Girls Und Panzer
Miho comes from a family with a long tradition in tankery. Due to an incident at her previous school, Miho transfers to Oarai Girls High School: one of the few schools which does not have tankery ... until now. Not long after Miho joins, the student council goes gun-ho over Oarai getting a tank team, and particularly having Miho join. Will she be able to get over her past? Will the team of oddball girls who have never even seen a tank be able to drive them?
With the recent trend of military meets school-girls anime shows, I can't name any I'd call exceptional. Girls Und Panzer however finds a good formula with fun not too serious action, but without the stupidity and pandering. Okay, so there is pandering (including highly unnecessary bath scenes) but its ignorable. It didn't take long for this anime to go from "I'll give this a shot" to "I can't stop watching".
There is a weird mix to this show that reflects the modern era of anime. At times it dips into mundane slice of life stuff serving no purpose. In other spots it's almost like they didn't quite know how to line up the events per episode, so theres some conspicuous "drama buildup" filler. Otherwise the show is well paced.
The characters are done well enough for what they are, but about what you'd expect from an anime featuring school girls. The core group of five girls each has a back story which is pretty good. Aside from them are the girls in the student counsel, but otherwise it's better not to think of the girls as individuals. Instead they form tank teams and become a kind of "collective character" with their tank. With 12 episodes, counting the Oarai teams, their advesaries, plus two tanks added near the end, the show ends up overwealmed in girliness - awesome high speed metal exploding girlness that it is. Still I'd often see a girls face and think "who is she again?".
Girls Und Panzer is well balanced with action that isn't bogged down with the seriousness of tanks blowing things up. True, they're shooting (sort of) "live" rounds at each other, but at no point does anyone get hurt. In fact it's emphasized a few times that this is not war, it's a sport. Tanks sometimes fight in towns and people are pretty excited when their house gets demolished because it means they'll get a new one. It keeps the mood light but still exciting.
Where this anime truly shines is in the tank battles. I anticipated the usual anime angle of textbook knowledge exploiting some obscure detail as a major plot point. Instead strategy and tactics are well done and somewhat plausible. Each battle plays out in different ways. A tank crew might screw up in one battle, but be key players lasting the entire match in the next. Nothing ever goes in a landslide in one direction, and the advantage shifts quite often. Mixed in with great action, and bundled with occasional oddball comedy you get a pretty awesome package.
Why watch stuff like guys whacking balls with sticks when you can watch school girls blow shit up with tanks?! Now THAT is a sport.
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