The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Girls und Panzer

Ōarai, Ibaraki: Home of Girls und Panzer

“There is never just one thing that leads to success for anyone. I feel it always a combination of passion, dedication, hard work, and being in the right place at the right time.” —Lauren Conrad

The last major anime locations post I did was published more than a year ago, for Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?, which was set in Colmar, France. In this post, we return to the Eastern coast of Japan just north of Tokyo in the Kantō region — it is no secret that the prefecture of Ibaraki is home to Ōarai-machi (大洗町), the setting for the series Girls und Panzer. In no small part thanks to Girls und Panzer, tourism in the town of Ōarai (which I’ve romanised everywhere else on this blog as Ooarai for convenience’s sake) has been bolstered by fans of the series, who’ve come to visit locations that feature predominantly in the anime. While Ōarai in Girls und Panzer plays host to several Panzerfahren matches, the economy of Ōarai in reality is powered by agriculture and fishing: rice and sweet potatoes, along with flounder, sardines, clams and whitebait are major products from the region (as Anzu’s penchent for dried sweet potatoes can attest). In addition, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency also operates a research center in Ōarai. The town of Ōarai was created from the merger between two villages in the Higashiibaraki district, Ōnuki and Isohama, on November 3, 1954: previously the two villages were established on April 1, 1889. Less than a year later, on July 23, 1955, Natsumi (a village in the Kashima district) was annexed by Ōarai and incorporated into the town.

  • It seems appropriate to kick this post off with an image of Ōarai station. Opened in 1985, the station serves an average of around 2690 passengers daily and is situation 11.6 kilometers from the terminal in Mito. This is one of the larger location posts I’ve made, featuring thirty images of the real world location and their corresponding depictions within Girls und Panzer for a total of sixty images. In keeping with the formatting of the other location posts, each real world image is followed by a figure caption, and the anime equivalent is posted below.

  • The building seen here during the finale, when Miho and the others ride through Ōarai following their victory at the championships. A cursory glance shows just how faithfully details are reproduced, with colours and even text closely matching the real-world equivalent. A Kumon tutoring branch can be seen here: I see branches in my country, and a looking further, the company’s origins date to 1958, when Toru Kumon’s son fared poorly in mathematics. Drafting hand-written notes, his son gradually became more adept in mathematics, and caught the neighbours’ attention. Today, the tutoring company is headquartered in Osaka and has locations in forty-nine countries.

  • In an earlier post, I remarked that I would not be keen on sifting through Google Maps to locate every spot in Ōarai, but I will occasionally do so here. This particular intersection is located at 大洗駅前通り and 県道106号線: the elevated rail carrying the Kashima Rinkai Railway Ōarai Kashima Line can be seen in the background here; the differences in lighting suggest that Miho and the others return to Ōarai by morning.

  • A very large majority of the scenes from Girls und Panzer set in Ōarai can be found in the third, fourth, seventh and final episodes: most of the events of Girls und Panzer are set aboard a vast carrier known as school ships in-universe. These gargantuan sea-faring vessels are self-contained towns helmed by students with the aim of preparing them for the duties of adulthood, and one of the OVAs, “School ship war”, deals with life aboard such ships in a manner reminiscent of Discovery Channel’s Mighty Ships.

  • The narrow streets of Ōarai provide a very claustrophobic environment for armoured combat: modern doctrine does not encourage the use of main battle tanks in armoured settings, since the buildings offer opponents places of cover, and also make it much easier to conceal anti-armour weapons, whether they be RPGs or IEDs. Instead, for an urban setting, IFVs and assault guns would be better suited for engaging infantry. Miho’s preferred tactic is to lure her opponents into urban settings with plenty of cover, knowing it will throw them off.

  • During Ōarai’s first match against St. Glorianna, a majority of Ōarai is cordoned off in order to provide the tanks with an urban environment, and below, a peace officier sets up a sign in front of several shops: the one with the colourful storefront appears to be a grocery shop, and again, a comparison between the two images illustrates the level of detail that went into replicating the scenery in Ōarai for Girls und Panzer.

  • The road to the brick structure visible here, for instance, is actually adjacent to the Brian Ōarai Store and a bakery of sorts. The building’s shutters here are closed, suggesting that much of the area has been cleared to facilitate the match, although the relative lack of shadows in the anime incarnation of the location shows that even in something like Girls und Panzer, not all locations can be rendered with the same graphical fidelity as something like Your Name.

  • This is another angle of the same location where Miho manages to make use of the close quarters to quickly dispatch a handful of the Matilda II tanks. At this point in their career, Ōarai Girls’ tankers are quite inexperienced and lose handily to St. Glorianna, even with Miho’s formidable skills in their corner providing a number of their kills. A part of the joy in watching Girls und Panzer was watching Miho’s leadership helping the different teams grow and unify under her direction, while at the same time, seeing Miho re-discover her love for Panzerfahren thanks to the environment her teammates cultivate.

  • The actual street is more densely built than the anime portrayal; the latter gives a much greater sense of space compared to the real world, but these locations do indeed match up: as the real-world image illustrates, it’s directly behind the brick building, and the house behind have very similar designs. The major difference, besides density, is the fact that the grassy field is not fenced off in Girls und Panzer. Placements of shadows suggest that it is late morning or early in the afternoon.

  • The final stages of the exhibition match are settled at this intersection, and while Miho risks a maneouver to reach the Churchill’s rear, her main gun does not pack enough punch to score a mission-killing hit on Darjeeling’s Churchill. Miho later uses the same technique against Black Forest to defeat Maho’s Tiger I, and again in the movie to overcome Alice’s Centurion. The realism of the armoured combat in Girls und Panzer is the subject of no small debate, but I’ve generally chosen to remain a spectator, preferring to focus on the anime’s overarching themes.

  • In the seventh episode, Miho and her friends return to Ōarai’s ferry terminal after visiting Mako’s grandmother. They travel through the streets of Ōarai by evening, and in the distance, the Ōarai Marine Tower is visible. Even with the low lighting, the details in the anime replication of the actual town is apparent, whether it be the small symbols on the house in the foreground,  or the placement of fliers on the telephone poles and vegetation growing out of the sidewalks.

  • A vacant lot adjacent to a Panasonic store serves as the site for some vendors to set up their stands on the day of the exhibition match. Careful inspection of the sign above the storefront shows that in Girls und Panzer, the brand “Panasonic” has been swapped out for “Nanasonic”: shows usually make use of this technique if they wish to present a product similar to that of a real-world brand without going through the procedure in order to acquire the permissions to use the brand, although there are some cases where shows may use brand name products with the company’s endorsement.

  • The sign welcoming visitors to Ōarai is visible from near the town’s post office, leading to the ferry terminal. I live somewhere landlocked, so there are no ferries: the nearest substantial body of water is the Pacific Ocean, and there are ferries that move between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. I’ve not visited Vancouver Island and Victoria for quite some time, but the island does seem quite picturesque for driving around on. At some point, I should rent a vehicle and drive the island.

  • The complex visible in this image is the Resort Outlet Ōarai, a shopping center near the Ōarai Marine Tower. Miho and her friends visit this facility to purchase swimsuits during the “Water War” OVA, as well as to relax in the aftermath of their match against St. Gloriana. The location also serves as the main event centre during this match, where Ōarai’s citizens congregate to watch the first match hosted locally in quite some time. Inspection of this image shows again that details are faithfully reproduced, whether it be the placement of rooftop chimneys or the number of arches in the buildings.

  • Sixty meters in height, the Ōarai Marine Tower is one of the tallest structures in the area. It provides a beautiful panorama of the area surrounding the town, and also serves excellent ice cream. With an admissions cost of less than 10 CAD, it’s a ways more inexpensive than the 18 CAD for ascending the Calgary Tower. While eclipsed by several buildings downtown, the Calgary Tower continues to offer an impressive view of the Calgary skyline: visiting the Calgary Tower is less costly than the 168 HKD (roughly 28 CAD) for an adult ticket to visit Hong Kong’s Sky 100 Observation Deck.

  • While the Resort Outlet Ōarai is perhaps a quieter mall, its staff are very friendly, and the mall’s proximity to the ocean, coupled with a playground, makes it a suitable point for families to visit. Since Girls und Panzer aired, there’s a small diorama in the mall depicting events from the anime. For folks interested to check this out, the mall is a mere fifteen minutes’ walk from Ōarai Station, although it will take around an hour and forty minutes to reach Ōarai Station from Tokyo Station.

  • Given the vast differences in population, I imagine that for a Tokyoite would regard the Resort Outlet Ōarai the same way I see the smaller shops in places like Cochrane or Bragg Creek in comparison with the largest shopping malls in the city. I’ve got a fondness for small shops, as they exude a much warmer atmosphere and oftentimes, have unique items available for sale that might otherwise be unavailable from larger shops.

  • The Ōarai Marine Tower is visible from the original image, but is noticeably absent in the anime incarnation: a bit of reasoning will find that the overhead image of the entire Resort Outlet Ōarai buildings was taken from the southwestern corner of the tower. The distance separating the two locations is only a hundred meters.

  • This is the interior of the Aqua World Ōarai, the regional aquarium. This large hallway serves as the site of a flower arrangement exhibition that Hana takes part in, and her display, a bold and expressive statement about her love for Panzerfahren, is visible in this frame. It is here that she reconciles with her mother, who feels that Hana’s involvement in Panzerfahren has allowed her to develop a more individualistic approach for arranging flowers.

  • Covering 19,800 m² and featuring an animal population of 68000, Aqua World opened in 2002 and receives around 1.1 million visitors annually. The aquarium is open from nine to five most days, and adults are charged 1850 Yen for admissions (around 21 CAD), making it slightly more expensive than admissions for the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller (18 CAD) or Calgary’s Glenbow Museum (16 CAD). The former, I visited during the Labour Day long weekend of 2016, while in 2013, Heritage Day in Alberta meant that the Glenbow Museum was free of charge; my last visit there prior to 2013 was back when I was still a primary school student.

  • A small side road here that Miho takes to enter Ōarai from a rugged countryside actually leads to the Ōarai Isosaki Shrine, which was established in 856, destroyed in a conflict between 1558-1570 and rebuilt in 1690. Designated a site of cultural significance by the Ibaraki Prefecture, the sea is visible from the site. Folks looking to visit will note that the Shrine is open from six in the morning to five in the afternoon, and there is no cost for admissions.

  • In Girls und Panzer Der Film, Miho and Chi-han Tan’s forces evade the combined forces of St. Gloriana and Pravda during an exercise near this location, and in the original anime, Miho directs her group into the town along this road. This particular spot is only some 120 meters from where the previous screenshot was taken: a hotel occupies the left of this image, while the warehouse to the right is a seafood processing factory.

  • The facilities that Miho and the Panzerfahren club are sent to are modelled after the old Kamioka Elementary School (旧上岡小学校) in Daigo, some seventy kilometers northwest of Ōarai. The wooden school was built in 1879, during the Meiji Restoration period and has closed as an elementary school. Its construction and historical value meant the site has been preserved, with television dramas and movies being filmed on the school grounds.

  • The official site encourages visitors to check out the old Kamioka school: there is no admissions cost, and the grounds are open from nine in the morning to four in the afternoon. Its location is admittedly reminiscent of the Atlas Coal Mine in Drumheller, although in the case of the latter, there is a ten dollar charge to walk the area: I was intrigued by the old tipple and coal mining facilities, and next time I visit, I will be purchasing the “Ghost Tour” package. The site is said to be haunted, and I am rather curious to tour the tipple’s interior, as well as some of the subterranean coal shafts.

  • By April 2016, Girls und Panzer fans had visited the site in such numbers that they were interfering with operations at the facilities, and were otherwise causing disturbances in general. The site’s caretakers have since banned cosplayers from the site, although standard visitors remain free to walk around and photograph the grounds. I’ve heard that some anime fans can be generally unpleasant; while I’ve encountered a few fans from the military-moé genre with whom I’d rather not think about, in general, anime fans are ordinary folks that I have no trouble getting along with. As such, it’s quite logical to suppose that in this case, it is the actions of the few that ruin things for the majority.

  • The interior of the Principal’s office is shown in the pair of images here. Details in the interior, from the wooden panelling of the room and placement of furniture, to framed documents on the walls, are highly conserved between the real-world setting and anime depiction. The only major difference is the Championship flag hanging on the left wall.

  • While I’ve tried my best to avoid duplicate photos in this locations post, the images illustrating the broadcast room have been recycled: no other anime image quite captures the real-world version quite as effectively, with its cramped setting and clutter. Compared to the TV series, Girls und Panzer Der Film seems to have improved on the artwork in different scenes, featuring much more detailed environs than its predecessor.

  • When the engines of Saunders Academy’s C-5M Super Galaxy are heard, the girls run out into the hallways, eager to receive the tanks they’ve come to regard as dearly as family. In these frames, note the posters on the walls, which are highly accurate renditions of those found in the actual school: on the right wall, the distant image is of the water cycle, while the image closer to the camera depicts a volcano’s magma chamber and movement of magma through the Earth’s crust.

  • I’m actually one flight of steps too early in the real-world image relative to the position that the anime equivalent was taken from. The multitude of moments from Girls und Panzer Der Film evokes memories of when I wrote the review for the movie some seven months ago. It was an endeavour taking me twelve hours to complete, but looking back, I’m no longer surprised that reviewing the film on such short order after its home release had no impact on my graduate thesis. I had largely finished the thesis paper by then and was in reasonably good shape to take on the defense, so I was able to take the day off to write the review.

  • Kamoika Elementary’s exterior is visible from this shot. For the curiously-minded, this is where the school is located: compared to previous location posts, I’ve included occasional links to Google Maps so that readers may use them as starting points to explore around. I remark to the fellow who spent a fair bit of time tracking down the locations from the “Anglerfish War” OVA, that tracking down the linked locations took a total of less than ten minutes, because I’m One With the Force and the Force is with me. I realise that Ōarai location posts are probably abundant in number, but nonetheless, when I received the request to write this one, I accepted, knowing that I could consolidate a side-by-side comparison of Girls und Panzer locations under one roof — my roof, to make them more accessible. Besides Girls und Panzer, I also have a request to do Flying Witch.

Even before the rise of Girls und Panzer, Ōarai drew upwards of three million visitors per year — its beaches and golf courses aside, the area also boasts an aquarium known as Aqua World, a marina, as well as several museums. In addition to the plethora of outdoor activities, Ōarai is well-known for its monkfish. Belonging to the Lophius genus, monkfish has a moderately firm texture and is somewhat chewy, with a mild, sweet flavour reminiscent of lobster. Monkfish can be prepared in a number of ways (common means include baking, broiling, frying, grilling, steaming or poaching), and in Tom Clancy’s Threat Vector, John Clark enjoys a finely prepared dinner of monkfish while on an assignment to assassinate a known terrorist while in Libya. With a population of 16823 as of September 2015, the town of Ōarai is a fine destination for visitors looking to partake in marine sports or try out the monkfish. The city can be reached by the Number 51 highway or through the Kashima Rinkai Railway Ōarai Kashima Line, for which there is a stop in Ōarai. With the town covering only 23.74 km², the area is quite small — dedicated fans will have next to no problem identifying all of the locations in Ōarai that featured in Girls und Panzer.

Girls und Panzer Der Film Sequel OVA: Alice War!

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

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

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

Screenshots and Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Major themes in the movie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Kay and Naomi of Saunders University High School arrive in a C-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. Glorianna, Anzio… Good, good, good. Many have come. Now we must decide how Ooarai will fight this war.”

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Treebeard

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • One of the limitations about my earlier Girls und Panzer posts were that they never showcased the tank’s interiors. This single image in a collection of 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 gamesrs undergo appears to have paid off, and here, they take out a Pershing tank but are dispatched shortly after. The remarks the university students exchange during the course of the match indicate that they are a rather haughty bunch, contrary to my experiences that undergraduates are generally more mature than high school students. With due respect, a focused group of undergrads working as a cohesive team would easily be more intimidating than one prodigy going on a killstreak.

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

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

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

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

Gundam Unicorn finale, Full Frontal

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

  • During the course of their duel, Miho’s Panzer 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 11191 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.

Girls und Panzer Der Film Blu-rays set for release on May 27, 2016

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” —Joyce Meyer

I interrupt regular programming to announce that Girls und Panzer Der Film‘s home release (BD and DVD) will be scheduled for May 27, 2016. The complete special edition will retail for 9800 yen (117.41 CAD) and feature 200 minutes of footage: the movie itself is 119 minutes in length, and the bonus edition includes an additional 81 minutes of behind-the-scenes, promotional, opening night and Ooarai Anglerfish Festival 2015 footage. Also included is an eighty-page art booklet, a 20-page correction sheet collection by character designer Isao Sugimoto and a new album with the song “Boko no Uta” song, performed by Miho Nishizumi (Mai Fuchigami) and Alice Kotobuki (Ayana Taketatsu). Additional bonus features include a Bandai Visual+ serial code and a download code for the Girls und Panzer: Sensha-dō Daisakusen! smartphone app. The standard edition BD will cost 7800 yen (95.04 CAD), and the DVD will cost 6800 yen (82.85 CAD). All three variants will include a three-minute OVA following the aftermath of the movie, plus another OVA titled Akiyama Yukari no Sensha Kouza. So, clocking at exactly six months after Girls und Panzer Der Film‘s theatrical release as per predictions, viewers overseas will finally have the opportunity to view the movie for themselves.

  • The last time I was anticipating an anime movie to this extent, it was for the K-On! Movie: its release date was published in April, and I was staring down the MCAT. In an amusing turn of events, I’m facing my Master’s defense later this year, and I remark that the last time Girls und Panzer was airing, I was set to do my Bachelor of Health Science’s defense. For the K-On! Movie, I managed to push out a full review within two days of its release, so this time, I will strive to write the most comprehensive and insightful review of the movie that I can, as quickly as is possible without compromising quality. Regular programming resumes in a few days, after I settle back into things following a research symposium on simulations and VR.

This announcement is most welcome, and in comparison to some other much-anticipated movies in recent memory (namely, the K-On! Movie, which released on BD/DVD seven months after the theatrical release), Girls und Panzer Der Film is moving along at a much more reasonable pace. Girls und Panzer Der Film was a limited theatrical run and as of February 2, 2016, grossed 1.04 billion yen (around 12.5 million CAD) over 718,625 admissions to become the twelfth top-grossing animated movie for 2015 in Japan. To put these numbers in perspective, Spectre has grossed around 1.2 billion CAD internationally, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens grossed 2.7 billion CAD (exchange rates are at the time of writing). With that being said, Girls und Panzer Der Film‘s revenue is still impressive considering that the anime itself is relatively recent. Presently, armed with a concrete release date, all that’s left is to busy oneself: in comparison to the K-On! Movie, time is going to fly for this wait. So, in the spirit of good discussion, is the release date as far off as it may seem for you?

Girls und Panzer Der Film: Impressions After The Nine Minute Preview

“By going to a preview, a director becomes insidiously infected by the process, so by the end of it, you’re thinking, ‘It may be a bit too long.'” —Ridley Scott

Through a bit of sorcery, I’ve had the opportunity to check out the first nine-and-a-half minutes to Girls und Panzer Der Film‘s first battle, which depicts a joint exercise with Chi Ha-tan and Ooarai on one force, and St. Glorianna and Pravda on the other. Miho’s group has cornered four of St. Glorianna’s tanks in a sandtrap at Ooarai Golf Course, but rash decisions from Chi Ha-tan’s commander to rush the St. Glorianna armour leads to a fair number of their forces becoming immobolised. Up on the hill, Ooarai’s remaining forces are serving to hold off the numerically superior Pravda forces, but are forced to retreat. Miho organises a regrouping of her remaining forces and sends them into the city, where Miho organises the remaining armour into positions for bombarding the enemy force, dispatching several tanks in the process. However, despite being slowed down by the Public Morals Committee’s antics, St. Glorianna’s remaining fast armour soon arrives. The preview ends here, and all of the screenshots I subsequently have resemble the screenshots from my Battlefield: Hardline and Star Wars: Battlefront posts, with a logo indicating a beta of sorts. This short preview is from the complete movie, rather than a work-in-progress, and so, though I might be tempted to call this preview a beta, the definition simply won’t fit. Right out of the gates, the preview for Girls und Panzer Der Film drops viewers straight into the heat of things in a OPFOR-BLUFOR exercise between different schools; the movie does not open in this manner, and this preview is intended to represent the first eight minutes of the first battle within the film. This first battle immediately evokes memories of the sort of things that made the TV series memorable, with the different characters interacting with one another amidst the chaos of a match, tank fire and camera angles illustrating the various aspects in detail. So, the main question that remains to be answered is: does the preview excite audiences about the remaining 110-or-so minutes of the movie?

The answer is a resounding “yes”; despite some rather vocal complaints about how the first battle’s “a very weak lead-in to the story” on the basis that “specific teams [are shafted]…[causing] resentment”. Having seen the preview for myself now, I can say that no such thing occurs: the different teams participating are behaving as one might reasonably expect high school students to behave. While their decisions and performance might come across as a bit underwhelming considering they’ve had a bit of time to practise (or maybe even acquire new equipment and armour), ultimately, the technical aspects in Girls und Panzer simply aren’t as relevant as the character interactions and the message said interactions aims to convey. So, while the first battle isn’t a powerhouse performance that some might expect, I find that it adequately sets the table for the remainder of Girls und Panzer Der Film. It was quite pleasant to see old and new characters alike engage in Panzerfahren; though the setting might be different, the emotional tenour and excitement of a Panzerfahren match seen in Girls und Panzer Der Film has not diminished since the TV series finished airing during 2013. Granted, this first battle did not elevate my heart rate anywhere to the same extent as the final battle between Black Forest and Ooarai, but it does set the table for what one can expect later in the movie, and consequently, I find that, while this preview is most certainly not a representation of the movie as a whole, it does build anticipation for the movie, once it does come out.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I’ll kick this post off with a screenshot of Kinuyo Nishi of the Chi Ha-tan Academy, who’s voiced by Asami Seto (Tari Tari‘s Konatsu Miyamoto). This is old news for anyone who’s been following news of the movie, and the earliest trailer’s depiction of this battle led to speculation that the movie would be a protracted training exercise for an international competition.

  • Admittedly, the logo up in the upper right hand corner reminds me of the beta images from my brief forays with the Battlefield: Hardline and Star Wars:Battlefront betas. I was able to acquire forty screenshots and trimmed that down to a much more manageable twenty for this post.

  • Chi ha-tan fields a variety of Japanese tanks; the Type 97 Chi ha-tan and Type 95 Ha-Go were both intended to be anti-infantry weapons, providing a platform with which to smash through softer targets and consequently, lacked the characteristics for anti-armour combat: their guns were inadequate for punching through other armour, and their armour could not withstand hits from other tank guns.

  • One of the main challenges that Girls und Panzer Der Film had to answer was figuring out how to introduce an opponent more intimidating and capable than even Black Forest: the early trailers betrayed absolutely nothing about the nature of such an opponent and in fact, stuck with only illustrating a few moments from the joint exercise the girls are seen doing in this preview.

  • Fukuda is another new character; a student at Chi Ha-tan, she operates the Ha-go and is voiced by Naomi Ōzora. Chi Ha-tan is a school that fosters maternal instincts amongst its students, and besides having a long history with equestrian activities, they’re said to have one of the best libraries of all of the school ships: students are encouraged to publish their own books.

  • Katyusha makes a return as part of the OPFOR team, being paired with St. Glorianna in this joint exercise. There have been hopes that the movie would see theatrical release outside of Japan, but these hopes are dashed by the difficulties pertaining to the song Katyusha; the song is copyrighted under Russian Law ever since the Uruguay Rounds Agreement Act in 1990 restored its copyright.

  • As such, while the song can be used freely in Japan, it’s under copyright in North America, as well, meaning that North American theatres would need to screen a modified version of the film. There’s also been fans who’ve wondered whether or not the film will be screened in Southeast Asia countries, but given that Girls und Panzer itself has not even been played locally yet, chances are slim to none.

  • Here, Sadoko bumps Fukuda’s tanks in the hopes of moving it along, while the Leopon team’s Porsche Tiger brings up the rear. Chi Ha-tan’s tactics in this battle seem unwise: although their spirits are in the right place, their armour does not permit for a full-frontal assault. Instead, their best bet would have been to continue shelling St. Glorianna until Ooarai’s heavier guns were in position to open fire.

  • Mika (voiced by Mamiko Noto, of CLANNAD‘s Kotomi Ichinose and Hanasaku Iroha‘s Tomoe Wajima) and Aki (voiced by Shino Shimoji) are from the Continuation Academy, whose school ship was sourced from a massive icebreaker intended to carve a direct path from Finland to Japan for trade. After the school was established, they acquired a diverse array of tanks and heavily modified them, in time becoming well-known for their pinpoint precision (a callback to Simo Häyhä); they dominate in cold conditions but fare poorly under warm weather. Continuation Academy’s students are known for their determination, enjoyment of solitude and have very strong friendships with one another.

  • After their initial plans fail, Miho pulls everyone out and organises them for urban warfare. Miho excels at adapting to different situations and usually resorts to frustrating her opponents in urban warfare whenever momentum shifts away from her team by making use of tight spaces  to make it more difficult for gunners to gain a clear shot at the opposing tanks, all the while utilising her own knowledge of the area to either set up an ambush or flank her enemies.

  • Besides a Finnish team, there’s also a Romanian and even Canadian team, to name a few. The official documentation paints them as diverse teams with unique strong points and backgrounds. The Canadian school, Maple Academy, makes use of a variety of fast tanks and light tanks. As a reminder of the True North’s vast wilderness, Maple Academy’s school ship has a large forest on its deck: I wonder if they have other Canadian-related club activities, such as maple syrup production and ice hockey.

  • Besides their usual complement of tanks, St. Glorianna also deploys a group of Crusader tanks. These cruiser tanks (essentially fast tanks) were manufactured in great numbers and made substantial contributions to the African campaigns. Early versions of the tank were reliable, though lacking in firepower and armour, but later iterations were armed with a QF 6-pounder main gun, allowing it to take on the Panzer IV. The Public Morals Committee use their armour to cause a pileup, buying Miho enough time to move forwards.

  • I’ve heard that shortly after the movie premièred in Japan, some inordinately zealous fans infiltrated the Ooarai Golf Course (in Ooarai’s northeastern region) for location hunting photographs, and apparently caused enough of a distraction to the patrons such that the authorities were asked to remove them. The folks at Girls und Panzer subsequently released a statement saying that they did not endorse such actions, asking fans to visit the course as patrons.

  • The folks at the golf course have decided to meet these fans half-way, organising tours of the golf course. It’s a clever compromise, allowing fans to visit their favourite locations in the movie without trespassing or interrupting any golf games in progress.

  • Whereas any trained tank crew would be mad focussed and therefore not concern themselves with butterflies, Saki’s lapse of concentration seals the Rabbit team’s fate: they’re blown away by the IS-2 that’s chasing them down. The presence of a butterfly might be a very subtle allusion to the fact that ChouCho is performing Girls und Panzer Der Film‘s main theme, a song that I found to share similarities with the music of Strike Witches.

  • In the preview’s last few minutes, Miho finally manages to organise her forces for an ambush. Again acting as bait, she lures the OPFOR tanks towards their fortified position, and with most of the OPFOR tanks clustered into one place, the BLUFOR forces begin pummeling Pravda’s forces. Watching through this scene, there are at least four confirmed kills before St. Glorianna’s forces finally arrive.

  • Their combined efforts knock out at least four of Pravda’s tanks, although St. Glorianna’s armour soon joins the fray, with their Crusaders approaching from one end, and their heavier tanks from the other, The Churchill St. Glorianna fields is one of the heaviest Allied tanks used during WWII, and later versions had a maximum frontal armour thickness of 152 mm. The biggest guns in Miho’s arsenal include the Porchse Tiger’s KwK 36 (132 mm of penetration at 100 m), the 7.5 cm Pak 39 (110 mm of penetration at 100 m) and the Sturmgeschütz III’s 7.5 cm KwK 40 L/48 (143 mm of penetration at 100 m). Miho’s Panzer IV is also equipped with the KwK 40 L/48.

  • Consequently, while they might’ve lacked the appropriate weapons during their first match, with larger weapons of their own this time, Miho should be able to concentrate fire on the Churchill to disable it even as it arrives, provided that they are targeting the tracks, and side armour even if their main guns are unable to punch through the Churchill’s frontal armour. Things aren’t so straight forwards, though, as the Crusaders also begin arriving to make their presence felt. The preview ends here, and it’s not too difficult to surmise what the outcome of this battle will be: I predict that Miho will lose, but by a small margin.

  • As we near the end of this post, I remark that it’s still too early to formulate any opinions on the movie as a whole. Although there are numerous social media posts on Girls und Panzer Der Film‘s outcome and corresponding reactions, I consider these sources to be unreliable because they’re too brief to be meaningful, consisting of reactions rather than reason. As such, individuals who’ve been attempting to analyse and review the movie on this information alone are unable to gain a sufficiently complete picture of the movie to properly carry out discussion.

  • Once the home release is out, there will be a solid foundation from which discussions can be conducted. Being able to see how different events flow and transition will allow viewers to make a more well-informed assessment as to whether or not the movie fulfils expectations. With this in mind, I’m going to wrap this post up: I’ll definitely come back to do a full post on Girls und Panzer Der Film of the same breadth and depth as I did for Gundam Unicorn‘s finale once the film’s home release is out.

Consequently, this lead to the question of what I will be looking for in Girls und Panzer Der Film. I alluded to this briefly earlier — the movie’s theme is the single most substantial component when considering whether or not the movie meets expectations, and for me, whether or not the movie will be worth the wait will ultimately be dictated by how well the movie can convey its theme about friendship and kindness being central to raising one’s morale during difficult situations. In turn, this will depend on how Miho and the others respond to any adversity that is thrown in their direction. I have a rough idea of how the final battle in the movie turns out through deduction using the soundtrack’s track names, but I remark that knowing the outcome is ultimately irrelevant: it’s more about which decisions Miho and her friends make (in other words, how the battle gets to its conclusion) that impact Girls und Panzer Der Film‘s main thematic element. In light of this, the technical details are merely a bonus rather than an essential. We recall that Girls und Panzer Der Film is no Tom Clancy novel; it is unreasonable to demand that degree of realism from an anime about a group of high school girls participating in what is essentially a team sport and learning about the associated lessons of being in a team. Quite truthfully, I have no clue as to when Girls und Panzer Der Film‘s home release is, and if what I’m reading is correct, there remains another month before the movie stops screening in Japan, which means that, applying the usual estimations, the home release is projected for release in anywhere from March to July 2016. It’s quite a ways off, but through the preview, it’s quite plain that at the minimum, the audio-visual aspects for Girls und Panzer Der Film will be quite high, and so, all that’s left now is to busy myself with a host of things whilst waiting for the film.