The Infinite Zenith

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

Girls und Panzer First Round Reflection

As I’ve progressed through the first half of the series, the opportunity to look back on what kind of elements make Girls und Panzer an immensely enjoyable anime presents itself. From introductions to armour warfare, to tank hunting, practise and first trial run against the St. Gloriana Academy’s tank squad, the girls at Ooarai Academy rapidly become acquainted with armour combat. Five episodes in, a recap episode was released owing to the production teams falling behind schedule owing to unforeseen circumstances. With these episodes being released every 5 episodes, it would seem fitting to briefly look back on what we’ve seen thus far and consider what elements make this anime remarkably enjoyable, whether it be the attention to detail in the tanks themselves, as well as Miho bringing her previous experience to the table and putting up reasonable fights against unfavourable odds.

  • If mermory serves, Girls und Panzer is a 1-cour anime, meaning that it will likely have 12 or 13 episodes. Despite this, the anime has seen its share of production hiccoughs, with the sixth episode released a week later than intended.

  • One cannot partake in armoured warfare if one lacks armour to begin with. Episode two is dedicated to Ooarai Academy hunting down and refurbishing old tanks that were used in a former age.

  • The fact that a tank can be found on a  cavity on a cliff that may only be reached by rappelling down the cliff  leads the inquisitive mind to wonder what Ooarai was doing with their tanks before their armoured warfare program was discontinued.

  • There was going to be no fanservice, they said. I am going to like this show for that reason, I said. Then tank refurbishing comes in, requiring the girls to clean out the tanks and make them combat-operational. 

  • Despite the other girls’ vigour and excitement about operating a tank, Miho manages to maintain a cool head and casually eliminates the other teams during their training operations. They encounter Mako here, and eventually, she becomes the driver, with Miho assuming the role of tank commander, Saori becoming the communications officer, Hana taking up the gunner position and Yukari being assigned the role of loader.

  • Initially, the girls decorate their tanks with bright colours to reflect their spirits. In combat operations, the lack of camouflage makes them vulnerable to long-distance engagements: in Halo, I take advantage of the fact that the Covenant Wraiths stick out like a sore thumb when engaging other targets and try to pick them off at a safe distance.

  • As Ooarai prepare for their first combat experience, viewers can reasonably expect Ooarai to be defeated simply because that’s how reality works: we have a newly minted team composed of a diverse range of tanks, going against a company with experience and consistent armour loadouts. The diversity of Ooarai’s hardware proves to be both blessing and curse.

  • Despite being outnumbered and outgunned against St. Gloriana, Miho’s innate familiarity with urban environments gives the Ooarai Academy’s team the odd edge here and there. Attention to detail is the single strongest element in Girls und Panzer, as evidenced when the girls are surprised by the mass of a 7.5 cm KwK 40 HEAT round (which weighs 7.36 kg, or 16.192 pounds), are given information on their coats (the buttons are indeed decorative) or find the tank hatch surprisingly heavy.

  • Admittedly, this is what I show up to the party for: explosions. The tactics used in Girls und Panzer directly reflect modern armoured warfare doctrines. We note that the tracks of tougher tanks are targeted for mobility kills. Moreover, as tanks typically have heavier frontal armour, we see the girls try to keep their tank’s front towards the enemy at all times, and in one instance, we even see the Ooarai girls retreats by reversing instead of turning around to maximise safety. Finally, during the competition against Saunder’s Academy, Miho orders her squad to go around a hill rather than risk cresting and exposing their armour’s weaker underside to enemy fire.

  • Maid cafes exist in the real world, but tank cafes are definitely my cup of tea (get it? lololololol!). If such a cafe ever were to open anywhere and offer tank-shaped cheesecakes, it would be worth my while to actually go and see what they would have to offer.

  • Not all older siblings are distant from their younger siblings, and most are quite close. If the distance between Miho and Maho are a negative point, I suggest watching Yui and Ui in K-On! as a countermeasure. Given that Maho attends the Kuromorimine Girls High School, I imagine the final match will be Ooarai against them. My superior capacity in predicting these things suggest that despite the outcome of this match, Maho and Miho will reconcile.

  • Saori, Mako, Miho and Hana wonder where Yukari went on the eve of battle. It turns out Yukari was on a recon mission that went reasonably well right up until the end. The second half of episode five is dedicated towards Ooarai’s match with Saunders University High School, an American-themed institution with friendly, cheerful students. Kay, their leader, distinctly has an American, carefree and confident attitude, bringing to mind Charlotte Yeager from Strike Witches.

The delay between episodes five and six left me wondering what was occurring; official sources indicate that the production team had tried to work in many subtle details into the story while maintaining its coherency. Thus, while we are left with an excellent product, the quality comes at the expense of delivery time. This aspect is one that plagues almost any business or organisation: of the elements “fast”, “cheap” and “good” in the Project Management Triangle, paradigms dictate that it is only feasible to have any two at any given time. In the case of anime, “Fast” refers to the time required to deliver the product, “Good” is the quality of the final product, and “Cheap” refers to the total cost of designing and building the product. The triagnle reflects the fact that the three properties of a project are interrelated, and it is not possible to optimize all three – one will always suffer. Thus, we have any one of three scenarios arising:

  1. Design something quickly and to a high standard, but then it will not be cheap.
  2. Design something quickly and cheaply, but it will not be of high quality.
  3. Design something with high quality and cheaply, but it will take a long time.

Most anime fall under the conditions outlined in bullet one: good anime typically markets for high prices. Girls und Panzer probably would fall under bullet three: as an original production with less resources than other studios (e.g. KyoAni), the only way to maintain quality on its budget would be to delay the release of certain episodes. Insofar, the quality in Girls und Panzer has already given me enough information to decide that this is a series worth following; consider that I’ve become accustomed to the long waits associated with Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn.

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