Girls und Panzer is an anime from Actas Studio. What’s that? You’ve never heard of Actas? Well, that’s not surprising. They mostly do in-between animation and other secondary animation work for larger studios. The only anime I’ve seen, besides this one, where they were the main force is Tales of Phantasia. One other odd thing to note about this anime is that the series came out at pretty much the same time as the manga rather than one being based on the other. Well, let’s take a look at Girls und Panzer and see how that worked out for them.
Our story opens at Oarai girls’ school, where they’re reviving the ancient sport of tank fighting. Where was that when I was in school? Young Nishizumi Miho is told in no uncertain terms to take it as an elective, the student council isn’t that clear on what the word “elective” means, since she’s the only one in the school with any experience. She initially declines but gets coerced into doing it. As the only experienced person on her team, Miho is quickly elected to the commander’s role and she has to win the national competition for reasons that I can’t go into without giving spoilers. The problem is that the school’s equipment is not the best out there, they’re under-manned and most of the team is comprised of newbies. Does the premise sound familiar? Let me rephrase it a bit. “A group of underdogs have to win the championship title at *insert game here*.” It’s the basic plot of virtually every sports film ever made. To be fair, there are some differences, and not just those based on the fact that the sport in question is fighting with tanks. There’s a greater emphasis on tactics and slice of life elements, there’s no montage and the team isn’t made up of a bunch of social misfits who come across as complete losers. So, while the plot is pretty typical in a lot of ways, it does offer something different. This anime also has some really funny aspects, one of the big ones being that one of Oarai’s tactics is to send a small and maneuverable but under-powered tank to troll the enemy. It’s both really funny and tactically effective. I really only have two problems with the series. The first is that the opening is weak. They start out with the girls first battle and flashback to how they got started, presumably to build intrigue, but it doesn’t really work with the tone of the series. Which is an issue with the first episode as a whole. My other issue is just with the length. The story pretty much has to stick with the bare minimum since there are only a dozen episodes. For the time they have, they do do a really good job but they could’ve used four to seven more episodes to further develop things.
Moving on to the characters, there’s an unruly number in this. Just the Oarai team has thirty-two members by the end and there’s not nearly enough time to give most of them even minuscule levels of development. Honestly, it seems like an odd decision. They’re clearly not operating under the rules of reality. They could’ve just said “in this universe the tanks are modified so that they only need one or two people to operate them” and kept the number of actual characters much lower. It would be far from the most unrealistic thing in the anime. That being said, I do like the main cast. They’re a fun and very entertaining group. I even like Saori, in spite of her annoying me at times. And they do do a pretty good job of giving most of the major re-occurring characters a sense of personality, even if they can’t do a lot.
The art in this looks pretty good, overall. The tanks are really well drawn. The action sequences are excellent, especially the last one. There are a lot of nice details in the background. The character art is kind of a typical moe style, but it looks fine.
The cast in this is pretty good. Particularly Iguchi Yuka, Fuchigami Mai and Nakagami Ikumi. Which is pretty impressive when you consider that two of them have very few roles. I’m pretty sure the Russian that’s used at one point is way off, though. I really liked the music in this, especially the triumphant Panzer driving song.
The yuri factor is a 3/10. There are some scenes that could be read that way, especially the one where Miho tells her tank’s crew that she loves them and the way Akiyama reacts to Miho in general, but there’s nothing definitive nor is there anything beyond a hug or two.
And that’s Girls und Panzer. It’s a fun little anime with some good characters and great tank fights. It’s not an accurate depiction of panzer warfare by any means, but it is a highly entertaining watch. 8/10.