The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Maho Nishizumi

Revisiting Girls und Panzer: Celebrating Ooarai’s Victory and Future Directions At The Finale

“It is easy to love your friend, but sometimes the hardest lesson to learn is to love your enemy.” –Sun Tzu

Despite Anteater team’s early exit, they wish Miho the best of luck: Miho directs the remaining Ooarai forces to a hill and they prepare to dig in, using smoke to cover their advance. Maho orders her tanks to hold their fire, and by the time the smoke clears, Ooarai have set up. Having allowed Turtle team and their Hetzer to linger behind, Miho exchanges fire with Black Forest. Although they are outgunned, Turtle team appears and creates enough chaos for Miho to head back down the hill. Miho decides to push fight things out in an urban region, but along the way, Rabbit team’s tank stalls while crossing a river. With Black Forest’s tanks approaching from the rear, Miho makes the call to rescue Rabbit team – she hops over to their M3 with a cable and hitches it to the remaining tanks, who are able to pull Rabbit team out of the water. Their engine restarts to general relief, and Ooarai arrives at the urban centre. Here, they find themselves face-to-face with the Panzer VIII Maus, which quickly disables Mallard team and Hippo team. Feeling that the Maus will continue to be a problem if not dealt with, Miho asks Turtle team to ram the Maus with their Hetzer, while Duck team blocks its turret from rotating. With a carefully placed shot from Hana to the Maus’ engine block, Ooarai takes it out of the game. The Hetzer malfunctions, having taken a beating in the process, and the Student Council pray for Miho’s success. Miho manages to lure the remaining Black Forest tanks into the city streets. Rabbit team and Duck team disperse to draw Black Forest’s tanks off them, successfully disabling several of their tank destroyers, while Miho herself prepares to head off into the high school for a one-on-one with Maho. In a tense showdown, Miho decides to chance everything on the move that had failed against Darjeeling. This time, with everything on the line, Anko team lands a hit squarely to the engine block of Maho’s Tiger I, bringing the finals to an end. After addressing Ooarai and thanking them, Miho heads off to meet Maho, who congratulates Miho on her victory. Erika promises that they’ll meet in Panzerfahren again. Maho is pleased that Miho’s found her way, and in the stands, Shiho gently applauds Miho. The victorious Panzerfahren team later ride through Ooarai in a parade, and the girls promise to unwind in the onsen before riding out on their tanks again. This brings Girls und Panzer‘s TV series to its satisfying conclusion, demonstrating how through unparalleled camaraderie and acceptance from her classmates, Miho’s come to find her own Way of the Tank and proving, beyond any reasonable doubt, that there is room for compassion and empathy in Panzerfahren and reality.

Ooarai’s victory over Black Forest is an integral part of Girls und Panzer; it is a show of how far Miho has come since she made the decision to pick the sport up again, how under her command, Ooarai galvinised itself into fighting for both their futures together and for a commander who plainly shows that she cares about everyone around her. From a narrative standpoint, Ooarai has done everything correctly, and Girls und Panzer had laid down all of the groundwork needed to create a satisfying victory. The sum of Miho’s learnings through her time with the accepting and open-mindedness among her new teammates gives her the courage to lead everyone into battle, and at the same time, treating teammates and opponents alike with compassion is why Ooarai wins every match it has participated in vis-à-vis making friends of opponents. This is a team that deserves its victory because it champions sportsmanship, respectfulness and humility, and together with the fact that everyone is now fighting not for the sake of victory, but for the chance to forge a future together with one another, their spirit is indefatigable. Even a Maus is not enough to shake them from this; once the shock of its appearance wears off, Miho manages to regroup her team and spur them on with a bold plan of taking it out using the hardware they have available to them. Spotting the ingenuity that Miho brings with her into each battle, each of Ooarai’s groups eventually develop a style of their own, too. The Student Council enjoy sneaking up on foes and surprising them at close quarters, while the Volleyball Club use their speed to lure opponents out. The history buffs capitalise on their StuG III’s low profile to snipe foes without being seen, and the first years begin to mind their surroundings and use this to their advantage. As the girls participate in Panzerfahren, they develop a very strong understanding of their preferred styles, as well as a profound connection with their tank’s strengths and weaknesses. Because Ooarai’s entire loadout consists of different tanks, this allows them to fight in highly flexible and creative ways. Adaptiveness is what gives Ooarai such an advantage over their opponents, and with each group having found their own Way of the Tank, in conjunction with the shared goal of saving their school, Ooarai is placed in a position where their victory is deserved: being pushed into a corner prompts everyone to fight harder for one another’s sake, and in this moment, Ooarai wanted to win more badly than Black Forest did as a consequence of their circumstance, which brought out the best in every team. While Ooarai’s win might prima facie appear to be clichéd, a tale of the underdog prevailing in the face of overwhelmingly unfavourable odds, the reality is that this is a team that has sweated, cried and bled for their victory, by placing their faith in, and doing what they can for one another.

The fact that Ooarai advanced through the entirety of the national tournament undefeated does raise an interesting question: what would it take to best Miho and her scrappy teammates in a Panzerfahren battle? With their motley collection of tanks, and a style that is as fluid as water itself, Ooarai fights in a way to maximise chaos, utilising the environment to their advantage and creating scenarios where they can employ divide-and-conquer tactics, breaking up enemy formations and defeating tanks individually. This typically entails drawing foes into close-quarters environments and then allowing tanks to engage foes independently using the methods best suited for the tank and its operators, or otherwise using their own flag tank as bait and setting up scenarios that allow them to finish things off in a decisive, unexpected stroke. Ooarai’s style is succinctly described as a lack of style, and for foes accustomed to entire schools employing a single set of tactics, Ooarai becomes incredibly frustrating to beat – tank crews are trained to act in a coordinated and disciplined manner on the assumption that enemies fight a particular way, so when faced with Ooarai, which frequently uses unorthodox tactics to deceive their foes, it becomes very difficult to overcome a team that is creatively adapting to whatever scenarios one has planned for. However, there is a way to defeat Ooarai nonetheless: because Miho and her teammates are now accustomed to drawing foes in and separating them, understanding that Miho prefers close quarters means not taking their bait. A team could use lighter tanks to employ hit-and-fade tactics from seemingly random directions to confuse Ooarai, and then slowly push them into a kill zone where tanks with longer-range weapons can be utilised. Similarly, knowing Ooarai’s preference for divide-and-conquer means keeping one’s tanks together in small groups to defend against rushes from Ooarai. A combination of light tanks and medium tanks, coupled with one or two heavy tanks, and a small number of tank destroyers would therefore be the best setup against Ooarai. Because Ooarai’s setup is weaker at long-range combat, defeating them would entail thinning out some of their numbers at the very beginning, before Miho can organise a divide-and-conquer strategy, and then as the match does push into close quarters, keeping tanks together in groups of three while at the same time, maintaining mobility and repositioning to constantly ensure Ooarai’s tanks do not box one in to a trap. Miho is definitely not unbeatable by any stretch, although schools would need to be willing to use tricks of their own to gain the upper hand over Ooarai, and this is a direction that Girls und Panzer has indeed taken, through both Der Film and Das Finale, to ensure that battles remain engaging. When opponents also employ deception and mix things up, as Miho is wont to doing, matches become more thrilling to watch because even though the outcome is preordained, it forces Ooarai to really work for their wins, creating situations that are even more compelling and engaging.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Unlike the viewers of 2012, #AniTwitWatches is fortunate in that we’ve got all of the episodes available to us right out of the gates. Girls und Panzer‘s final two episodes aired three months after the tenth episode, and it was here that the series really kicked things up a notch. The general consensus amongst contemporary viewers, and unanimously amongst the folks I spoke with, that Ooarai had done everything conceivable as to deserve their win against a team whose reputation is fearsome, and whose equipment seems overwhelmingly powerful. As such, when I approached the final two episodes, my expectations were that Ooarai would win, but the battle for it would be unlike any other that Miho and her teammates had previously faced. This approach is typical to Girls und Panzer, and the nearest equivalent I can think of is Ip Man (as well as its sequels): the titular Ip Man (Donnie Yen) is never shown as losing, and at worst, only will draw with opponents.

  • An unbeatable protagonist works in fiction when the story deals with another facet to their character that sees advancement. For Ip Man, Ip Man is shown as navigating challenges surrounding family and community life as his circumstances change. Similarly, Girls und Panzer‘s focus is on Miho rediscovering herself. Her skill in Panzerfahren is never a concern because it was never the core of the series, and consequently, Ooarai winning would represent more than a mere Cinderella Story: it is a tangible, definitive show of how Miho’s embraced her own style enough to lead an entire team to the top. to see Ooarai take the championship was centred around the fact that Miho had not done enough to earn her victory. However, what counts as “enough” is a subjective measure, and in the context of Girls und Panzer, I counter-argue that Miho has contributed greatly to Ooarai’s Panzerfahren. She is selfless and hard-working, doing everything she can to ensure everyone’s success. She takes responsibility for her actions and looks after those around her.

  • After Miho organises her forces on the hill and sends Black Forest into disarray, some folks began to feel that the school as a whole was overrated, a paper tiger. However, I would counter-argue that Black Forest’s performance against Ooarai is a show of when their strategy can be made to fail. Rather than supposing that Black Forest is deficient, Kay puts it best: Black Forest folds when things begin going in a way they’ve never trained for. At the start of this match, initiative rests purely with Black Forest, but after Turtle team use their Hetzer to create a distraction, Black Forests’ crews become so surprised at the fact that no one’s ever driven a smaller tank besides theirs to stay out of fire, that they lose composure and begin to panic. This allows Miho’s team to escape: while it does make Black Forest look incompetent, the fact is that previously, other schools simply attempted to match forces with Black Forest, and since Black Forest has tougher tanks, they simply came out on top.

  • Ooarai’s unorthodox tactics creates frustration, and this is ultimately why Black Forest is thrown into disarray. Miho’s intention here isn’t to fight them, since in open fields, Black Forests’ tanks still have the advantage. Instead, with the distraction the Student Council have created, Miho leads all of her tanks back down towards a town, making use of confusion and smoke to mask their escape. Whereas other schools seem reluctant to use smoke, Ooarai utilises it liberally to their advantage: this trait is decidedly ninja-like, and as Christopher Nolan’s Ra’s al Ghul remarks, theatricality and deception are powerful agents, making a single individual feel like ten, and making ten feel like a hundred. Now that I think about it, Ooarai’s tactics resembles those of ninjutsu, counting on a combination of patience and agility to overcome opponents. To the uninitiated, Ooarai is a frustrating opponent to fight because they never go in for a head-on confrontation, which is where schools with superior equipment would fare better in.

  • Similarly, because Ooarai runs a motley collection of tanks, each with different properties, other schools cannot simply adopt a generalised set of tactics. For instance, Saunders fielded M4 Shermans exclusively, which means that knowing their armour properties, and their own tanks’ capabilities, would allow another school to devise an optimal style of engaging them. Ooarai’s light tanks can be taken out of the fight in a single shot, but they are highly mobile, and while one is focused on fighting something like the Type 89 or Char B1 Bis, one leaves themselves vulnerable to an ambush from the Panzer IV, StuG III or Porsche Tiger. Here, one of the mechanical club’s members fix the fickle engine on the Porsche Tiger, which begins smoking mid-combat.

  • Having largely sat the flame wars at AnimeSuki during the day, by the time Girls und Panzer‘s final two episodes aired, I was largely finished my thesis project and had been quite ready to defend. This project had been a multi-scale model of the renal system, and I was aiming to show how using a common environment would allow for system state to be stored while transitioning between different granularities. While the idea of a singleton is counted as an anti-pattern in software engineering, it is useful to create a single environment when it comes to multi-scale spaces, and with my project, I demonstrated that some patterns in software engineering may not always be practical in every circumstance: using a singleton to store state values allowed my model to compute system-wide values, and then these values would influence how my agent-based model behaved at lower levels. Transitioning between the levels was seamless, because the values were being computed in a shared environment, and in the end, this project formed the basis for my graduate thesis: using similar principles, I built a much more sophisticated model of a cell, even simulating tubule assembly and disassembly in response to environmental factors.

  • Watching Girls und Panzer helped me to unwind after days spent writing my paper and keeping up with my other courses (databases, statistics and software engineering), and the series gave me much to smile about. Here, Erika throws a tantrum after her frustrations reach a boiling point when the tracks to her Tiger II become dislodged. The me of nine years earlier enjoyed a cruel laugh at Erika’s expense, but the me of the present understands that Erika had an abrasive personality, because her loneliness led her to constantly want to prove herself to Maho and earn Maho’s praise. The nine year gap between my initial experience and the present has meant that I’ve become a little more understanding of why stories unfold the way that they do, and it is for this reason that I hold the belief that it is unnecessary, and inappropriate, to become impatient with fictional characters.

  • The idea that fictional high school students need to be held to the same standard as adults, trained professionals or experts in their field, is absolutely ludicrous: we don’t expect high school students in reality to produce the same level of work or possess the same level of understanding as someone who’s been in a discipline for years, or even decades. During the science fair I adjudicated earlier this month, the instructions had plainly been to offer constructive feedback and appreciate that these are high school students with a keen interest in a topic. As such, while some projects had clear design flaws or a misunderstanding of limitations, my job wasn’t to pick this apart, but rather, to point it out and make helpful suggestions. If a student acknowledges this, then they’ve demonstrated satisfactory understanding of their experiments and its outcomes. This science fair was for one of the city’s most prestigious private academies, and while there will be another city-wide science fair later this month, I’ll have to sit this out on account of my moving.

  • Applying the same logic to Girls und Panzer makes things all the more enjoyable: we are dealing with students who are aged anywhere from 14 to 18 – while bright and capable, they’re not anywhere nearly as experienced as an expert or professional, so one has to allow for the fact that sometimes, mistakes will occur. With this being said, high school students are also capable of innovation, considering resourceful and creative manners to problems that professionals might dismiss. Thus, when they get things right, high school students can impress, as well: here in Girls und Panzer, Miho decisively shows that she’s committed to her approach towards Panzerfahren, and when Rabbit team’s M3 stalls, her decision is to rescue them, no questions asked. She asks her teammates to provide covering fire so the rescue doesn’t jeopardise things, and banks on the fact that saving the M3 gives everyone the best chance they have of winning.

  • One thing I did notice during the original run was how an anonymous 2chan user claimed that Miho’s jump to reach Mallard Team’s Char B1 Bis from her Panzer IV required a horizontal distance of 5.17 metres. However, this individual’s methodology was completely off the mark, since they measured Miho’s height and horizontal distance based on frames. Inspection of an earlier frame finds that the Panzer IV is parked about 1.8 metres from the Char B1 Bis. My conclusion here is simple: 2chan’s users made a faulty observation, worked with a false assumption, employed inconsistent methodologies and therefore got an invalid conclusion. This is typical of message boards, and the reality of the moment was that ACTAS chose to show the sort of person Miho was through a bit of visual exaggeration. Even if Miho had jumped 5.17 metres, Galina Chistyakova holds the world record of 7.52 metres. Missteps (and the insistence that these aren’t missteps) like these are precisely the reason why, to this day, I do not count message boards like 2chan as having anything approaching credible information.

  • After Rabbit team nears the riverbanks, their engine comes back to life. Saori is overjoyed, and this moment, while considerably less perilous than Miho’s rescue of the stricken Panzer III, reiterates to viewers that Miho will continue being herself. In fact, choosing not to rescue Rabbit team would contradict what Miho had stood for: she wants to pursue Panzerfahren in her own way, and sacrificing a team to save the school, while seemingly the “right” thing to do, actually may have unforeseen consequences. Ooarai’s limited tank count means that every working tank is valuable, and needlessly throwing tanks away could very well come back to cost Ooarai later.

  • While Maho’s accustomed to Miho’s antics and orders her tanks forward, Erika impatiently expresses a want to crush Ooarai underfoot. Maho rocks the Tiger I, the quintessential German heavy tank of World War Two, while Erika’s team operates the Tiger II, which fits a sloped turret on the Tiger chassis and equips the KwK 43, which could defeat up to 304 mm of RHAe at ranges of 100 metres or less. Despite their firepower, the combination of comparatively inaccurate gunners and the fact that Ooarai’s tanks are comparatively small means that the 88 mm shells Black Forests lobs are ineffectual: beyond Anteater team, Ooarai still has seven of their eight tanks available to them.

  • Upon reaching a narrow stone bridge, Ooarai crosses it to reach the urban area: Miho’s feeling that it’s easier if they settle things in a CQC environment, and to buy themselves more time, the mechanical club manages to do a “wheelie” with their Porsche Tiger, destroying the bridge and forcing Black Forest to take the long way around. This stunt reminded me of a scene in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, where Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin manage to board the Bucklebury Ferry to cross the Brandywine river ahead of the Black Riders, in turn forcing the Nazgûl to cross at Brandywine Bridge some twenty miles (32 kilometres) to the north. With a total distance of 40 miles to cover, and with the average horse capable of sustaining a speed of around 30 miles per hour, taking the ferry gives Frodo and company a one hour and twenty minute head start over their pursuers.

  • No such metrics are presented in Girls und Panzer, but with Black Forest’s main force now behind them, Miho focuses on organising her tanks urban warfare using the time available to her. However, in the narrow streets lined with Khrushchyovka-like apartments, Ooarai suddenly spots a lone Panzer III and orders her tanks after it, hoping to neutralise it before it can radio back to Maho’s main forces and give away their position. Here, viewers and Ooarai alike are dealt their biggest surprise in the whole of Girls und Panzer: the Panzer VIII Maus, which was the largest heavy tank ever built. With a maximum armour thickness of 220 mm in the front, and a minimum of 150 mm of armour in the back, the Maus could withstand everything Ooarai had to throw at it: even the Porsch Tiger’s KwK 36 could only penetrate 219 mm of armour at under 100 metres, and this was assuming it was using PzGr. 40 rounds.

  • Armed with a 128 mm KwK 44, the Maus could trivially deal with any Allied tank: its 28.3 kilogram armour-piercing shells could punch through 312 mm of armour at ranges of up to half a kilometre. When faced with a Maus, Ooarai stands no chance in a head-on confrontation, and swiftly lose two tanks (the Char B1 Bis and StuG III) here. Attempts to take the Maus on fails: nothing in Ooarai’s arsenal would have been able to even scratch it from the front. Had the Maus been deployed on the battlefield, it is likely that Allied forces would’ve withdrawn their forces from the area and called in an airstrike to deal with these behemoths, which were designed as breakthrough tanks. However, despite their immense armour and firepower, the Maus has several key weaknesses. Its heavy armour rendered it extremely heavy (188 tonnes), and this left it incredibly slow; the Maus could only reach a maximum speed of 20 km/h.

  • Because of the Maus’ low mobility, one can readily surmise that Maho had foreseen that Miho would try to draw combat into the close quarters of an urban area, and therefore, placed the Maus here so that Ooarai’s tanks could be eliminated. In this fight, Maho’s advantage is not only in numbers; she knows how Miho will likely respond to things and plan accordingly. Thus, when the match begins, Miho is only aware of the fact that Black Forest is fielding Tiger Is, Tiger IIs, Jagdpanthers and other, better known Wehrmacht tanks. The Maus comes as a surprise even to her, and I imagine this tank had been a recent acquisition. While Black Forest gives the impression of depending on overwhelming firepower to win the day, I will note that Maho is able to set up situations so that these slower tanks do not become a liability, and moreover, the fact is that Black Forest does have several Panzer IIIs in their inventory, which means, at least in theory, Black Forest is able to counter Ooarai where speed and mobility are concerned.

  • Wild Goose suggested to the AnimeSuki community, in jest, that it would take an M1A2 Abrams to defeat a Maus, but this would, strictly speaking, be overkill: the Abrams’ greatest advantage over the Maus is its mobility, and spotting this, Miho decides that they must take out the Maus here and now, otherwise, they’ll be put at a disadvantage. The Panzer III accompanying the Maus is swiftly destroyed, and when Saori comments on the Maus’ extreme dimensions as resembling a tank stacked on another tank, Miho gains a stroke of inspiration. She asks Turtle team and Duck team to assist in a bold tactic: Turtle team and their Hetzer will act as a makeshift ramp to jam the Maus in place, while Duck team drives onto the Maus and prevents its turret from rotating.

  • In previous Girls und Panzer discussions, I’ve never really featured the volleyball club too much, and while their Type 89’s primary armament was intended for anti-infantry combat rather than anti-tank combat, this team nonetheless remains plucky, utilising their Type 89’s mobility to Ooarai’s advantage. Of the volleyball club’s members, I’m the most fond of Taeko Kondō (front right), who has a friendly personality and acts as Duck team’s radio operator. She’s not quite as hot-blooded as commander Noriko Isobe or gunner Akebi Sasaki, who try to push against their Type 89’s walls while Anko team makes a single, well-placed shot to the Maus’ engine block.

  • This takes the Maus out of the game, impressing the spectators and prompting Darjeeling to remark that this is something that St. Gloriana may find merit in trying, too. For schools like Pravda, however, this is quite unnecessary: Katyusha has access to the KV-2 and its M1938 (M-10) 152 mm howitzer, whose 40 kilogram armour-piercing projectiles could punch through 800 mm of concrete. Even a modern tank would likely be mission-killed by a direct hit, and definitely rattled by such an impact, but on the flip-side, the KV-2’s armour was relatively thin (a maximum of 110 mm): although quite protected against early German tanks, the Pak 40 would easily get through it. Contemporary tanks could simply out-manoeuvre it and count on modern shells to one-shot a KV-2. Since Ooarai lacked any direct means against the Maus, Miho resorts to indirect means of taking it out.

  • Ooarai’s success comes at a cost: the Hetzer’s on-board computer determines that having a Maus and Type 89 sitting on top of it would be detrimental, and the Student Council’s tank bites the dust moments after they make to rejoin Miho. They’ve done well to make it this far; the Hetzer upgrade has really allowed Anzu to play to her strengths – throughout Girls und Panzer, Momo continued to miss shots, even at ranges close enough for contact shots, and against stationary targets. As Turtle team continued to train, Anzu would swap places with Momo. This was highly effective against Pravda, where Anzu had used the 38(t)’s 37 mm gun to blow tracks off heavier enemy tanks and score mobility kills, buying Miho time to set things up. With the Student Council out of play, Ooarai is down to their last four tanks.

  • Amidst the narrow, winding city streets, Rabbit team shows extraordinary ingenuity in their duel against Black Forest’s tank destroyers: in saving the first years, Miho allows them to really find their own way and draw fire away from her flag tank. Inspired by the film Kelly’s Heroes, the first years use the environment to their advantage and, while the Elefant cannot easily turn here, manage to flank it. Although its armour is too thick for conventional assault, Saki suggests hitting the hatch the Elefant uses to discard spent shell casings, taking the Elefant out of the fight. Later, Rabbit team even defeats the Jagdtiger, the heaviest tank the Germans had mass produced. Essentially a smaller Maus, the Jagdtiger also carried the KwK 44: rather than directly trading blows with it, the first years count on the fact the Jagdtiger crew is fixated on defeating them and fails to mind their surroundings. While the Jagdtiger does get a finishing shot off, it tumbles into a dry canal and snaps its barrel off in the process.

  • In a final act of defiance, Leopon team parks their Porsche Tiger in front of the school gates, preventing Erika and the other Black Forest tanks from backing up Maho. In a titanic one-on-one duel, Miho and Maho find themselves evenly matched against one another, unable to decisively deal the other a killing blow. While Miho and Maho fight it out, Duck team had been drawing the remainder of Black Forest’s tanks away from Miho to give her a chance to win, but they are destroyed by the pursuing forces. Despite Ooarai’s resilience, a prolonged battle would turn against Miho very quickly, hence her decision to attempt a mano-a-mano battle. Some argued that Miho’s strategy was “ruthless”, entailing sacrificing her entire team for a one-on-one, but this was more of a decision made on the basis that Ooarai never had the resources to go toe-to-toe against Black Forest in a direct confrontation: the whole point had always been about what Miho’s teammates were willing to do for her, after everything she’d put down on the line for them.

  • Whether or not Maho’s teammates care about their school, or Maho herself, is ultimately irrelevant to the discussion because this is a story about Ooarai, not Black Forest – from Ooarai’s perspective, and therefore, the perspective ACTAS wanted viewers to focus on, what matters is that Miho has done a satisfactory job of rallying her teammates to the task at hand, against an intimidating foe. Assumptions about Black Forest don’t hold any significance because their role is simply to serve as a powerful opponent standing between Ooarai and their goal of saving their school. The story has no need to establish them further than this: it is therefore counterproductive to consider whether or not they were competent or lived up to their reputation. As it was, Girls und Panzer had done a fantastic job of guiding viewers through what its aims were – when an anime makes its themes as plain as day, the goal in the end is ultimately entertainment, and in this capacity, Girls und Panzer indubitably succeeds.

  • In the weeks after Girls und Panzer ended, some spent a nontrivial amount of time attempting to defend claims that Miho had not earned her victory because Black Forest appeared as though they were forcibly nerfed. My final remarks on this are simple: this is plainly not the case, since Black Forest still had the advantage of numbers by the time Miho and Maho were duelling, with all of Ooarai’s other tanks immobilised. The chaos Ooarai had wrought ultimately succeeded in buying them time to set up a one-on-one battle, which Miho had bet everything on. Similarly, Maho’s duel with Miho reveals that both sisters are competent commanders: Maho is a shade more skilful overall, while Miho’s crew is a shade more devoted. Black Forest was not rendered incompetent for the sake of the story as was claimed, and the final outcome is ultimately plausible: Panzerfahren matches are very fluid, and while schools may have their styles, matches always descend into chaos in close quarters, which is why flag tank matches are counted as being the most exciting to watch in-universe.

  • When it became clear that Ooarai losing would’ve contradicted Girls und Panzer‘s themes, these individuals contended that the most “realistic” ending given Black Forest’s advantage should have been to have them lose, but for the board of directors at MEXT to recognise Ooarai as having potential and allowing them to remain open anyways. Such an ending actually fails to convey the themes that Girls und Panzer were going for: I’d previously defined “victory” as achieving one’s aims. Miho had stated herself that their goal was to take Ooarai all the way to the championship title, and anything less would show that Miho had failed to fulfil her word to her fellow teammates. On this token, allowing Ooarai to remain open despite their losing would satisfy another theme (i.e. “things work out in unexpected ways in life, but as long as one works hard, things may favour them in the long run”), but this was not Girls und Panzer‘s initial objective, which was to show how people can find their own way and achieve excellence in the company of accepting, open-minded people. By this point in time, I’ve said everything I’ve felt to be relevant regarding the old arguments accompanying Girls und Panzer‘s original run.

  • While it is immature of me to be concerned with anime opinions dating back nine years, I’ve long wished to express these thoughts – back then, I deemed it imprudent to waste time on arguing with shallow, stubborn individuals, and for my patience, I did very well in the things that mattered (I made the Dean’s List that year and was offered an NSERC USRA, for instance). A part of me had always wanted to speak up, but I never had the chance: by the time I was done with my undergraduate project, the community had moved on to fighting over other anime, and my thoughts were completely ignored. I’ve never had the opportunity for feedback until this #AniTwitWatches changed that, which finally allowed me a chance to learn more about some of Girls und Panzer‘s most controversial topics. Besides learning more about what others think of said moments, this revisit allowed me to formulate more articulate arguments to counter some of what I thought to be the most gratuitous claims against Girls und Panzer – in many ways, one can consider these revisit posts to be posts I’ve been drafting in my mind for the past nine years, only becoming reality in the present day.

  • At the end of the day, Black Forest gracefully accepts their defeat at Ooarai’s hands; Maho and Miho reconcile as fellow commanders, and this moment had left me impressed. It is clear that Black Forest was never meant to be a heartless, ruthless school focused on the single-minded pursuit of victory. Positivity is a major part of Girls und Panzer, and through this #AniTwitWatches with the community, it becomes clear that humility and compassion are plainly to be celebrated. My own enjoyment of the series and its finale was very positive – after the series concluded, I submitted my written thesis and steeled myself for the oral defence. Because this was so long ago, I only remember that during that oral exam, I remained in control the entire time, presenting my work, answering questions, acknowledging improvements and showcasing the implications of this project, without any trouble.

  • The outcome of Ooarai’s victory is complete in the sense that Maho and even Erika don’t feel particularly bothered by what happened: Maho’s proud that Miho’s found her own way, and I would imagine that Erika’s happy to have fought a Miho fighting her hardest. We recall that Maho had embraced the Nishizumi Style and its path so Miho could pursue her own future, while Erika’s hatred of Miho stems from a past match against her where Miho had held back to let Erika win. Knowing this history helps to account for why Maho and Erika were the final opponents for Miho; while not antagonistic in and of themselves, they do represent the part of Miho’s past that she’d been seeking to run away from. In standing her ground in battle against Maho and Erika, Miho proves to both that she’s matured, able to take responsibility and do what is expected of her, which makes Maho proud, and shows Erika that Miho respects her as an opponent and as a person.

  • Questions of what exactly the Nishizumi Style is have lingered since Girls und Panzer ended, and I imagine that it was originally left as an exercise to the viewers, similarly to how some things in Rick and Morty are left unexplained (such as the precise problem with the Cob World: Rick’s reaction itself is the joke). If, and when I am asked about the Nishizumi Style, it is the practise of being organised and always advancing in a measured, disciplined fashion. During the match against Ooarai, Maho’s tanks never once retreat or fall back. However, while Shiho may not find Miho a successor to the family traditions, she accepts that her daughter is impressive in her own right, as well. The show of Shiho applauding Miho’s victory was meant to indicate that, had Miho sought out her mother in conversation here, she might’ve gotten something meaningful out of things. Leaving this unattended left the one small hole in an otherwise masterpiece-level experience.

  • With Miho victorious, and Ooarai’s future secure for the present, Girls und Panzer draws to a close. The me of nine years earlier did not know that we would be receiving a continuation in the form of Der Film and Das Finale, along with three more OVAs on top of the six that were bundled with the original series. I do feel that Girls und Panzer could have ended here; save for Miho having a proper heart-to-heart talk with Shiho, every other detail in the series had been attended to in a decisive, satisfactory manner. When Girls und Panzer ended, I wrapped up my undergraduate thesis defense and entered my summer. Despite having been offered an NSERC USRA and gearing up to build a peer-to-peer module for simulating multiple concurrent processes, I was also treading into uncertain grounds, at the crossroads between medical school and graduate school. The summer would also see to the largest flood to afflict my area in over a century, and said flood brought with it a melancholy I’d never experienced before. However, this is going to be a story for another time: this year marks the ten year anniversary to Girls und Panzer‘s release, and I’ve got one more idea of a post to celebrate this milestone.

With my fourth rewatch of Girls und Panzer now concluded, I would like to first thank the #AniTwitWatches community again for both voting for this series, as well as accompanying both myself and one another through this journey. The inevitable question of what lay ahead for Girls und Panzer would have doubtlessly been on the minds of everyone who’d just finished the series. Girls und Panzer had concluded in a decisive, definitive and satisfying manner; Ooarai had been saved and Miho had found her own Way of the Tank, which paved the way for a future where Miho could continue to train alongside her friends at a school she’s come to hold very dear. Had Girls und Panzer ended here, the story would’ve closed off in a good place, leaving the viewers’ imagination and creativity to fill in any gaps, with the question of whether or not Miho could reconcile with Shiho being one of the larger questions Girls und Panzer had left unanswered. However, viewers were almost immediately assured that ACTAS would be producing new Girls und Panzer content after the series ended: the match against Anzio had been regarded as a hole in the series, and with some viewers jumping to the conclusion that Anchovy was unsportsmanlike, an OVA was needed to indicate this wasn’t true to any capacity. The Anzio OVA thus brought additional depth to Girls und Panzer. Six more OVAs were also released along with the series, giving the characters some downtime, showing a few behind-the-scenes moments and giving viewers a modicum of insight into the world that is Girls und Panzer. It was therefore to general surprise that a movie would be made: Girls und Panzer Der Film would essentially take the events of Girls und Panzer and scale it up for the silver screen. While perhaps not adding anything novel to the themes and messages of Girls und Panzer, Der Film represents what was possible in Panzerfahren matches and was well-received. However, things didn’t stop here: ACTAS announced that another series, Das Finale, would be set after Der Film. Das Finale remains true to the approach that had been so successful for Girls und Panzer: it is written around the premise of securing another championship title so Momo can gain admittance to a post-secondary of her choice. Despite its unconventional release schedule, Das Finale represents a chance for Girls und Panzer to wrap up Miho’s story, as well – besides passing on the torch to the other students so Ooarai can continue to be successful, Miho still has yet to properly have a face-to-face conversation with Shiho. The hope is that Das Finale, per its name, concludes Miho’s story: I am of the mind that doing this would be the surest sign that Miho has overcome her old fears and now sports the confidence to move onwards. In the meantime, it is with some surprise I note that it has now been nine years since I watched Girls und Panzer. In that time, I’ve since earned graduate degree in computer science and have the minimal amount of both professional and life experience to conclude that Girls und Panzer‘s themes of sportsmanship, teamwork, compassion and empathy do indeed hold relevance in the real world, whereas dispassionate, cold and ruthless mindsets only result in isolation, disappointment and failure.

Revisiting Girls und Panzer: Remarks Concerning Family, Reconciliation and Sportsmanship At The Intermission’s Eve

“No family is perfect. We argue, we fight, we even stop talking to each other at times, but in the end, family is family. The love will always be there.” –Unknown

Capitalising on the time Katyusha has allowed for the surrender, Miho sets her teammates with repairing their tanks and asks Yukari, Mako, Riko and Midoriko to help with reconnaissance – in order to plan out their next move, Miho needs to know how Pravada’s tanks are organised. The two teams come back from their assignment with the tanks’ locations plotted out, but upon noticing her teammates beginning to lose hope amidst the cold winter night, Miho begins performing the Anglerfish dance to give her teammates hope. When Pravada’s emissaries return, Miho remarks that they’d prefer to see the match through to the end. Surprised, Katyusha prepares to do battle with Miho, but Miho surprises her by aiming straight for the most heavily fortified position in Katyusha’s cordon. This unexpected move catches Katyusha off-guard, and Ooarai’s tanks are able to disperse. Nonna uses her IS-2 to pick off several of Ooarai’s tanks, and Miho authorises Yukari’s offer to perform more reconnaissance. Once she locates Pravda’s flag tank and learns it’s been circling the village, away from the combat, she relays its position to Miho, who orders the Hippo team into position. Duck team manages to evade a crushing blow from the Pravda tanks long enough for the StuG III to take out Pravda’s flag tank, ending the match. In the aftermath, Katyusa thanks Miho for a match well-played and promises to watch the finale. Ooarai advances to the finals, where they will square off against Black Forest, Miho’s previous school. Black Forest is renowned for fielding heavy German tanks in large numbers, so the student council continue their search for new tanks. They find a Japanese Type 3 Chi-Nu and receive offers from several gamers to operate it; they become Anteater team. By this point in time, the mechanics club have also finished bringing the Porsche Tiger online, and the student council pick up a Jagdpanzer 38 conversion kit. Hana later invites her friends to a flower arrangement exhibition, where it is revealed Hana’s mother has reconciled with Hana after becoming impressed with how Hana is now able to express her own individuality in flower arrangement. On the day of the finale, Darjeeling, Kay and Katyusha appear to wish Miho all the best. As Ooarai and Black Forest greet one another prior to starting the match, Kōme Akaboshi approaches Miho and thanks her for having saved her crew during the previous year, as well as expressing relief that Miho’s still in Panzerfahren. When the match starts, Ooarai find themselves under fire almost immediately. Erika takes aim with the intent of ending the match in seconds, but when Anteater struggles with their tank, they inadvertently take the shot meant for Anko.

Despite its portrayal of Shiho as being a very strict practitioner of Panzerfahren, and Black Forest’s reputation as an efficient, devastating opponent to fight against, Girls und Panzer continues to steer the atmosphere in a direction to remind viewers that at heart, this is a series about sportsmanship and respect for one’s opponents. At the finale itself, Miho has the chance to meet with all of her previous opponents anew: Darjeeling has shown up to greet Miho and compliments her on having found a way of not only winning matches, but winning hearts and minds of those she faces in competition. The reason why this is so important is because this appears to be the heart of Panzerfahren. Kay is similarly excited to see what Miho has up her sleeve, and perhaps most surprisingly of all, Katyusha has appeared to support Miho whole-heartedly, asking Miho to provide the most exciting match that she can. The reason why Miho is able to win hearts and minds of her own teammates and those she faces off against is because she’s humble, considerate and thoughtful. To Miho, what comes first is looking after those around her, and so, when her teammates fight alongside one another with such devotion and conviction, the cohesiveness is visible even to her opponents, inspiring them and encouraging them to improve, as well. Miho’s brand of Panzerfahren isn’t about overwhelming firepower, unwavering defense, relentless advance or gimmicks, returning the sport to its origins and placing an emphasis on supporting one another through teamwork. It is a sincere expression of compassion, sportsmanship and acceptance, one that Ooarai’s opponents do not encounter in matches, and in this way, all of Ooarai’s opponents view Miho as someone who finds ways of rallying her teammates together to create uncommon solutions to problems they face, which in turn, creates variety and excitement in a sport that has previously been very regimented and structured along each school’s themes and their respective doctrines. In having each of Darjeeling, Kay and Katyusha show up, Girls und Panzer similarly reminds viewers that Panzerfahren is not warfare, and that sportsmanship, integrity and honour are the highest traditions of this sport: as important as it is to be adaptive, creative and decisive in matches, treating one’s opponents with respect is even more important. Girls und Panzer would not be able to convey its themes if Black Forest and Shiho stood as the lone exception to this rule, so even as Ooarai takes on Black Forest in the finale, it stands to reason that even Black Forest and Shiho observe these traditions, even if Girls und Panzer has not yet given them time to demonstrate this as vividly as Darjeeling, Kay and Katyusha do.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • For this week, and the final round of #AniTwitWatches, I promise that I will not subject readers to another 10k-word post. I’ve said everything I’ve needed to on the matter, and generally speaking, I prefer talking about topics that are more positive. Last time we left off, Momo had revealed Ooarai was going to shut down, hence the importance of winning the tournament: this would be to prove that Ooarai still has merits. The revelation is a shocker, but Miho quickly recovers and tasks her crews with repairing their tanks, as well as sending out scouts to determine how Pravda has arranged their tanks. Besides readying themselves to fight, keeping busy also has an important psychological advantage in keeping the teams from thinking about what happens if they should fail.

  • This is something that Les Stroud has constantly reminded viewers of: when times are difficult, keeping busy and finding a purpose is what provides one with the will to survive. The two teams that go out to recon are Yukari and Riko (Erwin), and Mako and Midoriko. Yukari and Riko end up singing “Marching in the Snow”, and the adventures that solidify their friendship are detailed in an OVA. While Midoriko and Mako don’t get along quite as well, to the point where their antics are spotted, they nonetheless manage to find the Pravda tanks.

  • Knowing where Pravda has placed their armour allows Miho to work out a plan of how to break through enemy lines and mount a counteroffensive. As the winter storm sets in, the match organisers consider postponing the match as a result of adverse weather conditions – such comments indicate that Panzerfahren matches can be stopped for safety reasons, providing a bit more evidence for my stances from the previous post. Small details like these are often overlooked, but become invaluable in the world-building process. This is why re-watching anime such as Girls und Panzer is so enjoyable; going back and combing through the series allows viewers to gain a much better insight into the level of detail and thought that makes some anime particularly standout.

  • To give viewers a sense of what Miho is up against, the camera pulls out to give an aerial overview of the battlefield. Katyusha has arranged her tanks in such a way so that there is a side that is deliberately weaker than the others, and her hope is that Miho will go for this feint, allowing her to surround Ooarai and put an end to the match. Sun Tzu argued that in war, whoever can respond to and produce surprises well will take victory. Had Miho taken the bait, surprise would have been with Katyusha, leading her to win. Conversely, if Miho has a surprise of her own, then she might be able to continue fighting. This is why knowing Pravda’s tank placement is so important: Miho now knows what Katyusha is thinking, and is able to bet everything on a surprise. While the storm rages on, an instrumental version of Polyushko-polye (По́люшко-по́ле, “My Fields, Oh, My Fields) can be heard playing, reminding viewers that Pravda is in their element.

  • Pravda, being a school based out of Aomori, is accustomed to snow and cold: Ooarai’s only brought a limited amount of provisions and blankets that seem like they’re barely suited for the job, but a glance over at Pravda’s students found that they’ve made borscht, a cabbage soup of sorts that’s perfect for warming up. When I think about it, I’ve never had Ukraine borscht before: the only borscht I’ve ever had is the Hong Kong version, which uses regular cabbage and plenty of tomatoes. Real Ukrainian borscht is made from red beets and is served with a dollop of sour cream, while the Hong Kong style borscht originates from Harbin. The dramatic gap in preparation for the winter night causes morale to plummet for Ooarai: while they’ve got a game plan, and their tanks are repaired, the weather proves to be as much of a foe as Pravda.

  • For me, this is the definitive magic moment in Girls und Panzer, the moment that convinced me that the series was truly onto something special. Normally shy and bashful, Miho takes the initiative to motivate her teammates by performing the Anglerfish Dance. This surprises her own teammates, but once Yukari joins her, and Mako, Hana and Saori follow suit, the entirety of Ooarai’s Panzerfahren team begin singing and dancing along Miho. In a post I’d written six years ago, I stated that the reason why this was so powerful was because it was the moment that demonstrated Miho earning the trust of her teammates. Whether it be dancing an embarrassing dance, or fighting to the finish, the extent that Miho cares for her teammates means they’re willing to fight for her any time, anywhere.

  • The scene with Ooarai dancing alongside Miho thus becomes a brilliant visual metaphor for how Miho has won the hearts and minds of her own teammates. In this way, it is fair to say that, even though Ooarai is on the verge of closing, Miho’s teammates are no longer worried about what should await if they fail. All they know is that in this moment, they want to do their best for both Miho and their own sakes. Thus, when Pravda’s emissaries reappear, Miho turns down the surrender offer – everyone’s fired up, Ooarai’s existence is on the line, and no one is ready to give up without at least giving it a go. In doing the Anglerfish Dance, Miho consolidates Ooarai’s second wind.

  • Like hockey, Panzerfahren is a game of momentum, and momentum has returned to Ooarai. Thus, Miho tells Katyusha there will be no terms, and more importantly, no surrender. It typifies Miho’s kindness and ability to use this trait as a means of raising her allies’ morale: at Black Forest, it would appear that Miho did not have any chance to be her best self owing to the need to uphold her family name, and while I can’t quite remember the paper I read regarding this, I recall reading that when one’s own morals and beliefs conflict with the job they are required to do, one’s performance and willingness to do well will suffer.

  • When the match resumes, Miho chooses to bet everything on punching through the most heavily defended part of Katyusha’s cordon. The resulting chaos sees Ooarai disable several more of Pravda’s tanks, and it is in this battle that the Student Council begin proving their worth: using the 38(t), they manage to disable T-34s at extreme close quarters and keep their fire off the main group, which is protecting Duck Team. This ruse works, at least until Nonna snipes the 38(t). While Miho’s tactics buy Ooarai some time, there is no denying that Pravda is a strong team, and once the shock wears off, things will begin to favour them again owing to their superior firepower and numbers.

  • To this end, Yukari offers to go scouting again. Miho immediately spots the value of this and accepts, feeling it imperative that they end the match before things begin favouring Pravda again. While this initially sounds like a bad idea because it leaves Anko team down a loader, Miho’s goal here isn’t to keep her own tank alive, but rather, keep Duck team alive and help locate Pravda’s flag tank. If Miho goes down but buys enough time for the others to take out Pravda’s flag tank, that will be more than enough. As an aside, while Yukari’s role of being the loader is often seen as being the “newbie” position in a tank, I’d read a segment from a tank commander who respects loaders because they still have enough training to operate the radio or fire the 50-cal on top of the tank. In a pinch, the loader can also act as a driver. This is a clever show of respect to Yukari: while her role may seem smaller than that of the commander, driver and gunner, she’s no less important, and in fact, Yukari likely chose the loader role precisely for this reason.

  • While shells rain down around Ooarai’s remaining tanks, it appears that Pravda has regained the initiative, although Ooarai’s resilience has surprised Katyusha. Regarding the choice of flag tank, they seem to vary match-to-match – from what I remember, judges make this assignment to ensure balance. This means that a school cannot simply have their most-heavily armoured tank, which would be to the detriment of schools that completely lack the hardware to damage said tanks. For this match, Ooarai’s flag tank is Duck team’s Type 89: Japanese tanks were originally designed as infantry tanks. They therefore lacked the firepower and armour to participate in anti-armour combat, and in the Pacific War, American M4 Shermans would find that their AP shells would actually punch holes clean through Japanese tanks without destroying them.

  • To further accentuate the fact that Miho’s response during the championship match a year earlier was correct, after their tank gets immobilised, Miho asks for an update from Rabbit team and hears that everyone’s still fine. It is clear that Miho communicates often with her team, and therefore, is able to make split-second decisions with the information she receives: knowing that Rabbit team is in good shape allows Miho to concentrate on the fight, and the ninth episode did leave viewers off on a bit of a cliff-hanger: Ooarai’s Type 89 is fired upon at roughly the same moment that the StuG III shoots at Pravda’s flag tank.

  • In previous years, I’ve joked that the StuG III’s camping would be the height of dishonour – camping is a technique in video games I’ve come to despise, since the approach is contrary to the spirit of a game. Hiding in a spot and waiting for enemies to come by gives one an unfair advantage, indicating an unwillingness to play with honesty and integrity. These tactics are especially common in battle royale games, and this is the reason I have little interest in picking up things like Valorant or Warzone: nothing is as tiresome as spawning into a map, dying to a camper and then being forced to leave since there are no respawns. In other titles, respawns do allow me to get back at campers. In Girls und Panzer, however, since Pravda’s flag tank was technically engaged in a form of camping, it is amusing that Miho’s thought of a way to counteract their camping with camping in its purest form.

  • In the end, Ooarai walks away from the match triumphant, and Katyusha expresses her respect for Miho, who fights in a continually unexpected and entertaining way. This moment was yet another sign that Girls und Panzer‘s opponents are friendly rivals rather than hated foes – even someone as haughty as Katyusha is able to acknowledge when she’s faced someone worthy, and this becomes critical in setting the tone for the remainder of Girls und Panzer. Contrary to Pravda’s imposing presence, as seen when they beat Bonpole so bad one of the tanks had to raise a second flag to signify their defeat. While this was doubtlessly meant to intimidate viewers, when Pravda shows up as an opponent, they’re not more terrifying than Saunders or St. Gloriana.

  • Thus, even with the knowledge that Ooarai is facing off against Black Forest, Girls und Panzer indicates to viewers that Maho’s team is still human despite the fact that Maho is renowned for her craft, and the fact that Black Forest operates some of the most powerful tanks around. I will remark here that I’ve taken to calling Black Forest as such because Kuromorimine is a pain to spell out, and the abbreviation, KMM, isn’t particularly meaningful to me. Habits from nine years earlier have stuck, and according to my blog’s archives, I actually crossed the stop line in January: when my winter term started, I’d made enough process in my research project such that I had enough of an opening to marathon Girls und Panzer.

  • I ended up taking advantage of this time to catch up, and instead of a three month wait, mine was more of a two month wait. For some anime fans, the wait would’ve been excruciating, but on my end, I focused on my research project and by the time the final two episodes aired, my thesis paper had been submitted, and my presentation was ready to go. Here, Ooarai’s Panzerfahren team continues their hunt for new tanks, and it appears everyone’s skipped over a Type 3 Chi-Nu tank sitting in the parking lot: it was assumed that a tank in the open wouldn’t work. I’ve operated the Type 3 in Battlefield V – it is an upgrade of the Type 97 Chi-Ha with a modified turret and a 75 mm Type 3 tank gun, making it capable of going toe-to-toe with the M4 Sherman, and I’ve used this tank to great effect previously. The gamers offer to operate this tank, and Miho accepts, happy that more people are taking an interest in their Panzerfahren team,

  • Meanwhile, the automotive club have finished restoring the Porsche Tiger: compared to a standard Tiger I, the Porsche Tiger utilised an innovative gasoline-electric drive pairing. Each individual drive would push the tracks on their respective side of the tank, and while on paper, it’s a good idea for a larger tank where both treads may have different traction based on the ground, in practise, the drive was very prone to malfunction and left the Prosche Tiger harder to handle than the more successful Henschel model. Such a tank would be very difficult to operate in combat, since the fickle drive system means a tank could be easily rendered immobile by its own complexity, rather than enemy action. However, the automotive team see this as a challenge to overcome, and they agree to operate the tank, whose KwK 36 gives Ooarai hitherto unmatched firepower.

  • The student council’s 38(t) had proven quite reliable previously, allowing Anzu to snipe enemy tanks and trouble them. Having secured some funds from other departments, they’re able to convert their 38(t) into a Jagdpanzer 38 by mounting a different top onto the 38(t)’s chassis. The Jagdpanzer 38 is more informally referred to as the Hetzer and mounts a 75 mm Pak 39, a considerable upgrade that allows Anzu to do more damage in battle: at close ranges, when impacting from a 30º angle, the Pak 39 could penetrate up to 106 mm of armour, making it well-suited for driving up to foes whilst remaining hidden, and then opening fire. Battlefield V‘s 38(t) could not be configured in this way, and upgrades only made it more effective as an anti-infantry weapon. Although useless in anti-tank combat, the 38(t)’s mobility made it great for giving infantry a hard time.

  • To better prepare Anko’s Panzer IV, Schürzen skirts are added, turning it into the Ausf. H model. Miho had found the Panzer IV in its Ausf. D configuration, and the addition of a KwK L/40 transformed it into an Ausf. F2. The latest addition improves defense and survivability, a vital addition when it comes to Black Forest and their overwhelming firepower. Battlefield V similarly started players off with the Ausf. D Panzer IV, but with the side skirts, and Pak 40, one could approximate Miho’s Panzer IV Ausf. H. AP rounds further improved Battlefield V‘s Panzer IV against tanks, and in this way, the Panzer IV actually became my second-most used tank in Battlefield V after the Valentine Archer, speaking to its efficacy.

  • For me, Hana and her mother reconciling was one of the most standout moments in the whole of Girls und Panzer because there are so many parallels between Hana’s situation, and that of Miho’s – both Hana and Miho were born into families with a very well-established tradition, and both their mothers are proud practitioners of said tradition. Both Hana and Miho yearn to do things in their own manner of choosing, but this clashes with family values, leading both mothers to disown and distance themselves from their daughters. For Hana, when her mother sees the flowers Hana is able to now arrange, she has a change of heart and is impressed that Hana has found her own way while at the same time, respecting family tradition. That Hana and her mother could make amends sets an important precedence: that Miho could do the same with Shiho.

  • I will acknowledge here that this reconciliation does not happen in Girls und Panzer – while Panzerfahren with Ooarai allows Miho to make several strides in helping her to rediscover her love for the sport, and the confidence to lead those under her command, it has not yet imparted in Miho, the sort of courage to speak up for herself in front of her mother just yet. Because the events of Girls und Panzer are set over a few months, it is natural that something like this would take a little while longer, so I am hoping that Das Finale addresses this in full: it is most logical for the story to show this as being the end-point for Girls und Panzer‘s story. Back in Girls und Panzer, after training and spending the evening with their respective teammates, Ooarai finally arrives at the vaunted site for the finals, which is set in the shadows of Mount Fuji. Yukari is excited to be here, as this was the place where numerous matches had previously taken place.

  • As it turns out, everyone from Miho’s past matches have come out to watch. Darjeeling greets Miho and expresses her best wishes for Miho, while at the same time, remarking that Miho’s victories in Panzerfahren aren’t just simple wins in matches, but rather, are more whole and complete in that Miho wins her opponents over, too. Kay similarly swings by, excited to see how this finale will unfound. I’ve been referring to Miho’s victories as “winning hearts and minds”: this is a concept I first picked up on while studying for a course on the Cold War a decade earlier, and while the idea was initially described by Louis Hubert Gonzalve Lyautey regarding his proposed means of handling the Black Flags Rebellion in 1895, it became particularly famous for its use in Malayan Emergency in 1955. Quite simply, winning hearts and minds is to win a war not though superior force of arms, but through emotional and intellectual appeal. What Miho is doing isn’t quite in fitting to the original definition of winning hearts and minds, but the way she approaches matches and treats opponents earns their respect.

  • This is explored a little further in Das Finale, in which Miho enters her first-ever match with an opponent who respects Ooarai and therefore, is able to put up an impressive fight despite fielding weaker tanks. For the present, however, one of the highlights of the moments leading up to the fight against Black Forest was Katyusha coming to greet Miho personally and wish her well in this match; in particular, Katyusha is excited to see what sorts of inspiring and wild techniques Miho and her crew will employ this match. For Katyusha to openly suggest this shows her respect for Miho, a far cry from her haughty, dismissive perspective of Ooarai earlier. These learnings make Katyusha a better leader, and in turn, will help Pravda be a better team, as well. Notably absent is Anzio’s Anchovy and her teammates. Contemporary viewers assumed Anchovy was a poor sport, but the OVA shows what really happened: after putting on a wild party the night before the match, Anchovy and her teammates exhaust themselves and completely sleep through the match.

  • The moment of truth has finally come: in this finale, Miho faces off against her past for the future. The symbolism in Girls und Panzer has never been subtle, and many of the series’ most important messages are out in the open. This element contributed to making Girls und Panzer as successful as it was – while there are plenty of small details in the tanks, and references to World War Two, the overall story and its presentation is highly accessible. The fact that there is something for everyone means those unfamiliar with World War Two armour can still appreciate the themes and characters, while those with an interest in World War Two and its weapons will find numerous things to enjoy, too. Anime typically makes use of weather to help impact the emotional tenour around a match, but Girls und Panzer actually forgoes this: besides the match against Pravda, all matches are set under sunny skies during the TV series. This choice is to ensure that events are the highlight of every match.

  • The final bit of evidence that suggests Miho had acted correctly comes in the tenth episode, when former classmate Kōme Akaboshi thanks Miho for having saved her and her crew during the previous year’s battle. That Girls und Panzer would go out of its way to incorporate this moment was meant to erase any lingering doubts about the validity of Miho’s actions, and this meant that, in the knowledge this scene had occurred, willx and Sumeragi’s refusal to accept Miho likely spoke to their own positions, rather than any shortcomings from those who believed Miho did the right thing. To accentuate this point, I ran a pair of polls during the previous #AniTwitWatches week, and voters unanimously agreed that 1) Miho was right, and 2) willx and Sumeragi were not effective in presenting the other perspectives. With this, I am satisfied that my views about Miho did not come about as a result of my lacking life experience or professional development.

  • With this, my nine-year-old question finally has a definitive answer, and I am content to move on – Girls und Panzer has provided the answers to all of the unanswered queries that may have lingered after the series had ended, including what Black Forest and the Nishizumi Style actually entails. This issue was a major one at AnimeSuki, where proponents and detractors of the Nishizumi Style respectively argued for and against Maho’s way of doing things in the near-total absence of evidence: those who opposed the Nishizumi Style supposed that it was dependent entirely on overwhelming force, while those who supported the Nishizumi Style suggested that Maho was shown on-screen to be every bit as competent as Maho, and that Miho herself is effective because of her learnings. Whether or not this is true is neither here nor there; given the themes in Girls und Panzer, what the Nishizumi Style is precisely is irrelevant.

  • Approaching things from this angle, what does matter is how Miho treats both her teammates and the match itself – with everything on the line, and an imposing opponent, the deck is plainly stacked against Miho and Ooarai. Moreover, Erika’s lingering grudge against Miho leads her to desire nothing less than the total destruction of Ooarai. These feelings of hostility are what lead Erika to attempt a shot on Ooarai’s flag tank moments into the match, and while Girls und Panzer provides a viable account of why Erika dislikes Miho, supplementary materials indicate she’s jealous of Miho for the attention she receives from Maho, and doubly so, because Miho’s considerate nature led her to throw a private match against Erika. Owing to the pacing of its run, and focus on Ooarai, Girls und Panzer had skipped these details, deliberately tipping things so viewers would be inclined to root for Miho.

  • There is absolutely northing wrong with this approach, and stories that want viewers to feel a certain way will often take a more direct approach in communicating which characters viewers “should” be supporting. The idea is that, while there is a fantastically detailed world to explore, viewers needn’t concern themselves with certain details because at the end of the day, Girls und Panzer had intended to communicate a very specific message through Miho. Whether or not Black Forest is competent, or other minor details in the story are consistent, is not of concern because at this point in time, the focus is on Miho saving her school.

  • Because the story is so focused on Ooarai, things will unfold in such a way so that their story can be told. This is why Erika’s attempt to take Miho out so early on fails: when the gamers and their Type 3 Chi-Nu become bogged down, the driver attempts to change gears, only to have the tank back up and take the shot meant for Miho. This is what allows Ooarai to enter the next phase of their plan: to draw out Black Forest’s forces for a bombardment. With Anteater team out, viewers would be forced to wait a total of three month for the series’ outcomes. The wait hadn’t been a concern for me – I finished the series late in January and turned my attention towards my software engineering, databases and statistics course, while at the same time, wrapping up the renal model I’d been working on. It is with some satisfaction to note I did very well during that particular term.

  • Keeping busy ensured that the wait for Girls und Panzer was never too bothersome, and this was the same approach I took for 86 EIGHTY-SIX: the latest episode aired this past weekend. However, I’d been so busy that there hadn’t been a moment to even catch my breath, much less watch the episode. Things are at a point where my workdays are actually more easy-going, and today represented a pleasant slowdown in things. I ended up having dinner from the city’s premiere Chinese restaurant yesterday evening (crispy chicken, sweet and sour pork, stir-fry with Chinese doughnut and fresh crab on a bed of snow pea leaves, plus their house yi mien and wonton special). Things were a ways quieter, so I was able to enjoy the leftover wonton soup with a side of crackers during today’s lunch break. I’ll aim to have a talk for my final thoughts on 86 EIGHTY-SIX towards the end of this month, and in the meantime, I am going to write out a discussion of 2019’s Wataten!, before wrapping up all discussions of Girls und Panzer with next week’s instalment of #AniTwitWatches. With this latest episode set in the books, I leave with viewers the question that AnimeSuki counted as discussion-worthy: does Ooarai deserve a victory here in Girls und Panzer‘s final moments?

Besides sportsmanship and integrity, Girls und Panzer also does one exemplary play prior to the match against Black Forest – earlier in the series, Hana had left home, resolute on finding a way to reconcile Panzerfahren with her family tradition of flower arrangement, even though her mother had been expressly against Hana’s participation in Panzerfahren. At the flower arrangement exhibition, Hana’s mother praises Hana for having brought new life to her creations: before taking up Panzerfahren, Hana’s flower arrangement had been identical to that of her mother’s: exacting, precise and flawless. However, because her craft had been a mirror image of what her mother had done, Hana’s mother had wished for her to continue in the craft to find her own style. Although Panzerfahren prima facie appears contrary to flower arrangement, the sheer power Hana experiences here influences her flower arrangement, and she is able to breathe new life into her pieces, combining the style her mother practises with her own unique approach. Spotting that Panzerfahren has helped her daughter to improve her craft, Hana’s mother no longer opposes Panzerfahren and welcomes Hana back, admitting that there is merit in Hana finding her own way. Similarly, Mako and her grandmother’s relationship has improved since she’d taken up Panzerfahren, and Yukari’s parents are happy she’s amongst good company now. Family has been subtly a part of Girls und Panzer, and save Miho, everyone’s familial bonds have strengthened as a result of Panzerfahren. The fact that Miho remains estranged from her family remains one of the largest unanswered questions in Girls und Panzer, but by this point in the series, having seen everyone improve their relationship with family, it stands to reason that Miho can also reconcile with her mother, much as Hana had. However, being the central character, this path is one that is understandably a little bumpier; this is one of the elements that Girls und Panzer‘s original run did not fully address, and as such, I am hoping that Das Finale answers. While Girls und Panzer is a superb series, this was one of the largest omissions. To accomplish this within Das Finale will therefore be a thematic triumph more so than any victory on the battlefield, although whether or not this occurs is something that is so far into the future, it remains as elusive as Half-Life 3. Here in Girls und Panzer, viewers were left with a 90-day wait between the moment Anteater team take the shot meant for Miho; while this was doubtlessly an excruciatingly long wait, the gaps between Das Finale are even lengthier such that by comparison, the wait between Girls und Panzer‘s tenth and eleventh episode feel like the blink of an eye by comparison. Here in #AniTwitWatches, we no longer have that issue, so participants are most fortunate in that the outcome that awaits Ooarai will be swiftly addressed.

Revisiting Girls und Panzer: Answering The Validity of Compassion After Eight – Was Miho Right?

“What were you trying to prove? That deep down, everyone’s as ugly as you?! You’re alone!” –Batman to The Joker, The Dark Knight

As it turns out, Mako’s grandmother is in fine spirits and implores everyone to go back to school. Saori explains that despite what looks like a rocky relationship, Mako cares greatly about her grandmother because her parents had passed away in an accident when she was younger, and her grandmother is the only family she has left. The next day, Miho is surprised to see her friends join her for lunch – Miho reveals that a year earlier, during the National Championship match, she’d abandoned her flag tank to save allies whose Panzer III had fallen into the river. This cost Black Forest their tenth consecutive win, and led her to leave Panzerfahren, but Yukari and the others reassure Miho she’d done the right thing. With the match against Anzio, an Italian-themed school, approaching, the Panzerfahren team set off to find more tanks and come across a Char B1 Bis, as well as a 7.5 cm KwK 40. Miho finds herself overwhelmed with requests from the other teams, but each of Yukari, Saori, Hana and even Mako step up to help her out. On the day of the match, Ooarai smashes up Anzio for a decisive victory. Spurred on by their win, Ooarai is in fine spirits for their match against Pravda, the previous year’s champions. Pravda’s commander, Katyusha, is confident Miho and her crew will pose no challenge to her, while spurred on by their success, Ooarai’s teams are fired up and look forwards to squaring off against Pravda. The Student Council invite Miho over to dinner with them so they can share something with her, but lack the courage to do so, and feel it to be best if Miho doesn’t know why it’s so imperative that Ooarai win the National Championship. Meanwhile, Shiho expresses to Maho her intent to disown Miho. On the day of the match, Ooarai’s spirit leads Miho to adopt an offense-driven strategy; although she’d wanted to feel Katyusha’s forces out before engaging, the snowy terrain leads Miho to agree that a swift strike would prevent attrition. Although Ooarai appears to take the initiative, they are ultimately drawn into a trap and surrounded. Katyusha sends a pair of emissaries to offer them a chance to surrender, and while Miho considers this route, Momo finally caves from pressure and explains that Ooarai must win, otherwise, their school will be decommissioned. Girls und Panzer floors the accelerator with one revelation after another, and although the match against Pravda doubtlessly illustrates the dangers of overconfidence and failing to play things more cautiously in its initial stages, the seventh and eighth episodes of Girls und Panzer also reveal the reason behind why Miho left Panzerfahren to begin with, as well as why the Student Council had reiterated to Miho, time and time again, the importance of winning. In particular, the question of whether or not Miho’s decision to save her teammates at the expense of the champion ship lingered – this discussion sparked one of the most vitriol-filled, emotional flame wars I’d ever had the misfortune of witnessing. For a full week, AnimeSuki’s forums saw two individuals insulting the characters, slinging ad hominem attacks at those who disagreed with them and even self-aggrandising in an attempt to persuade others of their own opinion’s validity. While it speaks volumes about how engaging Girls und Panzer is, such behaviours are unacceptable and speak poorly about a small subset of AnimeSuki’s users – we will leave them for the present and focus purely on the arguments themselves.

Miho’s decision to save her teammate is entirely justified from the literary standpoint – Girls und Panzer strives to portray how Miho is compassionate and cares for those around her, and that this is her individual approach to Panzerfahren. Simply put, Miho wins battles through hearts and minds, not through overwhelming force and unerring discipline, and because Kay had indicated Panzerfahren can be played in any way so long as it’s fair, it follows that Miho’s approach to Panzerfahren is not wrong. However, the adherence to detail in Girls und Panzer naturally invites a more technical discussion about whether or not the Panzer III’s crew was in any imminent danger that necessitated Miho’s actions in rescuing them: to answer this question, the only thing viewers have to go off of was Miho’s flashback, which show Miho jumping into a relatively deep river with moderate current to go after the Panzer III, after it’d fallen down an embankment that looked about 6-7 metres in height. However, this flashback, in conjunction with two things Girls und Panzer had already shown to viewers, is sufficient to work out a conclusion. Firstly, it is established that shell impacts can knock crew unconscious. This happened to Hana during their training exercise in the third episode. Second, Miho is shown to ask for sit-reps whenever her allies are hit or mission-killed, checking in to see if everyone’s alright. Finally, Miho had practised the Nishizumi Style all her life and is shown to be quite disciplined, which allows us to infer that she follows protocol as best as she can. While Miho may have been less experienced during that particular match, having these three points means the following could logically have occurred – after the stray shell loosened the ground and sent the Panzer III careening into the ravine below, Miho immediately called in and asked if the crew was okay. However, she receives no response: either the entire crew is knocked out, or the radio is damaged, rendering them unable to reply. Being in a flowing river could only lead to further injury or even drowning, especially if the tank is taking on water and the crew are knocked out. With no other way of checking, Miho decides her teammates’ safety is more important and therefore acts. By making a judgement call and acting on it, Miho was able to get one of the Panzer III’s hatches open and get the crew out before the tank had sunk too deep for an escape to be safe. This is a split-second decision that characterises Miho’s approach towards Panzerfahren, and by drawing on existing facts in Girls und Panzer, I’ve established that there had been a potentially dangerous, life-threatening situation that Miho mitigated by acting as quickly as she did, and in doing so, this provides my answer for whether or not Miho did the right thing: she unequivocally and indisputably did.

However, there is another side to things – some have argued that Miho had acted inappropriately, sacrificing the bigger goal for her own ideals. From the perspective that the team matters more than the individual, Miho’s actions saved a single crew at the expense of the team. In Eastern values, this is a poor decision because collective goals tend to be given greater emphasis than individual goals. A difference of values would prove immensely difficult to argue, and while I myself do believe that there are situations where it is appropriate, even necessary to make short-term sacrifices for long term gains, a value-laden approach results in cyclic discussions because values are rooted in subjective emotion (and therefore, cannot be intrinsically said to be either valid or invalid). As such, alternative perspectives of Miho’s actions must establishing that the opposite conclusion is true (i.e. the Panzer III’s crew were not in any imminent danger). The main piece of evidence that seemingly points towards this, is the fact that the match had not been temporarily halted. By this argument, Panzerfahren matches are paused if referees determine there is sufficient danger as to warrant such a call, or simply not stopped for anything. However, while matches are watched closely by cameras, Panzerfahren is quite unlike something like football or ice hockey: they are laid out over a large area, and it would take crews time to arrive to do anything meaningful. Further to this, rough terrain means not everything can be seen (and therefore, reacted to). Even on the supposition that matches can be paused, there is a possibility that the Panzer III’s crew could have suffered from additional injuries as a result of colliding with any rocks in the river, or even have drowned if they’d been rendered incapable of exiting the Panzer III under their own power. Conversely, being in the immediate vicinity, Miho was in a position to act. Similarly, because Miho had been present, she would be able to assess the situation for herself before making a judgement call. It is not valid to say Miho recklessly abandoned her duty, or that she unnecessarily endangered herself in the process – Miho was at the scene and therefore able to assess what was happening before choosing her course of action. Had the Panzer III replied to her hails, Miho may have perhaps breathed a sigh of relief at their safety and continued with the match. Because this is a flashback, there is insufficient evidence to say definitively whether or not the circumstances were safe, but indicators elsewhere in Girls und Panzer suggest that, at the very least, there was the possibility that the Panzer III’s crew could have been rendered incapable of escaping a sinking tank under their own power, and had Miho just left her teammates to suffer from injury in pursuit of a trophy, it would speak especially poorly to her character. As it was, this incident shows Miho was brought up in an environment that was not conducive towards compassion and empathy; because this contradicts Miho’s own intrinsic values, it created tensions that would drive her to leave Black Forest and, incidentally, set her down a new path that allowed Miho to rediscover her own strengths anew. While there might be merits to both sides, there are slightly more evidence favouring Miho, which is why I continue to hold that yes, Miho did the right thing.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • While it is to general relief that Mako’s grandmother is fine, Girls und Panzer‘s seventh episode would end up torching off the single most vitriolic, undisciplined and tiring flame war I’d bore witness to (far surpassing the flame wars for Rising of the Shield Hero and Redo of Healer). This particular matter surrounded the validity of Miho’s decision during the previous year’s championship round, and the venue was AnimeSuki, ground zero for the flame war of the century. I was lucky enough to sit things out at the time, since I was in the middle of studying for my software engineering, databases and statistics course. At the same time, I was also wrapping up the written thesis for my undergraduate research project course. The decision to sit out that particular flame war meant I would end up ending my term strong, and in turn, paved my path to the present.

  • However, a part of me has always regretted not joining the fray and setting a few strongly-held misconceptions straight for the record. This post is, in part, a chance for me to address a few things I’ve wanted to long address, and as such, it will be a little longer than usual. Further to this, I’ve elected not to mention any names until this point, but now is not the time for subtlety: Akeiko “Daigensui” Sumeragi, and willx were the two individuals behind AnimeSuki’s flame war. Whereas the remainder of the community had (quite civilly, and thoroughly) argued that Miho’s decision was in the right, these two insisted that there was no basis for Miho to exit her tank and save her teammates because there hadn’t been sufficient evidence for danger. Sumeragi’s biggest mistake was misconstruing the argument into a debate about martial arts.

As if people were actually in danger of dying. I expect injuries and possible deaths to happen, as with any activity. The difference here is I consider the assumption that [to] not automatically help [those in trouble] equals bloodlust to be absolute intolerance of the essence of traditional martial arts.

  • By indicating that Panzerfahren is a sport where there is intrinsic risk of death, Sumeragi created the impression that “the essence of traditional martial arts” entailed the expectation of death or injury, and that anyone who thought otherwise was “soft” and “gentle”. Having been a practitioner of Gojū-ryū karate for just a shade over two decades, I myself hold a nidan (second-degree black belt), and over this time, I’ve trained under the knowledge that taking martial arts seriously simply means driving for self-improvement. This is what Sumeragi was fundamentally missing about martial arts: while injury is a present risk, practitioners will actively strive to ensure they do not injure themselves, or their opponents, whether it be during a match or training. One therefore cannot fault other members of the forum for reaching the conclusion that the idea of “expecting” injury, or even death, to occur, is to demonstrate violent tendencies. This is most definitely not taking martial arts seriously, but rather, demonstrates sociopathy and a complete lack of concern for others in favour of one’s own ideologies. When Sumeragi was questioned about whether or not he’d considered being inside a tank that was sinking in a river to be a dangerous situation, the following response was given:

Been there, done that, and if someone of my statute can do it by [himself], I don’t see how a crew of five cannot do it unless they were unfit for the job in the first place. Admittedly I am harsh, but I do put high standards on everything I do.

  • This is insufficient because it both assumes poor faith (i.e. the tank’s crews lacked the know-how and competence to look after their own safety), and because the analogy Sumeragi raised is dependent on additional evidence that he flat-out refused to provide. This is a prime example of an argumentum ad verecundiam (appeal to authority) fallacy, specifically, a false authority argument: in order for Sumeragi’s anecdote to apply to the argument at hand, Sumeragi needed to provide concrete evidence that he had been in an analogous situation where 1) an armoured vehicle was sinking and 2) he escaped under his own power after it had been submerged. Had this actually occurred, it would have been satisfactory to indicate that Sumeragi’s method had some merit. Unfortunately Sumeragi refused to provide the necessary evidence to indicate this was true. Further to this, because no proof was presented contrary within Girls und Panzer, one could not definitively say that the Panzer III crew were in a situation where they had the capacity to extricate themselves.

  • Overall, Sumeragi’s arguments were weakly-formed, based purely Sumeragi’s belief that his statements were self-evident (i.e. “I don’t need to explain myself because my arguments are self-evidence on virtue of my reputation”). This is arguing in bad faith: Sumeragi plainly had no intention of hearing out the other perspective, and he would ultimately go on to assert that he would not “compromise [his] values just because the rest of the world is being soft”. In such situations, the best move is simply to pay such individuals no mind: Sumeragi’s position doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, and at best, can be disregarded for bringing nothing of note to the discussion. At worst, it represents a dangerous and harmful way of thinking, one that would endanger both the individual and those around them. However, things at AnimeSuki would deteriorate further when willx, a longtime proponent of Sumeragi’s because they’d platooned together in World of Tanks, stepped in and took a tactless, hard-line approach by calling out people for disagreeing with Sumeragi.

Sorry, this has gotten ridiculous, people are particularly speculating on that one instance of the “tank in the water” — if that’s the case, answer me this, how does Miho diving into the water change the situation you outline above? Why not call for assistance? You can’t open the hatch from the inside — how the hell do you open it from the outside? If you can open it from the outside, then you can open it from the inside. It was either serious — and therefore Miho wouldn’t be able to help or it was not serious — in which case Miho was derelict of her actual duty.

  • As a courtesy, I will first answer willx’s pointed questions; Miho’s decision to save her teammates was rooted in protocol. Given her actions in Girls und Panzer proper, of radioing in to check if her crews were okay (as she did when Duck team was taken out of the fight against Saunders), we know Miho observes procedure well enough. That she jumped into the river would show that something had happened as to render her worried enough to do so. If the Panzer III’s crew was indeed knocked out, in a tank that was filling with water, then there might not be enough time to wait for officials to come in and save them. Miho can’t communicate with the crew, so she has no way of knowing if they can even get the hatch open in time before the water pressure becomes too great. Her quick acting in getting the hatch open allowed her to ascertain their status before this became too difficult, and so, Miho was most certainly not deserting her responsibilities. I imagine that this would not be enough for willx because, like Sumeragi, he was also arguing in bad faith:

Look folks, people keep falling into differing tangents and drawing weak analogies to instances of “safety first!” “protect your comrades!” “ideals!” — but these are not perfect analogies. Getting led into a strawman argument comparison is not what it’s about. The question is this: was Miho’s response based on the fact of the matter reasonable? Beyond a doubt? Did she perform her duty? Did she fail to perform her duty?

  • The analogies people had chosen were based on the limited information that was available from that scene. Girls und Panzer admittedly did not give viewers much to go on, and this leaves people to draw conclusions from what was known. To dismiss these arguments as “tangents” or “weak analogies” simply because they are succinct and complete shows a total lack of willingness to accept that Miho’s response might have a reasonable basis, beyond any doubt, and that further to this, she had not failed as a commander. This conclusion can be reached on the basis that, in a situation where there is little evidence to be definitive, it just so happens that there is slightly more evidence to say Miho performed her duty (as I’ve already shown in the paragraphs above), than there is to suggest Miho failed to perform her duty.

  • Another poster, Wild Goose, eventually ended up drawing on expertise from SpaceBattles. Wild Goose similarly tired of both willx and Sumeragi. However, rather than arguing on their terms, Wild Goose took the higher route by consulting with people who had previous experience and therefore, were more qualified to assess the situation. Like myself, Wild Goose been of the mind that there had been imminent danger, and spotting how stubborn Sumeragi and willx were even in light of facts, decided to ask members of SpaceBattles who’d served in the armed forces for their thoughts. A Canadian non-commissioned officer (NCO) replied to Wild Goose:

Safety is a major concern on peacetime field exercises, including the adoption of several practices that would not be used in wartime to reduce the risk of harm…while deaths do happen in training, the general rule in the militaries is that no training objective is worth a life. Realizing that we work with inherently dangerous equipment in often chaotic situation, there’s some realism involved of course – any training completely devoid of risk would not be worth much, but the risk has to be balanced against training value.

  • The key points to take away here is that in training, safety comes first. Miho herself had said so as much: Panzerfahren is done with the participant’s safety in mind, and but participants are similarly aware of the risks. Because Panzerfahren similarly entails use of heavy military machinery, organisers and regulators will have done their best to ensure the sport is safe, but even then, things can occasionally happen. In response to Wild Goose’s query about what happened in Girls und Panzer:

It’s not even close to a difficult decision. You stop the exercise and ensure the safety of the crew in the tank in the river. Soldiers can and have died when their vehicle fell into water, so it’s a complete no-brainer. Anyone who would continue a mere exercise and forgo the chance to ensure their safety has their priorities badly out of whack. In the Canadian Forces, they would be charged for negligence, and probably have criminal proceedings brought against them if any of the fallen tank’s crew actually died while they continued to play war.

Whether your assistance is actually physically needed is completely irrelevant. You do not have a crystal ball, you do not know whether your assistance is required. At worst, they do need assistance, and you are removing their chance of survival. At best, by continuing the exercise you are distracting others now dealing with serious real life problems, with your silly exercise bullshit. You stop training (this goes for BOTH sides in a force on force) and stand by to render any assistance to those in need as required.

  • Thus, we had an expert opinion, presented by an individual who was qualified to talk about things from a military perspective. In Girls und Panzer, the matches’ referees should have spotted something was off, and ordered the match halted until the Panzer III’s crew could be secured, similarly to how play is stopped if a player takes an injury in a sports competition. The Canadian NCO further remarks that regardless of whether or not the Panzer III’s crew was in actual danger, Miho’s actions of checking is the correct one, as it is impossible to determine if assistance is actually needed unless one knows what the scope of the situation is. In typical manner, Sumeragi stated “And no, I don’t give particular care for the Canadian Armed Forces”, while willx saw fit to declare that he was more authoritative than someone from the armed forces. In a sarcasm-filled reply, willx attempted to write counterpoints for everything the NCO had shared with Wild Goose, arguing that if the situation in Girls und Panzer had been the no-brainer that the NCO suggested, the discussion would have ended long ago.

  • What willx failed to grasp was that, the reason why the other forum members were persistently hammering home the point that Sumeragi was wrong, wasn’t because Sumeragi had simply been presenting an alternate viewpoint, but because Sumeragi was insinuating that he alone held the only valid opinion of things. Sumeragi’s position was backed so far into a corner that willx was forced to reply with this:

Looks like I need to address this point by point. This is not a no-brainer. If it was then there wouldn’t be this conversation. Keep in mind that the people you are discussing (remember, discussion, not debate) are likely (maybe!) for all intents and purposes fully grown adults with jobs, education and perhaps leadership roles in various organizations. Let’s not presume anyone is stupid here or is missing something obvious.

  • willx’s response in this moment had suggested to me that the argument should have been as good as over. Besides willx, the only individual who had been on the other side of things was Sumeragi, so to suggest that Sumeragi was meritorious of consideration because he held various qualifications in life struck me as unusual (in fact, to this day, I remain baffled as to why willx would go to such lengths to defend Sumeragi). Whether or not Sumeragi is a “fully grown [adult] with jobs, education and perhaps leadership roles in various organizations” is neither here nor there, and even if Sumeragi was indeed someone with a leadership position at their workplace, it does not change the fact that the position he held pertaining to Girls und Panzer was tenable – arguments must stand of their own accord, and just because Sumeragi claimed he was “actually … in such a position [that] merges ruthlessness with situation awareness, and loved for it” didn’t have any relevance to the discussion at hand. Like willx, Sumeragi likely knew that, at this point, his position was untenable, hence the fallback on such crude claims to authority. One can therefore ignore willx’s demands that others listen to himself and Sumeragi purely on the basis that they were supposedly in positions of authority, because that is irrelevant. We therefore return to the concrete points of the debate that willx poses in Sumeragi’s steed.

1) They can stop the exercise! — No, they cannot, they were in a match. They lacked that authority. I don’t even know if they could call for a stop to the match but the match based on the portrayal in the show was not stopped. This was not their decision to make. The Senshado organization did not stop the match. Either 1) because there was no real danger, 2) the danger is considered acceptable or 3) Senshado matches are simply not stopped?

  • In the match with Pravda, referees consider stopping the match owing to poor visibility arising from a snowstorm. Therefore, we’ve established that point three is untrue. Similarly, Miho mentions to Saori that numerous measures are in place to keep participants safe during their match against St. Gloriana. That Miho feels confident to keep her copula hatch open indicates she’s not worried about tank shells and debris flying by her head, and she doesn’t exit her tank to check on crews of a mission-killed tank, either. For Miho to react as she did to the sinking tank meant there was a good reason for her to be worried, so there’s differing levels of what is an acceptable amount of danger. Hence, point two fails to hold. Lastly, having established that Panzerfahren matches can be stopped, we suppose that owing to the size of the matches, and how spread out teams are, it will take some time to make a judgement call and halt things. Similarly, the large maps mean that in the event it was judged necessary to halt play, any rescue team would still take time to reach the trapped crew. In this time, they may have sustained injuries or find themselves in a more perilous situation. willx is jumping to conclusions here about the match not being stopped; stoppage could’ve been called after Pravda scored the winning shot, when the referees determined it was necessary, but the flashback does not provide us with this particular detail.

2) Because of #1 above, people are attributing to Shiho and Miho respectively “Ruthlessness/Bloodthirst [sic]” and “Heroism” — but why is this applied to the characters when they have no control over the situation? If anything the factum is that it is the “Senshado” organization that did not stop the match. The premise people assume is that people were in danger .. and even if they were or were not, Miho still acted recklessly as my statements above and previous (including factual discussions on tank hatches, underwater cars, etc.) As for “crystal ball” – this is addressed somewhat in [the NCO]’s paragraph 2, which I will now address in point #3.

  • Shiho’s words to Miho in the aftermath of Black Forest’s loss are vague: she only restates the Nishizumi Style’s core tenants. While Girls und Panzer‘s themes mean that Shiho’s interpretation of the Nishizumi Style means she’s unlikely to be “ruthless” or “bloodthirsty”, the lack of information otherwise within the anime could reasonably lead to the conclusion that Shiho is ignorant about things like compassion and only concerned with victory. That Shiho is ruthless is therefore a valid bit of speculation, even though Shiho’s personality is explored to a larger extent in supplementary works, and the reality is that she’s got a poor idea of how to get along with Miho. Ultimately, there’s nothing malicious at play – through its portrayal of both rivals and familial conflict, Girls und Panzer actually does imply Shiho adheres to the Nishizumi Style as a family tradition, rather than any misguided or unjust reason, although to reiterate, this may not have been immediately clear based on how little we’ve seen of Shiho so far. Secondly, as I’ve noted previously, there is no evidence to say with confidence that the match had not, in fact, been stopped, either. This is not a valid assumption to make. Miho’s actions similarly have been indicated in other matches throughout Girls und Panzer proper: she’s shown as being consistent, and the main thing about her that changes is confidence. Therefore, it is valid to say that Miho had thought things out and made a split-second judgement call. Her actions were, in no way, reckless.

3) You don’t know if you can help but you should go see anyways! — Whoa, hold on there partner, as the leader of the platoon you must make calm impartial decisions. Running into help in an unnecessary circumstance will — 1) disrupt the chain of command and 2) could potentially make things worse. From what we saw portrayed, Miho, upon seeing the tank go under jumped out of her tank and dived into the water. Her crew did nothing. No one else did anything. She left the chain of command absolutely paralyzed and dove underwater. Do I need to finish my thought? She could have drowned? She could have added to the lives needing to be rescued? One tank already fell into the water .. her abandoning her tank could have made the situation much much much worse. All we can assess is what we are shown on screen and any person looking at it coldly and dispassionately can see it was not decision making and leadership at it’s finest.

  • willx’s claims directly contradict what the Canadian NCO stated; even in the absence of additional information, that we had first-hand experience from a professional, coupled with information that Girls und Panzer had presented, indicates that Miho’s choice was rooted in a rational process. I further remark that, as the NCO has actual experience, I am inclined to place more weight on his remarks than those of willx’s. I concede that this scene is best reviewed with evidence available to us, but in willx’s haste to defend Sumeragi, it is clear that there are a large number of boundary cases willx left unaccounted for. Black Forest likely have trained its crews for the eventuality that one member may need to leave the tank or is knocked out, and moreover, roles are not static (we see characters change roles on the fly if needed on a few occasions). Miho may have very well asked someone to keep driving the tank, and it was bad luck that they were cornered on a narrow cliff-side road, leading to their loss. While perhaps not the best decision in the world, there is nothing to suggest firmly that Miho was wrong in her decision-making and leadership, either – she simply values the lives of her crew more than she does a title.

I am not debating ideals here folks — I am discussing the facts of the matter as portrayed on a screen. It is unclear from the footage and dialogue that Miho was effective at all. If anything, based on my recollection, the only time I heard that Miho actually “saved” anyone was one of her current teammates at Oorai saying: “I’m sure they’re happy you tried to save them”

  • Whereas willx claims to be laying out what was observed on-screen, he completely fails to acknowledge that the lack of additional context could mean things can go both ways. Further to this, hints throughout the remainder of Girls und Panzer show that there is a reason behind why Miho chose the course of action that she did. Similarly, willx seems to demonstrate selective memory regarding things: it is the case that Yukari only speculates that Miho’s classmate was grateful for Miho’s rescuing them, but in what constitutes as a spoiler (but necessary for this debate), the commander to the tank Miho had tried to save openly expresses gratitude to her when they meet up later. Had Miho’s help been unwanted or inappropriate, this classmate would have regarded Miho coldly and not gone out of her way to thank Miho. Her tone towards Miho clearly indicates that she realised the danger she and her crew had been in that day, and therefore, Miho had been very effective. In this case, I’m not debating ideals, either: with the information portrayed on screen, using the evidence given, and some supplementary observations, I would think the choice is clear.

tl;dr — People are forming opinions about Shiho and Miho’s personality based on their own presumptions of this incident but failing to comprehend that the connection is tenuous at best or if seen from a different perspective then those opinions would be invalidated. All I am doing is reviewing facts and footage with a critical eye. I will admit here that I could very well be wrong. The next episodes may show Shiho standing up proclaiming: “Victory at all cost! I don’t care if you girls die!” — but somehow I doubt that. Same with Miho being a perfect depiction of a hero. A calm collected hero or a frail emotional young girl?

  • I have now thoroughly offered counterarguments for each of willx’s points – examining everything available to us from within Girls und Panzer finds there is a little more evidence in favour of saying Miho had acted appropriately. However, willx’s tone and choice of words throughout this entire debate suggests to me that, all of this seems to be a very roundabout way of expressing his hatred of Miho, as evidenced when willx calls Miho a “frail emotional young girl”. Suddenly, it becomes very clear that willx is arguing in bad faith and was predisposed to dislike Miho from the start; at this point, there isn’t any more discussion to be had, simply because Willx had closed the door to alternate viewpoints regarding Miho. In reality, Miho is neither frail nor a hero: Girls und Panzer is a tale of rediscovery through friendship and trust, not of heroism, or war and its consequences. Since willx’s intentions are in the open now, I counter with a remark of my own – treating a fictional fifteen-year-old so harshly, and holding her up to the same standards as a qualified adult or trained professional, is to be unreasonable to the point of ridiculousness.

  • One could easily make the case that Miho had made a less-than-ideal judgement call in the moment from a rational and fair perspective, especially if we consider other cultural values. Eastern values favour collectivism, and people are expected to make sacrifices at their own expense if it helps the group out, but these sacrifices are context-sensitive, and unnecessary sacrifice is seen as wasteful. Mention of something like this would easily have given Sumeragi and willx’s perspective weight, but instead of such a route, Sumeragi and willx’s conduct became increasingly poor as discussions wore on. willx considered his and Sumeragi’s “cold” and “dispassionate” posts to be the only correct stance on the matter, while seeing fit to lecture those who had felt Miho had acted correctly, by suggesting they were everyone else was being “emotional”.

tl;dr — Stop getting emotional. It irritates me and I don’t like feeling any emotion of any kind. Calm, cold, rational analysis shows that this young girl may not have made the right decision. People’s opinions of an ancillary character (Shiho) based on their personal interpretations of that one instance have people acting uncivilized to actual human beings. Think about that, opinions about a show have got people acting poorly, and irrationally, towards other real persons.

  • Again, the caveat here was that neither willx nor Sumeragi had not done enough meaningful analysis to provide enough evidence for backing their claims. Instead, willx simply resorted to the tu quoque fallacy, claiming that everyone in the thread was getting on his nerves for using a value-laden approach. willx’s choice of words here struck me as irritating: analysis needs to be fair and reasoned, not “cold” or “dispassionate”. The latter indicate a disregard for things like empathy, compassion and understanding – in a discussion about human decisions and human emotions, these elements necessarily need to be considered. Ironically, it had been willx who’d been getting the most emotional, and despite an insistence Miho adhere to his standards for “calm”, willx himself did not appear calm during these discussions.

  • I am now at the same age as willx had been during this little flame war, and to be frank, I find his behaviour disappointingly immature: at our age, one should have the patience and open-mindedness to hear others out. willx’s largest mistake was insisting that he was right, and that opinions contrary to his own held no weight. Conversely, I make an effort to listen to what others bring to the table, because a different set of eyes on things means becoming aware of how other people see the world. If someone said to me that Miho’s decision was untenable and walked me through their thought process, I’d be more than willing to acknowledge there are cases where Miho should not have acted the way she did. On this token, I won’t act as though my word is indisputable, either. I never see disagreement as a personal attack, and in fact, I welcome it because it helps me to evaluate my own world-views – sometimes, people do really bring things to the table I’ve not even considered, and in this way,  This is why the Jon Spencer Reviews community is so valuable: there’s people from all walks of life, with their own experiences and thoughts.

  • As an aside, I ended up befriending Wild Goose: Wild Goose’s attempts to talk sense into willx and Sumeragi was met with moderators deleting his posts, and a week-long ban was levelled against his account. Meanwhile, Sumeragi and willx got off scot-free: neither had any of their posts deleted, despite the fact that many of these posts were abrasive and counterproductive, and similarly, neither were banned for disruptive behaviours that were certainly in violation of forum rules. However, there had been a silver lining to this – Wild Goose’s ban from AnimeSuki had led us to exchange our thoughts via this blog’s comment section. In this way, I gained a reader and peer that I’ve come to greatly respect: although we’d met through a mutual dislike of Sumeragi and willx, we found shared interests in many things and had numerous, productive conversations even when we disagreed on several matters. Like myself, Wild Goose leads a busy life, and I’ve not heard from him for quite some time, although I do hope he’s been well.

  • At this point, I believe I’ve done a thorough job of showing the set of circumstances that lead to my concluding Miho had done the right thing, acknowledged there is a case where people can see Miho as having made a mistake, but also, that Sumeragi and willx approached this from the wrong way. I therefore leave it with the reader to decide, for themselves, if Sumeragi and willx had any merits in their approaches and return the focus to the episode itself: to emphasise that Miho’s amongst good company, after their latest training session, the entire team approaches Miho looking for suggestions, leading to Miho’s friends delegating out tasks so Miho isn’t overwhelmed. Whereas Miho had appeared to try and take on too much as a result of her own belief that she shouldn’t burden others, at Ooarai, Miho learns that the people around her are there to support her to the same extent that she supports everyone else.

  • Hana elects to help the student council with paperwork, while Mako helps the volleyball team drive their tanks better. Yukari speaks with the history buffs about improving their load times, and Saori helps the first years manage some of their problems. Messages of friendship, understanding, respect and sportsmanship dominate Girls und Panzer, and looking back, it is actually a bit surprising that during its airing, such messages were completely discarded in favour of arguments like how Panzerfahren worked, or whether or not a sinking tank posed a credible danger as to warrant Miho’s actions. This is what prompts the page quote: I’m not sure what exactly some of AnimeSuki’s members were thinking, but Panzerfahren certainly isn’t meant to be taken as seriously as it was, and while it may be presumptuous for me to say so, I highly doubt there are many who share Sumeragi and willx’s stance on things. The core messages are significantly more important, but even now, it seems that there is next to no respect at AnimeSuki for the themes Girls und Panzer had sought to convey.

  • While Ooarai’s done modestly well with its existing arsenal, it becomes clear that other schools have an advantages in both numbers and hardware. To help the Panzerfahren team out, Momo suggests that they go looking around the school ship to see if there’s any tanks that survived the sell-off some years ago – it is stated that Ooarai had a formidable Panzerfahren programme some twenty years ago, but undisclosed circumstances led Ooarai into decline, and to keep the lights on, they’d been forced to sell their tanks. While hunting for new gear, Miho manages to find a Char B1 Bis, a French heavy tank that was originally designed to punch through trenches. Sporting up to 60 mm of armour, the Bis variant was more than capable of holding its own against German tanks of the day, although it was a slow-mover and consumed fuel at extremely high rates.

  • Besides a Char B1 Bis, Miho also locates a KwK 40 L/48, a tank gun based off the Pak 40. The long barrel allowed for almost double the muzzle velocity of the KwK 37 L/24: with the right ammunition, the KwK 40 L/48 could punch through up to 176 mm of armour at ranges of under a hundred metres: in Panzerfahren, this renders the Panzer IV capable of dealing with virtually anything most schools can conceivable field, and this upgrade leaves Miho with the ability to deal some real damage now even against the Tiger I. While Ooarai still has a disadvantage in numbers, locating two new tanks, plus a new gun, provides them with much needed firepower that leaves them in a much better state than they’d been in at the start of Girls und Panzer.

  • Saori had accompanied the first years while they went off to hunt down a lead about another tank in the depths of Ooarai’s school ship, and they get lost in the process, prompting Miho and her friends to go looking for them. This excursion provides a chance to show other sides of Anko team: Miho starts easily in unfamiliar settings, while Hana has an iron will and isn’t worried about the school ship’s darkened corridors. It is also revealed here that Mako has a fear of ghosts, which is ironic considering that she’s at her best during the night. Ever-prepared for all eventualities, Yukari has a helmet light, and using a bit of divination, she’s able to find Saori and the first years. Saori had done her best to keep the first years together, and as it turns out, their efforts result in a Porsche Tiger being found.

  • While there isn’t enough time between the present and Ooarai’s match with Anzio to get the new tanks and equipment installed, finding the new gear is a massive boost for morale, and Miho promises everyone that she’ll do her best in the upcoming match against Anzio. Despite the episode’s name suggesting viewers would see a thrilling exchange between Ooarai and Anzio, the anime actually disappointed here in that only the outcome of the match would be shown.

  • This led myself, along with other viewers, to wonder if Miho had curb-stomped Anzio in a battle that was not worth watching. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and a year later, an OVA detailing the actual Anzio battle was shown. As it turns out, Miho had no idea what Anzio would bring to the table and asked Yukari to do more reconnaissance, while Carpaccio and Takako Suzuki, two friends, reunite. The match is thrilling, with Anchovy utilising both her tankettes and P40 in creative ways to give Ooarai a worthy fight, but in the end, Miho comes out on top. The Anchovy of the OVA is hot-blooded but friendly, sharing a good sense of sportsmanship with Darjeeling and Kay, standing in stark contrast with her manga incarnation.

  • I believe that the manga, and by extension, Ribbon Warrior, to be non-canon spinoffs, so attempts to analyse Anchovy’s character based on her manga form would prove futile. After the match with Anzio, the mechanical club install the KwK 40 L/48 onto Miho’s Panzer IV and have brought the Char B1 Bis to life, as well, with the Student Morals Committee agreeing to act as its operators on account of it serving to improve the school’s image. With things falling into place, Miho prepares for their semi-final match against Pravda, a school known for luring their opponents in with a false sense of weakness, before mounting an aggressive counterattack.

  • As Ooarai sails further north, Anzu, Yuzu and Momo invite Miho over to a hot pot dinner, with the intent of sharing with her the reason behind why they’d been so insistent on having her join Panzerfahren to begin with. In the end, none of the student council’s members are able to convey the truth to Miho. Not content to merely disparage Miho and uphold an untenable position regarding the “tank falling into river” incident, willx would return and claim that Girls und Panzer “puts [the student council] in a neither “here nor there” situation”, and then during combat, “they then are shown to be arrogant but completely ineffectual” during actual combat. This is a load of hogwash derived from emotion rather than observing what Girls und Panzer presents us. The student council’s weaker combat performance early on comes from the fact that they deliberately chose a 38(t), which is an anti-infantry vehicle. As they learnt their tank’s strengths and weaknesses, they would become increasingly capable with it.

  • willx and Sumeragi both operated under the belief that the Nishizumi Style was infallible; Shiho only mentions that the style means “strength” and “victory”, and while many viewers did take this to refer to a ruthless, relentless style that is far removed from what Miho practises, on their own, “victory” is defined as “achieving one’s goals”. Similarly, strength exists in many forms. A strong individual might not be able to bench press like a power-lifter, but possesses extraordinary discipline and resilience to adversity. However, since the Nishizumi Style also emphasises “always advancing, never taking a step back”, Miho is not counted as practising this style because she has no qualms with reversing her decisions if they prove unfavourable. Overall, then, the Nishizumi Style states that once makes a decision, they must stick it out and see things through to the end. Against opponents with weaker discipline and resolve, the Nishizumi Style is intimidating, but foes like Miho and Darjeeling both show that there are cases where the Nishizumi Style may not work if practised in its purest form.

  • I have previously written an extensive defense of the Nishizumi Style and what Shiho adheres to: I am not suggesting the style is entirely dependent on overwhelming force of arms and numbers to achieve victory at all costs, as that would stand contrary to the themes within Girls und Panzer, but rather, that it still adheres to real-world martial arts. At the Nishizumi residence, Shiho announces her intent to disown Miho, and Maho’s expression hardens for a fraction of a second before she promises to give Miho a match worthy of her best. This prima facie suggests Shiho has no love for Miho, but again, without additional information, it is difficult to assess Maho and Shiho. From an alternative point of view, one that would later prove to hold weight, Maho practises the Nishizumi Style to uphold her family values and leave Miho free to be her best self, while Shiho disowning Miho would similarly allow Miho to pursue her own path without being weighted down by the family name and the attendant expectations. There are, of course, better ways of achieving this, but having established Shiho is a poor communicator, it is understandable that her intents and viewpoints have been misrepresented.

  • After arriving at the match grounds, Miho finds her teammates fired up and ready to roll; her original aim had been to feel out Pravda to see if they could create a situation where they might attack a much weaker force, before going after the flag tank decisively. However, Ooarai’s spirits are high, and they mistakenly believe that with their momentum, they might be able to go straight for Pravda’s flag tank before their commander can strike back. Even Miho is not immune to the power of suggestion, and she agrees to the plan after feeling a quick strike would allow them to end things before the weather deteriorates. A more experienced commander would ask their subordinates to take a step back and act with their minds, rather than their hearts: overconfidence is a dangerous thing, and this match against Pravda pushes Ooarai to the brink of defeat precisely because the crews underestimate their opponent.

  • Pravda’s commander, Katyusha, possesses a Napoleon complex about her height, and has a mouth to match her tactical ability. She promises to wipe floor with Ooarai, believing that a no-name school will pose her no trouble, and this characterisation, coupled with Ooarai’s energy, does give viewers the impression that Pravda might be a load of hot air. However, Girls und Panzer expertly reminds viewers not to fall into the same trap that Ooarai does: en route to their objective, Katyusha, Nonna and the other Pravda tankers sing Katyusha, a Soviet military march written by Soviet poet Mikhail Isakovsky about a Russian woman who sings for her lover, a soldier fighting to defend the motherland, and how she will cherish his love. It’s reminiscent of the Wehrmacht’s Erika, although in Girls und PanzerKatyusha is unique in that Hisako Kanemoto and Sumire Uesaka (voice actresses for Katyusha and Nonna, respectively), provide the lyrics for the song. The song shows that Pravda is ready to kick names and take ass.

  • For many viewers, this was the “magic moment” in Girls und Panzer, during which the series really defined itself as paying attention to details: up until this point, each of St. Gloriana and Saunders both only had instrumental themes. Exclusion of this in Sentai Filmworks’ home release of this was considered enough of a deal-breaker for people to refuse purchasing this on the grounds it invalidated the entire experience, and Sumeragi disparaged another forum member for not knowing the “obvious” fact that Katyusha was copyrighted (but in typical Sumeragi manner, failed to elaborate further). I was skeptical that American publishers could hold copyright to a Soviet era song, but as it turns out, Katyusha is subject to the Russian Civil Code Part IV, which came into effect in 2008 and enforces a 75-year period of protection after the original author’s death.

  • Since Isakovsky passed away in July 1973, Katyusha returns to the public domain in 2049, rather than the 2040 that Sumeragi claimed as fact. I’m running the original footage, but folks watching the Sentai Filmworks version won’t have access to Katyusha and Nonna singing Katyusha. This shouldn’t be enough to break the experience (as Wild Goose succinctly puts it, it’s like going to a steakhouse and getting a steak with everything except one’s favourite brand of BBQ sauce, when every other aspect of the meal was flawless). Back in Girls und Panzer proper, Katyusha stops for a quick bite while commenting on how Ooarai’s strategy is a little too audacious.

  • In the snowy fields of this northern battleground, Miho directs her forces forward, and at the edge of a wood, a pair of T-34s are spotted. Miho’s tanks swiftly disable both, which amps Ooarai up: Pravda had already been known to be a formidable team, so striking first gives Ooarai a massive surge in morale. The T-34 is the most produced tank of the Second World War, being manufactured to overwhelm enemies with sheer numbers and reliability. The base T-34 had a maximum of 60 mm of armour on its turret and carried a 76 mm M1940 F34 tank gun, which offered comparable performance to the Panzer IV’s KwK 40.

  • Unlike the heaviest German tanks, the Soviet T-34 was known for its reliability and ruggedness: German commanders who encountered T-34s acknowledged that their simplicity was their greatest assets: earlier German tanks had also been highly mobile, but as the Second World War dragged on, emphasis was placed on highly armed and heavily armoured tanks that were prone to breaking down. In roles, the T-34 is similar to the American M4, although overall, the M4 holds the edge in crew comfort and craftsmanship, sporting better optics, fire control and radios.

  • Against Miho’s orders, Ooarai’s remaining tanks charge head-first at their foes, not realising the reason why they’ve encountered success early on was precisely because Katyusha had placed the weaker T-34s out front to bait them in. Now that Ooarai is lured into the village, Pravda’s heavier equipment, including the IS-2 and a KV2, are brought to bear. These tanks would instantly waste any of Ooarai’s armour: the IS-2’s M1931/37 (A-19) had a bore of 122 mm and could penetrate 155 mm of armour at ranges of under 500 metres. Meanwhile, the KV-2 was a variant of the Kliment Voroshilov outfitted with a 152 mm howitzer; despite its firepower, the KV-2’s sheer mass made it ineffective in reality.

  • Indeed, the KV-2 does not actually score any kills against Ooarai owing to its slow turret traversal, although in this moment, the appearance of Pravda’s heaviest tanks proves overwhelming. Miho orders all of Ooarai’s tanks into a building for shelter, and unexpectedly, Katyusha orders her tanks to cease firing. Instead, two emissaries are sent out on Katyusha’s behalf: they give Ooarai three hours to surrender and call the match in. This approach is most unusual, and as the Auralnauts comment, Pravda had every opportunity here to stomp Ooarai’s head in at this point.

  • The idea of allowing a foe to surrender deals Ooarai a crushing blow to morale: offering Ooarai this route shows that Katyusha is confident that Miho has no answers to things. Faced with the incredulity of the moment, Momo exclaims “nuts”, a reference to Brigadier General Anthony Clement McAuliffe’s reply to a German ultimatum for surrender during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. As the story goes, McAuliffe said “aw, nuts” when reading the German message, and discarded the message. McAuliffe’s subordinates were drafting a message but struggled to find the words for their response, until Lieutenant Colonel Harry Kinnard suggested McAuliffe had captured the gravity of things pretty well. Thus, the message to the Germans only consisted of the one-word response, “NUTS!”. Colonel Joseph Harper ended up delivering the message, which confused the German Commander, and when asked for an explanation, Harper replied that McAuliffe was never fond of profanity, so this message was meant to mean “up yours”.

  • That Ooarai’s now been backed into a corner finally forces Momo to reveal what she’d been holding back from Miho and the other members of the Panzerfahren team this whole time: that Ooarai’s under the risk of permanent shut down as a result of their lack of achievements. Anzu had revived Panzerfahren, arguing that MEXT wouldn’t dare close down a Panzerfahren champion. This moment explains why the Student Council had been so determined to press Miho into Panzerfahren and strive for victory: their school’s existence was on the line. This single moment gives newfound weight to Ooarai’s quest to come out triumphant, and for me, was a satisfactory account of why the Student Council had acted in the way they did. That hints of this were foreshadowed as early as Girls und Panzer‘s first episode shows the series had been intended to captivate and thrill viewers right out of the gates: Miho is shocked to learn of this, but from a storytelling perspective, keeping Miho from learning of this truth early on, and allowing her to enjoy life at Ooarai, allowed her to cultivate a much deeper connection to those around her.

  • Had the student council openly said this on day one, Miho would have likely felt duty-bound to help her new classmates, but with the expectations and pressure on her, remained distant from the Panzerfahren team. By leaving Miho in the dark, not knowing Ooarai was closing down allowed Miho to do things at her own pace, and so, when faced with this new devilry, all of her teammates view her as a treasured friend who’d been there for everyone. This hearts-and-minds approach is ultimately what makes all of the difference between success and failure in Girls und Panzer. With this, I’ll wrap up this uncommonly lengthy post (10159 words) and apologise to current readers for the approach I’ve taken; I dislike what are colloquially referred to as “call-out” posts, but these two episodes had created quite a bit of a fuss amongst the AnimeSuki community, and for the longest time, I’ve wondered if my perspectives held any merit (versus those of Sumeragi’s and willx’s). #AniTwitWatches became an opportunity to hear back from a different set of perspectives, and before closing things off, I would like to hear back from readers: have I presented 1) a satisfactory account of why Miho’s decision was appropriate and 2) were Sumeragi and willx justified in using the methods that they did to defend their perspectives?

The results of Miho’s actions, plainly the right one to the community, and clearly the wrong choice to her mother, Shiho, would ultimately result in ancillary conversation about what the Nishizumi Style entailed. During the conversation to Maho, Shiho expresses that the Nishizumi Style is to relentlessly push forward and strive for victory at all costs. This led to some viewers immediately marking Shiho as “ruthless” and even “bloodthirsty”. However, such an assessment would contradict the themes in Girls und Panzer; having previously established that Maho is stoic and not exactly an expressive communicator, signs show that Shiho is similar. On this basis, Shiho is stiffly expressing that Miho is not suitable as someone to carry on the Nishizumi Style as she wished, and by disowning Miho, this would implicitly give Miho the freedom she needs to be herself. Maho had done something to this effect, as well, embodying the Nishizumi Style to both respect her mother’s wishes and liberating Miho of this particular burden. Girls und Panzer has, time and time again, indicated that despite appearances, everyone has unique eccentricities and idiosyncrasies that make them unique: once time is taken to understand someone, common ground can be found. Had contemporary viewers extended Maho and Shiho this courtesy, it is unlikely that Miho’s decision would have provoked such uncivilised discussions at AnimeSuki – there was no need in assuming Shiho and Maho were willing to see death and injury on the battlefield to preserve their own integrity, but at the same time, arguing that one had previously dealt with the “tank in river” situation in reality without the slightest shred of evidence to back this claim was also disingenuous. It became clear that neither side had brought anything useful to the table. This stands in stark contrast with the #AniTwitWatches community – previous discussions have all touched on topics that were thoughtfully handled. During the past week, for instance, iniksbane had mentioned that there might’ve been jingoistic tones with Ooarai’s portrayal, and while the schools’ themes can portray that, Ooarai itself is unique and speaks to distinctly Japanese values. Such a conversation would’ve immediately invited flame wars at AnimeSuki, but with #AniTwitWatches, the goal is to hear out participants’ experiences. It is interesting to see how others perceive the different teams (I myself belief Ooarai’s loadout speaks to something else entirely, for instance, but yes, Ooarai is portrayed as the heroes, the scrappy underdogs who earn their wins, through and through), and this allows one to gain a better measure of how different backgrounds shape people’s views of the show. As such, with the #AniTwitWatches crew here, I am now curious to know what the thoughts out there are regarding both Miho’s decision to save her allies, as well as whether or not the short conversations we’ve seen insofar is a succinct and fair assessment of Maho and Shiho as people. Jon Spencer Reviews has already indicated that Miho is in the right, suggesting that, perhaps to the shock of AnimeSuki’s vocal minority, that those who felt Miho had done the right thing may have a point (or two) after all.

Revisiting Girls und Panzer: Saunders, Sportsmanship and Spotting The Compassion of Maho Nishizumi At The Halfway Point

“Win or lose, do it fairly.” –Knute Rockne

Prior to their match against Saunders, Miho and her friends visit a tank-themed café, where they run into Miho’s former classmate and her older sister, Maho. Later, Miho worries about the line-up Saunders plans to bring to the table, and Yukari decides to help her. The next day, Yukari is absent from practise, and the others decide to visit Yukari’s home to see how she’s doing. It turns out Yukari had been on a reconnaissance mission and was able to learn Saunders plans on deploying a Sherman Firefly, along with several Sherman tanks upgraded with a 76 mm cannon, in addition to the base Shermans. However, Yukari was burned during this op, and on the day of the match, Saunders’ commander, Kay, greets Ooarai warmly, inviting Yukari to visit normally at next opportunity. When the match starts, Saunders appears to have an almost-supernatural knowledge of Ooarai’s positions, and they keep the pressure on until Miho learns that Saunders had deployed a wiretapping balloon allowing them to intercept Ooarai’s transmissions. While Hana and Saori protest, Miho realises she can turn this to their advantage, and by communicating on their phones, Miho uses fake radio commands to lure Saunders into open areas, allowing Ooarai to take down their first tank of the match. With the advantage gone, Saunders’ flag tank becomes encircled, and upon learning that flag tank commander Alisa had used such methods, Kay orders four of her tanks to stand down in the name of fairness. Alisa regroups with Saunders’ main force, and Ooarai comes under fire; the M3 Lee and Type 89 are knocked out, leaving the Panzer IV and StuG III to cover Ooarai’s flag tank, the 38(t). Although seemingly out of options, Hana requests that Miho allow them to fire from a hill and end things decisively. Although Saunders’ Firefly takes them down, Hana was able to get a shot off that strikes Arisa’s flag tank squarely, bringing the match to an end. In the aftermath, Kay thanks Miho for a match well-played, and remarks that Panzerfahren is about sportsmanship and fair play, hence her decision to withdraw half of her fighting forces upon learning of Arisa’s radio tapping. While celebrating their first win of the tournament, Mako learns her grandmother was hospitalised, and Maho offers to take Mako over using their helicopter, noting that this is also a part of Panzerfahren. Meanwhile, Ooarai is scheduled to take on Anzio in their next round.

Kay’s approach towards Panzerfahren speaks to Girls und Panzer’s portrayal of integrity and honesty as being a vital part of what people do. As Panzerfahren is meant to be a martial art that cultivates graceful, strong-willed and compassionate individuals, it follows that the sport itself places an emphasis on sportsmanship, treating an opponent with respect, fighting a match with one’s best and accepting the outcome graciously. Darjeeling had not spoken of this topic after she’d beaten Miho and her team during their exhibition match, but the gesture of sending Ooarai tea was meant to show that Darjeeling similarly respects the traditions of Panzerfahren. Thus, when Arisa resorts to something like wiretapping to gain the upper hand, Kay immediately responds by balancing the odds out: as she says, Saunders would’ve likely won in a straight fight, but this victory would not have been representative of their true skill or capability. Instead, by ordering several tanks off the field, Kay is ensuring that, if Saunders wins, they are able to win of their own merit, skill and creativity, rather than through strength of numbers or equipment usage alone. Such a mindset speaks volumes to both sports and life in general: a victory earned though honest, sincere means is the highest possible victory because it was attained purely through what one brings to the table. This is why flag tank matches are employed in Girls und Panzer‘s National Tournament: a capable team, although out-gunned and out-numbered, can utilised clever tactics and adaptive strategies to offset disadvantages and earn their win anyways. In doing so, Girls und Panzer openly endorses the idea that the principals of Panzerfahren (and sports) applies to real life: fair play is how one discovers their limits and capabilities, and winning through honest means show that one’s skill is at a satisfactory level as to have earned a win. Similarly, Kay indicates that there is no shame in losing to a team that has won fairly, and that there are many ways to fairly practise Panzerfahren: she promises sit Arisa down later to review the latter’s decision, showing that sometimes, those who employ below-the-belt practises may have things backfire on them, hence the importance of approaching something with integrity.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Maho and Erika’s appearance at a tank-themed café is a surprise to Miho and her friends; Erika’s scathing remarks immediately draw the indignation from Yukari, Hana, Saori and even Mako, causing some to paint Black Forest with a broad stroke – for the remainder of the season, Erika’s actions here led viewers to allow their own prejudices to shape their perspective of Black Forest and Maho. However, Maho’s only remarks here were to comment on her surprise Miho’s back in Panzerfahren: on their own, Maho’s words are neutral and betray very little about her character. However, Girls und Panzer‘s overarching themes mean that even though Erika overstepped in this moment, it does not mean she is necessarily a haughty or unworthy practitioner of Panzerfahren.

  • The dramatic gap between how Ooarai and Black Forest prima facie conduct themselves on the battlefield, in conjunction with Hana, Saori, Yukari and Mako’s strong reaction to Erika’s comments, would lead to the impression that Black Forest and the Nishizumi Style as a whole was ruthless and unyielding. Miho’s own reaction doesn’t help; she looks completely defeated here. Given Miho’s previous participation in Panzerfahren and Yukari stating she agreed with Miho’s choice, Girls und Panzer is foreshadowing that something happened at her previous school that led her to desire a change of pacing from Panzerfahren. This is what the scene had intended to accomplish, and, putting two and two together, Erika’s attitude towards Miho suggests one thing alone: that Miho had done something previously that must’ve been costly.

  • This “something” ended up sparking a flame war of leviathan proportion at AnimeSuki, and I will save the topic for when that particular bridge is crossed. That Miho’s already thinking about their match with Saunders even after running into Erika and Maho suggests that Miho doesn’t dislike either, but instead, something from the past was weighing on her mind. Seeing Miho in this state, Yukari decides to do a little snooping around on her own to help Miho plan out their strategy ahead of the match and ends up skipping practise. Worried about her, everyone swings by the Akiyamas; it turns out Yukari’s parents run a barbershop of sorts and moreover, care for their daughter very much.

  • Yukari’s first reconnaissance mission is simultaneously a failure and success – despite getting burned (spook-speak for “found out”), Yukari is able to secure information about Saunders’ lineup, including the fact that they will be sending out their Firefly, a modified M4 Sherman with a 17-pounder cannon. Miho is grateful for the help, and here, it turns out that until Panzerfahren, Yukari’s love of tanks meant she found it difficult to make friends with others. Ever since meeting Miho, Saori, Hana and Mako, Yukari’s world has changed, and although she may not see it, her contributions to the team are non-trivial: she is able to bring her expertise to the table and help Miho to make important decisions.

  • This sort of friendship is a key part of Girls und Panzer, and the main reason why I’m reluctant to treat Maho, or even Erika, as a villain. In fact, there’s a track on the soundtrack (composed by Shiro Hamaguchi, who’d previously done the music for Hanasaku Iroha, Tari Tari, Shirobako and Ah! My Goddess) named “Yesterday’s Enemy is Today’s Friend!”. Girls und Panzer had been aiming to convey how competition brings people together, and those who attempted to frame this as a serious portrayal of martial arts, or even armoured warfare, were completely mistaken. I myself would very much like to understand the rationale behind why it was necessary to take an anime this seriously, but returning to topic, here, the first years restore their M3 Lee back to factory conditions ahead of their first round in order to blend with their surroundings better, but also adding a rabbit logo for customisation.

  • All of the teams take on animal motifs, and it is worth mentioning that the team names are assigned based on a story behind each group. Miho’s team become Anglerfish Team simply for the fact that they’d danced the Anglerfish Dance (Anko Team from here on out for brevity), while the Student Council are Turtle Team (per Anzu’s belief that slow and steady wins the race). The first years are Rabbit Team (a rabbit is spotted sitting on the tank they find, and the history buffs are designated as Hippo Team (having found their tank underwater). The volleyball club members become Duck Team (they descended from the skies to find their tank). Here, Miho and her friends have their three sizes taken ahead of a surprise, and while queuing up, Mako cops a feel of Saori’s chest. Meanwhile, Yukari smiles upon hearing Miho’s three sizes (82-56-84): this is how Yukari was able to pick out a properly-fitting swimsuit for Miho during one of the OVAs despite Miho not trying any of them.

  • Once the uniforms come back, Miho and her team look ready to rumble: the Ooarai uniforms are as simple as they are functional, giving the Panzerfahren team an air of readiness about them. While Girls und Panzer only shows the team practising occasionally, it is clear that under Ami’s supervision, and with Miho’s guiding everyone, the team is improving constantly. This was a point of contention for some, who felt that Ooarai’s performance in battle was not consistent with the amount of training they went through. However, most of the training happens off-screen (similarly to how K-On! has practise happening off-screen to emphasise the cake and tea moments); when Miho leaves a notebook behind and returns to retrieve it after one practise, she finds Mako and the others going ahead full steam.

  • I’ve been around anime long enough to know which details are relevant, and which things can be presented with a reduced emphasis; generally speaking, it’s the nit-pickers who tend to show just how little they know, and for this reason, I’m glad to have sat out most of the discussion at AnimeSuki while Girls und Panzer was running. At this point in the season, my autumn term was coming to an end, and it seemed like the stars had lined up for this term. I was dominating my English literature class, was keeping up with genomics and health policy, was able to pull my weight on my team for the university’s first-ever iOS development class, and had time to spare for working on my undergraduate thesis. By late November, I’d already had the foundations of my virtual renal system model set up with its particle systems.

  • Kay immediately became my favourite Panzerfahren commander outside of Ooarai following her appearance in Girls und Panzer: boisterous and friendly, Kay sees Panzerfahren as a sport for bettering oneself, an opportunity to practise fair play and have a good time doing so. Besides unsportsmanlike conduct from her own teammates, very little gets under Kay’s skin, and she greets Yukari like an old friend after they formally meet. Anzu seems to get along well with Kay, as well. When it comes to things like sport, or recreation, I believe that Kay’s mindset is the right one; we watch films and TV shows, read books, and play games to relax, not to outdo one another in meaningless internet fights.

  • Conversely, in real life, I play to win: there are some things that should be taken seriously, such as one’s career, responsibilities and obligations. The mark of a mature individual, then, is knowing when to be all-business, and when to take it easy. Curiously enough, I find that it is possible to have best of both worlds, in both worlds: I find that in reality, sometimes, appropriate humour can lighten up an otherwise stressful situation and help to show those around me that while things are tough, and I am focused on fulfilling my duties, I can also see the humour in things. Back in Girls und Panzer, between the fact that they’re outnumbered 2:1 and that there’s a still-undisclosed reason for why they must win at all costs, the match does feel a little more stressful for both Miho and viewers alike.

  • Saunders’ mainstay is the venerable M4 Sherman; the M4 was the most-produced American tank of World War Two, and by default, came with a 75 mm cannon that could punch through between 91 and 109 mm of rolled homogeneous armour equivalent at 100 m depending on the variant and ammunition used. With a maximum of 177 mm of armour in the front, American doctrine was to overwhelm enemies with numbers, and during famous engagements, like the Battle of the Bulge, M4s would attack Tiger Is en masse. An individual M4 could not defeat a Tiger I, but one M4 was enough to keep the Tiger I’s 88mm cannon busy, so it was common practise to send four other M4 tanks to attack from different directions, aiming for the thinner rear and side armour.

  • Ooarai does not possess a Tiger I in its arsenal at the time of this match, and the Panzer IV’s maximum armour thickness of 80 mm meant that it could not take a direct hit from even the 75 mm M4s. However, for this match, Ooarai is playing under VIP rules: alternatively known as a flag tank match, VIP rules dictate that a match ends when a designated VIP, the flag tank, is knocked out. Such matches favour strategy which separates the opponent’s flag tank from its defenses, and allow schools fielding weaker tanks to stand a chance. Ooarai’s match takes an unexpected turn when Saunders is able to pinpoint their location early in the game. It turns out that one of Kay’s teammates, Arisa, has deployed a radio-interception balloon, allowing them to eavesdrop on Ooarai. Arisa chalks this up to “girls’ intuition”, which seems to satisfy Kay.

  • With Ooarai on the backfoot, Miho orders her tanks to disperse and evade the Saunders offensive for now: a straight fight would be foolish, and Saunders has the advantage in numbers. While moving to their next waypoint, Miho spots the radio-interception balloon and hastens to inform her crew of the turn of events. Officially, there are no rules forbidding the use of such equipment, although it is frowned upon; Hana and Yukari’s minds go straight towards following a conventional train of thought and they immediately wish to report this incident.

  • However, Miho’s got another idea in mind; rather than fight fire with fire, she adopts a technique reminiscent of what gojūryū karatedo practises – in martial arts, one of the central principals is that in a fight, there is a high chance one is fighting someone far stronger than oneself. To fight this individual on their terms is to invite loss, but the stronger someone is, the more force they exert, and this force can be used to one’s advantage. For instance, if someone were pulling on my arm towards them, conventional wisdom dictates that I’d pull in the opposite direction to resist. However, if that someone was much stronger than myself, I’d be overpowered. So, in order to get out of that situation, I’d actually push myself in the same direction they’re pulling and use their own force to loosen their grip, which would throw them off-balance creating a chance to escape.

  • Miho ends up doing the exact same thing: since Arisa is completely dependent on radio interception, Miho is able to use Arisa’s force against her by feeding her a stream of untrue statements. Meanwhile, all of Ooarai’s tanks coordinate via SMS. Although Arisa is confused as to why her observations are completely inconsistent with what Ooarai says they’re doing, she doesn’t really spot that they’ve been had until Ooarai manages to lure a handful of Saunders’ tanks into a trap, and using the StuG III, they manage to take out one of the M4s. The remaining M4 escapes, but the surprise turn of events is enough to send Arisa into hysterics, during which she devolves into a rant about how her crush never notices her.

  • No one had anticipated that Ooarai would be able to score a kill against the tougher armour Saunders brought to the table, and suddenly, the momentum in the match shifts: emboldened, Ooarai regroups and prepares to go after Saunders’ flag tank. While Miho’s exploiting Arisa’s tactics only net them a single kill, the effect that this has on morale is where the main accomplishment was – Ooarai’s other crews now realise that they might actually have a shot at things. Meanwhile, Saunders’ sense of invulnerability is shattered, forcing them on the back-foot.

  • Momentum is a critical part of sports, and life, in general: this is why for Saunders, it is so important to have a commander like Kay around. Even when things start turning around, Kay maintains her cheerful demeanour and sets her tanks to regroup. Seeing the M4 in action brings back memories of Battlefield V‘s acclaimed Pacific War update, and the M4 was remarkably fun to use. The M4 became my third most-used tank after the Valentine Archer and Panzer IV, and I scored a total of 205 kills with it over four hours of play. The base Sherman comes with the 75 mm cannon, although I upgraded it to the 76mm M1A1 cannon, whose higher muzzle velocity gave it better anti-armour performance: the coaxial machine gun is plenty for anti-infantry roles, and I found it more versatile than the optional anti-personnel flame-thrower.

  • Miho had sent the volleyball team in search of Saunders’ flag tank, and after punching through a bamboo forest, the team is successful. Both teams stare at one another for a few moments before Arisa loses her cool and orders her tank after it. The Type 89 wouldn’t have a hope in anywhere of defeating the M4, even at close range, but the volleyball team’s goal is luring Arisa into an ambush. Under pressure, Arisa reveals to Kay that she’d been using radio-tapping, earning herself a reprimand from Kay. Now understanding what’s going on, Kay sends four of her tanks off, feeling that it is only fair to engage Ooarai with equal numbers.

  • Regrouping with the other tanks shifts the momentum in this match; for Arisa, it’s a matter of holding Ooarai off long enough for their sniper to get a bead on the 38 (t). Things begin looking bad for Ooarai when Saunder’s remaining tanks converge and manage to take out both the Type 89 and M3 Lee. While the first years’ contributions to this match are still limited, they’ve improved considerably since the first match against St. Gloriana, and no longer run away from their duties even when under fire. Growth among the characters in Girls und Panzer is subtle but present, and for me, this was one of the series’ greatest strengths, even more so than the impressive attention to technical detail and clever callbacks to both history and famous World War Two-related works.

  • Despite the fact that any round from an M4 that connects will take Ooarai’s tanks out of the fight, firing while on the move results in highly inaccurate fire: the M4 and M3 were among the earliest tanks to use a gun stabiliser, but those were rarely used and ineffective if the tank was travelling at more than 16 km/h. Improvements to stabilisers were made after World War Two, making use of a combination of a gyroscope and servos to keep the gun trained on a target even as the tank itself moved, and by the 1970s, tanks like the M60 Patton could fire as accurately while moving as it did while stationary. Modern tanks use computers to help with calculations, and consequently, are able to hit moving targets while itself moving at 50 km/h at a range of two kilometres.

  • I imagine that such technology would completely defeat the purpose of Panzerfahren: because World War Two tanks don’t have meaningful stabilisation technology, Miho and her crews are trained to manoeuvre into position, stop and allow the tank to settle, fire their shot and then move on to avoid being hit if their intent is to land a good shot off; beyond this, shots fired are purely mean to create cover. By this point in Girls und Panzer, Momo’s poor aim becomes something of a joke: Yuzu is fond of remarking that Momo’s missed her mark, and while this often happens in situations where Momo shouldn’t miss, it is the case that firing while on the move will often mean one hits nothing but ground: in other words, Momo is forgiven here.

  • Although Miho herself is timid and shy, lacking confidence in her own abilities, when the moment calls for it, Miho is composed and acts in a manner befitting of a commander. With the remainder of Saunders’ tanks in pursuit, the match seems lost, but Miho reassures her crew: as long as they can do their best, the outcomes will follow. This lights a fire in Hana’s heart, and she resolves to bet everything on a single well-placed shot. Kay immediately spots this and sends Naomi’s Firefly onto the ridge in pursuit of Miho’s Panzer IV. Thanks to Miho’s situational awareness, she spots the Firefly and manages to evade their first shot, buying enough time for Hana to take that critical shot.

  • At around 200 m, the maximum penetration of the Panzer IV’s Pzgr. 39/1 round would be around 52 mm, and the M4 Sherman’s side armour is 38 mm. With Hana’s sharpshooting, Arisa is taken out of the fight, bringing the match to a close. It matters little that Miho and her crew are also disabled, since the round is over. It typifies Miho’s willingness to do what is necessary for the team win, even if it means sacrificing herself when appropriate: at the end of the day, Panzerfahren is a team effort, and individual pride is not relevant compared to contributing to the final outcome.

  • One small detail I noticed was that despite being taken out of the fight towards the end, Miho and her friends don’t appeared scuffed up at all, reflecting on their high spirits after the match. Hana credits Miho with encouraging her to be her best self, and the others are happy they’ve managed to win. For Miho, she’s curious to know why Kay ended up withdrawing half her fighting strength, and in the post-game, after shaking hands with Kay, Miho learns that Kay approaches Panzerfahren from a very mature standpoint: she’s as determined as anyone else to win, but adheres to a code of honour and fights on fair terms.

  • In real-world situations, and even per Sun Tzu’s Art of War, a fair fight means insufficient planning, but in athletics and martial arts, fairness is integral. Facing off against Kay in the first match helps Miho to truly appreciate that there are many ways of approaching Panzerfahren, contrasting the world she’d previously known. More so than the win itself, the biggest gain Miho derives from their first round against Saunders is the understanding that Panzerfahren is more profound than strength and victory; sportsmanship, professionalism and creativity also counts. With this encouraging her, Miho is able to do Panzerfahren in the way that she is most comfortable with.

  • #AniTwitWatches participants are immensely fortunate in that they’ve got access to all of Girls und Panzer‘s twelve episodes at present: back in 2012, viewers would’ve had to wait an additional week after the StuG III took out one of Saunder’s M4 Shermans: in their pursuit of excellence, ACTAS ran into production delays with Girls und Panzer, resulting in a recap episode being released, covering the events that had occurred up until now. Recap episodes are almost universally reviled amidst the anime community, and although fans generally understand that recap episodes are done to put something in an anime’s broadcast slot, being left hanging regarding the story can be a bit tense.

  • With their first match over, things begin winding down until Mako receives a phone call indicating her grandmother’s taken a fall and has been hospitalised. A dread fills her, and spotting this, Maho offers Mako use of Black Forest’s helicopter. This singular action speaks volumes about the kind of person Maho is; while she doesn’t speak much and isn’t very expressive, she cares for those around her. Allowing Mako to take the helicopter suggests that Maho considers Miho’s friends her friends, too. Similarly, while Erika initially shows some resistance to the idea, she relents and flies Mako and Saori over to the hospital Mako’s grandmother was admitted to.

  • As such, it stands to reason that Erika is someone who admires Maho, but is occasionally left guessing at how Maho is feeling simply because the latter isn’t open about herself. Rather than arrogant or villainous, Erika’s actions suggest someone looking for acceptance and her own path. Contemporary discussions (especially those of AnimeSuki) completely skated over this fact; after the sixth episode aired, no one gave any thought to the characters, and almost everything was focused on speculation surrounding Panzerfahren and how it works. The end result of this was that Maho and Erika were swiftly branded as evil, irredeemable, setting the stage for what would become the worst anime discussion I’ve seen anywhere.

  • What this flame war entailed is something that still rankles for me, and for next week’s #AniTwitWatches, I will be looking forwards to hearing what the community today makes of things. In the meantime, I will note here that Maho and Erika arrived to watch Miho’s match in a Focke-Achgelis Fa 223 Drache, a helicopter of German design. The earliest rotorcraft flew in 1920, and with a cruising speed of 175 km/h, the Drache was designed as a cargo carrier. It could carry up to a thousand kilograms of cargo and move at a maximum speed of 120 km/h. Only twenty were ever built, and two were eventually recovered by American forces.

  • While Mako and Saori arrive at the hospital, Anzu discusses the difficult fight ahead: both Pravda and Black Forest decimate their opponents. While Girls und Panzer make use of framing to suggest the power behind a foe (both Pravda and Black Forest appear to be unbeatable behemoths), this portrayal stands in stark contrast with the series’ themes. On closer inspection, both Pravda and Black Forest are able to defeat their opponents only because of a disparity in skill and tactics: here, Maho wipes floor with Chi-Ha Tan because at that point in time, their strategy had been to bum-rush their foes. The Chi-Ha and Chi-Nu tanks Chi-Ha Tan fields wouldn’t have been able to do any damage to the Tiger Is, making their defeat inevitable, and similarly, Pravda squared off against Bonple, a school with weak armour who attempted to end things quickly, only to walk into a trap. Thematic elements indicate that Pravda and Black Forest are tough at their best, but certainly aren’t indestructible monsters even in spite of the imagery the series uses, and I imagine this is deliberate to create a bit of tension.

Although Girls und Panzer plainly espouses integrity and sportsman-like conduct, at first glance, it would appear as though Black Forest’s Erika and Maho do not adhere to these principles. When meeting Miho for the first time in a few months, Erika openly disparages Ooarai’s program and claims that weaker teams should be barred from participating if they sully the name of Panzerfahren, implying that Miho’s methods are crude and unsightly. Erika’s claims seem to also suggest that there is only one proper way of approaching Panzerfahren, standing in contrast with Kay’s belief that Panzerfahren can be approached in the way best suited for the individual. Consequently, Erika’s attitudes toward Miho and Panzerfahren has led to the impression that Black Forest as a whole is arrogant, but can put their money where their mouth is. In turn, this led to Black Forest being branded as villains by period viewers. However, such characters would stand contrary to what Girls und Panzer‘s main themes are, and there are several hints in this scene that indicate Maho, Erika and Black Forest do not contradict Girls und Panzer‘s central message. The first is how Maho’s only comments throughout the entire meeting was to express surprise Miho’s returned to Panzerfahren, and the second is how readily she suggests that Mako be allowed to board their helicopter for a quick flight over to the hospital that Mako’s grandmother was admitted to. While she might appear otherwise, Maho is actually a compassionate and caring person who worries about Miho’s happiness, and understands that kindness is also a part of the lessons they learn. That Erika accepts Maho’s request to fly Mako out without resistance similarly hints at her own personality: it is evident that she greatly respects Maho, and so, her comments towards Miho were a consequence of her own assumptions of what Maho is looking for. Because Maho is so taciturn, it becomes difficult to spot how she’s feeling, and it’s clear that Erika’s biggest shortcoming is her desire to be accepted. In this way, Erika is to Maho what Yukari is to Miho. Both are lonely individuals who loved tanks and only found friendship after meeting their respective Nishizumi sister. The only difference is that Maho probably finds it tricky to indicate she’s grateful to Erika, leading Erika to step up her boot-licking, whereas Miho openly expresses thanks for what Yukari does, encouraging Yukari to be her best self. In this way, it is not a fair assumption to claim that Maho and Erika are villainous; Girls und Panzer strives to show how, thanks to sportsmanship and integrity, even the most intimidating opponent is, at the end of the day, human; that there is greater merit in befriending, rather than antagonising, one another.

Revisiting Girls und Panzer: Hidden Depths in Ooarai, Ibaraki and Parallels with Ooarai Girls’ Academy After Four

“I like this guy’s lack of style.” –The Donbot, Futurama

During their match against St. Gloriana, Miho opens by directing her tanks to a ridge such that they have the elevation advantage, and then has her own crew bait St. Gloriana’s tanks into following them into an ambush. Their initial attack fails owing to Ooarai’s poor aim, and with St. Gloriana returning fire, the first years flee the battlefield, while Miho has the remaining tanks fall back into the streets of Ooarai. Here in the narrow roadways, Miho and the others use the area’s layout to neutralise St. Gloriana’s Matilda IIs – St. Gloriana’s commander, Darjeeling, is shocked that a single Panzer IV has taken out her supporting tanks. However, the remainder of Ooaria’s tanks get knocked out in the process, as well. Miho gambles on a risky manoeuvre to gain the upper hand Darjeeling’s Churchill Mk. VII, but anticipating such a move, Darjeeling returns fire, taking Miho out of the battle and ending the match. In the aftermath, Darjeeling thanks Miho for a splendid game and remarks that she is nothing like her sister. Miho and the others perform the Anko dance as a consequence of losing, and later, Miho, Saori, Mako and Yukari accompany Hana to visit her mother. Hana learns that her mother is disapproving of her pursuits and effectively disowns her, but Hana vows to follow her own path. Ooarai enters the national Panzerfahren tournament and Miho draws Saunders Academy as their first opponent. Girls und Panzer‘s fourth episode marks the first time Miho leads Ooarai into a match against another school, and sets precedence for what is to follow: Panzerfahren matches are categorised as either elimination matches (immobilise all enemy tanks) or VIP matches (take out the designated tank), and here, viewers are afforded a glimpse of what happens during a match: understanding one’s strength and weaknesses, taking advantage of the environment, and playing on the other team’s psyche all come into play. This is the definitive moment for many viewers, showing the emotional tenour surrounding a match, while at the same time, also giving viewers insight into the meaning behind Panzerfahren: Darjeeling is a graceful winner, and after the match ends, expresses her respect for how Miho conducts herself on the battlefield. Sportsmanship is a key component in Girls und Panzer, and Darjeeling is the first to set this example for viewers.

St. Gloriana proves to be an interesting school against the style that Miho brings to the table; documentation shows that their preferred combat style entails elegance, advancing in a neat and structured manner while returning fire, and when pressed, St. Gloriana tends to hold their ground. Against most foes, St. Gloriana acts patiently, bidding their time and letting the enemy make the first move. Conversely, Miho introduces her own brand of Panzerfahren to Ooarai, using tactics to break up formations and destroy enemy tanks individually to counteract the fact their tanks lack firepower and armour. By favouring mobility above all else, Ooarai’s methods are the polar opposite of those St. Gloriana uses: Miho will come to frequently order her units to get creative and move around in a way to make themselves difficult to hit, compensating for their lack of armour and allowing tanks to position themselves in a way as to score hits on the comparatively lighter rear and side armours of enemy tanks. In such a match up, experience is the deciding factor, rather than style. If Darjeeling’s tanks have truer aim, they’d pick off Ooarai’s tanks before there’s a chance to return fire. If Miho’s team can be precise and purposeful in their movements and positioning, they can out-manoeuvre a static opponent. The outcome of this first battle lays bare the obvious: Miho and her crew still need time to build up their team chemistry and acclimatise to their tanks’ capabilities. Such a match also exposes where Ooarai is presently weak – their marksmanship is poor, and the first years outright abandoned their posts. Ooarai is plainly beginning their journey, but the makings of a capable team is present. To overcome St. Gloriana, Miho has already shown that her style of capitalising on her tanks’ mobility can present a challenge to St. Gloriana: at ranges of under 100 metres, both the M3 Lee’s 75mm L/31 and the Panzer IV’s 7.5 cm KwK 37 could punch a hole in the Churchill’s rear armour if they could get behind the tank. Similarly, the StuG III’s 7.5 cm KwK 40 would be able to punch through the Churchill’s front armour at a range of 250 metres with APCR rounds. Had the correct teamwork been present, the tanks Ooarai fields would be more than satisfactory for the job. As such, this battle shows how equipment disparities notwithstanding, what matters most in a Panzerfahren match is the team itself – a successful team will work together to augment their strengths and cover for their weaknesses, theoretically allowing teams using weaker tanks to nonetheless hold their own and even surprise teams with some of the most iconic tanks of World War Two. Thus, losing to St. Gloriana shows Ooarai while they presently lack finesse, there is potential amongst the team, giving Ooarai a tangible objective to work towards ahead of their match against Saunders.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The topic of St. Gloriana remained a contentious one long after Girls und Panzer ended: in typical AnimeSuki fashion, it was argued that this represents a significant gap in Girls und Panzer’s storytelling, because Miho’s inability to take Darjeeling apparently “[represented] an “unsolved problem” for Oarai as a whole” that “wound up selling both sides short” because Darjeeling was supposedly forced into close quarters (when her tanks were capable of engaging foes at longer range), and Ooarai was supposedly written to be weaker to make St. Gloriana look better. Such claims represent a massive subjective leap in judgement.

  • For one, most Panzerfahren battles end up being close quarters matches because accuracy is low, and so, schools would rather risk entering a range where a steady aim and quick trigger finger matters more than what their tanks can deal out and take. Similarly, in a close quarters environment, doctrine and skill matter less because chaos introduces an element of luck. Things like terrain and environment can confound matches by adding new elements into the equation. Skill affects the set of variables one can control on virtue of experience, whereas luck entails things with a probability component, and where teams approach one another in terms of skill level, luck often determines an outcome.

  • Another topic that became a point of contention was whether or not Miho’s explanation of safety as being provided by the fact that tanks possess a carbon lining was adequate. As the first episode already established that this was a universe where material science and physics deviates slightly from our own through showing the size of the school ships in this series, I find that attempts to shoehorn real-world constraints into Girls und panzer is an exercise in futility: conversations at AnimeSuki did precisely this, and one viewer tried to argue that Girls und Panzer fails to maintain internal consistency because of the characters’ actions. However, internal consistency strictly refers to the workings of the world, and throughout Girls und Panzer, there is no point where observed behaviours within the world contradict one another as to break this consistency.

  • As such, arguing the characters are inconsistent is incorrect – characters react in the moment to a stimuli, so different variables lead to a different response. This is the luck piece, which is something that the authors control; a story is directed in a direction that is consistent with the themes, rather than following outcomes that adhere to what is observed in real life. Since the point of Girls und Panzer was never about Miho’s ability as a commander, but rather, following the path that brings her to not only take up Panzerfahren, but find a newfound reason to enjoy it. Miho’s growth as a person has nothing to do with the fact that she cannot beat Darjeeling, and in fact, the biggest unresolved element in Girls und Panzer as a whole is whether or not Miho can come to terms with what had led her to leave Panzerfahren to begin with.

  • The loss to St. Gloriana is ultimately inconsequential from the perspective of Miho’s development as a commander, but rather, sets the precedence for themes of sportsmanship and chivalry amongst people. In this arena, Girls und Panzer completely excels. Making such a claim based on only a handful of battles is not particularly meaningful, and in this first battle, while waiting for Miho to draw in St. Gloriana, Ooarai’s remaining tankers are plainly shown as slacking off, whereas an experienced team would be at the ready, their sights already zeroed for the attack ahead.

  • Moreover, Miho’s crew have no prior experience in aiming at moving targets, even when firing from stationary: this speaks to everyone’s general inexperience,  and Hana is shown struggling to work out the Churchill’s range early on. Their first effort at ambush fails completely when the other tanks miss at close quarters, allowing Darjeeling to begin encircling them. This outcome was not to be too surprising, and the me of nine years earlier did wonder what would happen if Ooarai’s aim had been true. The lighter tanks would have no hope of getting through the Matilda or Churchill’s armour, but the StuG III, Panzer IV and M3 Lee could’ve knocked out at least two Matildas here.

  • While things look grim for Ooarai, even St. Gloriana’s technique is not perfect, and this allows Ooarai to escape into the town proper. Ooarai’s lost the M3 Lee to deserters (the first years panic and run off), and the 38(t)’s tracks come off, but Miho still has the StuG III and the surprisingly tenacious Type 89 along with her Panzer IV. She thus orders a tactical retreat, hoping to take advantage of Ooarai’s narrow streets to buy time and break up her foe.

  • I’ve previously done a full-scale visit of Ooarai in a location hunt, and a quick glance at map data finds the road leading into town actually comes from the golf course. There are no rocky fields or cliffs as seen in Girls und Panzer: the entire region surrounding Ooarai is comprised of farmland and towns. At this stage in Girls und Panzer, ACTAS had not anticipated that the series would be as successful as it was. However, this did not stop the studio from doing their best to bring Ooarai to life: once St. Gloriana and Ooarai leave the starting area and enter town, Girls und Panzer really kicks into high gear.

  • When one of the Matildas report that they’ve been disabled, Darjeeling drops her tea in shock. Having boldly claimed that nothing would cause her to drop her tea in combat, this moment signifies how Ooarai is full of surprises, and although Darjeeling had entered the practise match thinking it would be a quick one, the fact that Ooarai is putting up a bit of a fight despite being inexperienced is a bit of a surprise for her. Darjeeling’s relaxed demeanour evaporates, and she realises that if they are to win, she and her team must step their game up.

  • The history buffs and their StuG III are the first to score a kill against one of St. Gloriana’s Matildas: the StuG III’s main gun has no trouble punching through the Matilda’s armour, and the history buffs gloat in a hilarious (but still adorable) fashion. They prepare to take on their next target, but while they comment on the StuG III’s low profile, they’re blasted from the match: the flags they’re carrying have cost them. Meanwhile, using a feint, the volleyball club surprise another Matilda, although their Type 89’s weak main gun fails to penetrate the Matilda’s rear armour. They are taken out of the fight shortly after.

  • Miho’s team is surrounded, and right when it looks like certain defeat for Ooarai, the Student Council appear out of nowhere to buy Miho time. The 38(t) has no hope in anywhere of dealing any damage to the Matildas from the front (and certainly not the Churchill), but Momo doesn’t have a chance to find out: even at a range so close it’s almost a contact shot (again, I reiterate that this is not “point blank” range), Momo seems to have a fantastic tendency to miss shots. In return, St. Gloriana’s tanks pound the 38(t) into the ground. However, Miho captialises on this moment to take one of the Matildas out of the fight before fleeing further into Ooarai’s streets. Amidst the chaos, Miho manages to single handedly have her crew take out two more Matildas, leaving a one-on-one fight with Darjeeling’s Churchill.

  • The Matildas remind me of the Valentine tanks that Battlefield V provided as the British medium tank, although Valentines were more inexpensive to produce because they lacked the Matilda’s armour, and as a result, could achieve the same speeds. In my Battlefield V days, I absolutely destroyed using the Valentine’s Archer variant: compared to the Churchill, I have eight times as many kills. I found the Churchill to be slow and cumbersome, preferring the medium tanks to heavy tanks in general. Here in Girls und Panzer, Miho attempts a risky manoeuvre to try and get behind the Churchill: a Churchill Mk. VII’s rear armour is only 51 mm thick, and the Panzer IV’s KwK 37 can defeat up to 54 mm of armour at ranges of under 100 m when using Pzgr. 39/1 shells.

  • However, this fails: when the Panzer IV fires, the round strikes the turret’s side, which has an armour thickness of 95 mm. The placement of such a shot is still, at least for now, beyond the skills of Miho’s team. In the aftermath, Miho looks absolutely woebegone. However, Yukari is in fine spirits: although they’ve been defeated, the match had been most instructive and marks the first time she’d participated in a match with another school. From the looks of things, the worst that happens when characters’ tank suffers a mission kill is that they become scuffed up. Although certainly not plausible in reality, the Girls und Panzer universe suggests to viewers that the technology is there to accommodate for such matches and leaves things at that.

  • Upon meeting Miho, Darjeeling expresses that she fights with a completely different style than her older sister; despite a seemingly aloof and noblesse oblige attitude, Darjeeling and her classmates are cultured, civilised people who simply conduct themselves with grace, but otherwise, are not above acts of kindness and understanding. Darjeeling is presented as someone who is difficult to impress, but her comments to Miho suggest that there is something special about Ooarai.

  • In this fourth episode, Ooarai is just as much of a star as Miho and Darjeeling’s teams were. Locations in town are faithfully reproduced, and here, as a part of the conditions of losing, Miho is made to perform the Anglerfish dance in the town festival. Seeing this detail led me to wonder about why Ooarai was chosen to be the school Miho attends, and ultimately, I felt that compared to Japan’s largest cities and famous destinations, Ooarai is absolutely drab and unremarkable by comparison: it is a coastal town surrounded by fields and hills. In this way, Ooarai parallels Ooarai Girls’ Academy’s students – on first glance, everyone is dull and not particularly standout.

  • However, on closer inspection, much as how Ooarai Girls’ Academy has a very colourful collection of students, each with their own unique stories, aspirations and desires, Ooarai itself can surprise visitors in pleasant ways, too. This detail was not picked up upon by folks counting themselves to be authorities in Girls und Panzer, although in retrospect, this should not be too surprising; viewers of the time were too wrapped up in debating whether or not St. Gloriana represents an “unsolved problem” for Miho and the nature of the carbon to look beyond minutiae and appreciate details that relate to the thematic elements Girls und Panzer strove to convey.

  • One such aspect that went unnoticed is the parallels between Miho’s relationship with her family, and the other members of Miho’s team; after their match ends, Miho and the others prepare to go shopping at Ooarai Seaside Station whilst they still have some shore leave, and here, they run into Hana’s mother, who is so disapproving of Hana’s decision to take Panzerfahren that she faints on the spot. The topic of parents’ opinions of their children’s choices is one that’s hotly contested; having grown up with parents who are first-generation immigrants, I ended up getting best of both worlds. While my parents had hoped I would pursue a career in medicine, I ended up turning my undergraduate learnings towards software development. I always had the freedom to choose a career and field of my interest, so looking back, I do not have any regrets about the choices I’ve made.

  •  When Girls und Panzer was airing, I’d been in the middle of my undergraduate thesis project, and there were numerous details I did not catch. Subsequent revisits allowed me to pick up such details, although laziness led me to not write about things episodically. With #AniTwitWatches, I am now afforded a chance to go back and put my thoughts into writing; so far, the experience has been fantastic. Besides gaining insight into a host of other perspectives, I am also learning that many of the details that troubled the community nine years earlier are actually non-issues. For instance, 4 of 5 people find that the Student Council’s threatening Miho with expulsion was only meant to be foreshadowing and in no way diminishes their contributions to the series..

  • In the end, although Hana’s mother forbids her from returning home (in effect, disowning her), Hana promises to make the most of things and one day convince her mother to respect her choices. Miho’s quiet promise to do the same foreshadows a similar situation with her family, and to the learned viewer, this topic would immediately become more pressing than something like realism behind the “carbon” technology behind Panzerfahren, or whether or not St. Gloriana represented a clear and tangible narrative hole. Because of how Girls und Panzer is presented, I was never too worried about Hana: they return to their school ship, and here, Miho finds a surprise awaiting them.

  • It turns out Darjeeling has sent a gift of tea to Miho and her team; for the viewers’ benefit, Yukari explains that St. Gloriana only does this for worthy opponents, foreshadowing yet again the potential that lies in Ooarai. Darjeeling has spotted this, and while Miho draws Saunders for their first round opponent, Darjeeling’s experience suggests that it is Saunders who will be surprised when they meet Ooarai in competition. With this post in the books, I am looking forwards to seeing what #AniTwitWatches has to say about things, and further remark that unwinding with Girls und Panzer is a pleasant way to wrap up this Family Day Long Weekend: I’ve been up since 0600 local time awaiting the setup of a new Fibre network at the new place. Cursory tests using WiFi devices finds I’m getting a maximum download speed of around eight times faster than my current network, while upload speeds are now 95 times faster.

When the match between Ooarai and St. Gloriana has Miho’s team pushed to the defensive, Miho directs her forces into the town of Ooarai itself, capitalising on her team’s knowledge of the area to buy time while she works out how to best engage them. All of the schools in Girls und Panzer hail from different parts of Japan: St. Gloriana is from Yokohama in Kanagawa, while Saunders is located in Nagasaki. Pravda is situated in Aomori, and Kumamoto is where Black Forest calls home. Each of these locations have their own specialties and attractions, worthy of visiting. Similarly, the various schools seen in Girls und Panzer all have their own distinct traits: St. Gloriana is a school for refined young women who practise aspects of British high culture, while Saunders has an all-American theme, calling for enthusiasm and a go-big-or-go-home mindset. Conversely, Ooarai Girls’ Academy doesn’t have a distinct theme, mirroring the fact that Ooarai in Ibaraki has been counted as one of the dullest places to visit in Japan. A quick glance at Ooarai finds why: it is a coastal town located north of Tokyo and, aside from hosting Japan’s nuclear energy research programme, has very little going for it in the way of attractions. However, being an agricultural town, Ooarai does offer several notable products, including fish and sweet potatoes. In addition, the presence of Ooarai Marine Park and shopping malls, plus the presence of engaged, spirited residents, show that Ooarai is more than what its outward appearance suggests, and similarly, Ooarai Girls’ Academy can be full of pleasant surprises despite not having an identifying trait. The decision to have the first match in Ooarai itself allows Girls und Panzer to tell a story about Ooarai Girls’ Academy without needing to take away from the focus on Panzerfahren matches: by having Miho, Saori, Hana and Yukari do the Anglerfish Dance and discuss plans to unwind after their training match, Girls und Panzer suggests that contrary to impressions otherwise, Ooarai does have its own charms, and in this way, we are reminded that Ooarai Girls’ Academy also has its own charms, too. Indeed, the lack of style in Ooarai suggests that this is a school that is a blank slate, able to adapt and overcome in their own way; although on first glance, Ooarai Girls’ Academy might be boring or dull, those with the patience to look beneath the surface will find a group of colourful individuals, each with their own strengths and merits, just as how the town of Ooarai has much to offer to visitors and certainly is more than its designation as one of Japan’s most boring places to visit, in turn foreshadowing the surprises that Ooarai Girls’ Academy has in store for viewers.