The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Shiho Nishizumi

Revisiting Girls und Panzer: Appreciating The Student Council’s Benevolence After Three

“I don’t mind hidden depths, but I insist that there be a surface.” –James Nicoll

Miho Nishizumi is a a new transfer to Ooarai Girls’ Academy, and looks forward to her high school life here. Although she’s shy and a little clumsy, she quickly befriends the outgoing and cheerful Saori Takebe, and the elegant, refined Hana Isuzu. While Miho had been hoping to take up flower arrangement as her club activity, the Student Council demands that Miho join the school’s newly-resurrected Panzerfahren (sensha-do, literally “way of the tank”, “Tankwando” or “Tankery” depending on the translation) programme, even going as far as threatening Miho with expulsion. Upon seeing the lengths to which her new friends will go for her, Miho reluctantly decides to join the Panzerfahren team, and despite her aversion to the sport, finds herself immediately at home among the tanks. Moreover, after a presentation from the student council, a few students take an interest in the sport as well, including Yukari Akiyama, who’d been in love with tanks since childhood. After locating tanks scattered around Ooarai’s school ship, the student council bring on Ami Chōno, a JSDF captain and tank commander who’d trained under Miho’s mother, to help bring the students up to speed. She sets Ooarai’s Panzerfahren team on a training match, allowing everyone to get a feel for the sport. During the exercise, Hana gets knocked out, but fortunately, Saori sports another one of her friends, Mako Reizei, sleeping in the field. Saori convinces Mako to become their driver, and Miho’s team edges out a win over the inexperienced teams. In the aftermath, Ooarai continues to train. Miho is made the team commander, and the teams are laid down. To prepare them for matches between schools, the student council organises a practise round with St. Gloriana, another school with a Panzerfahren programme. The first three episodes of Girls und Panzer had eased viewers into the series, opening with an introduction to the sport of Panzerfahren and establishing Miho’s return to a sport where she plainly had prior experience, including something that has dissuaded her from continuing.

After the earliest episodes aired, viewers almost immediately set about vilifying Anzu, Yuzu and Momo – their approach in convincing Miho to return to Panzerfahren was decidedly a hostile one, and threatening Miho with expulsion out of the gates created a highly negative first impression amongst viewers of 2012 (AnimeSuki’s “willx” refused to accept the series’ themes even after it had ended and branded them as “arrogant but completely ineffectual”. People like willx were mistaken in their beliefs: despite Anzu’s brazen threats coming across as harsh, once Miho accepts participation in Panzerfahren (however reluctantly), the student council acts in a way that indicates that there is a hint of desperation in their actions. This occurs after the newly-minted Panzerfahren team goes on a hunt around Ooarai’s school ship for tanks: after a hard day’s search, Ooarai adds the M3 Lee, Panzer 38(t), StuG III and Type 89B to their inventory, along with the Panzer IV that had been found inside the warehouses. The student council end up picking the 38(t), a light tank of Czechoslovakian design. With a maximum armour thickness of 30 mm and the 37 mm KwK 38(t) L/47.8 as its primary armament, the 38(t) was adopted by the Wehrmacht after it was determined that it outperformed their own Panzer I and IIs in combat. Despite having high mobility and reliability, it is clear that the 38(t) was no match for medium tanks of the day, and even anti-tank rifles could get through its thin armour if fired at the right spots. Of the tanks available to Ooarai, the 38(t) would easily be destroyed by heavier tanks. In spite of this, the student council chooses this tank, allowing the other students to have access to tanks with better arms and armour. A selfish student council, motivated by self-interest or their own ego, would take the best tank available to maximise their survival and performance in a Panzerfahren match, and yet, they willingly adopt the 38(t) as their tank. This action shows that, contrary to their initial attitude towards Miho, they have high hopes for her and are ready to place their faith in her ability, but saw no other way in persuading Miho to resume Panzerfahren. There’s something bigger in play, although at this point in time, Girls und Panzer betrays nothing about what leads the student council to this level of desperation. Consequently, those who were quick to vilify the student council were jumping to conclusions, plainly mistaken in their thinking. Even this early on, Girls und Panzer shows how understanding the tanks contributes to understanding the characters further. This aspect is what makes Girls und Panzer so enjoyable: there are subtle details that can offer hitherto unparalleled insight into what’s happening, but at the same time, even in the absence of knowledge regarding World War Two era armour, there remains much to enjoy in this show.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I’ve not done an #AniTwitWatches for a good half-year now: since Astra Lost in Space back during the summer, I became a little too busy to participate, but this latest iteration was a win-win: all of the choices would’ve been enjoyable, and I was lucky in that my nomination for Girls und Panzer won the vote. As such, I now have a ready-made excuse to revisit Girls und Panzer and some of the topics that I’d like to cover, where I previously did not have the time or motivation to do so. Girls und Panzer is a masterpiece of a series for me because it was able to cater to viewers of all backgrounds.

  • From humble beginnings, Girls und Panzer captivated viewers with its likeable characters, fantastic world-building, a suspenseful story and incredible attention paid to details. There is something for everyone in this series, and while the premise of armoured warfare as a martial art prima facie appears ludicrous, that everything gets put together so well speaks to how creativity can create truly unique experiences. When I first heard of Girls und Panzer, I’d just finished squaring off against the MCAT, and I actually did have plans to watch and write about the series with some frequency: the premise had resulted in a cool reception amongst viewers, and I imagined that I’d have the series to myself.

  • The reality ended up being anything but, and to my chagrin, the community’s worst showed up to the party almost immediately, picking apart every pixel of the series and criticising the characters before Girls und Panzer even had a chance to establish itself; the student council’s actions created controversy in the community from day one, and the flood of conversation surrounding the series lead me to put off watching the series until after I learnt that production had hit a hiatus. Joining this round of #AniTwitWatches, I am looking forwards to hearing thoughts from a community that is rather more civilised than those of say, AnimeSuki’s.

  • While I’ve had my share of disagreements with the #AniTwitWatches previously (e.g. with Kanon), what separates our conversations from those of AnimeSuki’s is that we actually enjoy hearing divergent thoughts and walking one another through how we end up reaching our conclusions. On the other hand, AnimeSuki treats attacking a position held by a well-regarded poster as equivalent to attacking said person, and this allowed discussions on Girls und Panzer to get particularly troublesome. As such, I have no qualms admitting that I am curious to see how #AniTwitWatches will handle scenes from Girls und Panzer that have previously started flame wars: while we might not agree on everything, all the time, the #AniTwitWatches community has proven to be more than capable of holding civilised and reasoned discourse on topics of all sorts.

  • The topic of the student council would form the first of many controversies in Girls und Panzer at AnimeSuki: Miho had transferred to Ooarai because she wanted to get away from Panzerfahren, and upon meeting Saori and Hana, had looked forwards to picking up a new activity. However, Anzu ends up strong-arming Miho into doing Panzerfahren against her will, even going as far as threatening her with expulsion. This immediately rubbed viewers the wrong way, and at AnimeSuki, the student council immediately became branded as bureaucratic villains more interested in their own image than the well-being of their fellow students: while it is true that Anzu and Momo come on very strongly, Girls und Panzer‘s central themes are built entirely around understanding, compassion and sportsmanship.

  • Throughout Girls und Panzer, the anime has strived to convey that people are more than their appearances suggest, and that while first impressions might be important, having the patience and willingness to empathise with others is considerably more meaningful. Reading between the lines, that Anzu is willing to use expulsion as a threat means two things: first, they’re in a bit of a bind and have no choice but to be forceful, and second, they’re willing to gamble everything on Miho’s joining Ooarai’s Panzerfahren team. This is a bit of foreshadowing on the series’ part, although even after once things became clarified, people stubbornly continued to hold the student council in poor regard.

  • Hana and Saori both demonstrate that beyond their cheerful demeanours, they have wills of iron and are willing to go to any lengths for their friends: they are ready to risk expulsion just to keep Miho from being pressured into doing something against her will. These traits are, coincidentally, the sort of thing that makes for a good tanker in the Girls und Panzer universe. Seeing what Saori and Hana are prepared to sacrifice for the sake of someone they’d just met leads Miho to understand that she’s found true friends in them: were it not for the student council’s high pressure tactics, Miho, Hana and Saori may have ended up backing down. I’ve noted previously that characters act in a way to drive the story, and while Girls und Panzer was still very much finding its footing, the student council’s portrayal here is not something I found to degrade or diminish my opinion of the characters.

  • Hana and Saori end up taking Miho to their favourite ice cream joint on Ooarai, which specialises in making sweet potato ice cream. Sweet potatoes are an Ooarai speciality, where they are known as Beniazuma, and Anzu is always seen with a package of hoshi imo (dried sweet potatoes) in her hands. Girls und Panzer might be an anime about armoured warfare made martial art, but also succeeds in selling their home, Ooarai’s, specialities, to viewers. Despite being counted as one of the dullest places in Japan, Ooarai became a popular destination for Girls und Panzer fans after its airing precisely because the anime was able to sell the area to viewers.

  • After Miho consents to join Ooarai’s Panzerfahren team, the series begins to finally kick off in earnest, and here, other Panzerfahren hopefuls show up to see what the sport is about. Here, the History Buffs and the first years are visible along with Hana and Saori; Girls und Panzer has a large number of characters, but every team has unique identifying characteristics that make them easy to tell apart. Even now, nearly a decade after Girls und Panzer finished airing, I haven’t memorised everyone’s names, but I do recall all of the teams on Ooarai by sight and traits without any difficulty because that’s how well they were written.

  • Miho gazes upon the old Panzer IV sitting in the warehouse and finds that it’s still in operational condition. The first episode then cuts out to a scene that shocked all viewers: it turns out that the town is actually set on the deck of a super-massive carrier known as a school ship. Ooarai’s carrier is 7.6 kilometres long, and nine years earlier, I’d done a full breakdown estimating the sizes of the ships seen in Girls und Panzer. This is the blog post that put me on the map, and even now, people continue to refer to my post as the de facto source surrounding the sizes of the ships in Girls und Panzer. The very fact that Ooarai Girls’ Academy is situated on the deck of a ship surpassing even the UNSC Infinity in size was meant to achieve one important thing: establish that Girls und Panzer was set in a world that’s similar to our own, but where there are enough technological differences to accommodate the sport of Panzerfahren without it becoming dependent on viewers suspending their disbelief.

  • J.R.R. Tolkien actually had put it best – a good author never needs their viewers to suspend any disbelief because their work will always be internally consistent. Girls und Panzer is fanciful, but remains internally consistent throughout its entire run, so this was never a problem. Here, Miho, Hana and Saori receive an introduction from Yukari Akiyama, an adorable tank otaku whose knowledge of armour and armoured warfare doctrine is unparalleled. Although she tends to get over-excited when tanks are mentioned, her knowledge means that she has the potential to be a major asset for Ooarai’s fledgling Panzerfahren team.

  • The fact that Ooarai has tanks scattered around the school ship indicates that they once had a Panzerfahren programme, but for reasons outside the anime’s scope, the programme ended up losing funding, leading tanks to be sold to other schools. The remaining tanks were abandoned around the school, and the Panzerfahren team’s first activity is to hunt them down. Hana’s acute sense of smell allows her to pick out a 38(t): earlier, Hana had remarked on how she’d yearned to do something other than flower arrangement, drawing parallels with Miho’s own initial aversion to Panzerfahren.

  • In the end, four more tanks are located: Ooarai now has a total of five tanks including the Panzer IV. None of these are particularly fearsome tanks: World War Two’s most iconic tanks include the American M4 Sherman, the Soviet T-34 and the German Tiger I. However, giving Ooarai iconic weapons would undermine the school’s journey as the underdog, and Girls und Panzer is all about humble beginnings. After the tanks are found, the students set about cleaning them up before handing them over to the mechanics club for repairs.

  • Yuzu’s bikini is about the only bit of fanservice there is in the whole of Girls und Panzer proper (outside of the OVAs); the near absence of conventional fanservice in Girls und Panzer completely shocked viewers, who’d been expecting the series to be the next Strike Witches: the first few episodes of the series betrayed almost nothing about where the series would go, presenting Panzerfahren as a school elective no different than astronomy, light music or fishing. Indeed, these first few episodes have a slice-of-life feel to them for the most part, although on subsequent watch-throughs, subtle details are already present. Miho’s fear of Panzerfahren involves an accident and a tank falling into water of some sort, Hana’s family situation parallels Miho’s, and Miho herself is an excellent judge of character, quickly able to spot Saori and Hana’s best traits within a few moments of meeting them.

  • Similarly, from Miho’s conversations about her sister and mother, as well as her reaction to seeing a televised media interview with her sister, it is clear that there definitely is a family issue going on. For the time being, Girls und Panzer sets these aspects aside to ensure that all of the central players are introduced first, and this includes giving Yukari a bit more shine time. Yukari’s an interesting character, being presented as incredibly knowledgeable about tanks and further to this, greatly respects Miho to the point of appending a –dono as her honorific (殿との is akin to addressing someone as “master” or “my lord”). Despite her obsession with tanks, Yukari is kind, respectful and resourceful, doing her best no matter what.

  • With respect to how “seriously” I took Girls und Panzer when I first watched it, as well as what my expectations for the series were during its initial run, I approached it similarly to how I did for Strike Witches, a series which had a moderately focused story balanced out with slice-of-life aspects and world-building. The series began airing in October 2012, and during this time, I actually had sat the season out because I was enrolled in my capstone course, Honours Thesis and Research Communication. Having come out of the summer with a 35T on my MCAT (518 in today’s terms), I also managed to get a paper published over the course of the summer.

  • While my term had been reasonably straightforward, this thesis project was a massive undertaking. I had fun working on the project every step of the way, and in October, I’d already had a clear idea of what I wished to do. Besides this project course, I was also enrolled in English, Genomics and a special topics course on iOS development. While having three courses meant I had the lightest semester I’d ever had in my undergraduate programme, most of my time was filled up with work on my thesis project. Since I didn’t keep time sheets back then, and I no longer have access to the SVN repository at the lab, I can no longer recall what I did on a day-to-day basis, but I do remember that the fall term had been too busy for me to actively watch anime.

  • As such, I did not begin Girls und Panzer until the winter term had begun. This was actually to my advantage, since it allowed me to sit out the über-serious AnimeSuki discussions and enjoy the anime at my own pace: even in these earlier episodes, people were already complaining about how it is unrealistic to expect high school students to operate tanks without training, that it was unsafe to be outside of a tank while the main cannon was fired, how the student council was evading karma by getting away with strong-arming Miho into joining, et cetera. Nonstop criticisms day in and day out would grow tiring, and even now, I fail to understand why military-moé series like Girls und Panzeare scrutinised the most harshly.

  • I have speculated that the reason why military-moé series is placed under the microscope is because the combination of cute girls and serious hardware seems to bring out a phenomenon reminiscent of what occurs when people make fools of themselves attempting to impress their crush. However, since we are dealing with the realm of fictional characters, this manifests as people trying to show off how much they know (and correspondingly, how much they care about the characters). However, without any confirmation that this hypothesis is true or false, it’s tough to understand why people go to such lengths to challenge every bit of realism in a show like Girls und Panzer. Back in Girls und Panzer itself, Saori is completely salty that their instructor, Ami, is a woman (failing to recall that in this universe, men don’t operate tanks at all).

  • The initial roles are assigned by lot: Saori becomes the commander, while Yukari takes on the runner’s role, Hana drives, and Miho acts as the loader. As Yukari, Saori and Hana’s first time operating a tank, Miho offers suggestions on what to do, guiding her friends to become familiar with the Panzer IV. The other teams include the student council (38(t)), some first years (M3 Lee), the volleyball club (Type 89B) and the history buffs (StuG III): it’s their first time driving these armoured machines, as well, and because Miho has a reputation behind her, the other teams decide to gang up on Miho for kicks.

  • Because Miho is still new to guiding her friends out, they initially make some rookie mistakes. This is, however, the whole point of training, and when the Panzer IV comes under fire, Hana is knocked unconscious from a glancing impact. However, Saori spots Mako sleeping in a field, and manages to convince her to act as the driver for the time being. Despite her lethargic and sleepy nature, Mako is a quick study, and in no time at all, is able to drive the Panzer IV like a champion. Even with Mako’s skill, the other tanks close in on her, forcing Miho to suggest that they navigate a rickety suspension bridge to escape their pursuers.

  • In the end, thanks to inexperience, the other teams fail to capitalise on the fact that Miho’s team has positioned themselves poorly: shots fired miss them, and this allows Miho to return fire, leaving them victorious in this training exercise. Despite everyone still being novices, this first drill gives viewers a chance to see what Panzerfahren is like – even though this is a low-stakes exercise, it becomes clear that there is a joy to Panzerfahren. With Ami satisfied that the students can at least get the tanks to go where they wish, the remainder is up to Miho and her teammates.

  • From here on out, I will refer to the teams by their interests during Panzerfahren matches for brevity’s sake; although Girls und Panzer has a large number of characters, grouping everyone by team becomes much easier – everyone’s identifying characteristics are such that every member of a team has something in common with one another. For Miho’s team, a conversation in the baths lead to everyone’s role assignment – Saori is very outgoing and enjoys speaking with others, so she chooses the radio operator’s role. Hana fell in love with the Panzer IV’s 75 mm KwK 37 L/24 and becomes the gunner, while Mako’s skill operating the tank leads her to become the driver.

  • Yukari, on the other hand, does whatever she can to assist Miho; being the loader allows her to provide Miho with advice and suggestions during combat. Finally, thanks to her prior experience, Miho takes on the commander’s role again: she’d chosen to be a loader earlier because she’d felt unworthy to fill this duty, but the truth is that her prior experience makes her suited to be the commander. It takes a bit of strong-arming to get Mako to participate, but with Miho’s crew set, the next step is practise and preparing their armour. Here, I will note that with everyone in their element, Ooarai’s tanks are one step closer to being ready for a live match: people who are performing roles they’re less effective or interested in results in inefficiency.

  • Initially, Ooarai’s tankers all decide to customise their tanks. Saori suggests adding cushions and other effects to make their tank’s interiors more comfortable, while the other teams take customisations to the next level. In particular, the first years give their M3 Lee a pink finish, while the history buffs colour their tank red and add nobori flags. The end result is that the tanks all feel like something straight out of a video game. When I first watched Girls und PanzerBattlefield 3 was the biggest game around, and in those days, tanks did not have cosmetic options available to them.

  • By Battlefield 1, tanks were permitted customisations, and had a variety of skins to choose from. Owing to the way I played, I ended up picking up a handful of high-end skins for my favourite tanks, including an all-gold finish for the Mark V similar to the colour that the Student Council ends up going for. Tanks are given drab colours for a reason, however, and bright colours would make the tanks stand out on the battlefield, turning them into easy targets. Yukari is horrified that the tanks are being treated this way, standing in contrast with Saori, who becomes pouty that Anko Team did not consider giving their tank a custom finish.

  • Having now become familiar with their tanks and trained extensively to grow acclimatised to how to manoeuvre, gauge distance using the hash marks on the gun sights and position their tanks to minimise the profile for enemy attack, Ooarai prepares for its first match with another school. The student council have arranged for St. Gloriana, a British-themed school, to participate in a friendly match with them. Although nothing is at stake, determined to push Miho to her best, the student council set the terms of the match: should Ooarai lose, Miho will be forced to perform the infamous Anglerfish Dance.

  • While Mako is tempted by the offer to expunge her attendance records through participation in Panzerfahren, her desire for sleep wins out initially, and she declines to join after learning that practise sessions will begin at 6 AM – in a famous declaration that I recall vividly to this day, Mako declares that it’s impossible to wake up at six in the morning. In my time as a university student, I joked to my friends that 6 AM starts were common for me. I used to get up at six so I could go lift weights before my day started. For the past two years, this habit has gone on hold, although post-move, I am looking to get weight lifting back into my routine.

  • I am admittedly very excited about where things are headed: once I move, on days where I work from home, I’ll be able to wake up at six, go hit the weights at seven in the building over, and have enough time left over to take a shower before I start work at a quarter past eight. Alternatively, I can now hit the gym after hours, as well, if I don’t wish to wake up at the crack of dawn. While I will probably work out of the office on a few days of the week, I also have the flexibility to switch freely between working in office and working from home; once I settle in, I imagine that Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I’ll go into the office, and then the remainder of the week, I’ll work from home.

  • On the day of the practise match with St. Gloriana, the tank commanders for each unit bow to one another and bid one another a fair match before starting. Because Girls und Panzer is one of those series with such a broad spectrum of topics, for this #AniTwitWatches session, I will be writing about a special topic for each week of the group watch, and once the community begins to offer their feedback and impressions, I am looking forwards to seeing what similarities and differences there are between our discussions, and those that took place nearly a decade earlier.

Even nearly a decade 2012’s Girls und Panzer finished airing, this is a series that continues to generate discussions amidst the anime community owing to the sheer depth the series confers. Prior to its airing, the only thing that was known about Girls und Panzer was a sub-par blurb from Sentai Filmworks, which characterised the students as “a few of them would rather shop for tank tops than become tops in tanks, but once their focus is locked and loaded, they’re absolutely driven”. Beyond this, expectations were low, and among the community, people indeed wondered if Girls und Panzer would become the next Strike Witches, better taking the name Girls und Pantsu by focusing on the girls’ pantsu while they were operating the tanks. The Sentai Filmworks description ended up failing utterly to describe Girls und Panzer‘s stakes, and speaking to the series’ incredible writing, the only bit of fanservice that does show up is when the well-endowed Yuzu dons a white bikini to help wash out the dirtied tanks. In fact, the director has commented on how pantsu would most definitely not be a part of this series. Girls und Panzer would go in a completely different direction, one that would captivate viewers: even the doubters would become fans by the time the series ended. Three episodes in, the series did a fantastic job of introducing both Ooarai’s Panzerfahren team to their tools, as well as viewers to this unique world. However, at the same time, Girls und Panzer also uses a striking bit of imagery to remind viewers not to take this series too seriously: as the first episode draws to a close, it is shown that Ooarai is actually situation on the deck of a massive aircraft carrier. I had previously found documentation to show that this carrier was some 7.6 kilometres in length, and since no means exists for constructing such vessels in reality, the use of school ships is a decisive and visceral show that the physics and rules of Girls und Panzer are not entirely equivalent to our own. Consequently, it is an exercise in futility to focus too much on minutiae in this series. I had mentioned that while a prior knowledge of tanks and World War Two armoured warfare doctrine might be helpful, it is not a prerequisite for enjoying this series, whose strengths lie not with the technical detail, but for its masterful combination of a touching story with suspense, thrills and likeable characters.

Girls und Panzer Das Finale Part Three OVA: Daikon War!

“What do I know of man’s destiny? I could tell you more about radishes” –Samuel Beckett

Miho, Saori, Hana, Mako and Yukari head off to Ooarai’s Agriculture Department to deliver some documents for their representative, Jane, although they struggle to acclimatise to their horses, which were provided so they don’t have to walk. It turns out that the agriculture representative has missed a series of meetings, and as a result, is short a bunch of printouts. As Saori and the others travel further, the rice fields give way to the foothills. Here, they speak with a farmer who indicates that Jane’s in pursuit of a ruffian, and they press further into the desert. Although the task is lengthy, the girls soon encounter Jane in an old western town after hearing a gunshot. Their conversation is interrupted when Belle shows up, and after Belle fires a round that ruins the churros, Mako is angered. She confronts Belle directly, leading the others to come out and surround Belle. Belle in turn demands a one-on-one duel with Jane. Unfortunately for Belle, Jane’s the faster draw in the west, and she finds herself splattered with paint. Belle decides to make a break for it, but having learnt how to ride Choco properly, Saori captures her. As it turns out, Belle was wanted for the theft of daikon radishes. Belle takes Jane and the others back to a smokehouse, where she’s making iburigakko (smoked and pickled daikon); it turns out Belle had wanted to share some recipes with the school at large, but no one was willing to give her recipes a go. With the misunderstanding cleared, Jane agrees to help Belle secure daikon so she won’t have to resort to stealing them. Later that evening, Miho and Jane share a conversation: Jane’s interested in having some extra hands to help out, but Miho remarks that everyone’s got their own activities, and wonders if Jane would like to join Ooarai’s Panzerfahren team. The pair agree to go their separate ways, and Jane promises to support Miho’s Panzerfahren team before riding off into the sunrise. Tus ends Daikon War, the OVA accompanying Das Finale‘s third act that continues in Girls und Panzer‘s tradition of demonstrating how having the patience to talk things out is how conflicts can be resolved: once Jane understands what Belle’s intentions are, things quickly turn around, and Jane goes from hunting down Belle to helping her secure daikon for her recipes.

Besides being a heartwarming tale of how Girls und Panzer would see disagreements and misunderstandings sorted out, Daikon War also gives viewers a bit more insight into the School Ships within the Girls und Panzer universe. These vessels are gargantuan in scale: despite a length of seven-point-six kilometres and a minimum width of nine hundred meters, Ooarai’s Zuikaku is actually on the smaller end of things, and even larger school ships exist. The amount of deck space available allows entire towns and biomes to be hosted, and this in turn creates a limitless potential for adventure. Daikon War is one such example, showcasing a side of Ooarai’s school ship that we’d not seen before: it was fun to see how Ooarai’s Agriculture programme is large enough to encompass several different kinds of farming, and how students can also be involved in keeping the peace in larger areas of the ship. The Girls und Panzer universe is immensely intricate, and exploring things outside of Panzerfahren shows what other nuances exist in their world. However, Daikon War also creates a new challenge for Girls und Panzer. Zuikaku’s layout has been shown as being very consistent throughout Girls und Panzer; most of the deck is covered by the town, and the school is situated at midship. There’s a couple of forested hills on the ship’s starboard side, and at the bow, some fields can be seen. However, in Daikon War, Saori and the others ride through rocky, mountainous terrain reminiscent of the landscapes in Arizona. These areas aren’t visible from the top of the vessel, creating a minor bit of discrepancies in how the Zuikaku is laid out. This is one of the hazards about longer-running series: inconsistencies like these can result if older materials and newer requirements are not reconciled. In this case, the Zuikaku is not expressly shown as having desert areas, so one does wonder whether or not the school ship has undergone terraforming updates or similar. Of course, such details are probably only on the minds of fans like myself, who’ve been around the block for a while: Daikon War itself is a fun OVA that gives viewers a chance to see Miho, Saori, Hana, Mako and Yukari outside of Panzerfahren, hanging out with their classmates in a world that is quite similar to, but also quite unlike our own, and a few discrepancies hasn’t stopped me from being all smiles while watching this latest Girls und Panzer OVA.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The last time I went horseback riding was back during band camp when I was a middle school student, and while a walking horse was reasonably easy to ride, I had a bit more trouble when horses went into a trot. Experience horseback riders will have no trouble managing their horse even while it gallops, and here, Miho struggles to steer her horse. I found it interesting that Miho and the others remain in their school uniforms while riding: normally, long pants are preferred, and I imagine that riding a horse with bare thighs could become quite uncomfortable because it exposes one to various pinches, burns and scrapes.

  • Daikon War’s first moments show the girls passing through farmland similar to that of Japan’s inaka, and the Das Finale‘s visual quality is stunning: it genuinely does feel like the satoyama out here. As Miho’s group passes through then region, satoyama gives way to fields similar to those of Southern Alberta, British Columbia’s lower mainland, or Montana, I find myself feeling that this spot reminds me a great deal of home: in the southern reaches of my province, the foothills near the Rockies are dotted with farms, and during summers, it is incredibly relaxing to drive down here.

  • Amidst the ferocity of armoured warfare, there’s precious little time for characters to act as they normally would because they’re so focused on the task at hand. Conversely, moments like these allow viewers to see how Saori and the others are when they are outside of Panzerfahren. Saori ends up naming her horse Choco after its dark brown coat, speaking to her personality, although the horse doesn’t seem to take kindly to being named: it promptly bucks, causing Saori to fall off its back.

  • Hana ends up explaining what the purpose of this excursion is: the agriculture representative, Jane, has been absent at several student council meetings, and since Hana is now the new president, it’s her responsibility to get the documents delivered. That Miho, Mako and Yukari follow along for the adventure shows how close the five have become during their time as Panzerfahren teammates.

  • Being able to see parts of the Girls und Panzer world that would otherwise not be explored is one of the main reasons why Girls und Panzer OVAs are always fun to watch. Here, Hana speaks with a farm girl who helps to point them in the right direction: Ooarai’s school ship is home to around thirty thousand people, and seeing other people on board the school ship speaks volumes to why Miho’s efforts to win the Panzerfahren championship, and then a match against the University team, was so important. Had she failed, and Ooarai been closed, thirty thousand people would’ve had to have found new homes and schools.

  • Stakes like these is probably why Der Film was able to threaten Ooarai with a second closure: the sheer size and scale of a school ship means that it takes a very large amount of resources to keep them running, and while Ooarai may not offer any one specialty as the other schools might, thirty thousand people call the ship home, and it is clear that those who live here love their home very much, which created the weight behind Der Film. This is something that wasn’t shown in Der Film, so it is understandable that not everyone will agree with this sentiment. In fact, back in the day, some folks at AnimeSuki had been left so disappointed by the film that they ended up ditching the franchise outright. Given that Das Finale has placed an emphasis on teamplay and strategy, and has hinted at Ooarai squaring off against St. Gloriana in the final match, I imagine that Das Finale is the continuation that these individuals would’ve been looking to watch.

  • After encountering folks who are familiar with the area, Hana and the others travel deeper into the mountains. The verdant landscapes soon give way to arid desert, devoid of any vegetation. Throughout the day, Mako’s been becoming increasingly hungry, and a running joke here is that everyone the group runs into is enjoying food of some kind. Some individuals with Indigenous attire are chilling with popcorn, and a cowgirl is seen holding what appears to be a turkey leg. While Mako implies she’d very much like some, Saori presses the initiative, and the cowgirl soon points them to the last destination.

  • Upon arriving in town, which possesses Pueblo architecture, Miho and the others meet Jane, a blond-haired sheriff with a similar aura about her as Saunders’ Kay. Hana explains why they’re here, but Jane counters that she hasn’t time for things yet, since she’s busy chasing down an outlaw. Admittedly, seeing Spaghetti Western-styled OVA in something like Girls und Panzer was completely unexpected, but it also speaks to how versatile the world is, in being able to accommodate so many kinds of stories without once making the stories feel like they’re out of place.

  • Having grown up in what is considered to be Canada’s cowboy country, and living in a city with The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth means I’m no stranger to elements of the Old West: in both American and Canadian history, the west was long considered to be the Frontier, and both governments invested into expanding into this territory. In Canada, efforts to settle the prairies weren’t made until the 1840s, when Prime Minister John A. MacDonald pushed policy to encourage development of the west. With the Dominion Lands Act and founding of the RCMP, homesteaders moved into the prairies as farmers. Conversely, in the United States, settlers often conflicted with Indigenous peoples already living in the West, leading to violent clashes that saw most Indigenous people lose their land.

  • These struggles are glorified in Old West films, and the term Spaghetti Western comes from the fact that some of the most successful films had Italian producers. Here, after Mako mentions that she’s quite famished, Jane passes her a churros. This Spanish dessert is also popular in Mexico, consisting of fried dough lightly dusted in cinnamon sugar. I had my first churros in Cancún during a conference, and I find them quite delicious. It was quite endearing to see Mako with a smile here, and Yukari’s smiles are similarly heartwarming.

  • Jane and the others promptly come under gunfire from the outlaw that Jane had been chasing. When a stray round takes out Mako’s churros, Mako’s frustration brings her out into the open. She grabs Jane’s hat and confronts the outlaw, leading Miho and the others to back her up. The odds have suddenly turned against Belle, who’s cornered, and this gives Jane a chance to finish things off once and for all. During this engagement, Miho wonders if they’re using real guns: Jane and Belle are both using revolvers. I believe that Jane’s rocking a 1873 Single Action Army, but it’s a little hard to tell.

  • The 1873 Single Action Army is one of the most iconic weapons of the Old West, prized for its stopping power and reliability. Such weapons might’ve been a little less suited for duelling, since the longer barrel would increase draw time. In a one-on-one, a shorter barrel or snub nose might be more appropriate; at shorter ranges, lower muzzle energy isn’t quite as important as stability and weight. Jane ends up accepting Belle’s challenge for a duel, and the square off at sundown while Miho and the others look on, with no small degree of apprehension.

  • Before Belle can even react, Jane’s already drawn and pulls the trigger. Belle’s head disappears behind a cloud of red, but fortunately, this is just a paintball gun. This shouldn’t be too surprising: in Japan, firearms are tightly regulated. Shotguns and air rifles are legal to possess, so long as one consents to random police checks and an extensive screening process, while all other weapons are prohibited. Similarly, it is inappropriate for students to be carrying actual firearms, so paintball guns are more than suitable as a substitute. The end effect of the duel causes the tension to taper off, as comedy displaces the suspense: Belle is now covered in red paint.

  • After Jane wins the duel, Belle decides to beat a hasty exit, but thanks to Saori ranking up her riding skill, she’s able to nab the escaping Belle. Belle is subsequently tied to a post, and the others learn of what’s happening here: it turns out that Belle had been stealing daikons from nearby farmers, so Jane was sent out to investigate and figure out what was going on. Miho and the others are surprised by this outcome; they’d been expecting something a little more dramatic.

  • Daikon are a common food in Japanese cuisine; pickled daikon are used in a variety of dishes, but it can also be simmered in oden. In Chinese cuisine, daikon (known as 蘿蔔, jyutping lo4 baak6) are used to make turnip cake, a savoury and delicious dim sum made of shredded radish and flour, mixed with several ingredients like Chinese sausage, dried shrimp, Chinese sausage and shiitake, then served with soy sauce. Now that I think about it, turnip cakes feel like a Cantonese version of okonomiyaki.

  • Back at her smokehouse, Belle offers Jane and the others iburigakko (いぶりがっこ), smoked and pickled daikon originating from the Akita prefecture. The process involves smoking freshly-picked daikon for a minimum of two days using wood sourced from oak or cherry, and then pickled in a low temperature rice bran for forty days, creating a dish with a very distinct flavour profile. Belle offers Jane and the others here a sample of what’s possible with iburigakko, and I note that daikon is actually one of the components of our family’s Cantonese-style hot pot (打邊爐, jyutping daa2 bin1 lou4): one of my family traditions is to have a 打邊爐 this time of year, when the weather is chilly, and the nights are long.

  • Last evening, I sat down to a hot pot featuring lamb, beef, giant prawns, oyster, cuttlefish, four kinds of fish balls, lettuce and cabbage, as well as daikon two ways. Besides freshly-sliced daikon, I also added shredded daikon with a splash of lemon juice to my soy sauce dip, adding a kick to things. The thing I love most about these homestyle hot pots is that they’re cozy, and things were chased with the leftover champagne from our New Year’s Eve party. Here, Saori, Yukari, Miho, Mako and Hana try out some of Belle’s iburigakko creations, and immediately, they’re blown away by the rich flavour.

  • Once Jane comes to understand Belle’s story, which is a bit of a pitiful one (other students at Ooarai refuse to give her daikon because they see no merit in iburigakko), she ended up resorting to theft to make some. If Miho and the others’ reaction were anything to go by, it appears that once others have had a chance to try iburigakko, they’ll be much more receptive towards things, too. I imagine that Belle’s interest in iburigakko is a personal one that she’s turned into a school project of sorts, as well. Without further exploration, this won’t be known to viewers, but the implications are that school activities on a school ship are very engaging and essential part of education; I’ve long found that hands-on education is the most effective, and have always performed best when given a little background before being set loose with a project or a chance to learn on my own.

  • After things are resolved, Jane thanks Miho and her friends for stepping up to help, before the pair exchange the wish to join one another’s respective activities. I particularly liked this moment because it was a chance to see how Miho is outside of Panzerfahren: when she first met Hana and Saori, Miho had been quite shy and clumsy. The Miho we see today is more confident and spirited, and for me, this does help make the case that while Das Finale might be about Momo, there could yet be a chance for Miho to properly reconcile with Shiho. A more outgoing and assertive Miho would have an easier time with doing this. Daikon War ends with Jane riding off into the sunrise while a Western-style theme plays to close the episode out.

  • The soundtrack to Das Finale‘s first half released back in May of 2021, and while it doesn’t have this ending song (which I imagine will make it over into the soundtrack for Das Finale‘s second half), it does have both versions of La Chanson de l’oignon, a vocal version sung by BC Freedom’s students, and an instrumental version. The soundtrack is fun, and it’s great to be able to listen to the new incidental music heard in Das Finale. With this, I imagine this is the last I’ll be writing about Girls und Panzer for a while: on the estimate there’s a 664 day-long gap between now and the next act, I’ll be stopping by next in 2023 to write about Das Finale‘s fourth chapter and its associated OVA. In the meantime, we’re now two days in 2022, and all of the anime that’ve caught my eye so far are airing on January 7, so it’s time for me to ease up with the blogging and take it easy until Slow Loop begins later this week.

The immense successes that Girls und Panzer enjoyed over the past decade stems from a combination of a strong thematic piece, lovable characters and meticulously-researched armoured warfare details. However, through its OVAs, Girls und Panzer also shows that the potential for telling stories outside of Panzerfahren is unbound. OVAs such as these are prima facie frivolous and don’t add anything substantial to the series’ main themes, but their value is found in being able to give characters a chance to bounce off one another outside of Panzerfahren matches. One aspect of Girls und Panzer I’ve always enjoyed ware the slice-of-life moments; in Das Finale‘s third act, seeing the characters engaged in their usual duties, as well as taking it easy in between preparations for upcoming matches, provides unparalleled insight into the characters themselves. These moments hint at how different characters approach Panzerfahren, and suggest that how individuals’ dispositions are outside of their duties can greatly impact their actions when the chips are down. Seeing Mika build a snowman before a match both shows that she’s one to let her mind rest before a challenge, as well as how she believes that great ideas can come from anywhere, whether or not one is actively preparing or taking a rest to regroup. Similarly, watching Miho and the others venture into the heart of Ooarai’s farmlands shows that they’re a friendly and open-minded bunch. Saori has a talent for picking things up, and the normally laid-back Mako becomes all business if anyone messes with her food. Miho is also shown as being less shy than she’d been at the series’ beginning; she’s now able to carry a conversation and even consider inviting people to try Panzerfahren out. Altogether, these short OVAs are valuable to viewers for providing insights into characters and the Girls und Panzer universe in ways that Das Finale‘s main acts do not. The fact that Das Finale‘s second and third acts include an OVA serves to enhance the experience for those who choose to watch the series at home: these bonuses add to things in a way that just watching something at the theatrical première cannot confer.

Girls und Panzer Das Finale Part Three: Review and Reflection

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” –Charles Darwin

Ooarai pursues Chi-Ha Tan’s forces through the dense jungle, but poor visibility and Chi-Ha Tan’s unexpected plays complicate the engagement. In spite of the challenges posed, Momo promises to do her best so she can attend university with Anzu and Yuzu. During the chaos of battle, Ooarai manages to disable several of Chi-Ha Tan’s tanks, including the elusive Ka-Mi amphibious tanks, but in turn, loses several tanks of their own. With their numbers whittling down, Kinuyo orders her tanks to pursue Miho, reasoning that Miho’s ability to rally Ooarai means if she goes down, her teammates should fall apart. After reaching a rocky section of the river, Anko Team is surrounded and taken out of the fight. Surprised that their strategy succeeded in eliminating one of the toughest tanks around, Kinuyo and her teammates erupt into cheers. However, they’d completely forgotten about Ooarai’s flag tank, and as Chi-Ha Tan celebrates this milestone, Ooarai’s Hetzner arrives on scene, with Chi-Ha Tan’s flag tank dead in Anzu’s sights. She pulls the trigger and knocks Chi-Ha Tan’s flag tank out, giving Ooarai the win. In the aftermath, Haru Fukuda reflects on the match and her promise to play volleyball with Duck Team during spring break. Upon returning to Ooarai, Momo, Mako and Midoriko visit Bar Donzoko, while Saori and Hana assist Anzu and Yuzu with their student council duties. Miho and a handful of the teams have gone out to watch other matches in the Winter Tournament: Black Forest defeats Pravda when Erika decides to utilise a hitherto unexpected technique, while Anzio falls to St. Gloriana when Anchovy falls into Darjeeling’s trap. Meanwhile, Mika and Continuation Academy beat Saunders thanks to their sharpshooter, giving them a spot in a match against Ooarai. Mika and her teammates return to their school ship to celebrate Christmas before their next match is set to take place. During their match, Ooarai pursues several of Continuation’s lighter tanks into a village, where they are ambushed by tanks hidden in the snowmen dotting the village. Quick thinking allows Ooarai to extricate themselves, but Mako spots glint from a distant tank, and moments later, Anko is taken out by Continuation’s sharpshooter, leaving Duck Team on their own. So ends Girls und Panzer Das Finale‘s third act, which comes almost twenty-two full months after we left off with Miho pursuing Kinuyo’s forces into a dark forest. As its preceding two acts have done, Das Finale‘s third act sees the conclusion of one match, gives the characters a bit of breathing room and then creates anticipation for the next round. While Das Finale may have appeared to have entered routine in its execution, the unpredictability inherent in every match, coupled with the insight that interludes offer into the teams’ day-to-day lives provide, means that despite the lengthy gaps between instalments, Das Finale nonetheless continues to hold the viewer’s engagement: Girls und Panzer still has what it takes to create an enjoyable, compelling experience.

Having seen the various teams in their preferred roles throughout much of Girls und Panzer, Das Finale‘s began to mix things up with character combinations and strategies, with the end result being that that in matches, opponents are left astounded and surprised by what’s unfolding – previously, teams had trained with the expectation that their foes would conduct Panzerfahren a certain way, and as such, strategies could be devised to handle things accordingly. Chi-Ha Tan, for instance, was renowned for their tendency to charge head-first into an engagement without any concern for the consequences, and so, they could be goaded into an ambush. However, on suggestion from the Volleyball Club, Haru decides to try a new strategy during their engagement with Ooarai, with the end result being that Ooarai is initially caught off guard by Chi-Ha Tan’s solid use of hit-and-fade tactics under the cover of night. Ooarai’s forces have not previously fought in such a claustrophobic environment with low lighting (against Pravda, the open fields meant it was easier to determine where the enemy tanks were and plan with this in mind), and so, Chi-Ha Tan is able to surprise Miho with a strategy that is unlike anything they’d previously used, much as how BC Freedom deceived Yukari into thinking they were still a divided school. However, what makes Miho and Ooarai so potent is that, while they might be caught off guard by a school utilising unusual strategies, they are always able to adjust and adapt. In this case, Miho ends up deciding to have everyone on Anko Team switch positions in order to capitalise on the fact that Mako’s night vision is more acute, and then have her direct the tank. Further to this, Miho is a team player, willing to lay down on the wire and and give her tank up if it means protecting a teammate. This level of concern for those around her is Miho’s greatest asset, and when combined with her ability to lead, plus the fact that Ooarai’s tankers have resolved to give it their best, means that in the end, they stand triumphant over Chi-Ha Tan, who nonetheless put up an impressive showing. The idea of switching things up applies throughout this third act to remind viewers that Das Finale is going to continue doing its utmost to differentiate itself from its predecessors. During one match between Pravda and Black Forest, Katyusha orders her forces to dig in and hammer the advancing Black Forest force, counting on their position and use of the KV-2 to wear down them down. This is not without basis: Black Forest has historically valued advancing at a methodical pace under all circumstances. However, when commander Erika recalls Maho’s advice to her, to be herself, she does something completely unexpected – Erika exits her Tiger II and commandeers a lighter tank, using its mobility to get the edge over the dug-in Pravda forces and in the end, secures the win by utilising a method that is contrary to the Nishizumi Style. Girls und Panzer has sold creativity and adaptability as a part of its central themes in its original run, but it is only here in Das Finale where things are really emphasised. This is to Das Finale‘s advantage, keeping viewers on the edge of their seat; as the third act draws to a close, Miho and Anko Team are knocked out of the fight in moments against Continuation Academy. Without Miho coordinating their movements, Ooarai must now draw on their own experiences and expertise in order to find victory in a scenario quite unlike anything they’d previously dealt with.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • This talk on Girls und Panzer: Das Finale‘s third act is my 1400th post, and at the time of writing, I believe this is the internet’s first and only full-sized discussion, complete with screenshots. When I wrote about Das Finale last, it was March 2020, and I still remember the evening I started my post: it had been a particularly cold night, and the local media was discussing the possibility of a lockdown and supply shortage as the global health crisis reached North America. Nearly twenty-two months later, I count myself incredibly fortunate to be here, a consequence of the support I’ve received both through readers like yourself, and people I know in person. Before I delve into this post, I would like to thank all readers, whether you be a long-time veteran or a newcomer, for accompanying my journey through things like Girls und Panzer.

  • Because such a large amount of time has passed since Das Finale‘s second act, I ended up going back to re-watch both the first and second acts so I could get a better sense of things. Last we left off with Das Finale, Ooarai had managed to put Chi-Ha Tan on the backfoot, and had pursued them deeper into the jungle with guns ablaze, but since Chi-Ha Tan had switched out their usual tactic of charging at an opponent, they’ve become much trickier to fight, since Miho had been planning for a team who favoured bum-rushes over hit-and-fade tactics.

  • I will stop briefly here to note that the gaps between the individual acts to Das Finale are something I’m completely cool with: these longer production timeframes means ACTAS is able to write out scenarios they are satisfied with and create stories that captivate viewers, while at the same time, being able to properly research all of the armour, equipment and tactics used to create an authentic, immersive experience for viewers. Finally, additional time means being able to really polish the animation; this shows in Das Finale, whose visuals surpass even those of Der Film. There is justification in spacing out the releases, since the quality is reflected in the end product. Conversely, I disagree most strongly with the fact that there is a considerable delay between the theatrical première and home release. While some defend the practise, there is little to suggest that an extensive delay between the theatrical premières and home release is meaningful.

  • Granted, films are expensive projects that must recoup production costs through box office sales, and even in Japan, anime movies have a niche audience, which leads to the approach of playing to the fans’ devotion to the series and encouraging them to watch a film more than once in the theatre would be the most suitable way of driving up ticket sales. However, this approach is antiquated and quite frankly, limiting – the average film makes around eighty percent of its box office sales within six weeks of release, and keeping a film in theatres for longer will not generate any meaningful return. By putting their film on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and other equivalents, or simply make the BD releases come earlier, studios can at least still make some revenue on films by reaching a much wider audience, well beyond the dedicated fans who have home field advantage.

  • If memory serves, Battlefield V was still going strong when Das Finale‘s second instalment had become available. At the time, the Pacific Theatre had fully released, and I was having a blast with all of the new weapons and vehicles. For gameplay reasons, the Type 97 Chi-Ha tank is balanced to go toe-to-toe with the M4 Sherman, whereas in reality, the M4’s AP rounds would fly right through a Type 97 without dealing much damage, prompting tankers to use HE rounds instead. Conversely, Battlefield V is set up such that a properly geared Type 97 could still be lethal against an M4. Besides the M4 and Type 97, Battlefield V also gave players the Type 2 Ka-Mi and an Allied equivalent, the LVT. These amphibious tanks were incredibly fun to play as, and like Kinuyo’s teammates find, their utility is being able to move about in water to launch surprise attacks.

  • The main disadvantage about the Ka-Mi is that they have comparatively less armour than a Type 97, and an in Battlefield V, I primarily used them as an anti-infantry platform. However, with the right upgrades, I do remember that they could also be used to make short work of LVTs and “encourage” M4 drivers to back up: one of the specialisations that the Ka-Mi could equip in Battlefield V was a 75 mm cannon, making it a match for the M4s. Girls und Panzer‘s Ka-Mis are limited to their real-world counterparts’ armaments – as far as I can tell, no Ka-Mi has ever been equipped with a 75 mm cannon (or a 120 mm howitzer as Battlefield V permits), but in functionality, they are more flexible: besides frustrating Ooarai’s tankers, they can also be utilised as makeshift bridges. Miho spots this and uses a Ka-Mi to quickly cross the river, taking off the Ka-Mi’s turrets in the process.

  • When several of Chi-Ha Tan’s Type 95s attempt to use the Ka-Mi tanks as a bridge to continue the pursuit, chaos causes them to fall into the river. Even this isn’t enough to knock them out of the fight; the Ka-Mi amphibious tanks prove troublesome for Ooarai in that they’re small enough to hang out in the water, below most of their tanks’ maximum angle of depression, and despite being pushed around, they prove surprisingly resilient. In reality, the Ka-Mi came into service much too late to have been used in their intended role, but their relatively thin armour (6-12 mm) means that, at least in theory, any sort of attack would knock one out if one were to land a good hit on them.

  • Conversely, the Ka-Mi’s 37 mm cannon had a maximum armour penetration of 25 mm at a range of up to one kilometre. While incapable of scratching medium tanks like the Panzer IV at range, in CQC, the damage these tanks can deal is non-negligible. These elements come together to make the Ka-Mi worthy foes for Ooarai, even more so than the Maus and Karl-Gerät – earlier installations of Girls und Panzer traded strategy for raw firepower to intimidate viewers, but for me, I’ll take clever use of hardware over brute strength any day of week. Here, after Chi-Ha regroups, the Ka-Mi operators hop onto land and pick up their turrets before manually replacing them. I’ve not read anything to see if this was indeed possible in reality, but if so, it would imply the armour on a Ka-Mi would be quite thin.

  • In the end, a clever bit of driving from Rabbit Team allows Ooarai to take out both Ka-Mis, although Rabbit Team trades with the remaining Ka-Mi ends up being dispatched. This moment does seem to suggest that amongst Ooarai, the first years have become quite proficient with strategy, and should Miho ever become taken out, Ooarai might yet have a fighting chance, with Rabbit team taking up the role of calling creative strategies. One of my readers had hoped that Haru’s team would square off against Duck Team during a discussion for Das Finale‘s second half: this wish is fulfilled in the chaos of jungle warfare, where, after Duck team receives permission from Miho to do so, they break off to engage Chi-Ha Tan’s forces. Haru and Duck team briefly face off against one another, and while duck team makes use of the infamous duck coverings seen in Der Film as attempt to deceive the Chi-Ha Tan forces, this attempt fails. Duck team are taken out shortly after, allowing Chi-Ha Tan to focus fire on Anko Team.

  • Upon realising their Panzer IV is headed straight for the river where the bridge had been taken out, Miho immediately orders Mako to stop the tank. Mako’s been nothing but on fire during this match: even more so than their match against Pravda, Mako is fully awake and is able to do her best. With her speedy reflexes, Mako is able to prevent the Panzer IV from taking a swim and prematurely exiting the match, but there’s no time to be relieved, since Kinuyo’s tanks are waiting for them on the riverbanks. Miho subsequently switches roles and sets Mako to be the commander, counting on her unmatched night vision to even out the odds.

  • Speaking to Miho’s ability to adapt and overcome, even more so than her opponents, Miho has Yukari take on the role of driver, and she substitutes in for Yukari as the loader. Saori remains on the radio, and Hana continues operating the guns. This is a bit of a callback to the original TV series, where Miho had been a loader, while Saori commanded, Hana drove, and Yukari operated the guns. While Anko team has come quite a ways since picking up Mako, this moment suggests that off-screen, tankers also train in other roles so they can keep essential functions running even in the case of an emergency. Here, Miho squints in an effort to spot nearby foes: Das Finale has Miho with a greater range of facial expressions than were seen during the TV series, further bringing her character to life.

  • Even though this method helps Anko to stay alive, Chi-Ha Tan’s spirits remain high, and they continue to press the initiative. Miho ends up being pushed to a rocky segment of the river, and here, Chi-Ha Tan surrounds Miho’s Panzer IV. One of the Type 97s takes Miho out of the fight with a shot so close, it’s almost a contact shot (pressing the muzzle against a target, which mainstream media refers to as a “point blank shot”). Fans of Girls und Panzer have long decried the series for making Miho invincible to all but St. Gloriana, so having Chi-Ha achieve what was thought to be impossible is meant to show that in Panzerfahren, anything goes: it is possible to take Miho out if one has the advantage of numbers or the element of surprise.

  • The reason why Girls und Panzer engagements happen at point-blank range (the distance one can reliably hit a target without needing to compensate for projectile drop is the correct definition) is because in such close quarters, guns have a higher probability of inflicting a mission kill on another tank. This is why Panzerfahren matches always ends up going to close quarters: if tanks in Girls und Panzer were to follow contemporary armoured warfare doctrine, battles would consist of the team with better tank guns and better gunners destroying a foe at range with no opportunity for retaliation. Such an approach is appropriate for keeping one’s tanks from being damaged or destroyed, but at the same time, it would also make for boring matches for viewers.

  • Here, Kinuyo joins her teammates in cheering on their triumph over Miho’s Panzer IV. However, Haru has yet to join the fight and she notices that Ooarai’s Hetzner is still up: the Hetzner’s been noticably absent from the proceedings. She attempts to convey this to Kinuyo, but the comms are alit with Chi-Ha Tan’s tank crews celebrating what was thought to be an unachievable feat. As far as details go, at such short ranges, the 57 mm gun’s performance is sufficient to get through the Panzer IV’s rear armour. At longer ranges, the 57 mm gun Type 97s equipped were woefully inadequate against period armour because it had been designed for infantry support rather than anti-armour roles: the Soviet BT tanks could shrug off rounds from the 57 mm, and later Type 97s were equipped with the Type 1 47 mm gun, which, despite having a smaller caliber, also possessed a higher muzzle velocity.

  • However, joy turns to abject terror when Kinuyo spots the Hetzner approaching her from the flanks. The Cantonese have a saying for the trap that Kinuyo has fallen into, 高興太早 (jyutping gou1 hing1 taai3 zou2, literally “happy too early”); save Haru and her crew, it seems the whole of Chi-Ha Tan have fallen into a trap over their accomplishment and have forgotten they’re still in the middle of a match. While this lapse in judgement will cost them the match, I’m still rather fond of Kinuyo; she’s boisterous and polite, as well as a stickler for formalities. However, despite being well-liked and competitive, Kinuyo is also honourable and open-minded: she allows for Haru to suggest new tactics beyond their usual propensity of charging head-first into a foe. However, in this moment, her confidence gets the better of her, yielding a fantastic funny-face moment.

  • I recall a quote from The Matrix: Reloaded, when the Oracle’s guardian, Seraph, fights Neo: he notes that one only gets to know the other when they fight, and while this can be interpreted in a metaphoric sense, it does hold true in that one gains a true measure of another individual or team when able to see how they react to adversity and challenge. Chi-Ha Tan has risen magnificently to the challenge here in Das Finale‘s third act, and while they do end up losing, Kinuyo’s willingness to try out Haru’s plans means that the team put up a superb showing. This could’ve been anyone’s match, and under different circumstances, Chi-Han Tan might’ve come out on top.

  • In the end, Ooarai squeaks by with another win, and the moment the day’s first bit of sunlight hits her skin, Mako reverts to her usual lethargic self. While Yukari, Saori and Hana are thrilled with the victory, Miho’s the first to notice. This subtle detail speaks volumes to Miho’s character; it might feel great to advance, but Miho’s concern is for the well-being of those around her, first and foremost. It’s small elements like these that made Girls und Panzer particularly standout, and even now, a full nine years after Girls und Panzer began airing, I’m hard-pressed to find another military-moé series with a similar level of characterisation.

  • Despite having taken a loss as a result of their overconfidence, Kinuyo remains in fine spirits, and here, they finalise their letter of thanks to Ooarai: sportsmanship has always been a major part of Girls und Panzer, and this idea carries forward into Das Finale. This is why I place such an emphasis on assuming good faith regarding the characters and their decisions: while it is the case that individuals or teams can make poor decisions or waltz into a fight with a cocky attitude, such actions are never done with malice. This held true with Marie of BC Freedom, it was similarly the case with Pravda, and even the seemingly aloof and haughty Black Forest demonstrate humility and sportsmanship as the other teams do.

  • After finishing her letter, Haru reflects on her own conversation with the Volleyball Club post-match and smiles, happy to have made new friends through Panzerfahren. These sorts of things are what make Girls und Panzer worth watching, and looking back, all of the heated discussions surrounding this series was completely unwarranted. In fact, I would argue that compared to messages of sportsmanship, cooperation and adapting to circumstance, the technical details in Girls und Panzer are actually secondary to things: their presence simply serves to greatly augment the experience, but even if the details were dialed back, strong themes in the series means Girls und Panzer would’ve still been quite successful.

  • In between battles, Das Finale gives characters a chance to unwind and take things easy. These have always been one of my favourite aspects of Girls und Panzer, showing how the characters are outside of combat. At this point in time, Mako and Midoriko are able to enter the Bar Donzoko without any trouble, and Mako’s become a regular: having spent time with the Panzerfahren team, Shark Team no longer seem quite so delinquent, and Momo ends up getting punk’d with a super-spicy rum. Ogin promptly apologises to Momo for having been knocked out of the fight so early and promises that they’ll be better prepared for the upcoming match.

  • While Momo is hanging out with the Bar Donzoko regulars, Saori, Hana, Yuzu and Anzu tend to student council duties. Saori and Hana were originally planning on joining different activities, but as they are advancing into their third year, they take the reigns from Anzu, Momo and Yuzu, speaking to their growth over time; although Saori and Hana had viewed the Student Council as overbearing when they’d first met, once Miho took up Panzerfahren, they’d gotten along without any problems. Initial impressions can be deceiving, which is why I tend to reserve judgement on characters until there’s been a chance to properly give them development. This certainly applies in Girls und Panzer, where every character winds up being cordial and respectable. This extends even to Shiho and Black Forest: with Maho graduated, Erika now leads their Panzerfahren team.

  • Das Finale‘s third act gives viewers a chance to see matches between other schools in more detail: Girls und Panzer had originally only shown the outcomes of these matches owing to a need to focus on Ooarai, but with Ooarai’s characters now firmly established, there is space to look at the other schools, too. Erika and Black Forest’s match against Pravda is shown: having long spent their time preparing against an equivalent foe, Katyusha anticipated their approach and had countered accordingly by digging in and hammering their foe, even taking out Black Forest’s Maus in the process using their KV-2. However, Erika recalls Maho’s suggestion to her, and switches over to a lighter Panzer III, directing it to close the distance and smash Pravda’s flag tank to earn them a win while the heavier tanks stay behind to cover. This sort of behaviour exemplifies how even the seemingly rigid Black Forest can adopt flexible tactics. Although short, this moment shows how has matured and become a Erika can be forward thinker, capable of adapting to a situation: after Maho had graduated, it would appear that Black Forest’s tactics can vary.

  • Maho had practised Panzerfahren according to the Nishizumi Style, but Erika doubtlessly would’ve formed her own approaches after seeing what worked, and what failed, wtih the Nishizumi Style. The results speak for themselves, and I was certainly glad to see this change, since it shows that adapting and changing is the only feasible means of moving forwards. Portraying even Black Forest as changing would probably ruffle a few feathers today: a handful of purists had insisted that the Nishizumi Style was infallible and that any interpretation contrary to theirs was to be “soft”. That Das Finale decisively demonstrates this train of thinking is false by showing how the Nishizumi Style was never meant to be the “correct” way of doing things; it is the case that in Girls und Panzer, messages of creativity and adapting to adversity is promoted.

  • Anzio is thrashed by St. Gloriana: while putting up a good showing, Duce walks right into a trap and is soundly defeated. Meanwhile, Continuation Academy and Saunders slugs it out on what appears to be a derelict airbase. While Continuation Academy’s armour is an amalgamation of Soviet medium tanks and the BT series of light tanks, they have a reputation for being tricky to beat owing to their emphasis on sharp-shooting. Saunders finds this out the hard way – despite gaining the upper hand after destroying the remainder of Continuation’s armour and cornering Mika’s flag tank, they is ultimately defeated when their flag tank is sniped from a distance. Flag tank matches are a matter of strategy, since they are not dependent on completely mission-killing every tank a foe has. Ooarai had capitalised on this to win their earlier matches against numerically superior foes.

  • Poor sportsmanship in Girls und Panzer is primarily employed for comedy, and here, Alisa devolves into a rant about a failed kokuhaku after being sniped, resulting in their loss to Continuation. To this day, I find it hilarious that Alisa is voiced by Aya Hirano, whom people know best as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya‘s Haruhi Suzumiya. In Das Finale, Alisa’s still easily flustered by enemy fire, and although she might be a vice-commander, were I in Kay’s position, I would sub her out as the Flag Tank, since Alisa tends to collapse totally when under pressure. One must feel bad for Alisa’s crewmate, whose expression suggests that she’s completely used to these outbursts.

  • With the matches’ outcomes now clear, Ooarai is set to fight Continuation in their next round. A quick glance at things shows that in Das Finale, we’ve seen two familiar schools returning from Der Film: both Chi-Ha Tan and Continuation answered the call to help save Ooarai during the movie, and since they were fighting alongside Miho and the others, one only got a limited glimpse of how they operated. Conversely, in a more conventional setting, having the schools fight Ooarai means being able to see first-hand how everyone rolled when in their element, and it becomes clear that for schools running tanks with lighter armour and weaker guns, they’re not at a disadvantage for this, provided they utilise their tanks creatively. However, because of how things are likely to roll, St. Gloriana will likely beat Black Forest, leaving them to fight Ooarai in the final: the choice to take Saunders out was done so viewers can see Ooarai take on different schools, so it follows that Ooarai won’t fight Black Forest again.

  • Das Finale‘s third act shows a glimpse of Continuation’s school ship, which is based off the USS Federal (ID-3657), a freighter that served the United States during World War One, was sold to the United Kingdom in 1937 and then subsequently captured by the Japanese in 1941. If the assumptions I made nine years earlier about the school ships’ dimensions hold true, I imagine that Continuation’s school ship would be around 3.7 kilometres in length, which is on the small side (Ooarai’s school ship is around 7.6 kilometres long, but the larger school ships, like St. Gloriana and Pravda, have lengths of up to 13 kilometres). Despite its smaller size, the Continuation school ship has one distinct feature: a massive tree fashioned from the central mast.

  • On board Continuation’s school ship, Christmas festivities are in full swing, with vendors selling everything from apple cider to Advent Calendars. I’ve long wished to visit a Christmas Market, and while there are local markets that aim to reproduce the atmosphere, there’s nothing quite like checking out the real deal: high on my list of places to travel to will be Germany or Austria during the winter season so that I can take things in.  However, this isn’t to say that Christmas festivities back home aren’t enjoyable: for me, Christmases are a time of rest and relaxation, of sleeping in and enjoying great food.

  • Yesterday’s weather was similarly surprising: the skies completely cleared out by noon, allowing me to go for a pleasant, if frigid walk, over to the hills nearby under -20ºC conditions. In previous years, Christmas Eves were a half-day for me, and I would go to work in the mornings before returning home to unwind. This year, since I’ve got vacation time, I ended up taking the last two weeks of the year off. I was contemplating building the MG Kyrios this week, but I had a gut feeling that with all of the furniture deliveries, I might not have had time to do the build, so I ended up finishing the Kyrios two weeks earlier. I’m glad to have made this decision: it left me a lot less busy this Christmas Eve, and I was able to spend the day enjoying the unexpectedly clear skies, before helping out with preparing and enjoying Christmas Eve dinner (roast lamb on the bone with sautéed onion, garlic and carrots, potato dollars, pan-seared asparagus and prawns with a white sauce yi mien). Back in Das Finale, Aki wonders if now is the time to take it easy by building a snowman, and Mika replies that these moments let people find their own truths. Although seemingly deep and mysterious, all Mika is saying is that relaxing is key to regrouping and being their best.

  • For this match against Continuation, Miho’s decided to keep Momo on as the commander, in keeping with the idea that having Momo lead Ooarai on will give her the credits she will need to get accepted into her post-secondary of choice. We recall that this is what motivates Ooarai to participate in the winter tournament, an approach that was definitely more plausible than Der Film‘s attempt to close Ooarai a second time. I find that Der Film could have still had Ooarai square off against the university team as an exercise to secure bursaries or similar, and the story still would have progressed as it did. Das Finale irons out these holes and gives viewers a more satisfying reason for Panzerfahren.

  • When the camera pulls out to reveal the extent of the cold, wintery landscape, it’s reminiscent of the weather we’re in the middle of here on the prairies: thanks to a Siberian air mass hanging out over the country, today’s high is projected to be -27ºC, and with wind-chill, this equates to a bone-chilling -35ºC. Winter weather in the prairies is an iconic part of life here, and authors write fondly of how the frigid, endless grey skies are as integral to prairie life as fields of wheat and canola under blue skies. Girls und Panzer excels in its landscapes, which have a personality of their own.

  • As with BC Freedom and Chi-Ha Tan in earlier instalments of Das Finale, the terrain matches Continuation Academy’s traits. The French had their bocage, the Japanese are at home in the jungles, and the Finns are associated snowy, mountainous terrain. This leads me to wonder how the locations are picked in Girls und Panzer: the TV series had largely been set in generic locations, save the fight against Pravda, which was set in an area reminiscent of the Volga basin. Conversely, Das Finale seems to have picked locations that seem to mirror the style and aesthetic consistent with Ooarai’s opponent’s home environment, and this does seem to favour Continuation, who are most comfortable with snowy terrain.

  • Until Das Finale, we’d only ever seen Mika’s BT-42 in combat, so the match between Continuation and Ooarai (as well as Continuation’s match against Saunders earlier) represents a fine chance to get a good look at the tanks they field. Here, a pair of T-26s exchange fire with Ooarai’s forces from a distance in a bid to lure them in. These tanks were originally of Soviet design and equipped a six-pounder; the T-26 was quite effective during the 1930s, but advances in anti-tank weaponry reduced their survivability. Continuation Academy has a track record of stealing armour from other schools under pretense of borrowing them, a parallel to Finland’s use of captured armour during the Second World War.

  • On paper, Ooarai’s forces should be evenly matched with Continuation’s – the latter’s arsenal consists primarily of faster tanks and the venerable T-34, so with tanks of this style, I imagine that Continuation’s preference is to utilise the lighter units to close the gap and sow confusion, allowing for their medium tanks to hang back and pick off high value targets while their foes engage the light tanks amidst the chaos. Mika had been seen doing this during the match against Saunders, during which she discards her BT-42’s tracks and distracts Saunders’ main force, allowing their sniper to pick off Saunders’ flag tank. Miho attempts to probe Continuation by entering a small village nearby to gauge their reaction, but immediately come under fire: Mika had foreshadowed use of snowmen as a part of their strategy, and while this method would fail today thanks to things like FLIR optics, the lack of such gear in WWII-era tanks makes this a particularly clever approach.

  • In reality, the Finns were better known for their infantry’s anti-tank tactics: against the technically and numerically superior Soviet forces, Finnish fighters became famous for adopting the use of the Molotov Cocktail to defeat Soviet tanks. Unlike the crude kerosene bombs favoured by rioters, Finnish Molotov Cocktails utilise a combination of alcohol, kerosene, tar, and potassium chlorate, which would stick to a surface more readily, and rather than a simple rag, utilised a storm match (a special kind of match that can maintain a flame even when wet or when windy). Using these Molotov Cocktails, Finnish soldiers would allow Soviet tanks to close the distance, and then swarm them once they got close.

  • Anteater Team is made the flag tank this match, in keeping with Das Finale‘s third act’s portrayal of mixing things up. Anteater team has come quite a long ways from their first match: I still vividly recall when they were knocked out by a round meant for Miho during the round against Black Forest, but here, they’ve evidently improved as tankers, enough to make a meaningful contribution to Ooarai. While Anteater Team brings to the table strategies and methods they derived from playing an in-universe version of World of Tanks, they’re now best known for lifting weights and being the strongest members on Ooarai’s Panzerfahren team.

  • This change is, in retrospect, a fantastic choice: World of Tanks is nowhere nearly as popular as it was eight years ago, during Girls und Panzer‘s heyday. I myself never got into World of Tanks because the mechanics were far different than what I had patience for, and today, the major Girls und Panzer clans for World of Tanks have largely disbanded. This isn’t going to stop me from using Battlefield Portal‘s match creators to create a convincing simulation of what would happen if I were to square off against AnimeSuki’s Mädchen und Panzer, a haughty bunch that actively practised the Nishizumi Style in their gameplay. Back in Das Finale, the decision to have Anteater Team be the flag tank ends up being a wise one: while Miho is able to organise a tactical retreat and exit the closed-in village, a round suddenly slams into the side of her Panzer IV.

  • This round comes from none other than Jouko, a gunner whose accuracy has earned her the name of “The White Witch”. The moment I heard this, I immediately thought of Simo Häyhä, a Finnish sniper whose remarkable kill count came from his unerring skill with the Finnish-made M/28-30 and a preference for iron sights so scope glint wouldn’t give him away. Häyhä estimated that he’d made around 500 kills in his career, and he became a source of terror for Soviet soldiers, who named him “The White Death”. This reference swiftly establishes that Jouko is Continuation’s sniper, and as such, an instrumental part of their strategy. While sources indicate that Jouko operates a tank of unknown type, I imagine that given Continuation’s lineup, it’s a either the T34/85 with the DT-5 85mm gun, or a Sturmi, the Finnish StuG III Ausf.G, which sports a 7.5 cm KwK 40. While incapable of trading blows with a Tiger or Panther, the T34/85 tanks were more than capable of knocking out Panzer IVs, and the StuG III is a purpose-built tank destroyer, so both would be suitable as candidates for Jouko’s choice of armour.

  • Against a team known for highly-accurate distance shooting, there are several approaches that can be utilised. Smoke would be the best bet, obfuscating the sharpshooters view, and since World War Two-era tanks lack any sort of thermal optics, use of smoke in conjunction with methods to close the distance and engage, or else create enough of a distraction to prevent the sniper from landing hits before closing the distance and handling them. Without Miho and Anko in play, the remainder of Ooarai must now find another way of keeping Anteater alive while dealing with their flag tank; perhaps Rabbit team and their tendency to use inspiration from old war films will step up to the plate. This is something that we viewers will likely have to wait a ways to see, but for the time being, I’m glad that Das Finale‘s third act is out in the open: it’s the perfect Christmas gift, a fantastic way to spend the day, and on this note, I’d like to wish all readers a Merry Christmas! I’ll be returning in the New Year to write about the accompanying OVA, Daikon War, and in the meantime, a few more posts will round out this year.

The potential for variety in Girls und Panzer is staggering, and while the entire series’ outcome is preordained, how a conclusion is reached remains the most thrilling aspect of Das Finale – there is not doubt that Ooarai will prevail over Continuation Academy, but this is secondary to how the outcome is attained. This aspect is what creates excitement in Girls und Panzer, compelling viewers to retain their anticipation for upcoming instalments. However, while the armoured warfare piece of Girls und Panzer is doubtlessly why the series has seen such success (technical excellence and unparalleled choreography makes every second gripping), Girls und Panzer‘s charm comes from being able to weave gripping combat sequences with meaningful life lessons. Throughout the whole of Girls und Panzer, messages of patience, open-mindedness, creativity and humility dominate the series. As characters board their tanks and engage one another, they learn more about things like teamwork, collaboration and sportsmanship. Through Panzerfahren, characters discover more about themselves, as well. Hana becomes more confident, and this shows in her flower arrangements, in turn leading her mother to respect her decision to take up Panzerfahren. Yukari is overjoyed to have new friends to share her passion with, putting her parents at ease that now, she’s no longer alone. Mako takes solace in the fact that her grandmother is now rooting for her success. Similarly, through Miho’s uncanny ability to pull victories off where it should have been impossible, she’s managed to regain her mother’s respect, as well. However, until now, Miho remains a little too apprehensive to have an open discussion with her mother, and similarly, while Shiho seems to want nothing more than to reconcile with Miho and acknowledge her skill, the opportunity never seems to present itself, either. Because Girls und Panzer had previously shown how confidence helps characters to face down some of the challenges they internally face, it is logical for Das Finale to carry this message forward and have Shiho and Miho reconcile in full: Panzerfahren has, after all, been shown to bring people together and even bring out the best in individuals. Such an outcome would consolidate the fact that series like Girls und Panzer can retain the slice-of-life aesthetic while employing creative activities for characters to conduct, although for the time being, whether or not my hopes will be realised is something that viewers will need an abundance of patience for. Das Finale‘s first chapter became available to the world in mid-March of 2018, and the second chapter followed suit in late February of 2020. Das Finale‘s arrival in late December 2021 means that on average, the wait from one episode to the next is twenty-two-and-a-half months. On these estimates, the BD for the fourth chapter to Das Finale will release in mid-October of 2024. There is little doubt that Das Finale‘s strengths means that the next instalments are worth waiting for, and I’m rather excited to see how the battle against Continuation Academy will unfold, especially now that Miho’s been taken out of the fight. As such, even if we suppose that the fourth installment of Das Finale reaches me in 2024, I will be more than happy to write about it for readers.

Revisiting the Nishizumi Style to Understand Shiho and Kuromorimine in Girls und Panzer Through Martial Arts: An Exercise in Sportsmanship and Good Faith


“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle”. Sun Tzu’s most famous remarks about warfare hold true in virtually every field, from team sports to business. However, like most treatises, applicability is also situational, and despite my deep respect for Sun Tzu, I also accept that it might not always be a catch-all in every situation. While reading through my blog during the Victoria Day long weekend, I came upon an older post I wrote some years earlier. According to this post, I was having insomnia that summer night, and my mind turned to the question of how the Nishizumi Style could be bested by practitioners of Sun Tzu’s Art of War: earlier that year, a massive flame war on AnimeSuki resulted when one Akeiko “Daigensui” Sumeragi had held the position that Shiho Nishizumi and the Nishizumi Style had been the proper way of practising martial arts. Arguing that Miho’s approach had been the “‘gentle’ version of sports [that ignored] the martial of martial arts”, Sumeragi supposed that the true meaning of martial arts entails the expectation of “injuries and possible deaths to happen, as with any activity”, which are the “essence of traditional martial arts”. As a result of these claims, AnimeSuki descended into chaos as individuals argued against Sumeragi’s misguided interpretation of martial arts, and inevitably, it became difficult to separate Sumeragi from the Nishizumi Style and its practitioners. Indeed, when I wrote my own post about how the Nishizumi Style was limited by its inflexibility, I had intended my post to demonstrate that Sumeragi’s interpretation was flawed. However, the resulting conclusions I drew would also prove unfair to Shiho and Maho Nishizum: Girls und Panzer is, after all, an anime about sportsmanship. In the aftermath of Girls und Panzer, viewers would indulge in schadenfreude upon watching Ooarai defeat Black Forest to win the championship. Their loss was well-deserved on the virtue that Shiho, Maho and Erika had been unfriendly towards Miho, and consequently, got what was coming to them. This mindset is inconsistent with the messages Girls und Panzer had sought to convey: time and time again, Miho befriends those she meets in Panzerfahren, reminding her teammates and opponents alike that friendship counts more than pure victory. While the lingering negative perception of Black Forest has lingered over the years, the themes in Girls und Panzer make it clear that extending Shiho, Maho and Erika this courtesy is also a necessary exercise. Consequently, In this post, I will explore the core tenants of the Nishizumi Style, where real-world martial arts fits in with the style and how Shiho, Maho and Erika ultimately remain worthy of the viewer’s respect despite their initial appearances.

Because the Nishizumi Style underlies this discussion, it is appropriate to begin with understanding what the style itself entails. Unfortunately, Girls und Panzer only offers glimpses into the style: other schools and their students mention that it emphasis is on firepower and precision, of rigid discipline, of setting up a formation to create an impenetrable wall and luring opponents into range for a single, devastating strike that simultaneously saps them of their materiel and morale. Overwhelming weaker schools and obliterating them outright, the Nishizumi Style is derived off the Panzerkeil tactic, where formations are lead by the heavily armoured Tiger Is, followed by the more mobile Panthers and with the lighter Panzer IV and IIIs at the edges. This variant of the armoured spearhead provides advantages in allowing practitioners to absorb damage out front, and the number of tanks in the column meant opposing forces would need to re-range their guns constantly. At the same time, this formation concentrates firepower to a very precise point. The Nishizumi Style similarly places an emphasis on having heavy armour to shrug off damage long enough for highly accurate gunners to concentrate their fire on an enemy and devastate them in a short period of time, all the while acting in perfect unison. Skill and communication come together to form a foe that appears indefatigable. Weaker enemies collapse in terror, and more skillful foes must move with caution. In practise, the Nishizumi Style is dependent on setting up and maintaining this cohesion, as well as counting on the psychological intimidation from tanks that can apparently shrug off everything one throws at it. At the same time, practitioners of the Nishizumi Style do not always give the same level of attention to training for situations where they cannot get set up or are disrupted mid-formation. Having established how the Nishizumi Style operates, it is unsurprising that Sun Tzu’s methods, of constantly watching an enemy and striking weak spots would be sufficient for one to overcome the style. The key here is patience and mobility: the armoured spearhead is weakest at its corners, and striking here creates enough confusion to break up the formation. With the right caution and positioning, any team that survives the Nishizumi Style’s initial onslaught could subsequently break them apart, sow confusion and begin capitalising on the Tiger I and II’s inferior mobility to whittle down their forces in the long game. This is, of course, contingent on teams possessing the will to survive: Sun Tzu stated that an enemy that is strong everywhere will also be weak everywhere. Conversely, when an opponent has not understood the Nishizumi Style, it can seem overwhelming to fight a foe that steadily advances without taking damage from one’s own efforts. This is where the Nishizumi Style’s fearsome reputation comes from, and for the better part of a decade, had served Black Forest very well, at least until Miho’s fateful decision to save her teammate from a tank that’d fallen into the river.

  • For this discussion, I’ve chosen to draw a great deal of material from the supplementary materials in addition to what was seen in-show: I’ve previously indicated that Girls und Panzer is a masterpiece, a perfect score for its execution and themes. The only strike I have at all about this series is common to all series that I enjoyed; there aren’t enough episodes, and this series would’ve deserved a pure slice-of-life spinoff. While no such animated adaptation of such exists, there is a manga titled Girls und Panzer: Motto Rabu Rabu Sakusen desu! (Girls und Panzer: It’s the More Love Love Operation!) which deals with life at Ooarai outside of Panzerfahren.

With the Nishizumi Style now defined, the next question becomes whether or not its tenants are inconsistent with Girls und Panzer‘s themes, and the essence of martial arts itself. Shiho, after all, has stated numerous times that the Nishizumi Style is about attaining the ultimate victory, and of never backing down. This emphasis on pursuit of victory is seemingly single-minded, and contrary to martial arts itself. However, this particular aspect of the Nishizumi Style comes from limited dialogue in Girls und Panzer: Shiho’s lecture to Miho, and later, Maho’s promise to decimate Miho, provides an incomplete picture of the Nishizumi Style as being brutal, ruthless and even bloodthirsty. This paints a false picture of the Nishizumi Style and of Black Forest: it is often forgotten that Girls und Panzer also suggests, through Darjeeling and Katyusha, that Black Forest is “boring” to fight. A foe that is boring would imply a style that is predictable, and moreover, boring does not correlate with terrifying. A foe willing to absolutely crush an enemy would be terrifying. Boring, on the other hand, suggests a by-the-book, disciplined and rigid set of patterns. The discipline in Black Forest and their interpretation of the Nishizumi Style, is better described as a martial art more than as a team sport: discipline lies at the heart of all martial arts, and practitioners train themselves pursue excellence through practising a set of techniques endlessly. The founder of Gōjū-ryū, Chōjun Miyagi, taught his practitioners that karate was a state of mind, that strength was found through intellect, and that the ultimate goal of any martial art is to build character and conquer adversity. Through not strength of force, but strength of the mind, one finds freedom. Strength is always open to interpretation, but as a martial art, the Nishizumi Style would similarly have a focus on mental development in addition to physical development. The ultimate goal of practising any martial art, whether it be Panzerfahren or Karatedo, is to cultivate resilience, confidence and self-control: the true martial artist knows when to hold a punch or kick back, never allowing their emotions to get the better of them.

  • While technically a spin-off, Girls und Panzer: Motto Rabu Rabu Sakusen desu! simply exaggerates traits among the characters, the same way World Witches: Take Off! and Azur Lane: Slow Ahead! exaggerates personalities for the sake of humour. Consequently, I hold the manga as having enough validity to indicate how the characters would act in more light-hearted, humourous circumstances. This is taken in conjunction with the fact that Girls und Panzer‘s themes are about companionship, discovery, growth and sportsmanship: to suppose that the Nishizumi Style and Shiho opposes this would be to contradict what the series had aimed to show: that through friendship, one finds their way, and through finding their way, people simultaneously learn to respect tradition and innovate.

The Nishizumi Style is counted as tedious by other schools, and to an external observer, their emphasis on precision, structure and order can feel difficult to understand. As a martial art, however, the Nishizumi Style is consistent with the precepts and principles in things like Gōjū-ryū karate. Nowhere is this more apparent than kata (literally “form”), which can speak volumes to what a given school believes in. Gōjū-ryū (hard-soft) karate emphasises a combination of hard, linear motions and graceful circular motions. Saifa (tear and destroy) consists entirely of harsh strikes, while Seiunchin (control and pull) focuses on circular grabs and sweeps. At first glance, Gōjū-ryū appears be a rigid style: there are conventions that practitioners follow (for instance, we only chamber our inactive hand under the armpit, and all of our kicks have the same starting position to maximise surprise). However, Miyagi believed that Gōjū-ryū was a state of mind. Much as how one fluidly switches between hard and soft even in the same kata, one should always be ready to adapt. Gōjū-ryū seeks to subdue and create openings, to be rigid when required, and to be graceful where appropriate. Having trained in this hybrid style for over twenty years, I convey to students that Gōjū-ryū focuses on adaptability, using an opponents force against them and keeping distance. In a real-world scenario, the objective isn’t to put one’s opponent in the hospital, but rather, to create an opening and de-escalate a situation as swiftly as possible. With this being said, those who assert that to take martial arts seriously is to bludgeon an opponent to death demonstrate themselves unfit for the practise. Supposing that the Nishizumi Style was written to be a more traditional interpretation of martial arts, I imagine that Shiho would espouse similar virtues as a part of the Nishizumi Style, expecting her students to similarly fight with integrity, restraint and order in matches to uphold the school’s honour. It should become clear that the Nishizumi Style is most certainly not ruthless or bloodthirsty, although Shiho is stymied by her comparatively poor communication skills, which has in part contributed to a misunderstanding of her character, as well as the Nishizumi Style as a whole.

  • While this post has me admitting that my assumptions about the Nishizumi Style eight years earlier were not entirely correct, and that a cursory glance shows I am thinking along the same lines as Sumeragi, I will state that I’ll agree with Sumeragi the day Hell freezes over. Sumeragi became aggrieved during discussions and eventually resorted to ad hominem attacks, claiming himself an expert in martial arts and dismissing others because he’d been supposedly being in an occupation which “merges ruthlessness with situation awareness”. I usually see self-aggrandisation as a sure sign of someone who’s clearly lost the argument, and looking back, I would hold that had Sumeragi not succumbed to emotion and the desire to be right over being civil, a much more interesting and reasoned discussion could have been held. This is unlikely, however, since Sumeragi has since been banned from virtually every online community of note (most recently, from Sufficient Velocity).

Going purely from Girls und Panzer‘s animated incarnations alone, Shiho is a cold and rigid woman with a stated belief in victory rooted in skill, and that strength matters. Her words are terse, and she appears to have a distant relationship with both her daughters, focusing on her pursuit of martial arts over family. This is a misconception that results from Girls und Panzer‘s short runtime, and supplementary materials indicate that Shiho is simply the sort of individual who takes everything she does seriously, following a rigid pattern of logic and procedure to get things done. This is most evident in her parenting of Miho and Maho: she went to great lengths to look after the two, even bathing both until they were thirteen, and it turns out that, because she spends so little time with both on account of her being wrapped up in work, has little understanding of what Miho and Maho are like outside of Panzerfahren. To counteract this, Shiho resorts to books to help her out, and in a hilarious series of misunderstandings, Shiho tries to bond with Maho by cuddling with her and giving her a credit card, which confuses Maho totally. Later, when Miho returns home to speak with Shiho about the tournament, Shiho decides to throw a full-scale party complete with fireworks, frightening Miho enough to cancel her visit outright. The TV series doesn’t portray these events, but there are hints that despite her harsh words, Shiho does care for Miho; she smiles at Miho’s victory, evidently pleased that her youngest daughter has found her own way while at once, respecting family traditions and making something of herself on her own skill, and in the movie, angrily reprimands the MEXT official when he makes an offhand remark about Ooarai’s victory being luck. It is clear that in spite of outward appearances, Shiho cares very deeply for Miho and Maho. Given what viewers see in Girls und Panzer, then, it is clear that Shiho’s dislike of emotion simply comes from not fully understanding it fully; she sees it as something that acts as an impediment to her goals, and indeed, I see hints of myself in Shiho.

Unlike Shiho, however, I count myself a more effective communicator: her beliefs in strength and victory on their own might sound cold and impersonal, but with a wider perspective, it turns out that they are not problematic in any way. Strength extends to mental resilience, having the toughness to endure adversity and persist towards a solution. Victory is the act of completing one’s goal. It is not about rendering an opponent incapable of fighting, destroying their hope or crushing their spirit, it is simply achieving what one intended to do. The summation of strength and victory can therefore be taken to mean “having the discipline and resolve to accomplish one’s aspirations”. Because Shiho accepts Miho’s victory as well-earned, genuine, it stands to reason that since Miho found her own resilience (strength) to bring her friends to win and save their school (victory), Miho still achieves what the core of Shiho expected her daughter to. While she might not use the same tactics on the battlefield (precision and always moving forward), Miho nonetheless remains faithful to what her mother had taught her, and in this moment, Shiho is proud to have Miho as her daughter. This interpretation of Shiho’s credos, and the Nishizumi Style, paints Shiho and her expectations in a positive light, consistent with what themes Girls und Panzer strove to leave with viewers. It also leaves me wishing that there was a bit more to Girls und Panzer; the series has been about positivity in self-discovery, and given that all of Miho’s opponents come out of a match respecting her, it is not particularly surprising that the seemingly-cold and unfeeling Nishizumi-style is actually an honourable martial art. Further to this, Shiho herself isn’t a bad parent by any stretch, being a decent person who simply struggles to convey how she feels. While the TV series hasn’t shown this more clearly, this is where Girls und Panzer: Das Finale could step up to the plate. We are satisfied that Shiho still loves Miho, but Miho still remains apprehensive about talking to her mother. Consequently, one brilliant way to wrap up Das Finale, and unequivocally show that Miho has grown, would be to have her summon up the courage to speak with Shiho face-to-face, to put things out in the open and face one’s challenges rather than shy away from them. To have Das Finale accomplish this would be a massive triumph for the series from a thematic perspective. Through this post, I’ve reached the conclusion that the me of eight years earlier had been mistaken in my earlier thoughts on the Nishizumi Style. I’ve stated this on numerous occasions, but I don’t mind being proven wrong, especially where it leads to interesting conversation: I’m sure the me of eight years earlier would have appreciated such a discussion – one that is rooted in rationality, logic and evidence.

Girls und Panzer Das Finale Part Two OVA: Taiyaki War!

“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.” –Sun Tzu

Tensions at BC Freedom Academy between the Examination Class and the Escalator Class reach an all-time high after they learn they’re set to take on Ooarai; when students from the Escalator Class appear and threaten to shut down their food stalls, this prompts the Examination students to protest the Escalators’ decision to foist upon them costlier, fancier meals over simpler fare like taiyaki and yakisoba. The Escalators respond with a line of students equipped in riot gear and baguettes. Just when it appears that their mutual hatred will boil over, Marie appears and presents a unique taiyaki with a chocolate filling. Both Rena and Ruka are moved when they try this new taiyaki, realising that their foods can be fused together and still retain their original traits while being delicious and novel. Marie has effectively resolved the long-standing conflict between the two factions, but when Yukari arrives at BC Freedom Academy to recon out Ooarai’s opponent, Marie decides to put on a bit of a show. She arranges for the old conflict to be staged amongst the students around the school, and then prepares a scripted fight between Rena’s Examination classmates and Ruka’s Escalator classmates over who should act as the flag tank. Yukari sneaks closer to the fighting and captures it on tape; she eventually gets caught in the melee and comes away looking distinctly woebegone, but is immensely satisfied with her work. Meanwhile, Marie, Rena and Ruka bring their staged fights to an end, thanking everyone for their efforts and look forwards to squaring off against Ooarai in combat, having successfully given the impression that they are as disorganised and ill-prepared as they had been previously.

This special episode, released with Das Finale‘s second act, is meant to help viewers to appreciate the sort of teamwork that BC Freedom exhibited during their match with Ooarai: the entire team’s lack of cooperation had been a cleverly-manufactured ruse intended to throw off even Miho, and indeed, during Das Finale‘s first act, BC Freedom is shown to be keeping up this façade even entering the match, with Ruka and Rena sparring one another en route to the match’s venue. Thus, when BC Freedom suddenly began displaying a hitherto unexpected and impressive level of coordination amongst their tanks, Miho is in fact thrown off and drawn into a trap. It’s a very convincing bit of deception and is a reminder that reconnaissance can work both ways: because Marie had been aware of Yukari’s antics, they exercise exemplary countermeasures and all the while, never give the impression that Yukari’s been compromised. This may impact Ooarai’s willingness to fully count on Yukari’s excursions in the future. Besides showing the behind-the-scenes, the OVA also presents a simple truth: that in spite of their differences, people have more in common than they are willing to admit, and it sometimes takes finding common ground on something simple, like a confection, to help people realise this. Once BC Freedom’s students understand that the Escalators and Examination factions aren’t really so different as people despite their social status and preferences for things in life, they begin to appreciate aspects from the others’ lifestyle, coming in time to accept one another more than they had previously.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • While I may not have the internet’s first Das Finale Part Two talk, I have utmost confidence that this is the only talk that exists on the whole of the internet that deals with the accompanying OVA. Taiyaki War is set prior to the events of Das Finale; shortly after the merger of BC and Freedom, Rena and Ruka immediately take a vehement and vociferous disliking to one another. This divide endures: during the ceremony to draw lots on who to fight, they’re immediately at one another’s throats when they learn they’re against Ooarai, to the horror of their classmates. The rift is bad enough so that even Marie remarks that the fighting is ruining her cake.

  • Representing the common folk, the Examination students are portrayed as being ordinary in manner and possessing a love for unsophisticated, basic things. Their side of the school ship is more run down, but the students don’t seem to be in a terrible state of being: food stalls line the dirt paths on the Examination side of things, and Examination students here enjoy taiyaki, a Japanese confectionary (kanji 鯛焼き, literally “baked sea bream”) consisting of pancake batter cooked into a fish-shaped cake with a red bean paste filling. It has its origins in the Meiji Restoration and is a popular snack today, being a favourite of Kanon‘s Ayu.

  • Rena is an accomplished taiyaki baker, and her fellow classmates greatly enjoy this simple, yet delicious item. The closest equivalent to taiyaki, that I’ve tried, is a red-bean panwich: this is a homemade creation where a generous helping of red beans are spread between two mini-pancakes: I’ve never actually had taiyaki before, and had long to tried a Calgary Stampede midway fare equivalent (which had a sausage and fries filling) a few years ago, only to learn that their taiyaki mold was not operational.

  • On first glance, I personally find the Examination students more relatable: the Escalator students, being of a higher social status (and representing the French Monarchy prior to the French Revolution in the 18th century) have a much haughtier manner and routinely look down on the Examination students’ ways. I’ve not studied the French Revolution since my penultimate year of secondary school, but what I do remember is that following a series of wars that left the French monarchy in debt, they implemented a taxation scheme that placed excessive pressure on the common people, whose resentment of the nobility and Church eventually led them to violently resist.

  • While King Louis XVI was disposed of, France become plunged into extremism after Maximilien Robespierre and the Jacobins created a dictatorship. Robespierre was eventually executed after his methods proved too radical in what is known as the Thermidorian Reaction, and a council known as the Directory was established. However, their corruption resulted in Napoleon Bonaparte rising to power in a coup d’état that plunged France into war with its neighbours, fuelling French nationalism and making Napoleon a hero until his defeat at the hands of the British. The British would then instal the Bourbon dynasty as France’s leaders, bringing about a period of peace.

  • In Girls und Panzer, a scaled-down form of the French Revolution can be seen with Rena leading the Examination students in a rally against the Escalators’ highly privileged lifestyles: their opposition to escargot is a parody of the stereotype that the French are fond of this dish, which involves removing the snails from their shells and then cooking them in garlic butter or red wine, then replacing the snails back into their shells. While a decidedly French dish, snails are also present in German and British cuisine, to a lesser extent.

  • The Escalators’ response is to send a team of students equipped in riot control gear and baguettes in place of batons, with the visual humour prodding fun at the misconception that French bread is notoriously tough. The baguette‘s toughness comes from its crust, and this has been parodied before in other series like Futurama, where an irate Bender is enraged at seeing his date with Flexo, causing him to attempt bending week-old French bread. While Bender is designed to be capable of bending steel girders without any problem, his arms fall off before the bread yields.

  • It suddenly strikes me that, in the absence of their blue blazer, BC Freedom’s uniforms somewhat resemble the uniforms seen in School Days, although closer inspection will find differences. Tensions reach boiling point, and the Escalator and Examination factions are ready to get physical. That both parties are willing to resort to violence indicates just deep the rift is, and in this way, the OVA explains why the school’s cooperation during their match against Ooarai was legitimate, as well as how the friendly fire incident remains plausible: while they’ve reconciled by the events of Das Finale, betrayal during a Panzerfahren match is sufficient to bring back the old grudges.

  • Marie’s timely arrival is enough to stop things temporarily, and she presents a novel solution: she’s got a new kind of taiyaki that combines the commoner’s taiyaki with the aristocratic chocolate, resulting in a new taiyaki that is quite delicious. This taiyaki shows that both the fancy and simple can co-exist, and not only that, demonstrate a synergy. The same synergy can be extended to the Examination and Escalator students; both have their strong points that make them stronger when united.

  • While chocolate-filled taiyaki is nothing new, Marie uses it to demonstrate how different things can coexist with one another: Marie is a leader of sorts at BC Freedom who commands respect from members of both factions, and so, when she praises the taste of the new taiyaki, both Rena and Ruka also try them out. It turns out Marie’s brought enough for everyone, and this singular act sets in motion the events that prompt the Examination and Escalation students to begin cooperating.

  • Marie’s solution is ultimately what creates the reconciliation in Girls und Panzer, and it is a satisfying approach that involves no force whatsoever: watching Rena and Ruka shake hands in a genuine show of understanding and goodwill was very welcoming to watch. Whereas real-world politics are nowhere nearly as easy to resolve, the underlying principles still hold true. Disagreeing parties often still share a common interest (e.g. government accountability, accessible services, fair treatment, care and concern for well-being of the environment), and aside from aligning in the means needed to get somewhere, have the same desire for a given outcome. This is why bipartisanship exists, and while many will find me naïve for thinking so, I continue to hold that cooperation and trust count for more than taking sides, moral signalling and being “right”.

  • The second half of Das Finale‘s OVA is where the real fanservice kicks in: Yukari’s secured a BC Freedom uniform and begins to do some recon. However, having anticipated this, Marie instructs the students to put on an elaborate ruse: whereas the Escalator and Examination students have largely resolved their differences by this point in time, this reconciliation appears to have gone unnoticed by the outside world, and when Yukari arrives, she finds the entire school conveniently amidst what appears to be a full-blown civil war.

  • Yukari’s reconnaissance excursions shows that she’s no John Clark or Adam Yao level operator: she’s had varying levels of successes. On her first excursion to Saunders Academy, she was burned after her alias failed to pass, and she was forced to beat a hasty exit. With Anzio, Yukari is able to act convincingly as an ordinary student and blends into the school’s street market, where she masquerades as an Anzio student more convincingly by capitalising on the festive environment to stay under cover.

  • While Yukari openly films the apparent chaos at BC Freedom, she’s unaware that her assignment was compromised from the moment she set foot on their school ship: this particular excursion probably will show Miho that reconnaissance does have its limitations, and is a fine example of Sun Tzu’s remarks on deception. While Miho exemplifies the use of Sun Tzu’s tactics, any school with a commander who is familiar with the same tenants will have some means to counter Miho; BC Freedom gains the upper hand over Ooarai precisely because they effectively used counterintelligence to deceive Miho.

  • Yukari’s methods are so brazen that I was surprised that she didn’t flinch at the fact that no one at BC Freedom seems to have any problems with someone crawling around the place with a video recorder. Such OPSEC would make Tom Clancy’s John Clark’s flinch in horror – the key to being a good operator is to act like you belong: people who act with conviction, who look like they belong, draw the least amount of attention, and crawling around on the ground with a camera is probably as far away from discreet as one could get.

  • For the present, Yukari is completely hoodwinked by the ruse and is so excited that she doesn’t mind being at the receiving end of a physical beating – the chaos at BC Freedom suggests to her that the in-fighting is so bad, there Ooarai should have no trouble beating BC Freedom. When Yukari returns to Ooarai, she relays this to Miho, who enters the match under the impression that Momo should have a bit of breathing room against an opponent who might be too busy fighting amongst themselves to fight, which explains their surprise at the match’s beginning.

  • Yukari is endearing, and I greatly enjoy watching her warm, authentic interactions throughout the series. Yukari is voiced by Ikumi Nakagami, who has roles as BanG Dream!‘s Maya Yamato and even as Rena Akinokawa from RDG: Red Data Girl. As Yukari, Nakagami presents an excitable and energetic girl who loves tanks. Save for letting Miho down, very little gets Yukari down: as the loader, she’s able to share her thoughts with Miho during combat and support her with her unparalleled knowledge.

  • Once Yukari leaves, Rena and Ruka thank one another: the girls at BC Freedom look forwards to their match with Ooarai now, and will later stage a fight en route to the match to keep the ruse up. The dynamic between the Escalator and Examination factions in Das Finale are presented as being much more reasonable than they were in Ribbon Warrior, a manga spin-off of Girls und Panzer that ended up being counted as non-canon and therefore, is not counted as providing an accurate representation of how the characters are. Overall, I’ve found that the series itself presents characters as being much friendlier and more amicable than in the manga, and so, are a much better representation of who everyone is as a whole.

  • Taiyaki War thus ends up as being another fine example of how OVAs can be used to greatly enhance series: Girls und Panzer‘s OVAs genuinely stand out for helping expand the universe further, and while one could still get a solid enjoyment of the series without watching the OVAs, being able to experience the OVAs adds a considerable amount of depth to the series. With Taiyaki War now in the books, I imagine that this will be the last I write about Girls und Panzer until Das Finale‘s third act comes out. The timing of this is excellent: Halo: CE has just released for The Master Chief collection, which means I’ll be able to now go through Halo: CE‘s campaign in full.

  • I’ve heard that the original remaster’s ability to freely switch between the updated and classic graphics was retained, so I’m especially excited to play the game again with classic visuals, which is how I best remember playing the game on PC during my time as a secondary student. At this point in time, I’ve also reached World Tier Five in The Division 2, having just cleared the Tidal Basin mission solo. As such, besides Halo: CE, I’ll also be looking to write about that experience alongside Koisuru Asteroid after the three-quarters mark this month. We’re also very nearly at the end of the winter season, so I’ll be swinging by to write about Koisuru Asteroid and Magia Record once their finales have aired at the month’s end.

One of Girls und Panzer‘s greatest strengths outside of the already masterfully-presented main series lies within their OVAs. OVAs are traditionally used as a means of fanservice, whether it be to highlight fan-favourite moments and make callbacks to earlier parts of the series, or else give the characters a chance to relax at the beach, pool or onsen in downtime away from their typical activities. Girls und Panzer utilised its OVAs to accomplish both: the first two OVAs were a thinly-veiled excuse to show the cast in swimsuits, but subsequent OVAs helped with world-building, expanding on minor plot points to show how certain outcomes were reached, and otherwise simply give characters a chance to interact with one another in moments not essential to their matches. The latter approach ultimately creates characters that have greater depth than possible through just the series itself. Whether it was Yukari and Erwin conducting recon together, or Miho doing her best to sell Alice the idea that Ooarai is a great high school to attend, OVAs in Girls und Panzer have always added something new and enjoyable to the experience: this latest OVA from Das Finale is no exception, giving viewers insight into how BC Freedom ended their open internal strife (it’s largely successful, although vestiges of old grudges still remain at times) and how Marie’s solution ends up being turned into a countermeasure against Yukari’s recon operation, leading to the events seen in the first act. Such OVAs are most welcome, and also have one exciting implication: the incredibly vast and interesting world of Girls und Panzer is so richly-built and detailed, that any number of spin-offs could be written long after Das Finale concludes, meaning that should Ooarai ever square off against Maple High School at any point in the animated format, you can bet that I will be around to write about how well that school captures the Canada Strong ™ spirit.