-42 over for good, ending Mika et al.’s antics. Similar to how Darjeeling brings tea into combat with her, Mika plays a eleven-string Kantele, a traditional Finnish instrument that is related to other traditional string instruments such as the Guzheng and Koto. Voiced by Mamiko Noto, Mika appears to be a rather popular character, as I’ve seen plenty of fanart of her, and her name only has a Hamming Distance of 1 with Mikka Kipprusoff, a Finnish goaltender who played for the Calgary Flames between 2003 and 2013.

  • For Miho and her allies, the techniques and firepower employed by the university team would be an instance of shock and awe: it appears as though nothing they’ve got will work, and even Miho begins to doubt whether or not they can pull through. Because the schools each employ different styles, Miho suggests that each team divide into smaller units and engage the enemy using the styles that best fit with their approach, freeing each group to use their strengths.

  • Miho draws the university forces into a derelict amusement park, setting the stage for her preferred brand of combat. Miho’s forces tend to excel at close quarters combat, making use of terrain and the narrow passage ways to flank enemies and surprise them. Anzio’s L3/33 becomes well suited to act as an aerial reconnaissance unit, providing Miho and the others with information on where the university’s tanks are.

  • The Shimada style that Alice employs is said to be unpredictable and chaotic, similar to that of a ninja. However, a true ninja understands that patience is the key to victory, and the movie does not appear to portray the Shimada style in all of its glory: numerous Pershings are taken out in the close-quarters frenzy. As with the Gundam Unicorn finale post, I reference a variety of films and works here, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Batman Begins, and Harry Potter for amusement’s sake.

  • When the movie first came out in Japan, some individuals claimed that the T28 was the final boss in the movie and immediately drew the conclusion that it was picked because the T28 was considered to be an asset for the projected land invasion of Japan. Other remarks on the fairness of deploying this alongside a Karl-Gerät: while certainly indicative of MEXT aiming to force a university win, that Miho et al. continue to find ways, again and again, to best these suggest that Ooarai is determined enough to find ways of overcoming these situations.

  • While one of their initial feints fail, Chi-ha tan and the volleyball team disguise themselves in the scenery, taking pot shots at the university tanks as they pass. At some points, they’re able to inflict mobility kills and even manages to take out one of the Pershings. One very minor criticism I have about the audio aspects in Girls und Panzer Der Film is the fact that at some points, the tank cannons sound like Battlefield 3‘s HK 417.

  • Miscalculations result in the Ooarai tanks becoming surrounded in an ampitheatre. Lacking the firepower to effectively engage the university tanks, Rabbit team learns of clever solution in the form of a Ferris wheel. They shoot the hinges off, and the construct rolls towards the tanks amassed below, causing them to scatter. Out of curiosity, I created an abstraction of this scenario in Unreal Engine, and on the nine runs I attempted, the simulated Ferris Wheel did not achieve the trajectories or behaviours as seen in Girls und Panzer Der Film, so my inner Mythbuster will say that this one is busted.

“You never learned to mind your surroundings!” —Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne to Rā’s al Ghūl

  • While the Ferris Wheel stunt yields exactly zero kills, it accomplishes a critical task; creating a distraction that allows Ooarai’s forces to disperse and avoid annihilation. This moment shows how far the Rabbit team has come since their first match in the anime — while their firepower and armour are weak, they’ve managed to learn how to be innovative and quick-thinking, using the environment to their advantage. The quote here is sourced from Batman Begins during the final fight on the train.

  • Duels in the old west were done with revolvers rather than tanks, but there, in the old amusement park, tanks square off against one another. It’s a thrilling fight, appropriately set to Alfred Newman’s How The West Was Won theme, and the history buffs ustilise the terrain to their advantage; hiding their tank behind different façades, they manage to blow away several Pershings before the university students grow wise to their act and dispatches them.

  • The physical training the gamesrs undergo appears to have paid off, and here, they take out a Pershing tank but are dispatched shortly after. The remarks the university students exchange during the course of the match indicate that they are a rather haughty bunch, contrary to my experiences that undergraduates are generally more mature than high school students. With due respect, a focused group of undergrads working as a cohesive team would easily be more intimidating than one prodigy going on a killstreak.

  • This scene is quite similar to the setup seen in the 1991 GameBoy game, Battle City, where players control a tank to destroy enemy armour and prevent them from taking out the player’s base. I spent a fair amount of time playing through this game when I was younger, and even now, it remains reasonably entertaining. Of note is what happens if a player is careless enough to leave their base undefended: upon destruction, perspective is dragged to the destroyed base and the game ends regardless of how many lives the player had.

  • The T28 Superheavy tank (not to be confused with the Soviet T-28 Medium tank) was an American self-propelled gun prototype originally designed to punch through the Siegfried line and later considered for use in a potential land invasion of the Japanese island. Outfitted with upwards of 12 inches of frontal armour and packing a 105 mm gun, it would have resisted any weapons the Germans had, but the vehicle’s high mass and low speed made it highly impractical. Similar to the Maus, its presence appears merely for the shock and awe factor: Darjeeling contributes to its elimination by firing on it from under a viaduct.

  • Regard for the laws of physics are tossed out the window as Anchovy’s L3/33 drives straight onto a pond’s surface and skips across it. The pursing M26 narrowly misses falling in, but the Public Morals Committee land a shot, tipping it into the water. With Ooarai holding out against the university students on nearly even footing, Alice herself finally drives onto the battlefield, and like Voldemort, goes on an 11-killstreak that decimates most of Ooarai’s remaining forces.

“So…two Panzers oppose me. Me, the vessel filled with the collective will of the people!”

Gundam Unicorn finale, Full Frontal

  • The battle drops down to a two-on-one: it’s Miho and Maho vs Alice now. At the amusement park’s core, the tanks circle one another, seeking an opening to fire a killing shot. The Centurion that Alice commands is one of the first main battle tanks to be built: tanks of this class had armour that could repel fire from medium tanks, carried a gun that could render heavy tanks inoperable and had the maneuverability of light tanks. These “universal” tanks were made possible by using high output engines, and from the 1960s onward, MBTs began displacing medium tanks as the mainstay direct-fire armoured solutions for land forces..

  • During the course of their duel, Miho’s Panzer VI gradually suffers increasing damage from the Centurion’s QF 17-pounder gun, while her own weapons appear ineffectual. The dialogue cuts off here, and similar to the anime, chaotic camera angles and pot-shots at point-blank range dominate the fight. In the heat of battle, a self-propelled bear moves between the three combatants, halting hostilities for a fraction of a second.

  • Miho is willing to resort to means that total her equipment if it allows her to secure victory, and here, she makes use of the kinetic energy provided from a blank shell Maho’s Tiger I provides to push her tank forwards, allowing her to make one final charge towards Alice’s Centurion at high speeds. The closeups during this seen are quite telling: Maho’s expression is one of concern, and after Miho determinedly signals for her to do so, Maho fires.

  • The combined effort from both Nishizumi sisters is enough to take out Alice’s Centurion. A large number of the images in this post were captured while the flash or fireball was at its greatest, to allow the different images to more accurately capture the feel of a moment. At this point in the post, the total number of hours sunk into this exceeds even that of the Gundam Unicorn finale talk, which required a grand total of nine hours to complete.

  • Both Miho’s Panzer IV and Alice’s Centurion are disabled at the end of the match. However, Maho’s Tiger I is still intact and operational; with only a single tank left, Ooarai is able to claim victory in this battle, and this post is almost drawing to its conclusion. I ask myself, how much longer must I sit here enduring this before this post is done, and I answer myself, that it won’t be long now.

“It’s gone. It’s done.”
“Yes, Nishizumi-dono. It’s over now.”

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Frodo and Sam

  • The final score is totalled, and Ooarai wins by a very narrow margin: only Maho’s tank remains undefeated at the end of all things. With this, Ooarai will remain open, and attention thus turns to the future of the Girls und Panzer franchise. The scope and scale of Panzerfahren in this universe suggests that it would be possible to do another season, as there would be plenty of material that could be covered (e.g. Ooarai going professional, as Jeremy and Doug do in Pure Pwnage: T3h Movie) or even the training leading up to international competition.

  • Ami announces the results to an exuberant crowd. Continuing from the point in the previous figure caption, while I would certainly like to see a second season of Girls und Panzer, the production delays both the movie and anime faced, in conjunction with the movie seeking to outdo every aspect of Panzerfahren relative to the anime, means that it is unlikely that such a project will be done in the near future; if it’s announced, it’ll be quite far into the future. With this being said, I doubt that any continuations of Girls und Panzer will ever be as elusive as Half-Life 3.

  • The atmosphere around the stands is as joyous as watching the crowds at a stadium following a Stanley Cup victory. This year, the finals will feature the San Jose Sharks against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and I will be rooting for the Sharks. My home team, the Flames, fell out of the playoff race back in February; last year, they made it to the second round before falling to the Anaheim Ducks, but for the upcoming year, I hope that we’ll have another shot at the Stanley Cup.

  • The MEXT officer recoils in shock while the Federation Director celebrates. We’re now approaching the post’s end, and thus, I have a few remarks about this post as a whole: there’s no getting around the fact that it’s gargantuan, and in addition, it was written by one person. Consequently, errors could be floating around in this post. I will be happy to correct them as they are found, but in the spirit of good discussion, I also ask readers to leave comments for what they thought of the movie in conjunction with said corrections. Having feedback is nice, but I’m also interested in seeing what people thought of the movie.

  • Miho and the others bow deeply, thanking everyone at the other schools for helping them out of this pinch. I’ll drop by and address the opening quote once more, specifically pertaining to the phrase “唯快不破”. A phrase commonly seen in Chinese movies involving Kung Fu, it literally translates to “Speed alone avoids damage”, referring to the notion that speed is essential to good martial arts. In Panzerfahren, this concept applies in seizing the initiative to control the battle, and while Miho is out-gunned every time, her speed comes in the form of being able to adapt to a situation as things change.

  • The end of this match further sees Shiho’s character development, and as such, I no longer disapprove of her ways now. Both she and Shimada now look forwards to a time when they can both partake in a friendly match with one another. It appears that Anime North is occurring this weekend, and their schedule shows several Girls und Panzer panels, leading me to wonder how extensive the Girls und Panzer presence will be at this year’s Anime Expo. Tempting this may be, I have a conference in the Yucatán Peninsula to attend, so I’ll take a pass on all anime conventions for the present.

  • As the ending credits roll, and ChouCho’s “Piece of Youth” begins playing, I finally reach the end of this post, which took some thirteen hours to write and is a beast of 10776 words in length (about the length of one of the longer chapters in my thesis). To summarise, Girls und Panzer Der Film was a highly enjoyable watch. Between the well-choreographed battles, detailed artwork, animation and solid musical elements, the film’s strengths lie in its combat sequences. The narrative factors are not as compelling as those of the TV series, but overall, I feel that the film has satisfied my expectations of the movie: the detractors are present, but do not critically damage the enjoyment factor. If asked to deliver a numerical score, Girls und Panzer Der Film would earn an 8 of 10, or A-, in my books. Now that this post is done, I’m going to catch some sleep, and then prepare for my graduate department seminar, which by comparison, will be a little more straightforwards than writing this post…

Whole-movie reflection and closing remarks

While the motivation for partaking in a gargantuan battle against a university team is insubstantial, Girls und Panzer Der Film nonetheless succeeds in capturing the same combat elements atmosphere that made the anime successful; even when applied to the silver screen format, all of the technical elements remain consistently solid. In being able to depict the underdog story with a reasonable balance between realism and theatrics, Girls und Panzer Der Film is more similar to a sports film rather than a war film, with positive messages about friendship, sportsmanship and determination being reinforced throughout every aspect of the movie. Therefore, when asked as to whether or not Girls und Panzer Der Film lives up to expectations, especially in light of increasing expectations as the movie’s release was continuously pushed back, the answer is quite simple. While the film’s narrative is weaker, it rides on the combat sequences and existing themes from the anime to deliver a movie that fits with these expectations reasonably well. The wait for the film is finally over, and three years since the first announcements, Girls und Panzer Der Film can finally be chalked up as one for the books, delivering a riveting (even if somewhat derivative) story that is a must-watch for all fans of Girls und Panzer, evoking recollections of everything that had made the original anime so enjoyable to watch. The movie may be a little disorienting for individuals who have not seen the original anime, especially since there is very little time spent in depicting character exposition: much of the movie is dedicated towards the armoured warfare, and while there is a three-minute tutorial that summarises everything in Girls und Panzer adequately, this only makes the movie slightly easier to follow. Girls und Panzer Der Film was plainly meant for existing fans of the series, but even though new fans might be lost with all the characters and intricacies of Panzerfahren, the movie’s main attraction is superb. Although the film has not done anything particularly innovative compared to its predecessor, the execution in Girls und Panzer Der Film illustrates that the format has been successfully extended to the silver-screen, yielding a satisfying and exciting movie that comfortably occupies two hours. Overall, for returning fans, Girls und Panzer Der Film earns a strong recommendation, and for new viewers, the film earns a weak recommendation; even if some things are unwieldy to follow, the combat sequences are remarkably well-done. So, if my final verdict is a little ambiguous, it’s as follows: I thoroughly enjoyed Girls und Panzer Der Film, and while there are some things that work against it, ultimately, this movie was superlatively fun to watch.

Girls und Panzer Der Film Sequel OVA: Alice War!

“I can see the school ship. The lights in our classroom. Yukari’s home. The open field where we keep our tanks.” —Frodo, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

In the aftermath of the match against the university all-stars team, Alice Shimada decides to transfer to Ooarai, yearning to experience life as a high school student. Anzu requests Miho to show Alice around and accentuate the strong points about the Ooarai school ship. Hearing this news, the other tank groups start considering how to best give her a warm reception by means of their specialisations, in the process growing excited as they consider how their own backgrounds might mesh with Alice’s interests. Miho is particularly excited at the prospect of having another Boco fan at Ooarai, but decides to simply present an ordinary high school experience for Alice. Unfortunately, Alice has been afflicted by sea-sickness, and so, Miho and the others try to help her recover. Once she no longer feels seasick, she sits through a few classes and meets the different teams. Of the teams, she warms up to Miho’s group; they take her to a local ice cream shop and visit a convenience store before having an extravagant dinner at Miho’s apartment. Later that evening, Miho and Alice watch a Boco movie together and Miho mentions that the single most enjoyable aspect as a high school student is the opportunity to spend time with her friends. The next day, Alice consents to transfer in but declines before the deal is sealed, when she learns that she won’t be able to face Miho in battle should she agree.

Girls und Panzer der Film is over, and this OVA acts as a nice epilogue to the movie’s events. Whereas the movie emphasised armoured warfare over all else, this OVA is a return to the more laid-back, slice-of-life side of things that the anime depicted in excellent detail; in fact, the OVA’s naming convention puts it as being seventh in line in the series of “[something] War!” OVAs that were released with the TV series back during 2013. Bringing back all of the different team’s eccentricities, it was most welcoming to see everyone relax and partake in their old lives following the match. Through the OVA, Miho’s normality despite being such a fearsome tanker and simple wish to be with her friends draws Alice’s attention; although the movie was not able to depict it, the OVA fills in the remaining questions about what happened post-game. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the movie, and although the movie would have benefited from having this integrated into its runtime (it would have only added another nine minutes or so), I’m surmising that the decision to make it separate was to encourage purchase of the home-release editions.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Before we delve into this modestly-sized review of twenty images any further, I want to make one thing clear: the correct spelling for Alice is “alpha-lima-india-charlie-echo”, not “alpha-romeo-india-sierra-uniform”. A lot of sources have been spelling Alice’s name as “Arisu”, but the Katakana アリス returns to the English equivalent of “Alice”. Therefore, Alice Shimada will simply be referred to as Alice in all my posts.

  • This is a photograph of the winning team with Alice. One of the most notable achievements Girls und Panzer pulled off in my books was the fact that by the end of the TV series, even if I could not name everyone readily, I could immediately associate them with an interest, team name and tank. Not very many anime have succeeded in doing so, and at present, Hai-Furi‘s large cast has done very little to help me recall all of their names: I only can remember the bridge crew members by name.

  • In almost all of my posts, I do not have any images of the volleyball club’s members in their volleyball uniforms: they’re usually seen manning their Type 89 against superior enemy armour.  So, to rectify that, I’ve supplied an image of them here. Here, they wonder whether or not Alice is into volleyball, and failing that, consider turning their club into a hybrid group that might fit Alice’s interests.

  • Momo asks the different teams to see what ideas they might have for welcoming Alice on board, and each team’s suggestions, mirroring their own interests (including the gamer’s proposed 24-hour LAN party), are promptly rejected. Miho, being the most down-to-earth of anyone, simply suggests that everyone conduct themselves as they normally would.

  • When Alice arrives, she’s striken with seasickness: while there are numerous medications that can be purchased over-the-counter or via prescription to combat the symptoms, they usually have a range of unpleasant side-effects, too. This brings to mind a trip I took with my junior high class nearly ten years ago to the Pacific West Coast: while crossing the Strait of Georgia, the angry seas knocked out everyone save myself: I was standing on the deck of the vessel and gazed at the horizon to mitigate the effects.

  • Anzu’s countermeasure proves to have only a placebo effect, as Alice is now distracted by the potato resting on her forehead. Here, Miho and the others learn that Panzerfahren teams for universities are located on land: Alice is unaccustomed to the motions of a boat, although the large size of the Ooarai carrier provides enough stability for her to recover.

  • After being outfitted with a Ooarai’s uniform, Alice goes for a tour of Ooarai. I was half-expecting the other schools to be present, as well, but I’m guessing that of everyone, Anzio is present to offset the fact that they had limited screentime during the anime proper.

  • So begins Alice’s tour of the facilities around Ooarai. I recall when I first began university many years ago, and the campus layout was completely foreign to me: after my first tour, I went the long way around the library trying to reach the bus stop, only to learn later that the bus stop was only a short walk away from the library.

  • After seeing a tea ceremony, misogi and what appears to be ninja training, Alice remarks that all of the activities look quite interesting. In the background, a trainee manages to take flight on a kite, a callout to the book “Koga Ninjutsu Gokuhi”, where Genzo Hattori, a ninja, infiltrated a castle to torch it by means of descending unto it via a kite. This sounds perfect for a Mythbusters episode, and it is likely the myth would be busted, since a kite is inherently difficult to maneuver and unlikely to generate enough lift to slow a person’s descent.

  • The history buffs share a conversation with Alice for the first time, and she’s familiar with everyone’s names, impressing the history club. She seems a little intimidated by the excitement factor that most of the clubs exhibit when meeting her for the first time and takes limited interest in the volleyball club.

  • Shifting gears, Alice sates the first-years’ desires to be called senpai: this is somewhat of a big deal in Japan, since seniority is greatly respected. This concept is particularly prevalent in some types of anime, and has resulted in the meme “Senpai noticed me” (or any of its derivatives), although the precise origins of this line remains unknown.

  • Unlike the others, Alice seems to be more comfortable around Miho and her friends; Saori asks if Alice would like to visit Ooarai’s Boco museum, and she agrees to hang with them after classes for a spot of tea.

  • Tea turns to ice cream; Miho and the others bring Alice to the same ice cream shoppe that Miho visited during Girls und Panzer‘s first episode after befriending Saori and Hana. The first episode betrayed nothing about the anime, and while initial responses to the series were lukewarm, the increasing suspense and ferocity of armoured warfare won audiences over very quickly.

  • Saori and the others prepare a spectacular dinner to celebrate the occasion of Alice’s transfer to Ooarai, featuring nabe and a variety of other foods. Nearly three years ago, when Ooarai defeated Black Forest in the championships, they celebrated with a fancy banquet and putting on a hidden talents contest. It’s quite surprising to look back and see that three years have elapsed so quickly: on the day I published that post, heavy rainfalls resulted in some of the most severe flooding in my area for the past century.

  • With Girls und Panzer Der Film now concluded, the next biggest thing on my horizon is the thesis defense examination, set a little less than a month from today. This will be the toughest examination I’ve taken since my undergraduate defense and the MCAT, although unlike the MCAT, I’ve had two years of prep time compared to the MCAT’s four months; I’ve been reading papers on related work and studying my implementation since I started, so at least this time, I’ll have a little more readiness.

  • With the evening meal over, Miho’s friends return home, while Alice stays overnight in a sleepover. Her Boco pajamas are quite adorable and also appears quite warm, bringing to mind the pajamas seen in Yuru Yuri.

  • One of the reasons why Alice and Miho get along so well is because they’re both Boco fans. Miho suggests that they watch a movie together, and Alice immediately accepts. The spelling seems to vary, and most translations give the spelling as “Boko”. However, as the signs in the Boco museum spell it with a “charlie” rather than “kilo”, that is the spelling I’ve opted to go for in all of my posts.

  • When Alice asks why Miho enjoys high school, Miho responds that it’s the opportunity to be with her friends everyday that make it fun. Miho’s reply evokes memories of my days in high school, which were spent with my friends as we discussed computers, games and Gundam while steamrolling through the classes. Although we continued to hang out in university, our paths also began diverting: it’s not implausible that Alice’s days as a university student can sometimes be quite lonely, especially if the others in the Panzerfahren club are not in the same major as her.

  • We’ve reached the end of this post, and while it’s difficult for me to determine whether or not my Girls und Panzer Der Film review and its screenshot collection is definitively the first, I think it’s safe to say that I do have the internet’s first review of the OVA included with the movie. The page quote comes from The Return of the King after Frodo destroys the One Ring and is meant to evoke Miho’s feelings after saving Ooarai a second time. This post is now finished, and I will be returning to regular programming with the next post: the review for Hai-Furi‘s eighth episode will come out soon, and I’ll be wrapping up my thoughts on Valkyria Chronicles quite soon, as well.

Overall, Girls und Panzer der Film‘s OVA serves as a quiet, low-key and appropriate conclusion to the Girls und Panzer movie’s run. Alice’s choice of action here suggests that she now views Miho as another worthy opponent, and I remark that for the most part, high school students are generally bright folks (I back this claim up through my numerous presentations, where they’ve asked some rather interesting and thoughtful questions about my research). Her final decision to not join Ooarai is a bit of comedy near the end, and as such, the status quo at Ooarai seems to be restored. Where the Girls und Panzer franchise goes next is the biggest question now; the franchise has left itself open to future adaptations, and with a solid reception, a second season would be quite probable. With that being said, Girls und Panzer is equally well-known for its delayed productions as it is for delivering an incredibly entertaining product, so I imagine that any sort of continuation would occur quite far down the line. For the present, Girls und Panzer concludes on a high note, and after a three-year wait, the film and its extras have fulfilled expectations.

Dawn of Rebellion: Mobile Suit Gundam- The Origin Episode Three Reflection

“It is a principle of diplomacy that one must know something of the truth in order to lie convincingly.” —Tom Clancy, The Hunt for Red October

Around six months have elapsed between now and when The Origin‘s second episode aired. Casval and Char prepare to board a flight outbound for Munzo, but realising that there’s a price on his head, Casval plants an antique revolver in Char’s baggage and offers to swap places with him so the latter won’t miss the entrance ceremony. As Casval predicts, the flight is sabotaged. Now taking on the identity of Char Aznable and shedding his old name, he enrolls at the Zeon military academy and begins his training. His remarkable prowess for both physical and cognitive coursework eventually draws Garma Zabi’s ire, but when he looks after Garma following an accident during a training exercise, the two strike up a cordial friendship. A collision between a Federation and civilian vessel sparks unrest in Munzo, and when the Federation resorts to lethal force, Char suggests to Garma that they directly assault the Federation garrison on Munzo. Garma succeeds in rallying the other trainees, and in what would eventually become the Dawn Rebellion, manages to force the Federation forces to stand down. Char is given his iconic mask here by Lino Fernandez, his former roommate, and although the latter persists in trying to gain Char’s trust, Char views him as a future liability, orchestrating his former roommate’s death during the chaos while they attempt to take the Federation garrison.

This third episode of The Origin illustrates Char as a charismatic leader, whose remarkable talents is matched by a highly intimidating presence and uncommon skill in setting up situations to work in his favour. He views death as a necessary element in realising his plans, and bears sociopathic tendencies, feeling no remorse in sacrificing the original Char or Lino to drive his machinations forward. Despite these attributes, Char never comes across as arrogant; Char maintains a polite manner even while working to manipulate situations. In the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Char’s objective was revenge against the Zabi family, and to this end, he makes extensive use of deception to achieve his means. The Origin illustrates that Char is a deft hand at employing this deception even at the military academy, and in a way, he might be considered to be responsible for the One Year War by encouraging Garma to lead the rebellion against the Federation forces, driving hostilities between the EFSF and Principality of Zeon further. In the background, mobile suit development continues: with Dr. Minovsky announcing a miniturised fusion reactor, the mobile suits come closer to the forms that are seen in the Universal Century.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • As a The Origin post, I’ve got thirty screenshots, rather than the usual twenty, since the episodes are longer and also quite conducive towards discussion: the overall writing and pacing in this episode are impressive, and some have even considered this OVA to surpass some of the classics, such as Gundam 0080, 08th MS Team, and Gundam Unicorn in terms of narrative strength.

  • The Zabi family sabotages the flight, thinking that they’re rid of Casval once and for all. During this explosion, the original Char Aznable dies, and Casval subsequently takes his name, arriving by the next flight and enrolling at the Zeon military academy in Char’s place. From here on out, Casval Zum Deikun will be referred to as Char for consistency’s sake, and any references to the old Char will be clearly marked as such.

  • Right from the beginning, the original Char’s friends remark that Char’s changed quite a bit over the summer: the original Char was more jovial and melodramatic in some places, whereas Casval is more serious, focused and less predisposed for banter. He dons a pair of sunglasses to conceal the fact that his eye colour differs from the original Char’s, and as a cover story, states that the shades are to protect his vision from decay.

  • One of the questions that some viewers have posed is why Federation officiers are present at the Zeon’s opening ceremony, and the answer to that is that at this point in time,Munzo is merely an autonomous colony. The Zeon military academy is training individuals for the militia, a separate element from the EFSF’s main forces that (on paper) answers to Federation officers. On an unrelated note, the page quote for this discussion comes from Char’s deception.

  • With the opening ceremonies past, Char and the others begin training: Char’s academic and athletic performance is impressive, and he quickly becomes noticed at the academy. In fact, his performance makes Speedy Gonzales look like regular Gonzales (this line comes from Futurama‘s “War is the H Word”, where Leela disguises herself as a male soldier to prevent Fry and Bender from dying when they join the army and are sent to neutralise the balls on Sphereon I. Like Char, she also sports a pair of shades and performs very well in physical exercises.

  • During a lecture, Char attempts to help Garma answer a problem backfires, and Garma’s friends threaten Char. Without laying a finger on any of them, Char manages to frighten them with a glare reminiscent of John Clark and Sam Driscoll’s glares: in Tom Clancy novels, some of the characters with extensive field experience are able to defuse an argument or make their intentions clear with a look.

  • Although powerful, Dozle’s mobile suit programme is hampered by the lack of a suitable power supply and Gihren orders the research scrapped, thinking that there is no future for mobile suit warfare. However, Dr. Minovsky himself steps in and introduces a hypercompact fusion reactor that possesses the same output as a standard reactor while having a much smaller size. This power supply further generates Minovsky particles, known in the Universal Century for its electronics disruption and communications jamming properties.

  • A prototype Zaku I is shown here: Minovsky states that the future of warfare, in the face of Minovsky particles, will be a departure away from long-range precision munitions and return to close-quarters confrontations. Despite having inferior numbers to the EFSF military, the mobile suit will change the face of warfare forever: after the One-Week War forces a ban on WMD, the mobile suits that Zeon possesses proves superior to anything the Federation has, tipping the war seemingly in favour of the Zeon forces.

  • It’s now been a little more than two years since the finale to Gundam Unicorn aired; that episode was a veritable masterpiece and resulted in the largest blog post I’ve ever written up until now, spanning some 9000 words and featuring 75 images. That feat will be matched by the upcoming Girls und Panzer Der Film. I had written the Gundam Unicorn finale post after a memorable Victoria Day Long Weekend in 2014, and this year, while I spent much of the Long Weekend working on my thesis (the first draft is about a half-day from being finished now), this break was also quite enjoyable.

  • This year, my Long Weekend started on Friday, which I took off to get the figures into the paper and, after stepping out for a chicken-and-bacon melt sandwich, spent the afternoon playing through Star Wars: Battlefront‘s trial to experience the heroes and survival gameplay. A more detailed post will come out on that at some point in the near future. Saturday was spent gathering and inserting the remaining figures into the thesis, but there was also enough time to watch Hai-Furi. We had honey garlic and buffalo boneless wings, plus a supreme and Canadian pizza for our evening meal. Then, I spent most of yesterday out shopping for new clothing and went to the China Palace for dinner. Today was dedicated towards wrapping up odds and ends in the paper. The rain persisted for most of the Long Weekend, but it’s much-welcomed, and overall, I’m quite happy, since I was able to push the thesis paper’s first draft to near completion, enough to find time and write the review for this episode of The Origin.

  • The prospect of highly maneuverable platforms carrying nearly as much firepower as a battlecrusier is most appealing to Dozle, hence his support for the programme. When Gihren learns that the matter of a power supply has been solved, he rescinds his order and demands that mobile suit development be given full priority, to Dozle’s joy. This head start allows the Zeon forces to have the advantage in the early days of the war.

  • While participating on a 40-kilometer hike, Char and Garma are neck-and-neck for first place. Whereas Char is merely determined, Garma grows tired of being out-performed by Char on all occasions. A scheduled rainfall forces both to stop, and while Char is resting, Garma pushes ahead but falls into the ravine, injuring himself. Char arrives, and while the camera angles imply that Char will follow Garma’s taunts and finish the latter off, Char merely is fashioning a makeshift shelter to keep the rain off Garma.

  • Char makes it clear that he has no intention of mocking Garma, and although Char is driven by revenge against the Zabi family for assassinating Zeo Zum Deikun, Char is patient, waiting years to reach a position where he is able to take revenge. While both Char and Talia al Ghul of The Dark Knight Rises utilise plans that involve manipulating the individuals around them, the latter’s plans are much more complex and therefore, more prone to failure: Char uses more direct approaches to defeat the Zabi family.

  • Thus, after this exercise, Char and Garma come to be on friendly terms: the latter even requests that the two be roommates, and in spite of Char’s sharp remarks, seems okay with Char’s personality. However, Char’s friendship is merely a sham: by the events of Mobile Suit Gundam, he finally reveals his deceit, deliberately misinforming Garma on the position of White Base, and Garma dies in the resulting attack.

  • Back at the Texas Colony, Artesia has also matured and resolves to be a medical doctor: touched by the sorrow and losses she’s experienced, she feels that a career in medicine would allow her to perhaps help others out and reduce the sorrow in the world. She enrolls at a medical school at Side 7 and meets Amuro Ray here when Char leads an attack on Side 7.

  • Artesia feels that it is unlikely that Casval could have truly died on board the sabotaged flight and wonders if he’s not alive somewhere. Char and Artesia do not meet again until the One Year War starts, and despite the time that’s elapsed, Char still cares greatly for Artesia, giving her the funds to move away from the conflict.

  • After an immensely successful mock-combat exercise, Char asks a commanding officer whether or not their forces, training in asymmetrical warfare, are merely scapegoats meant to accentuate the superior firepower of the other Federation forces to dissuade other Sides from considering independence. The officer strikes him across the face for alleged insubordination, but Char’s calm resolve and the other students eventually force the officer to recover Char’s sunglasses. Both instances show the charisma that Char radiates, and for this reason, he becomes a very effective figure in a leadership role.

  • Things further worsen when an EFSF battleship and civilian vessel collide: the battleship’s main engines detonate and propel it straight into an agricultural coloney, leading to its total destruction. Char and Garma are on duty, clearing away the debris, when they notice a Federation troop-carrier deployed. Char immediately deduces that their objective will be to use force to pacify the growing unrest at Munzo.

  • The protests arising on Munzo come in response to the Federation’s refusal to take responsibility for the destruction of an agricultural colony, and soon turn into riots when the Federation begin employing lethal containment measures, opening fire on the rioters with small arms and even main battle tanks.

  • As the situation worsens, Char decides to take action, motivating Garma to lead the other recruits in a daring assault against the Federation compound. This scene demonstrates another aspect of Char: he plans his actions meticulously to ensure that things will go accordingly to plan, and even when the unexpected occurs (such as Lino deducing his identity), he remains quite calm, taking time to assess the situation and devise a suitable solution that works best in the long term.

  • Lino gives Char a prototype of his iconic mask here to continue concealing his identity, and while Char appears quite grateful, he also suspects that Lino could be a liability in the long run. Char’s mask later matures into the version seen in Mobile Suit Gundam as he grows accustomed to wearing one, and I imagine that come the fourth OVA, audiences will have a chance to see Char in full combat (i.e. a scene lasting much longer than what was seen in the first episode).

  • Hiding his own doubts and rallying the other recruits, Garma orders everyone to sortie in their APCs. Resembling modern day APCs, the vehicles used at the academy are outfitted as self-propelling mortars and also have a heavy machine guns. Both weapons are used to great effect in the recruit’s assault on the Federation base: catching them completely by surprise, the trainees manage to disorient their enemy.

  • Zenna Mia holds Dozle at gunpoint while trying to buy the others enough time to reach their objective and begin the operation, but Dozle quickly overpowers her and demands to know who’s leading this unauthorised operation. He relents when he learns that Garma is in command of the entire operation, and Zenna’s words suggest that no one is aware that Char had planned out the entire operation. Zenna later marries Dozle and they have a daugher, Mineva Lao Zabi (Gundam Unicorn‘s Audrey Burne).

  • Back in the heat of things, lead by Char, the trainees mount a terrifyingly effective assault against the Federation forces, making use of shoulder-fired rockets and assault rifles to damage facilities and take down foot mobiles. Char orders Lino to commandeer an enemy tank after losing one of their APCs, and takes advantage of the chaos to order the other trainees to fire on this tank, culminating in Lino’s death.

  • For higher mobility, Char and the other trainees use a jetpack to maneuver quickly around the base. The coordination that the trainees fight with attest to Char’s leadership and organisational qualities: while plainly useful in a military setting, these skills are also applicable to any setting involving management, and one of my aims is to eventually take on more project management experience.

  • While Lino takes heavy fire from blue forces, Char remarks that he is no longer Casval, having fully taken on his identity as Char Aznable. He reaches the command center and negotiates a surrender with the Federation officers, who are completely bewildered that the trainees could coordinate and organise a successful assault of this scale.

  • I generally found Federation forces to be depicted as reasonable throughout other Gundam set in the Universal Century (save Zeta Gundam), and so found it easier to support their causes and goals. Their presence in the third The Origin episode, however, felt distinctly cowardly and complacent, and so, it became quite easy to see why Zeon was pushing for independence. 

  • With the operation complete, Dozle is relieved to learn that Garma is safe, and Char remarks that there’s a nice quality about the colour red. The Federation eventually withdraws their forces, and the narration states that this is perhaps the first element that sparks the One Year War only a year later. This is what the fourth episode of The Origin will depict; besides Lalah, it is possible that several major combat operations and even the RX-78 II will be depicted.

  • As with Yu-Yu’s “Hourglass of Stardust”, the third episode of The Origin has a fantastic ending song in Ko Shibasaki’s  “Eternal Astraea”. At this time, I have no idea when it will come out, but I do know that I loved the song. After the credits finish rolling, the focus switches to Amuro and his father as they travel to Side 7, which is under construction. Amuro’s father asks him to help out with the family, since he will be quite busy.

  • Once their flight arrives, Amuro steps out into Side 7 for the first time: the colony is filled with construction cranes and is where Amuro will call home until the events of the One Year War. Nine months after its start, Char pursues Federation forces carrying a Gundam, the Federation’s answer to the Zeon Zaku IIs. With this last image, this post comes to an end, and over the next few days, I’ll aim to roll out a post on Valkyria Chronicles, which I’ve finally finished. The upcoming weekend, whether or not I will have a post for Hai-Furi out on time will depend largely on the timing for when my copy of Girls und Panzer Der Film arrives.

The Origin‘s third episode firmly establishes Char’s new-found identity, and as such, the stage is now set for Char to demonstrate his skill as a mobile suit pilot. Moving into the fourth and final of the OVAs, titled “Fateful Eve”, it’s likely that rumours about how it will follow Operation British and the Battle of Loum will hold true. This is logical; the third episode of The Origin wraps up during UC 0078, and the One Year War began in UC 0079. Although this war devastated both the EFSF and Zeon forces, it will be thrilling to watch the opening salvos of the One Year War (and perhaps even the One Week War) remastered. With a total of only four OVAs announced, it’s unlikely that all of the major battles during the One Year War will be shown, but given that Amuro Ray’s now made an appearance in two of the last three The Origin episodes, and the fact that the fourth OVA will cover a bit of Lalah’s background, as well as the RX-78 II’s development, it is possible that audiences will be treated to an HD, modernised version of Char and his Zaku II squaring off against Amuro’s RX-78 II. There is quite a bit of possibility as to what will actually happen in the fourth OVA, but at present, the fourth OVA’s release date is only enigmatically set as “early 2017”, which puts the release date as being at minimum, seven to eight months away.

In a Stormy Pinch!- High School Fleet (Hai-Furi) Episode Seven Impressions and Review

“又制水真正受氣,
又制水的確係無謂,
又制水今晚點沖涼,
成晚要乾煎真撞鬼” —Sam Hui, 制水歌

The Harekaze’s internal freshwater supply is depleted, forcing the girls to conserve water. However, they soon encounter a storm and while trying to replenish their water, receive a distress signal from a civilian vessel. Trying to keep her promise to Mashiro, Akeno reluctantly agrees not to lead the rescue team and have Mashiro go in her steed. While most of the passengers are safely evacuated, a couple asks Mashiro to rescue their cat. Venturing deeper into the vessel, Mashiro finds the cat but is trapped by rising waters. She’s later rescued by a Blue Mermaid team and the cat takes a liking to her. Akeno recounts a story about why she considers everyone to be a family at sea, and Minami passes a report to the Blue Mermaids on her vaccine’s development. This week’s episode of Hai-Furi is similar to the previous episode, taking on a much slower pace compared to the earlier episodes in that there is no conflict, and instead, capitalises on this time to delve into the characters’ backgrounds and have them mature through their experiences.

Hai-Furi‘s seventh episode yields more background on Akeno: her fear of lightning stems from losing her family when a vessel she was on sank during a heavy storm, leaving her with a strong desire to protect those on the oceans. Coupled with Moeka’s words about how everyone on the seas is family, it would appear that Akeno is aiming to rediscover her sense of family through serving as a Blue Mermaid. Her actions are driven by familial and interpersonal values, such as keeping one’s word and loyalty, and as such, it’s not difficult to imagine that Akeno’s values, paired with additional discipline and reminders that families are about two-way interactions, could make her worthy of the captain’s position. Mashiro also gains more development in this week’s episode: her fear of cats is overcome by her sense of duty, and even in the face of bad luck, she pushes forwards. When her flashlight fails, it seems that Mashiro’s claims might finally hold true, but this is strictly a matter of perspective; she smashes the flashlight against the ventilation duct’s walls in frustration, alerting the Blue Mermaids to her position. Mashiro is rescued shortly after: had her flashlight not failed, this particular chain of events would not have occurred, and in turn, she would have taken longer to return to the Harekaze. After seven episodes, Hai-Furi‘s characters are finally beginning to mature and grow through their interactions with one another.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The page quote comes from Sam Hui’s 制水歌 (lit. “water regulation song”), a cover of Paul Simon’s “Mother and Child Reunion” that was used in the movie Games Gamblers Play; in his lyrics, the song states that it’s tricky to maintain good hygiene when the government is implementing rules to conserve water. The accompanying music video has Hui keeping clean with decreasing amounts of water, until he finally decides to bathe at Queen’s Pier using sea water (the location was demolished in 2008).

  • The lack of water leads Akeno to look through the ship to see if there’s any damaged components, but this turns out to be unfruitful. Thus, water conservation measures are enacted across the Harekaze: the girls even shower using sea water, although they would require a special soap; the salt crystals in sea water would stick to the skin and be remarkably uncomfortable.

  • This week’s Hai-Furi discussion comes out much earlier than it did last week because my thesis paper is almost there now. I’ve taken a bit of a break to write this post, and once this is done, I go back to take care of what’s left: updating my table of PDB structures used so the authors are included, properly label all of the figure captions, and finally, add in-text cross-references to each figure. It’s been a brutal week: since Monday, I’ve spent around six to eight hours each day working on the thesis, and it’s a monstrosity that exceeds 130 pages now.

  • Naturally, I’ll need to start trimming it before I can go and defend my research, but on the plus side, it looks like I can finish the thesis’ full first draft by Monday. Back in Hai-Furi, Mashiro is seemingly not too good with carbonated beverages, and in a bit of irony, I had a “ginger beer” non-alcoholic beverage for lunch. This was strongly carbonated, and my nose itches from it. I’m normally quite fond of carbonated soft drinks, preferring them over alcohol, but generally, I do not agree to well with sparkling water.

  • After sailing into a storm, the girls’ first inclination is to set out vessels for catching the rainwater, bringing to mind Les Stroud’s use of rain as a source of freshwater whenever he’s out at sea: during the Belize and Cook Island episodes of Survivorman, he catches rainwater for drinking: tropical rains are indeed intense enough to drop a sufficient amount of water for consumption, and it’s, for the most part, quite safe to drink.

  • In general, a shower of 10 minutes will save water relative to a bath, and anything beyond that is a waste of water. Such conditions allow Hai-Furi to include another moment of fanservice, which I’ve included into this post. I imagine that it would be quite comfortable to shower in the rain in tropical conditions under some cases, but in the prairies, showers are generally cold: doing so would almost certainly result in a cold.

  • The weather over the past few days has been overcast, grey and cool; it’s the Victoria Day Long Weekend, and this year, the forecast calls for rain. We’ve already had a few days of much-welcomed rain, and a few more days with rain will be quite beneficial for the dry conditions that have persisted in the province. For the most part, the fires in the northern regions have moved away from Fort McMurray now, and continued weather will allow the remaining hot spots to be dealt with.

  • It’s not all fun and games for the girls of the Harekaze: the storm intensifies, and everyone retreats indoors. A few lightning strikes has Akeno recoiling, including one bolt that hits a mast dead-on. It’s quite common for folks to become anxious during a thunderstorm, and I used to hate thunderstorms for their thunder: these days, I’ll be okay so as long as I’m inside, away from the spots that make me the shortest path for the potential difference to move along.

  • While it prima facie appears that Akeno is frightened of the lightning and thunder itself, she later reveals that storms bring up an unpleasant memory for her: one of the ships she was riding in began sinking during a storm, and while crews were able to rescue her, Akeno’s parents were lost. This is Hai-Furi‘s equivalent of Miho’s story with Panzerfahren: in Girls und Panzer‘s seventh episode, Miho explains why she wished to get away from Panzerfahren.

  • Below-deck, Mashiro is studying while Wilhelmina and Kouko are watching an old war film. Akeno retreats here, but the Harekaze soon gets a distress call from another vessel in the area. By this point, the storm is over, allowing the girls to focus fully on the task at hand.

  • Deciding that Akeno needs to remain with the ship, Mashiro steps up to the plate to act as the squad leader for the rescue team. It seems that Akeno is more willing to think of her duties on board the Harekaze as being more akin to that of a friend rather than a captain, and as such, acts contrary to military protocol. However, there are times where the two overlap, and Akeno sees Mashiro’s request here as a promise between friends as opposed to orders. She thus consents to stay and leaves Mashiro to lead the others.

  • Mashiro’s constant attributing her circumstances to bad luck is at best an irritation, and at worst, is a source of demoralisation for those under her command. Wilhelmina remarks that the start of a rescue operation is no time to be pessimistic, and Sun Tzu said that a leader must appear confident so the subordinates can feel at ease in carrying out their duties.

  • While the girls are equipped to carry out a rescue operation, the start is somewhat shaky since no one appears to have trained for this previously: someone remarks that they would have desired a manual to help them carry out the next step, but soon, this doubt gives way to action as the girls begin boarding the sinking vessel to rescue the survivors. Mashiro goes looking for another passenger when a couple says they’ve lost someone.

  • It turns out that this someone is a cat, and while Mashiro manages to locate said cat, the vessel is rapidly taking on water, trapping her in a shopping area. Deciding to fight her doubts and fear of cats, she crawls into a ventilation duct with the aim of making it out with the cat. However, she tears her skirt and depletes her flashlight’s power supply along the way, very nearly giving up until she hears voices topside.

  • The Harekaze’s crew do an admirable job, keeping the situation in check until the Blue Mermaids themselves arrive in a blimp. The fastest blimp recorded is the Zeppelin Luftshifftechnik LZ N07-100, which has a maximum airspeed of 112 km/h, and the fastest blimps of all time were derigibles that were constructed in the 1920s and 30s. These were claimed to reach speeds of 140 km/h in flight, so in Hai-Furi, it’s not inconceivable that particularly fast blimps, with a maximum speed of 300 km/h, could be constructed to fulfil the role of a utility helicopter.

  • With Mashiro’s safe return back on board the Harekaze, the episode draws to a close. Minami passes along her findings to a Blue Mermaid staff, and it’s possible that the top brass will eventually reveal what’s been going on in Hai-Furi. At this point in time, the precise mechanism as to how the virus and the rodents work remains unanswered in Hai-Furi. One of the more interesting suggestions I’ve heard are nanomachines; with sufficiently advanced technology, it would be possible to design and deploy nanomachines akin to those of Crysis or biological nanomachines to create the events seen in Hai-Furi.

  • It would appear that this episode could mark the turning point where Akeno and Mashiro’s respective personalities begin working together to a better extent than seen in previous episodes, with both having experienced things from the other’s perspective. While this dynamic won’t be expected to be perfect for a few more episodes, it could help bring the crew closer together and operate in a more unified fashion (which will be important if they are indeed to face the Musashi in the end).

  • Unlike Isoroku, who is a large orange cat, the cat that Mashiro saves is a small grey kitten that immediately captures Akeno’s heart. She immediately consents to Mashiro’s request to bring a second cat on board.

  • Kuro seems quite displeased that things turned out the way that they did, and while this could act as a source of conflict in the upcoming episodes, I do not imagine that Kuro will go to such lengths to sabotage the Harekaze later on. Instead, it’s more like that she will experience something that will lead her to change her mind, in keeping with Hai-Furi‘s thematic elements.

  • Akeno recalls why she considers everyone at sea to be family when Wilhelmina asks her, and the episode concludes with what appears to be the Hiei, a Kongō-class battlecruiser that might act as next week’s opponent. While we are on the topic of next week, Girls und Panzer Der Film is set to release on Friday, 27 May, and depending on how quickly my copy arrives, the Hai-Furi post might or might not be delayed so I can roll out the review for Girls und Panzer Der Film.

Given that the Musashi continues to be shown as an elusive and enigmatic opponent, the finale in Hai-Furi will likely deal with how Akeno manages to stop the Musashi from wrecking havoc on a populated area. At present, the origins for the viral agent remain the subject of speculation, although the source can boil down to it either arising from a laboratory accident outside the researcher’s control, or deliberate deployment with the intent to cripple or destroy the Blue Mermaids for their own reasons. The former easily could be written into a twelve or thirteen episode segment, representing the “safe” storytelling approach that focuses on the Harekaze’s crew and keep the antagonists to a minimum. This method works with a smaller budget without compromising the viewers’ expectations. The latter would require more time to satisfactorily develop, given that the antagonists would need to be written with a reasonably motivation for why they oppose the Blue Mermaids (economical or political, for instance). Such a route would require twenty-two to twenty-six episodes to adequately cover. At present, it’s still too early to rule out either approach; the total episode count for Hai-Furi remains a mystery. However, given the way budgets for anime work, it would be economical to produce one season and determine whether or not demand warrants a continuation. Ergo, I predict that Hai-Furi will leave the rodents as a mystery and have the Harekaze secure the Musashi by the season’s end. If Hai-Furi continues give indications that it will sell, a second season will probably deal with the factions seeking to destroy the Blue Mermaids, otherwise, the first season will write off the virus as a lab accident.

Valkyria Chronicles: Review and reflection at the ¾ mark

“But, it’s like you said, Alicia. We build new things as we lose the old.” —Welkin Gunther

At this point in time, I’ve crossed over the three-quarters milestone of Valkyria Chronicles (or at least, what I presume to be the three-quarters milestone). Fouzen and Bruhl have been liberated, and Valkyria Chronicles‘ own interpretation of D-Day at Marberry Shores campaign concluded quite smoothly. While the Gallian forces gain momentum against the Empire, decisive battles at Naggiar result in narrow victories for Gallia at the expense of incurring a large number of casualties. During the Battle of Naggiar, Alicia is revealed to be a Valkyrur of the same nature as Selvaria, and this leads to a growing rift in the militia. Welkin reassures Alicia that things will be alright and informs Squad 7 that Alicia’s newly-awakened Valkyrur powers change nothing; they will continue with their operations as they always have. So, I’m now set to embark on the Fight for Ghirlandaio to flush the remains of the Imperial forces out of Gallia. Since the campaigns at Fouzen, the game’s progressively thrown more interesting challenges at Squad Seven, and I am quite certain that the remaining four chapters in the game will require that all of my characters be at their absolute best for them to stand against the increasingly deadly enemies that make up Maxmilian’s remaining forces.

The thirty hours of time I’ve spent in Valkyria Chronicles means I’ve finally made use of the different mechanics to effectively direct each character to complete a mission. Weapons are continuously upgraded to ensure that everyone can deal effective damage against the Imperial forces, and through the skirmishes, I’ve gotten each class to elite status. With the classes at higher levels, I’ve unlocked a much wider range of orders and have been employing them liberally in each mission, boosting the statuses of strategically-placed characters to make them an incredible force. The orders are so effective that some missions can now be effortlessly completed, and seemingly-impossible missions suddenly become merely difficult. By this point in time, I’ve also unlocked a larger number of potentials for the different characters; these attributes can confer advantages or disadvantages. In light of ever-increasing mission difficulties, and the fact that I’ve learnt the “Awaken All” order, I’m now looking to reconfigure my line-up to ensure that each soldier is performing at their very best, all of the time. Particularly detrimental potentials, such as Susie’s pacifist potential, have led me to lose CP before; such characters will not be effective in conjunction with the “Awaken All” order. Taken together, the details behind each characters, as well as how their potentials interact with the different abilities and orders gives the sense that Squad Seven’s members are as organic and diverse as real people, further allowing players to empathise with them and play the game in such a way as to keep everyone alive.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The Liberation of Fouzen in Valkyria Chronicles‘ anime was the first exposure I had to the nature of oppression and discrimination the Darcsens were subjected to, but Valkyria Chronicles makes it abundantly clear that this mistreatment is ill-placed: the Valkyrur were the true aggressors, destroying much of their homeland and pinning the events later known as the Darcsen Calamity on them. A major part of the game is how Rosie gradually comes to accept the Darcsens, and it was very rewarding to see this shift in perspectives.

  • The concentration camps and use of Darcsens as forced labour are a direct allusion to the Third Reich’s actions during the Second World War. This brings to mind my final year of secondary school, where Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel’s Night was on the English curriculum, a novel based on Wiesel’s experiences at Auschwitz camp. In the novel, he speaks of his gradual loss of humanity and even faith, as the inhumane conditions in the camps degraded the human condition.

  • Wile the Imperials mistreat the Darcsens out of malice, Rosie’s own anti-Darcsen sentiments arise from her background; in an Imperial raid that levelled her village, she lost her family and feels the Darcsens are responsible. As such, she’s quite cold to Isara for much of the game, but gradually comes around thanks to Isara’s persistent efforts in trying to reach her.

  • Infiltrating Fouzen was dead easy compared to liberating it, but even this mission was not too bad compared to something like Barious: here, I make use of Alicia to move rapidly around the map to activate elevators that act as shortcuts of sorts, making it easier to move shocktroopers and lancers closer to the frontlines. I absolutely love the cloudy skies in this mission, as they remind me of the moody grey skies seen in Sora no Woto‘s fourth episode and the desert terrain of Break Blade.

  • Enemy armour can be a threat to the Edelweiss and other foot-mobiles, but I usually ignore them unless they’re directly blocking the path en route to an objective. While I remark earlier that the Edelweiss can be a bit of a CP-hog, later missions necessitate the use of the Edelweiss in conjunction with orders and strategies in order to be completed on short order.

  • Enemy aces usually are not on my list of priorities in the sense that I do not go out of my way to hunt them down and kill them, but I will take them out if an opportunity arises. I probably will go back on my New Game Plus to get the rest. They drop Imperial weapons that Squad Seven can use, and while Imperial weapons have terrible accuracy, their firepower is quite good.

  • The objective at Fouzen is to destroy a bridge holding the Equus, a massive armoured train equipped with a 280mm main cannon. While this behemoth looks intimidating, its biggest weakness is its dependence on a rail system. This is exploited to bring the vehicle down, and General Gregor dies in the Equus’ wreckage. It’s a satisfying mission to send the Imperials packing, although Valkyria Chronicles also reminds players that there is a limit to what one can do: prior to fleeing, the Imperials have set the concentration camps ablaze, trapping the Darcsens.

  • The Marberry Shores mission involves storming a heavily-fortified bridge: it’s a direct reference to the Battle of Normandy, the largest amphibious invasion in all of history. Unlike D-Day, Squad Seven is a much smaller force and must make extensive use of the smoke rounds to provide cover: some batteries are invulnerable to all damage and will quickly destroy an exposed foot-mobiles.

  • Once all of Squad Seven clears the beaches, the mission transforms to a close-quarters engagement. It’s recommended not to add only the units that are necessary (Alicia, Rosie, Largo and at most one engineer) in the beginning, as that will require more CP to move everyone off the beaches. Here, I wield a flamethrower, a weapon available to the shocktrooper class after they hit level 11. It’s the perfect close-quarters weapon and can take out an enemy behind cover in one shot, provided that the wielder has not suffered a debuff.

  • Towards the end of the Marberry Shores mission, I eventually ran Alicia up to the enemy base, took out the infantry there and managed to capture it. I can see why scouts, and Alicia in particular, are considered to be overpowered: while Valkyria Chronicles remained reasonably balanced up until the scouts became elites, at this point, scouts, in conjunction with the appropriate orders, become as powerful as Halo‘s Master Chief.

  • In the aftermath of Marberry Shore, Isara is shot by an Imperial soldier and succumbs to her wounds. This marks the turning point for Rosie, who finally lets go of her prejudice against the Darcsens. She fulfills a promise to Isara and sings at her funeral. From here on out, Zaka becomes a permanant member of Squad Seven and rolls into battle in the Shamrock, a light tank has a greater range but lower armour and firepower compared to the Edelweiss. The page quote comes from this mission, following a conversation between Welkin and Alicia to rebuild Bruhl once all the combat is over.

  • The mission to recapture Bruhl was dead easy and required only a single turn to complete. The level was designed so that Squad Seven would all move cautiously forwards, picking off snipers and eliminating opposition until the Imperial-held base is reached, but a single scout with the proper orders can solo this mission and reach the end very quickly. This optimised solution accounts for why Alicia now appears in so many of the screenshots.

  • Besides picking up weapons from downed Imperial Aces, special weapons can also be unlocked for combat efficiency: by visiting Princess Cordelia at Randgriz, she will occasionally bestow medals and weapons for the player. While some of these weapons are inferior to the ones that can be researched via the tech tree, some weapons are superior and can be put to good use in the hands of an effective character.

  • Selvaria appears at the first Naggiar campaign: wielding her Valkyrur powers to their fullest, she becomes a beast that blows away Gallian armour with ease in cutscenes, and even in-mission, she’s far more lethal than at Barious, being able to one-shot the Edelweiss or Shamrock. Fortunately, armed with some orders and an obscenely powerful scout in Alicia, this mission can be finished quite quickly.

  • The traditional approach would be to capture the midway base and then deploy a lancer there, then gradually move him to the camp to destroy the heavy tank camped out there. However, good investment in levels should mean that one already has the “Demolitions Boost” order unlocked. This turns any scout into a lethal tank-killer: their high AP allows them to flank the tank and reach the exposed radiator. After this, a few rifle rounds are enough to destroy the tank.

  • Valkyries are so overpowered that players (rightfully) do not have control over one: after being shot by Faldio, Alicia’s Valkyrur powers activate, and she cleans up a portion of the battlefield before collapsing. It turns out that Faldio’s been ardently researching Valkyria since Barious, after suspecting Alicia of being a Valkyrur when they gained access to the Barious temple. This mission’s initial objective seems simple enough, but after the main base is captured, a pair of Dromedarius-class tanks roll in.

  • The Dromedarius-class are modified heavy tanks with an incendiary mortar that will kill infantry instantly, and their radiators have been modified such that they are bullet-proof. However, two well-placed lancer rockets will be enough to take these tanks out: Dromedarius A is the easier one to defeat, as Largo can be moved within a turn to a good position behind the tank. I realise that this post comes right in the middle of thesis season, and that I should be directing all my energy towards finishing. However, after spending six hours on just citations alone (and two hours performing some duties for the lab’s undergraduate students), I think I’ve earned the evening off. Tomorrow, I get right back to business and will aim to wrap up the citations before this week is out.

  • Valkyria Chronicles rewards combat efficiency over kill-count and unit preservation, but nonetheless, I make it a point to never let any of Squad Seven die in combat if I can help it. As such, I still have access to Squad Seven’s full roster, and I do wonder on some occasion what the War Cemetery would be like if any of my units do fall in battle (at present, it’s a location for learning new orders from the Aged Gentleman).

  • I may have some thirty Steam hours in the game (roughly eighteen from the in-game statistics), but the visual representation of onomatopoeia is always fun to watch and further, is reminiscent of what was done in Haruhi‘s second season opening. I’ve heard that Valkyria Chronicles has a Remastered Edition out for PS4, and from the looks of things, while the graphics have not been improved too much, the Remastered Edition has support for 60 FPS and 1080p resolutions. It’s not quite as dramatic as I had imagined — when I heard “Remastered”, I thought the differences would be comparing Halo CE to halo Anniversary or Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare to the newly announced Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remaster.

  • I eventually just opted to give the Edelweiss “Demolitions boost” and pounded the Dromedarius B to oblivion from afar: the flames cannot harm armour. At the time of writing, I’m actually only a handful of missions away from finishing Valkyria Chronicles, and it’s been a blast the entire way. I do intend on unlocking all of the Steam achievements for the game at some point in the future, but for the time being, I think I’ll start Alien Isolation once I finish Valkyria Chronicles.

Valkyria Chronicles continues to impress with its solid gameplay and narrative: by this point, it is quite clear that the game stands head-and-shoulders above its anime incarnation. I’ve also begun playing through the different reports that have somehow slipped underneath my notice, and these represent yet another excellent side of the game, giving more insight into some of the backgrounds and characteristics for some of Squad Seven’s members (as well as unlocking more potentials for the lead characters, which are bloody useful). All of the different features in Valkyria Chronicles serve to prolong its playability; the combination of story, gameplay and extras means that from a value perspective, Valkyria Chronicles is easily worth the 22 CAD that it retails for in the Steam store (in fact, I would argue that the title could go for 55 dollars, the same as CLANNAD, and the game would still be worth picking up at full price); this is a game that now stands alongside Deus Ex: Human Revolutions as one of the absolute best games I’ve had the opportunity to experience. As such, I look greatly forwards to finding my own optimisations for the final stages of the campaign that will see Maxmilian defeated and peace restored to Gallia.

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