The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life 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. Gloriana, 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 and in the absence of other information, makes it difficult to not see MEXT in an antagonistic light.

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 even this post by fifteen images and 3000 words. 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 90, 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. Gloriana 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, the only such moment in the film. 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-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 Kawasaki OH-1 helicopter brings Ami to the Nishizumi residence (much thanks to Jusuchin for helping me ID this vehicle!). 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. Compared to earlier movies, Ip Man 3 has a greater emphasis on the human side of things and was well-received for this aspect. 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 championships, 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 thirty 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. Gloriana, 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 90 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 steak at Nick’s Steakhouse near campus: he had the week off before his medical school modules resume. Cooked to medium rare, the 10oz sirloin steak I ordered came very quickly, being very juicy and flavourful. 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 dish 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.

  • Yukari fields a pair of Entfernungsmesser EM 1M R36 binoculars to help Miho ascertain the situation in their new battlefield, a derelict amusement park, setting the stage for Miho’s 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, but the Ferris Wheel stunt itself was inspired by Steven Spielberg’s 1941, where an Imperial submarine commander (Toshiro Mifuno) orders a Ferris wheel to be fired upon when he suspects that its being used as a vantage point. The Ferris wheel is disloged and rolls onto a pier, inspiring Rabbit Team’s Operation Mifuno.

  • 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 gamers 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 IV 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 is equivalent to the English expression “speed is the name of the game”, 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.

  • With their detail and vivid lighting, some of the landscapes in Girls und Panzer der Film are worthy of being in a Makoto Shinkai film. The wait for the next film, Kimi no na wa, is not particularly long now; it’s set to release three months from now, and I imagine that it will be the next major anime film that I review. With that being said, the Kimi no na wa review most certainly will not be a beast of 95 images.

  • If there was a single moment in the movie I enjoyed the most, it would definitely be the warmth that Maho and Miho demonstrate here. Far more than their handshake after the championship, this single frame illustrates all of the unsaid emotions and closeness the two have as siblings.

  • 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 11199 words in length (about the length of one of the longer chapters in my thesis). The thesis paper itself is nearing completion, but even now, I’m still likely to have to trim it. Fortunately, LaTeX seems to have been mucking up the figures’ formatting, so I could probably compress it by a few pages simply by modifying the white space between the figure captions.

  • Their victory allows Ooarai to return home to their school ship, and in the ending credits, scenes depicting the other schools returning home are shown. I’ve opted against showing screenshots of all the different Ooarai teams celebrating their victory over the university team for two reasons: the first is that to have done so would push the image count even higher, and the second is that I’m saving those screenshots for another post.

  • Miho breaks into a smile as the Ooarai carrier becomes visible. ChouCho’s performance of “Piece of Youth” and GloryStory for the film’s vocal soundtracks were both beautifully performed: while only “Piece of Youth” made it into the movie, I listened to both during my train ride from Paris to Laval back during March. Quite truthfully, I have no words for just how fitting both songs are for Girls und Panzer Der Film.

  • 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.

19 responses to “Girls und Panzer Der Film: Girls und Panzer The Movie Reflection and Full Recommendation

  1. Vautour2B May 29, 2016 at 08:26

    Exellent critical … with which I completely agree (a small mistake: the gun Centurion MK.1 Alice is not a 105 mm L7 but a 17-Pdr 76.2 mm – the same as that of Firefly, Challenger, and Alcher Achilles).
    The result pleased me to beyond what I expected.
    The argument is the scenario, certe, can a repetitive, but for the rest … what movie !!!
    First impression.

    – A sacred killer that Alice! This is Wittmann and LafayettePool together … yet she looked so frail among his cuddly toys.

    – How is it that the federation could accept karl-equipment of “All-Star University”? It is not only criminal – on impact on the roof of a tank, it’s the crew who died (even Maus could not resist a shell 2 tons) – but it’s also a complete cheating : this mortar has never had automatic reloading system or remote control!

    F.Gaugenot, alias Vautour2B


    • infinitezenith May 29, 2016 at 11:35

      Updates have been made (I’m guessing a proper L7 would punch holes in Miho and Maho’s respective armour before they had any sort of chance to return fire, so a 17-pounder would be more “fair”), and thanks for dropping by to provide the feedback. It seems we’re largely on the same page regarding the movie, but in this case, I was largely pleased with the results. Alice is supposed to have entered university level Panzerfahren sooner for her remarkable talents, hence her appearance.

      About the Karl-Gerät, I think that the higher ups in MEXT merely wanted a fireproof way of defeating Ooarai and strong-armed the Federation into accepting its use (corruption in the Federation would be a rather interesting direction to take), and as far as cheating goes, I stress that the fact that Ooarai manages to defeat this only adds to the fun factor in the movie 🙂


      • Vautour2B May 30, 2016 at 04:30

        Absolutely !

        Other comments on the film :

        – There are many more aerial photos in the series, which is very convenient.

        – It’s a bit silly, because I knew that no one would be killed, but I did not stop me from being deeply moved when Nonna, Clara and Alina sacrificed themselves with their crews to cover the escape of Pravda & KMM.

        – With the exception of Kei, Kinuyo and Anchovy, all team captains have had the opportunity to “Kill” with their personal tanks.

        – The Type-3 at Anteater exchanged his title of “tank unluckiest” with the Panther: the Ausf.G at Koume Akaboshi and “Jagdpanther-Chan” have not even had time to shoot a cannon and those “All-Star University” (+ 1xJagdpanther) is massacred in his entraiment by Alice (with a M4 (75) !! ??)


        • infinitezenith May 30, 2016 at 21:43

          The aerial shots really help gain a sense of orientation, so I rather enjoyed those. As for Katyusha’s reluctance to leave Nonna, Clara band Alina behind, that was surprisingly moving. Subtle things like that made the film a fun watch.


  2. arkhangelsk May 30, 2016 at 02:02

    Actually, it is more like Alice’s tank would be just about legal in a Mk1 configuration, while later configurations are clearly postwar and out of the rules.

    About the Karl-Gerät, I think that the higher ups in MEXT merely wanted a fireproof way of defeating Ooarai and strong-armed the Federation into accepting its use

    As the show portrays it, it is not so much that they “strong-armed” the Federation as they just went over their head and approved it. The chairman himself was only notified. This is actually against the previous BD-booklet position which says its the JSF that approves tanks, but it is not hard to rationalize this as the fine print saying that as a superior agency MEXT has the right to do so as well, or maybe what JSF actually does is make recommendations that are de facto always approved (but which leaves the theoretical right to just approve something with MEXT).

    If they are just doing it for the “fun”, in my book the least they can do is just make it unambiguously legal, like the Maus. Just say “In university level, open-topped vehicles are permitted” (there are actually still more problems with it, but at least they can start there). But they wanted that last extra bit of drama, so they went for a portrayal that says it shouldn’t be allowed.

    The main sacrifice of this is actually the UST’s characterization. Because they are ultimately the final in-world arbiters as to whether the weapon gets used. In saying they used a weapon they shouldn’t use to gain advantage, the black ink sprays all over them, and especially their commander, and when der Film as a whole tries to ignore this fact (to the point that Alice gets the Boko-kan anyway which is only acceptable if you agree she fought both well AND honorably), I get cognitive dissonance and psychosomatic pains.

    Remember how when Alisa used a perfectly WWII lookalike radio-intercept device (also legal, BTW), she was harassed by karma ever since leading to this film itself? Why does NONE of this happen to Alice and her team?


    • stoodell May 30, 2016 at 11:05

      I agree with the Centurion having the Mk.1 config due to that coaxial machine gun on its gun mantlet and the 17-pdr of course.

      And I still wonder how the Karl manage to not hurt anyone that was out sitting on the tank’s cupola with all that dirt, rocks and other debris flying around when the 60 cm shell hit the ground.


      • infinitezenith May 30, 2016 at 21:41

        Strictly speaking, the dust and rocks would be small potatoes at that range. The overpressure from the first impact would have been fatal to anyone that close to the impact point, and failing that, the thermal and kinetic energy would rend a person utterly. However, to depict that on-screen would cross the line: Girls und Panzer Der Film certainly isn’t DOOM, and I speculate that the writers put the round that close to emphasise the shock element at the expense of realism.


      • Jusuchin (Military Otaku) May 30, 2016 at 21:44

        I think it was good they choose the one armed with the BESA machine gun. Had it been given the first turret variant with the 20mm Polsten, can you imagine how the NIshizumi vs Shimada jousting could’ve gone?


        • Vautour2B June 5, 2016 at 05:27

          Logically, it is the version with the Polsten Alice should have chosen. In senshado – which is the only anti-tank battle – a 7.92mm machine gun is almost useless (except to help the pointing of the main gun) while with a 20mm cannon, Alice could have massacred type-89 and type-97 with even more ease.


    • infinitezenith May 30, 2016 at 21:38

      The inner machinations of MEXT are not explicit, so the process behind how the Karl-Gerät was allowed in could go either way. With that in mind, I think that the dramatic impact is the main reason why the film skates over so much; it wants to hit audiences hard with surprises, and doubly so, it wants to wow people when they watch the student council, volleyball team and Anchovy finally take it down.

      On a related note, according to some people I’ve spoken with, the unfair stakes that Ooarai face in the movie are a reasonable depiction of how reality itself works. Life itself is more unfair than fair in some cases, and sometimes, bad things simply happens to good people. I imagine that the movie really wanted to be a feel-good film about how Miho and her classmates’ determination to save Ooarai can punch through the realm of what’s rational or plausible. I think the writers might be aware that their narrative might not be entirely consistent, but they were willing to exchange that for the emotional impact. The end result is something I can live with, although that’s merely my position.


  3. Jusuchin (Military Otaku) May 30, 2016 at 20:12

    About Alice’s Mk1. I’m amused she didn’t use the turret configuration holding the 20mm Polsten, and opted for one with the BESA.

    Good write up, I aim to finish mine before my roadtrip on Wednesday. I haven’t timed myself, but this easily spanning three days now.

    Also, that isn’t a modified attack helicopter. While it can mount weapons, it is the Kawasaki OH-1 Scout Helicopter, meant to replace the license-built Hughes OH-6D scout helicopter. Though considering Instructor Ami’s entrance to Ooarai (a touch-and-go airdrop of her Type 10 MBT), her using a scout helicopter as a quick transport doesn’t surprise me.

    Also, I’m wondering where you got your count. Each team has 30, and your own screenshot shows thirty vehicles for Ooarai. Going off on the kill board at the end of the match, UST has 24 Pershings, 3 Chaffees, the Karl-Gerät, T28 HT, and the Centurion Mk I.

    As for the Ferris wheel. I go with power of plot and also rather subtle ‘steering’ by Rosehip’s Crusader Mk II’s BESA MG and Royal Ordinance 2-pounder, Chihatan’s various MGs, and of course, Naomi’s Firefly’s 17-pounder.

    Also looking at it, the wheel could’ve also been kept on the straight and stead by the M3 Lee providing somewhat of a track before it swerved out of the way.


    • infinitezenith May 30, 2016 at 21:26

      First order of business, thank you very much for helping me proof this beast of a review 🙂 I appreciate it, since having other readers allows one to catch mistakes I might otherwise miss (a case in point is any of the papers I write: having someone look through them finds that I make some pretty silly mistakes at times).

      The unusual count for the Ooarai load out comes from the fact that I am deplorable at mental math: I counted 12 tanks in the top row, 10 in the middle and 8 in the bottom, but somehow, applied 10+10+8. That has been patched up now.

      The “steering” provided in the form of the various tanks taking shots at the Ferris Wheel to balance it was something I did not test, but it is reasonable enough an explanation, plus the minor track the M3 provides, for why it maintains its course. I was never able to get the simulated wheel to reach the amphitheatre: assuming the hill was slightly bumpy, the thing tipped over before it ever arrived. With that being said, there’s nothing wrong with a little plot magic to keep things going.

      I look forwards to reading your review 🙂


    • Jusuchin (Military Otaku) May 31, 2016 at 07:07

      Correction : Crusader Mk. III, don’t blog tired and at latfolks.t folks.


  4. Jusuchin (Military Otaku) May 30, 2016 at 22:17

    In regards to Mikka, I was reminded of the F1 driver, considering the tank, it was a no-brainer for me. I think Mika Häkkinen would’ve approved of the fact that J. Walter Christie originally designed tanks using his suspension system to be as speedy as possible and also to have the ability to drive normally. I believe a Christie tank still holds the record for fastest tank.


  5. Milferd June 11, 2016 at 00:20

    Thanks for this massive work, I enjoyed it.

    Your point on the Viet Cong (totally North Vietnam organization the south part was not independent) was good, the following does not change it. The commander of the whole North Vietnam effort was very proud to tell how their propaganda (with the help of lies by American officials) caused America to give up on what seamed a hopeless war when in fact one more year of the war at it’s high point would have left North Vietnam no more men available to fight. The Viet Cong carefully hid how massive their casualties were, over a million, 1.1 million soldiers according to current Vietnam government. This was using Pyrrhic Victories that made the American Public think we were losing when in fact the US was winning.

    Spending 2 weeks with US Army Armor company as a cadet acting as platoon commander found out interesting stories from tank veterans of Vietnam war in the 1980’s. Veterans still in the service then I met were all with units that kicked ass there, only veterans who were out had horror stories of the bad units. Tanks gave the Viet Cong a fit, canister fire would leave only their sandals left when they tried their mass charges. A North Vietnam Armor corps (three divisions plus) took the South After the US left but due to US air power the North Vietnamese only engaged in tank battle with our tanks once, and they lost bad. The Viet Cong was ok at night attacks but poor at moving at night normally using lights. Also met veterans of the US developing the we own the night tactics in Vietnam that devastated the Viet Cong in the areas it was used.

    Example of the Pyrrhic Victories was when a US infantry company was destroyed that the Press treated as a major disaster but read of the champlain that was involved, it took an entire regiment (9 companies) of North Vietnam regulars to kill the company. The US Army totally obliterated the regiment in the next few days. This trend with the press has gotten worse over time, one American killed is treated as a loss even if 40 enemy die.

    (US was not justified being there as honest election showed the majority of Vietnamese in the South wanted to join the North, after losing that election the US should have withdrawn, instead US ignored it, funny got this from US Army Infantry Officer Basic Course course work during my officer training.)


    • infinitezenith June 18, 2016 at 22:58

      Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed passage (and sorry for the delayed reply): I definitely learned something from reading this! Out of curiosity, which aspect of Girls und Panzer Der Film did you enjoy the most?


  6. WingKing October 31, 2017 at 23:52

    Long after the fact, I know, but thanks for the detailed review! This movie was my favorite anime of 2015, and it was a lot of fun to read your thoughts on it. I had a total blast watching it in the theater, and bought the Blu-Ray as soon as it was available.

    A few points I wanted to mention:

    Apparently, it came out in one of the spinoff manga that the bureaucrat from MEXT actually does have some kind of personal grudge against Ooarai specifically, though I haven’t read it so I don’t know if it offers any more details why. It’s suspicious anyway, since if it was purely for financial reasons like he claims then surely Anzio should have been in just as much danger, given that they’re basically depicted as the most destitute school in the series.

    Interesting you made comparisons with this movie to High School Fleet and the K-On movie. All three of them actually had the same person, Reiko Yoshida, in charge of the writing, who is one of my favorite anime screenwriters. She’s been the head writer for all of Naoko Yamada’s projects at KyoAni, including A Silent Voice last year, and Girls und Panzer was one of several occasions where she’s worked with Mizushima.

    “Miporin”: There’s a concept in Japanese called rendaku, where certain consonants morph into other consonants in compound words. I don’t speak Japanese so I know very little about it besides what I’ve read on Wikipedia, but my guess is that Miporin is probably “Miho-chin” originally, with rendaku changing the “h” to “p” following the “mi” syllable, and Saori also shortening the honorific. TV Tropes’ note on the -chin suffix mentions that it’s often contracted, giving an example of “Yukari-chin” being shortened to “Yukarin,” and I’ve seen other examples of “h” being changed to “p” in cases where rendaku applies (most notably in Love Live, where Hanayo is sometimes called “Pana” for that reason, as in the episode titled “MakiRinPana”).


    • infinitezenith November 4, 2017 at 23:08

      There is no such thing as a late comment 😉 I can’t believe it’s been a year-and-a-half since the film released on BD, and that we’re nearing the two-year mark of when the theatrical version was screened. I take it you were able to watch it in the cinema? For the manga, I never did get around to reading it, unfortunately. If Renta Tsuji of MEXT was indeed motivated by personal reasons as the manga hints at, they would need to develop things adequately; this information might have changed the contents of my discussion considerably.

      I originally drew the similarities in style between Girls und Panzer: Der Film, K-On! The Movie and Hai-Furi based on my initial impressions; that they share having Yoshida leading the writing would explain why I felt similarities between the three.

      Finally, I remark that it has been a year-and-a-half since I wrote this review. In that time, my curiosity got the better of me, and I asked a friend about how “Miporin” comes about. The result of this conversation is summarised here: ‘h’ sounds are rougher in Japanese, and “Mihorin” lacks the same sort of endearment achieved by appending -rin to a name. I think the modification by means of a handakuten creates a shorter, less harsh sound that achieves the desired effect, and the rendaku is probably why the choice of using a handakuten is made. Happy reading!


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