War is hell. That is unless you take some tanks, have them driven by girls and show the resulting battles in an anime series. Girls und Panzer is exactly what the title says (if you know some German, anyway…): girls and their tanks.
In Girls und Panzer, the art of ‘tankery’ is a martial art considered highly compatible with traditional womanly ideals.
The Nishizumi family are a particularly famous example of tankery experts. However, the sixteen-year-old Miho Nishizumi was involved in an incident that made her shy away from piloting tanks. As a result, she transfers to Ōarai Girls’ Academy in order to get away from tankery.
However, the Student Council end up reviving Ōarai’s tankery elective. Since they know that Miho hails from the Nishizumi family, they push her into tankery once more.
Fortunately, Miho is not alone. She has friends who are willing to help her.
So, characters. The main protagonist is Miho Nishizumi. She reluctantly gets back into tankery. Despite her reluctance, she is extremely efficient in the role of commander for Ōarai’s tankery team. Miho is generally meek, but all of Ōarai come to rely on her.
Saori Takebe is one of the first girls to befriend Miho. She claims to be an expert in romance. However, her claim is false. She takes on the role of the tank’s radio operator.
Hana Isuzu is the other girl to befriend Miho when she first arrives at Ōarai. She is the daughter of a family of flower arrangement professionals. Hana goes on to be the tank’s gunner, though her decision to take tankery clashes with her mother’s ideals.
The third girl to join Miho’s tank crew is Yukari Akiyama. She is obsessed with tanks; so much so that she doesn’t have any friends. However, she joins tankery, and becomes good friends with Miho, Saori and Hana.
The last member of Miho’s team is Mako Reizei. She is Saori’s childhood friend, and not a morning person. For her, waking up early is one of her greatest struggles. She chooses to join the team on the incentive of having all her lates and absences wiped from the record. Also, her only living relative is her grandmother.
There are many other characters. Obviously, there are the other members of Ōarai’s tankery team. Then there are the rival teams that Ōarai have tankery matches against. Going through all of them would take quite a while, so I won’t be doing that.
Each team featured in Girls und Panzer employ different tactics and tanks. If you’re interested in learning more about the teams, then I recommend watching this anime.
The tanks featured in this anime are all based on real tanks. Ōarai Girls’ Academy have tanks from many different countries, whilst their opponents tend to use tanks from single countries. St. Gloriana Women’s Academy uses English tanks, for example.
This anime has its own Shown Their Work page on TV Tropes; that shows how accurate everything seen in the anime actually is.
Girls und Panzer‘s soundtrack is good. The songs fit the battles between the tanks fairly well. Of course, the songs are generally military marches.
My personal highlight of this anime series? Why, it’s whenever a tankery match happens. Since that’s the main draw of Girls und Panzer, I really quite like this series. Of course, the final match in the anime might just be the best one; some unconventional tactics get put to work there. It is awesome to watch.
Now, before I get to the score, I should mention a couple of things. One of the battles in the series, Ōarai vs. Anzio, was skipped over. It can be seen in the manga, or the OVA due out in 2014. In addition to that, there will be a film released in 2014.
Girls und Panzer is an extremely enjoyable series to watch. Even if you know nothing about tanks, this anime series is definitely worth checking out. The battles between tanks are a joy to behold. Whilst tankery is the main focus, there is also decent characterisation.