The allure of taking in the GUP: Dai 63 Kaisen Shadou Zenkoku Koukousei Taikai did not draw me in right away. It is a compilation movie, a massive two-hour recap episode of the twelve-episode series. It would be merely a reduction of six hours of the series into a two-hour dose of déjà vu. Two things happened that made me reconsider. This first was an episode from Shirobako in the second half of that series. Musashino Animation just received the rights to produce Third Girls Squadron, and work was just moving forward on the first four episodes. Suddenly, the manga company wishes Musashino to develop a promotional video. Barely beginning the project, Musashino needed a 2-3 minute promo from material which was just beginning first cuts. But the selection of material and the effects that they needed to throw together ... it made me curious over the approach Actas would use in their compilation. Even repeating oneself needs gobs of organization, if making good impressions is on the line. The second reason was the sense that the compilation would be an overall improvement to the GUP series. The movie drew in material from Girls und Panzer the Series, and selections from key OVAs, particularly This is the Real Anzio Battle! In doing this, the compilation would actually fill in the gaps in the storyline of the series. For example, the match with Italian-style Anzio received short shrift, just an announced victory for Ooarai in the quarterfinals. This and the reconnaissance missions Ooarai sent out when caught in a tank trap in the match against Pravda. Bits and pieces which enriched the flow of plot which still would lead up to the sister-vs.-sister final show down between Ooarai and Kuromorimine. While the animation quality of the compilation matched that of the series (dynamic tank battles in CGI, particularly the last seconds of the battle between Miho and sister Maho and Miho's desperate gamble to position for the killer shot), it was the music which needed heavy remastering. Not to worry, the pulsing melodies in times of tanks locked in battle remained. But the movie incorporated many moments when the characters were reminiscing and sharing thoughts, and these were the moments when the music was light, connecting scenes between times of conflict to girls talking and speaking their minds (will Actas incorporate some boy characters into GUP [blasphemy!] seeing that this seems to be on Saori Tabeke's mind ... ALL THE TIME?). The main downer in the compilation was there was no development of the characters, just a re-enactment of everything exotic about the girls of Ooarai Sensha-Do team (yes, including that Anglerfish Dance. Its role in reviving the spirits of the surrounded Ooarai team in the cold of the Pravda match ... priceless!). It makes for an excellent reminder of the special chemistry of the Ooarai girls. Just no surprises. It's no secret. If you enjoyed the series, you'll appreciate the compilation movie. If it was to be a choice for anyone to watch the series or the two-hour recap, of course watch the series. But one can't deny that the magic of sensha-do is well reflected in Dai 63 Kaisen. And incorporating the OVA material only made the experience richer and better.
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