It is no secret that I am a fan of the… genre? Category? Whatever it is, the group of anime known colloquially as ‘cute girls doing things’. Recently I realised that I had not discussed one of the greatest shows in this category, which was fortuitous as its movie recently came out. Girls und Panzer is one of the standouts in this burgeoning category of shows, and much of that can be attributed to the fact that the thing that the girls are doing is engaging in friendly tank battles.
Friendly tank battles with realistic live ammunition, where the girls are literally only protected by the fact of plot armour.
To elaborate, in this weird alternate world tank battles using WWII-era and prior tanks has become a martial art practiced solely by females, called sensha-do. The main cast attend a school that is located on an aircraft carrier (along with a small town), and to save their school from being shut down must win the high school sensha-do championship. The studio behind GuP have their priorities straight, as a huge cast of tanks are depicted, from the eponymous Panzer IV to the dependable M4 Sherman to the fearsome Maus. The sound design on these tanks is especially top notch, though I cannot say if it is actually accurate to the tank.
The military references do not stop there, as each of the high school teams is associated with certain countries, and along with their tanks they bring iconic military marches and songs of those countries. ‘The British Grenadiers’ for St Gloriana, Katyuusha for Pravda, and the ‘US Field Artillery March’ for Saunders. But even beyond that, there are nods to classic war films like A Bridge Too Far and even the infamous “Nuts!” response at the Battle of Bastogne.
Frankly, the mix of a typical cute girls slice-of-life anime and an unabashed love of tank battles resulted in an amazing show, which brings me to the movie. Which is absolutely wonderful, because of its 2 hour running time, 75% is dedicated to tank battles. A bunch of new characters are added, including the Italian team from the OVA, the Finnish team, and a new Pravda team member who has a native Russian seiyuu so Uesaka Sumire can chat with her in proper Russian. But while they’re great additions, it’s all about the tank battles, which are even more ridiculous and fun compared to the show, with a 30-on-30 tank engagement being the primary battle.
So should you watch Girls und Panzer? Well it might not be for you, but regardless, I hope you do. The series is available on Crunchyroll (minus the song Katyuusha, sadly).