Ok, first I'll admit this piece of review will be one of the most biased things you'll ever read because, when you look into my profile, you'll see that it's my 2nd top favorite anime. I usually try to be objective, but really whenever I think about this anime I only see awesome in it, but anyway here goes:
I usually just leave story unrated because, as I like moe, slice-of-life anime, they usually don't even have a real story at all, and to be frank they don't need it. As for Girls und Panzer, the whole story can be summed up at this:
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!
"Miho messed up in the last Senshadou Tournament Finals and costed her school the victory (...in order to save a drowning teammate)! She's so shamed that she decided to move to a small school without Senshadou. There's just one problem: the school's so small it's going to be closed unless it has an epic victory, so its Student Council President re-opened Senshadou and forced Miho to join, where she must command her school to victory in this year's tournament in order to save her new school as well as prove her worth to her own family (which she eventually succeeded)!"
Not sure what you think, but I personally think the animation in this series is perfect. Sure it may not be as shiny as, say, KyoAni's moe masterpieces, but it works. I reckon it'd look pretty strange if everything looks dreamy and brilliant to the Clannad level, but it's gorgeous in its own ways. The characters look cute, the scenery looks vivid, and I couldn't find any imperfection in the animation itself, especially the tanks', they are just glorious yet so believable (except for the speed buff in everything but uh... that's another story).
This anime has some of the best songs and soundtracks I've heard, the glorious OP DreamRiser for example, and I'm not even very fond of marching music. Besides, the sounds the tanks make (tracks sound, turret traverse sounds, GUN sounds, oh the gun sounds...) are all pleasing to the ears, I can understand perfectly well why "Firing the tank's cannon for the first time is shown to be intensely pleasurable for Saori, Hana, and Yukari" (according to TVTropes). As for the voice acting, I'm not so good at analyzing that, but I'll just say none of the voices sounded annoying or fake to me. My only qualm is that Shirou remixed the main theme (apparently called "Panzer vor!" if I'm right) a little too much.
Ok, most reviews before me said that the characters weren't too interesting and were shallow, but consider this: It's a 12-episode anime, with 4 fully-shown tank battles lasting 2-3 episodes each, plus a training match. See? It's not like those overly-long action animes where you can "develop" your characters however much you want because you always have time. And then, GuP has a LARGE BUNCH of characters, since there're many teams and each team (if you count each rival school as a single team, then there're TWELVE teams in total, and I'm not counting Anzio) is composed of 3-5 chars. The very fact that not many of them are copies of one another at all is already a merit.
And yet, it manages to be quite the opposite, while the characters are not deep in overly-complicated ways like you often see in long action or drama animes, their traits were executed quite well. They're not all Ms. Troubled Life, but they're who they are.
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!
Yukari is a tank nut who's extremely loyal to Miho, Miho is a gentle yet genius strategist, Saori is someone with a good tongue who's crazy about love, Mako is a lazy-as-s...eh...sloth genius, Anzu is an extremely easy-going manager who actually cares a lot about her teammates and always micro-managing everything in the background for the best, Momo is extremely loud yet considerate and determined, Darjeeling is someone who always act elegant and tell nice-sounding quotes even her best friend can't understand, Karina is a shy and a bit noisy girl but is also actually quite passionate when her teammates are concerned, and the list goes on...
Some of the characters' eh... character are fleshed out in just one single scene, and sometimes that's all she needs.
The tanks battles actually gave me some of the best thrills in my life that normal action animes couldn't, and I enjoyed it all while assured that none of the characters will actually be harmed (because I'm just that much of a coward and a light-hearted person, plus none of the characters deserve to be harmed), since there was an explanation on how no one can actually be killed in the sport (although I gotta admit that was a half-assed explanation that kinda came out of nowhere, but hey at least there's an explanation that at least sounds plausible).
Plus, the breathers episode were well placed and very relaxing, plus they helped a lot with character development, like a true slice-of-life anime. I hated how everyone just rated this anime with action criteria, since this is clearly an action-sports-slice-of-life hybrid.
Oh, and I said it gave the kind of thrills normal action animes couldn't. You know why? Because everything was handled realistically. Ok, it may not be too realistic when the exact specs of the tanks are strictly concerned, but they were worked out with very believable tactics and real teamwork. Whenever Ooarai wins, it actually felt like they won, not like they-won-because-the-author-wanted-them-to, which I think is the problem with most action animes. In those animes, in times of need, the "heroes" always get some s...uh...special powers that help them win magically because "power of friendship" and "protecting something" or "determination" or some s...stuff, or just plainly because the author wanted it.
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!
My only qualm is that in most of Ooarai's victories, the rival schools give them too much of an advantage, but it's all firmly explained. Also, in most victories, Ooarai and the rival school shoot at the same time at each other's flag tanks, and then Ooarai hits first.
Overall: 10/10 (Rounded score, but still...)
Girls und Panzer has a fantastic premise. Did the writing reinforce the potential of this premise? Unless you like to hear teenage girls talk about tank specs for half an hour at a time, no, it didn't.
The story of Girls und Panzer is this - Miho Nishizumi grew up in a family known for their talent at Sensha-do, the art of tank warfare. Sensha-do is treated like a sport, reminiscent of how football is in America. Everybody commends the tankery team regardless of the fact that the tanks end up destroying the surrounding area. The team consists solely of girls, as males are not allowed to participate. In my book, males (namely as love interests) being excluded automatically adds ten points in the anime's favor, but I know that's not everyone's preference so I won't rave about that feature. Miho enrolls in Ooarai Girl's Academy specifically because they don't have a sensha-do team. Unfortunately for her, they decide to reform the sensha-do team this year, and all her friends want to join. Hilarity ensues until the whole show becomes trapped in an endless torrent of tank specs. I started off loving Girls und Panzer, but as the characters became more enraveled in tanks and less in having personalities, it begins to fall flat. It seems like they really tried to appeal to this niche base of WWII fanboys and nobody else, which is really my only problem with the show as a whole. Much of the time the characters are either talking about whatever millimeter barrel whatevers, or making some obscure WWII reference that maybe 1% of people will recognize. It becomes difficult to remain interested.
The animation was sub-par. The characters weren't particularly cute and their movement was relatively static. I would venture that 75% of the animation budget went into the CG models of different kinds of tanks, which I guess makes sense considering the tanks are what you're looking at much of the time. It just ends up disappointing the people who went into it expecting cute girls doing cute (violent, destructive) things.
The characters, much like the story, fell flat of their potential. Saori is cute as hell. Hana is cute as hell. Yukari is cute as hell. The side characters are cute as hell. The thing about them is that after a certain point they don't get screen time. Tanks get screen time. I think the entire series would have worked better as a video game, as there was far more emphasis on combat than story or character. You end up forgetting that you're watching an anime and not a sports broadcast.
In conclusion, I would reccomend Girls und Panzer to any military fanboy. Whenever I witness anyone praising Girls und Panzer, it almost always happens to be praise for the WWII references. If you're looking for cute girls, I suggest going... literally anywhere else. This show just teases you with cute girls for a couple of episodes and then you barely see them again. For this reason, it wasn't my cup of tea - my judgement of a series is largely based on how much I like the characters, and I felt a bit deceived by the start of the series.
TL;DR Light entertainment anime, good for a once over, with no rewatch value.
This anime was pleasant. I enjoyed watching it, because it was light and easy to handle. It tries to have a deep story and background motivation for all of the girls, but it doesn't actually manage to make the watcher care. This has absolutely no rewatch value apart from the clips that you can see on youtube.
Now, in most fanslations they have german words sprinkled allover the place, which requires at least a basic understanding of German to understand. So, there are lots of moments where you will have no idea what they are saying, but it won't matter because the story has no depth.
I could spoil the entire story for you in one sentence. I won't do that, but this is basically it "They fight in a big tournament with shitty tanks, and are the underdogs." Take a wild guess at what happens.
The animation is kind of budget at times. Not really badly so, but there are places where you can see corners cut. Their tanks look wayyyy cooler in the beginning, and then they stop having them customized. That was sad, because it would have been more entertaining with them looking ridiculous.
Sound fits the stuff. Tank noises are all muted, but that is necessary to hear them talking, so i don't mind that. Intro and outro songs are boring as hell, I skipped them every time.
Characters. The characters are different enough that people will have favourites, and while they have personalities, they seem forced, and the little bit given to background stories seems really rushed and contrived.
There are enough jokes that I laughed at least once an episode.
This anime was a complete surprise for me. I watched an OVA thinking it was the first episode :P When I realised the mistake, I got so into it I looked for the anime everywhere to watch it.
I think the story is really good, some cute (kawaii) details, some very funny moments and a strange-working combination: anime and tanks. Come on, the anime isn't even historical, it's about a "sport" involving tanks. AND IT WORKS!!!
It's absolutely great, just genious, I strongly recommend it to everyone. Specially if you like History and want a different insight of tanks.
GO WATCH IT. NOW.
I was pleasently surprised by this anime. It doesn't look like much and kinda sounds strange at first. I mean, why would you want to watch a bunch of girls in tanks? Because it's actually a good show!
Granted, this show is only 12 episodes long, and because of that, it loses some points. It's not that I take off points for every show with less than 24 episodes, but some shows fit in 12 episodes, and others, not so much. This one tries and almost does it well, but it should have been longer. The biggest problem with this anime for me was the lack of in between stuff because it didn't fit.
The first few episodes, you see the girls in school, you see everyone practicing, and you see the girls outside of school a bit. Then the majority of the rest is battles with brief moments with family members or searching for more tanks. Now, don't get me wrong, the battles are epic. They go into details of tanks, with a bit of history, and come up with some cool strategies that actually seem realistically possible. I mean, sometimes you watch a show and you can find holes in their strategies within seconds. Maybe I just don't know enough about tanks, but their strategies made sense without being boring, and I liked that. I just didn't like the fact that it was just going from one battle to the next. Other than the first practice, I don't think any other practices were shown, just talked about. Even though new members were added, they were added and the first we saw of them in a tank was the next battle. Also, we only met the families of three characters and we sort of met the family of the main character, but not really. In other words, character development was lacking.
Hanna makes flower arrangements, but she wants to make better ones and feels tankery is the best way to do it. Against her mothers wishes, she joins tankery, which her mother then bans her from coming home and basically disowns her. She starts out driving but ends up working the guns when Mako comes along.
Mako agrees to take tankery after her old friend, Saori, persuades her. She has a hard time getting up in the morning and has so many tardies and absences, she may not graduate on time. Her only living relative is her grandmother and she wants to finish school and go be with her. Since those who take tankery and do the best get things like tardies erased, she joins in, and stays, even when it requires waking up at the ungodly hour of 5 am. She drives the main tank and is a quick learner. After reading the manual once, she knows what to do.
Yukari is a bit of an oddball. She can be quiet and a bit shy until tanks are the subject, then she has plenty to say. She knows a lot about tanks and you could say she is even a little obsessed. She turns the turret? Ah, I just finished watching the show and I have already forgotten what the thingy is called. Anyway, she turns it. Before tankery, she never had many friends, but she makes friends with all her team mates pretty fast.
Saori is in tankery because the sport was advertised saying it would make you more popular with the males and that is what she is after. She isn't too good at working the tank, but she makes a great communicator, even if the radio is out, she can text faster than any of the other girls, which comes in handy.
Now for the main character. Miho comes from a family with a long history in tankery. There is even a school (style) of tankery with her families name that is taught by her family. Her mother and sister dislike Miho because Miho stopped tankery after her first battle and doesn't want to do it. However, the student council isn't going to let their one experienced tanker get away. Since that specific school stopped offering tankery many years ago, Miho is the only experienced one. However, to keep the school from shutting down, the school must win the Tankery nationals. So the student council chases Miho down and Miho finally gives in. Now this is another part I didn't like. The way Miho acts about the idea of joining tankery and a short scene that shows up (I forget when) kinda makes it look like something more happened to turn her away from tankery than just what actually happened. TINY UNIMPORTANT SPOILER-Miho's first tankery contest was lost because she abandoned her tank to help a team mate whos tank had fallen off the cliff into the water. It was the first loss in a streak of wins for her family and her actions didn't exactly follow the school of tankery her mother taught, so her family was pretty unhappy and distant from her. With her new friends she manages to find the fun part of tankery and enjoy it. Miho is a bit quiet, but she knows how to strategize. Miho is the commander for her tank and for the team.
Anyway, the fights are amazing and the story is still decent, even if it feels like you are getting a quick overview of the events and only focusing on the main events. The characters are likable and relatively simple. If you like tanks or history, this anime actually seems to know it's stuff. Oh, and there is nothing about boobs. No gigantic boobs. No boob jokes. Okay, there are barely any males to start with, but no males accidently touching boobs. None of it. Which I found kind of nice. Overall, I'm taking 2 points off for being too short and as a result, not going into enough detail, but I'm giving it .5 back for no boob jokes or boobs anything. So it gets an 8.5.
YOU CAN IGNORE THIS LAST PART. IT'S JUST A SHORT RANT.
This is just a complaint I feel I need to make because it's about something that annoyed me, perhaps by how realistic it was. The council made her commander (or maybe sub commander, but either way) because she knew what she was doing and how to strategize. Now when you have someone with more experience, who is your commander, and they tell you what to do, the best idea is to do it! However more than once, the crazy aggressive, but not the best strategist, student council girl decides she knows best and gets the rest to go along even though Miho is telling them no. The only reason this doesn't cause them to lose is because when the shit hits the fan, Miho is good enough and smart enough to get them out of the mess. I mean, sometimes they totally followed Miho, and other times, they followed their own idea or the student council girls. It's annoying partially because this happens in real life. The leader with experience or the help of someone experienced, comes up with the plan. Then someone or everyone else comes up with a different idea and decide to go with that, only in real life, the leader isn't always good enough to get them out of the mess. You pick a leader/commander for being the most experienced or being good for the job partially because they are willing to get help from those more experienced, therefor, you should trust them! Chances are, they know what they are doing, and either way, the consequences weigh heaviest on them because they have the responsibility. A good follower or team mate is allwowed to have opinions but if they do, they should go to the leader/commander privately and tell them. Then the follower and leader can lay out their ideas and explain why they think they are the right idea. The leader can take into consideration the followers idea and if it turns out it is better, then a good leader will use it. However, if the follower is wrong, then they can see WHY the leaders plan is better and perhaps even learn more in case they are ever the leader. This is how it is supposed to work. Come on, we were supposed to learn how to follow the leader back in elementary school or earlier. Anyways that's my little rant for the day.