“No family is perfect. We argue, we fight, we even stop talking to each other at times, but in the end, family is family. The love will always be there.” –Unknown
Capitalising on the time Katyusha has allowed for the surrender, Miho sets her teammates with repairing their tanks and asks Yukari, Mako, Riko and Midoriko to help with reconnaissance – in order to plan out their next move, Miho needs to know how Pravada’s tanks are organised. The two teams come back from their assignment with the tanks’ locations plotted out, but upon noticing her teammates beginning to lose hope amidst the cold winter night, Miho begins performing the Anglerfish dance to give her teammates hope. When Pravada’s emissaries return, Miho remarks that they’d prefer to see the match through to the end. Surprised, Katyusha prepares to do battle with Miho, but Miho surprises her by aiming straight for the most heavily fortified position in Katyusha’s cordon. This unexpected move catches Katyusha off-guard, and Ooarai’s tanks are able to disperse. Nonna uses her IS-2 to pick off several of Ooarai’s tanks, and Miho authorises Yukari’s offer to perform more reconnaissance. Once she locates Pravda’s flag tank and learns it’s been circling the village, away from the combat, she relays its position to Miho, who orders the Hippo team into position. Duck team manages to evade a crushing blow from the Pravda tanks long enough for the StuG III to take out Pravda’s flag tank, ending the match. In the aftermath, Katyusa thanks Miho for a match well-played and promises to watch the finale. Ooarai advances to the finals, where they will square off against Black Forest, Miho’s previous school. Black Forest is renowned for fielding heavy German tanks in large numbers, so the student council continue their search for new tanks. They find a Japanese Type 3 Chi-Nu and receive offers from several gamers to operate it; they become Anteater team. By this point in time, the mechanics club have also finished bringing the Porsche Tiger online, and the student council pick up a Jagdpanzer 38 conversion kit. Hana later invites her friends to a flower arrangement exhibition, where it is revealed Hana’s mother has reconciled with Hana after becoming impressed with how Hana is now able to express her own individuality in flower arrangement. On the day of the finale, Darjeeling, Kay and Katyusha appear to wish Miho all the best. As Ooarai and Black Forest greet one another prior to starting the match, Kōme Akaboshi approaches Miho and thanks her for having saved her crew during the previous year, as well as expressing relief that Miho’s still in Panzerfahren. When the match starts, Ooarai find themselves under fire almost immediately. Erika takes aim with the intent of ending the match in seconds, but when Anteater struggles with their tank, they inadvertently take the shot meant for Anko.
Despite its portrayal of Shiho as being a very strict practitioner of Panzerfahren, and Black Forest’s reputation as an efficient, devastating opponent to fight against, Girls und Panzer continues to steer the atmosphere in a direction to remind viewers that at heart, this is a series about sportsmanship and respect for one’s opponents. At the finale itself, Miho has the chance to meet with all of her previous opponents anew: Darjeeling has shown up to greet Miho and compliments her on having found a way of not only winning matches, but winning hearts and minds of those she faces in competition. The reason why this is so important is because this appears to be the heart of Panzerfahren. Kay is similarly excited to see what Miho has up her sleeve, and perhaps most surprisingly of all, Katyusha has appeared to support Miho whole-heartedly, asking Miho to provide the most exciting match that she can. The reason why Miho is able to win hearts and minds of her own teammates and those she faces off against is because she’s humble, considerate and thoughtful. To Miho, what comes first is looking after those around her, and so, when her teammates fight alongside one another with such devotion and conviction, the cohesiveness is visible even to her opponents, inspiring them and encouraging them to improve, as well. Miho’s brand of Panzerfahren isn’t about overwhelming firepower, unwavering defense, relentless advance or gimmicks, returning the sport to its origins and placing an emphasis on supporting one another through teamwork. It is a sincere expression of compassion, sportsmanship and acceptance, one that Ooarai’s opponents do not encounter in matches, and in this way, all of Ooarai’s opponents view Miho as someone who finds ways of rallying her teammates together to create uncommon solutions to problems they face, which in turn, creates variety and excitement in a sport that has previously been very regimented and structured along each school’s themes and their respective doctrines. In having each of Darjeeling, Kay and Katyusha show up, Girls und Panzer similarly reminds viewers that Panzerfahren is not warfare, and that sportsmanship, integrity and honour are the highest traditions of this sport: as important as it is to be adaptive, creative and decisive in matches, treating one’s opponents with respect is even more important. Girls und Panzer would not be able to convey its themes if Black Forest and Shiho stood as the lone exception to this rule, so even as Ooarai takes on Black Forest in the finale, it stands to reason that even Black Forest and Shiho observe these traditions, even if Girls und Panzer has not yet given them time to demonstrate this as vividly as Darjeeling, Kay and Katyusha do.
Screenshots and Commentary
- For this week, and the final round of #AniTwitWatches, I promise that I will not subject readers to another 10k-word post. I’ve said everything I’ve needed to on the matter, and generally speaking, I prefer talking about topics that are more positive. Last time we left off, Momo had revealed Ooarai was going to shut down, hence the importance of winning the tournament: this would be to prove that Ooarai still has merits. The revelation is a shocker, but Miho quickly recovers and tasks her crews with repairing their tanks, as well as sending out scouts to determine how Pravda has arranged their tanks. Besides readying themselves to fight, keeping busy also has an important psychological advantage in keeping the teams from thinking about what happens if they should fail.
- This is something that Les Stroud has constantly reminded viewers of: when times are difficult, keeping busy and finding a purpose is what provides one with the will to survive. The two teams that go out to recon are Yukari and Riko (Erwin), and Mako and Midoriko. Yukari and Riko end up singing “Marching in the Snow”, and the adventures that solidify their friendship are detailed in an OVA. While Midoriko and Mako don’t get along quite as well, to the point where their antics are spotted, they nonetheless manage to find the Pravda tanks.
- Knowing where Pravda has placed their armour allows Miho to work out a plan of how to break through enemy lines and mount a counteroffensive. As the winter storm sets in, the match organisers consider postponing the match as a result of adverse weather conditions – such comments indicate that Panzerfahren matches can be stopped for safety reasons, providing a bit more evidence for my stances from the previous post. Small details like these are often overlooked, but become invaluable in the world-building process. This is why re-watching anime such as Girls und Panzer is so enjoyable; going back and combing through the series allows viewers to gain a much better insight into the level of detail and thought that makes some anime particularly standout.
- To give viewers a sense of what Miho is up against, the camera pulls out to give an aerial overview of the battlefield. Katyusha has arranged her tanks in such a way so that there is a side that is deliberately weaker than the others, and her hope is that Miho will go for this feint, allowing her to surround Ooarai and put an end to the match. Sun Tzu argued that in war, whoever can respond to and produce surprises well will take victory. Had Miho taken the bait, surprise would have been with Katyusha, leading her to win. Conversely, if Miho has a surprise of her own, then she might be able to continue fighting. This is why knowing Pravda’s tank placement is so important: Miho now knows what Katyusha is thinking, and is able to bet everything on a surprise. While the storm rages on, an instrumental version of Polyushko-polye (По́люшко-по́ле, “My Fields, Oh, My Fields) can be heard playing, reminding viewers that Pravda is in their element.
- Pravda, being a school based out of Aomori, is accustomed to snow and cold: Ooarai’s only brought a limited amount of provisions and blankets that seem like they’re barely suited for the job, but a glance over at Pravda’s students found that they’ve made borscht, a cabbage soup of sorts that’s perfect for warming up. When I think about it, I’ve never had Ukraine borscht before: the only borscht I’ve ever had is the Hong Kong version, which uses regular cabbage and plenty of tomatoes. Real Ukrainian borscht is made from red beets and is served with a dollop of sour cream, while the Hong Kong style borscht originates from Harbin. The dramatic gap in preparation for the winter night causes morale to plummet for Ooarai: while they’ve got a game plan, and their tanks are repaired, the weather proves to be as much of a foe as Pravda.
- For me, this is the definitive magic moment in Girls und Panzer, the moment that convinced me that the series was truly onto something special. Normally shy and bashful, Miho takes the initiative to motivate her teammates by performing the Anglerfish Dance. This surprises her own teammates, but once Yukari joins her, and Mako, Hana and Saori follow suit, the entirety of Ooarai’s Panzerfahren team begin singing and dancing along Miho. In a post I’d written six years ago, I stated that the reason why this was so powerful was because it was the moment that demonstrated Miho earning the trust of her teammates. Whether it be dancing an embarrassing dance, or fighting to the finish, the extent that Miho cares for her teammates means they’re willing to fight for her any time, anywhere.
- The scene with Ooarai dancing alongside Miho thus becomes a brilliant visual metaphor for how Miho has won the hearts and minds of her own teammates. In this way, it is fair to say that, even though Ooarai is on the verge of closing, Miho’s teammates are no longer worried about what should await if they fail. All they know is that in this moment, they want to do their best for both Miho and their own sakes. Thus, when Pravda’s emissaries reappear, Miho turns down the surrender offer – everyone’s fired up, Ooarai’s existence is on the line, and no one is ready to give up without at least giving it a go. In doing the Anglerfish Dance, Miho consolidates Ooarai’s second wind.
- Like hockey, Panzerfahren is a game of momentum, and momentum has returned to Ooarai. Thus, Miho tells Katyusha there will be no terms, and more importantly, no surrender. It typifies Miho’s kindness and ability to use this trait as a means of raising her allies’ morale: at Black Forest, it would appear that Miho did not have any chance to be her best self owing to the need to uphold her family name, and while I can’t quite remember the paper I read regarding this, I recall reading that when one’s own morals and beliefs conflict with the job they are required to do, one’s performance and willingness to do well will suffer.
- When the match resumes, Miho chooses to bet everything on punching through the most heavily defended part of Katyusha’s cordon. The resulting chaos sees Ooarai disable several more of Pravda’s tanks, and it is in this battle that the Student Council begin proving their worth: using the 38(t), they manage to disable T-34s at extreme close quarters and keep their fire off the main group, which is protecting Duck Team. This ruse works, at least until Nonna snipes the 38(t). While Miho’s tactics buy Ooarai some time, there is no denying that Pravda is a strong team, and once the shock wears off, things will begin to favour them again owing to their superior firepower and numbers.
- To this end, Yukari offers to go scouting again. Miho immediately spots the value of this and accepts, feeling it imperative that they end the match before things begin favouring Pravda again. While this initially sounds like a bad idea because it leaves Anko team down a loader, Miho’s goal here isn’t to keep her own tank alive, but rather, keep Duck team alive and help locate Pravda’s flag tank. If Miho goes down but buys enough time for the others to take out Pravda’s flag tank, that will be more than enough. As an aside, while Yukari’s role of being the loader is often seen as being the “newbie” position in a tank, I’d read a segment from a tank commander who respects loaders because they still have enough training to operate the radio or fire the 50-cal on top of the tank. In a pinch, the loader can also act as a driver. This is a clever show of respect to Yukari: while her role may seem smaller than that of the commander, driver and gunner, she’s no less important, and in fact, Yukari likely chose the loader role precisely for this reason.
- While shells rain down around Ooarai’s remaining tanks, it appears that Pravda has regained the initiative, although Ooarai’s resilience has surprised Katyusha. Regarding the choice of flag tank, they seem to vary match-to-match – from what I remember, judges make this assignment to ensure balance. This means that a school cannot simply have their most-heavily armoured tank, which would be to the detriment of schools that completely lack the hardware to damage said tanks. For this match, Ooarai’s flag tank is Duck team’s Type 89: Japanese tanks were originally designed as infantry tanks. They therefore lacked the firepower and armour to participate in anti-armour combat, and in the Pacific War, American M4 Shermans would find that their AP shells would actually punch holes clean through Japanese tanks without destroying them.
- To further accentuate the fact that Miho’s response during the championship match a year earlier was correct, after their tank gets immobilised, Miho asks for an update from Rabbit team and hears that everyone’s still fine. It is clear that Miho communicates often with her team, and therefore, is able to make split-second decisions with the information she receives: knowing that Rabbit team is in good shape allows Miho to concentrate on the fight, and the ninth episode did leave viewers off on a bit of a cliff-hanger: Ooarai’s Type 89 is fired upon at roughly the same moment that the StuG III shoots at Pravda’s flag tank.
- In previous years, I’ve joked that the StuG III’s camping would be the height of dishonour – camping is a technique in video games I’ve come to despise, since the approach is contrary to the spirit of a game. Hiding in a spot and waiting for enemies to come by gives one an unfair advantage, indicating an unwillingness to play with honesty and integrity. These tactics are especially common in battle royale games, and this is the reason I have little interest in picking up things like Valorant or Warzone: nothing is as tiresome as spawning into a map, dying to a camper and then being forced to leave since there are no respawns. In other titles, respawns do allow me to get back at campers. In Girls und Panzer, however, since Pravda’s flag tank was technically engaged in a form of camping, it is amusing that Miho’s thought of a way to counteract their camping with camping in its purest form.
- In the end, Ooarai walks away from the match triumphant, and Katyusha expresses her respect for Miho, who fights in a continually unexpected and entertaining way. This moment was yet another sign that Girls und Panzer‘s opponents are friendly rivals rather than hated foes – even someone as haughty as Katyusha is able to acknowledge when she’s faced someone worthy, and this becomes critical in setting the tone for the remainder of Girls und Panzer. Contrary to Pravda’s imposing presence, as seen when they beat Bonpole so bad one of the tanks had to raise a second flag to signify their defeat. While this was doubtlessly meant to intimidate viewers, when Pravda shows up as an opponent, they’re not more terrifying than Saunders or St. Gloriana.
- Thus, even with the knowledge that Ooarai is facing off against Black Forest, Girls und Panzer indicates to viewers that Maho’s team is still human despite the fact that Maho is renowned for her craft, and the fact that Black Forest operates some of the most powerful tanks around. I will remark here that I’ve taken to calling Black Forest as such because Kuromorimine is a pain to spell out, and the abbreviation, KMM, isn’t particularly meaningful to me. Habits from nine years earlier have stuck, and according to my blog’s archives, I actually crossed the stop line in January: when my winter term started, I’d made enough process in my research project such that I had enough of an opening to marathon Girls und Panzer.
- I ended up taking advantage of this time to catch up, and instead of a three month wait, mine was more of a two month wait. For some anime fans, the wait would’ve been excruciating, but on my end, I focused on my research project and by the time the final two episodes aired, my thesis paper had been submitted, and my presentation was ready to go. Here, Ooarai’s Panzerfahren team continues their hunt for new tanks, and it appears everyone’s skipped over a Type 3 Chi-Nu tank sitting in the parking lot: it was assumed that a tank in the open wouldn’t work. I’ve operated the Type 3 in Battlefield V – it is an upgrade of the Type 97 Chi-Ha with a modified turret and a 75 mm Type 3 tank gun, making it capable of going toe-to-toe with the M4 Sherman, and I’ve used this tank to great effect previously. The gamers offer to operate this tank, and Miho accepts, happy that more people are taking an interest in their Panzerfahren team,
- Meanwhile, the automotive club have finished restoring the Porsche Tiger: compared to a standard Tiger I, the Porsche Tiger utilised an innovative gasoline-electric drive pairing. Each individual drive would push the tracks on their respective side of the tank, and while on paper, it’s a good idea for a larger tank where both treads may have different traction based on the ground, in practise, the drive was very prone to malfunction and left the Prosche Tiger harder to handle than the more successful Henschel model. Such a tank would be very difficult to operate in combat, since the fickle drive system means a tank could be easily rendered immobile by its own complexity, rather than enemy action. However, the automotive team see this as a challenge to overcome, and they agree to operate the tank, whose KwK 36 gives Ooarai hitherto unmatched firepower.
- The student council’s 38(t) had proven quite reliable previously, allowing Anzu to snipe enemy tanks and trouble them. Having secured some funds from other departments, they’re able to convert their 38(t) into a Jagdpanzer 38 by mounting a different top onto the 38(t)’s chassis. The Jagdpanzer 38 is more informally referred to as the Hetzer and mounts a 75 mm Pak 39, a considerable upgrade that allows Anzu to do more damage in battle: at close ranges, when impacting from a 30º angle, the Pak 39 could penetrate up to 106 mm of armour, making it well-suited for driving up to foes whilst remaining hidden, and then opening fire. Battlefield V‘s 38(t) could not be configured in this way, and upgrades only made it more effective as an anti-infantry weapon. Although useless in anti-tank combat, the 38(t)’s mobility made it great for giving infantry a hard time.
- To better prepare Anko’s Panzer IV, Schürzen skirts are added, turning it into the Ausf. H model. Miho had found the Panzer IV in its Ausf. D configuration, and the addition of a KwK L/40 transformed it into an Ausf. F2. The latest addition improves defense and survivability, a vital addition when it comes to Black Forest and their overwhelming firepower. Battlefield V similarly started players off with the Ausf. D Panzer IV, but with the side skirts, and Pak 40, one could approximate Miho’s Panzer IV Ausf. H. AP rounds further improved Battlefield V‘s Panzer IV against tanks, and in this way, the Panzer IV actually became my second-most used tank in Battlefield V after the Valentine Archer, speaking to its efficacy.
- For me, Hana and her mother reconciling was one of the most standout moments in the whole of Girls und Panzer because there are so many parallels between Hana’s situation, and that of Miho’s – both Hana and Miho were born into families with a very well-established tradition, and both their mothers are proud practitioners of said tradition. Both Hana and Miho yearn to do things in their own manner of choosing, but this clashes with family values, leading both mothers to disown and distance themselves from their daughters. For Hana, when her mother sees the flowers Hana is able to now arrange, she has a change of heart and is impressed that Hana has found her own way while at the same time, respecting family tradition. That Hana and her mother could make amends sets an important precedence: that Miho could do the same with Shiho.
- I will acknowledge here that this reconciliation does not happen in Girls und Panzer – while Panzerfahren with Ooarai allows Miho to make several strides in helping her to rediscover her love for the sport, and the confidence to lead those under her command, it has not yet imparted in Miho, the sort of courage to speak up for herself in front of her mother just yet. Because the events of Girls und Panzer are set over a few months, it is natural that something like this would take a little while longer, so I am hoping that Das Finale addresses this in full: it is most logical for the story to show this as being the end-point for Girls und Panzer‘s story. Back in Girls und Panzer, after training and spending the evening with their respective teammates, Ooarai finally arrives at the vaunted site for the finals, which is set in the shadows of Mount Fuji. Yukari is excited to be here, as this was the place where numerous matches had previously taken place.
- As it turns out, everyone from Miho’s past matches have come out to watch. Darjeeling greets Miho and expresses her best wishes for Miho, while at the same time, remarking that Miho’s victories in Panzerfahren aren’t just simple wins in matches, but rather, are more whole and complete in that Miho wins her opponents over, too. Kay similarly swings by, excited to see how this finale will unfound. I’ve been referring to Miho’s victories as “winning hearts and minds”: this is a concept I first picked up on while studying for a course on the Cold War a decade earlier, and while the idea was initially described by Louis Hubert Gonzalve Lyautey regarding his proposed means of handling the Black Flags Rebellion in 1895, it became particularly famous for its use in Malayan Emergency in 1955. Quite simply, winning hearts and minds is to win a war not though superior force of arms, but through emotional and intellectual appeal. What Miho is doing isn’t quite in fitting to the original definition of winning hearts and minds, but the way she approaches matches and treats opponents earns their respect.
- This is explored a little further in Das Finale, in which Miho enters her first-ever match with an opponent who respects Ooarai and therefore, is able to put up an impressive fight despite fielding weaker tanks. For the present, however, one of the highlights of the moments leading up to the fight against Black Forest was Katyusha coming to greet Miho personally and wish her well in this match; in particular, Katyusha is excited to see what sorts of inspiring and wild techniques Miho and her crew will employ this match. For Katyusha to openly suggest this shows her respect for Miho, a far cry from her haughty, dismissive perspective of Ooarai earlier. These learnings make Katyusha a better leader, and in turn, will help Pravda be a better team, as well. Notably absent is Anzio’s Anchovy and her teammates. Contemporary viewers assumed Anchovy was a poor sport, but the OVA shows what really happened: after putting on a wild party the night before the match, Anchovy and her teammates exhaust themselves and completely sleep through the match.
- The moment of truth has finally come: in this finale, Miho faces off against her past for the future. The symbolism in Girls und Panzer has never been subtle, and many of the series’ most important messages are out in the open. This element contributed to making Girls und Panzer as successful as it was – while there are plenty of small details in the tanks, and references to World War Two, the overall story and its presentation is highly accessible. The fact that there is something for everyone means those unfamiliar with World War Two armour can still appreciate the themes and characters, while those with an interest in World War Two and its weapons will find numerous things to enjoy, too. Anime typically makes use of weather to help impact the emotional tenour around a match, but Girls und Panzer actually forgoes this: besides the match against Pravda, all matches are set under sunny skies during the TV series. This choice is to ensure that events are the highlight of every match.
- The final bit of evidence that suggests Miho had acted correctly comes in the tenth episode, when former classmate Kōme Akaboshi thanks Miho for having saved her and her crew during the previous year’s battle. That Girls und Panzer would go out of its way to incorporate this moment was meant to erase any lingering doubts about the validity of Miho’s actions, and this meant that, in the knowledge this scene had occurred, willx and Sumeragi’s refusal to accept Miho likely spoke to their own positions, rather than any shortcomings from those who believed Miho did the right thing. To accentuate this point, I ran a pair of polls during the previous #AniTwitWatches week, and voters unanimously agreed that 1) Miho was right, and 2) willx and Sumeragi were not effective in presenting the other perspectives. With this, I am satisfied that my views about Miho did not come about as a result of my lacking life experience or professional development.
- With this, my nine-year-old question finally has a definitive answer, and I am content to move on – Girls und Panzer has provided the answers to all of the unanswered queries that may have lingered after the series had ended, including what Black Forest and the Nishizumi Style actually entails. This issue was a major one at AnimeSuki, where proponents and detractors of the Nishizumi Style respectively argued for and against Maho’s way of doing things in the near-total absence of evidence: those who opposed the Nishizumi Style supposed that it was dependent entirely on overwhelming force, while those who supported the Nishizumi Style suggested that Maho was shown on-screen to be every bit as competent as Maho, and that Miho herself is effective because of her learnings. Whether or not this is true is neither here nor there; given the themes in Girls und Panzer, what the Nishizumi Style is precisely is irrelevant.
- Approaching things from this angle, what does matter is how Miho treats both her teammates and the match itself – with everything on the line, and an imposing opponent, the deck is plainly stacked against Miho and Ooarai. Moreover, Erika’s lingering grudge against Miho leads her to desire nothing less than the total destruction of Ooarai. These feelings of hostility are what lead Erika to attempt a shot on Ooarai’s flag tank moments into the match, and while Girls und Panzer provides a viable account of why Erika dislikes Miho, supplementary materials indicate she’s jealous of Miho for the attention she receives from Maho, and doubly so, because Miho’s considerate nature led her to throw a private match against Erika. Owing to the pacing of its run, and focus on Ooarai, Girls und Panzer had skipped these details, deliberately tipping things so viewers would be inclined to root for Miho.
- There is absolutely northing wrong with this approach, and stories that want viewers to feel a certain way will often take a more direct approach in communicating which characters viewers “should” be supporting. The idea is that, while there is a fantastically detailed world to explore, viewers needn’t concern themselves with certain details because at the end of the day, Girls und Panzer had intended to communicate a very specific message through Miho. Whether or not Black Forest is competent, or other minor details in the story are consistent, is not of concern because at this point in time, the focus is on Miho saving her school.
- Because the story is so focused on Ooarai, things will unfold in such a way so that their story can be told. This is why Erika’s attempt to take Miho out so early on fails: when the gamers and their Type 3 Chi-Nu become bogged down, the driver attempts to change gears, only to have the tank back up and take the shot meant for Miho. This is what allows Ooarai to enter the next phase of their plan: to draw out Black Forest’s forces for a bombardment. With Anteater team out, viewers would be forced to wait a total of three month for the series’ outcomes. The wait hadn’t been a concern for me – I finished the series late in January and turned my attention towards my software engineering, databases and statistics course, while at the same time, wrapping up the renal model I’d been working on. It is with some satisfaction to note I did very well during that particular term.
- Keeping busy ensured that the wait for Girls und Panzer was never too bothersome, and this was the same approach I took for 86 EIGHTY-SIX: the latest episode aired this past weekend. However, I’d been so busy that there hadn’t been a moment to even catch my breath, much less watch the episode. Things are at a point where my workdays are actually more easy-going, and today represented a pleasant slowdown in things. I ended up having dinner from the city’s premiere Chinese restaurant yesterday evening (crispy chicken, sweet and sour pork, stir-fry with Chinese doughnut and fresh crab on a bed of snow pea leaves, plus their house yi mien and wonton special). Things were a ways quieter, so I was able to enjoy the leftover wonton soup with a side of crackers during today’s lunch break. I’ll aim to have a talk for my final thoughts on 86 EIGHTY-SIX towards the end of this month, and in the meantime, I am going to write out a discussion of 2019’s Wataten!, before wrapping up all discussions of Girls und Panzer with next week’s instalment of #AniTwitWatches. With this latest episode set in the books, I leave with viewers the question that AnimeSuki counted as discussion-worthy: does Ooarai deserve a victory here in Girls und Panzer‘s final moments?
Besides sportsmanship and integrity, Girls und Panzer also does one exemplary play prior to the match against Black Forest – earlier in the series, Hana had left home, resolute on finding a way to reconcile Panzerfahren with her family tradition of flower arrangement, even though her mother had been expressly against Hana’s participation in Panzerfahren. At the flower arrangement exhibition, Hana’s mother praises Hana for having brought new life to her creations: before taking up Panzerfahren, Hana’s flower arrangement had been identical to that of her mother’s: exacting, precise and flawless. However, because her craft had been a mirror image of what her mother had done, Hana’s mother had wished for her to continue in the craft to find her own style. Although Panzerfahren prima facie appears contrary to flower arrangement, the sheer power Hana experiences here influences her flower arrangement, and she is able to breathe new life into her pieces, combining the style her mother practises with her own unique approach. Spotting that Panzerfahren has helped her daughter to improve her craft, Hana’s mother no longer opposes Panzerfahren and welcomes Hana back, admitting that there is merit in Hana finding her own way. Similarly, Mako and her grandmother’s relationship has improved since she’d taken up Panzerfahren, and Yukari’s parents are happy she’s amongst good company now. Family has been subtly a part of Girls und Panzer, and save Miho, everyone’s familial bonds have strengthened as a result of Panzerfahren. The fact that Miho remains estranged from her family remains one of the largest unanswered questions in Girls und Panzer, but by this point in the series, having seen everyone improve their relationship with family, it stands to reason that Miho can also reconcile with her mother, much as Hana had. However, being the central character, this path is one that is understandably a little bumpier; this is one of the elements that Girls und Panzer‘s original run did not fully address, and as such, I am hoping that Das Finale answers. While Girls und Panzer is a superb series, this was one of the largest omissions. To accomplish this within Das Finale will therefore be a thematic triumph more so than any victory on the battlefield, although whether or not this occurs is something that is so far into the future, it remains as elusive as Half-Life 3. Here in Girls und Panzer, viewers were left with a 90-day wait between the moment Anteater team take the shot meant for Miho; while this was doubtlessly an excruciatingly long wait, the gaps between Das Finale are even lengthier such that by comparison, the wait between Girls und Panzer‘s tenth and eleventh episode feel like the blink of an eye by comparison. Here in #AniTwitWatches, we no longer have that issue, so participants are most fortunate in that the outcome that awaits Ooarai will be swiftly addressed.