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...)
For some weird reason Panzerfahren has become some kind of sport. Also, only girls and women are doing Panzerfahren. There are even world championships for it. But screw that, it's cute girls operating Panzer!
Nishizumi Miho-chan has changed schools because she didn't want to do Panzerfahren anymore due to her not enjoying it in the slightest. However, just when she had found a school where you couldn't do Panzerfahren, said school resurrected it. And since the Nishizumi family is some kind of insitution in Panzerfahren, Miho-chan is kind of blackmailed into doin it again.
Though feeling uncomfortable about it at first, she soon becomes friends with the other girls doing Panzerfahren and, during the battles her school has with other schools, finds her own way to enjoy it.
The story isn't all too deep and it's conclusion is as forseeable as it is absurd, but heck, it's cute girls operating pretty heave war machinery! It's not like there aren't other anime that have done similiar things yet, but the special thing about the main idea here is, that Panzerfahren is presented as a sport enjoyed by the masses. The concept itself and what has been made out of it clearly convinced me.
Animation and Sound
A well job has been done with both things here. Nothing too outstanding when it comes to the animation of the characters, but those Panzer really look and sound great driving around and doing Panzer-things.
Also, I liked the opening enough to put it on my MP3-player. So that's a plus, too.
Most of the characters are typical kinds you usually find in school-life and slice-of-life anime. And even though most of them aren't very deep the anime does well in giving them unique, remarkable traits even when they don't get much screen time which allows the viewer to build up a relationship with them.
Also, and this happens rarely, I did not see a single character in this anime that was annoying me enough to hate them. Some seem annoying at first, but that doesn't stay long enough to get onto your nerves.
Plus, you get to quite a bit about the maincast without getting the feeling that you're watching a slice of life. Really refreshing that is.
Should you watch this?
I really can't think of a reason not to. Even if you dislike military topics you will still be able to properly enjoy this, because this anime is a well constructed mix of military, school and slice of life topics. Even if you dislike one of those it won't spoil your enjoyment.
Also, it is a lot of fun seeing how a bunch of amateurs in rather small Panzer drives all the wealthy and well-trained veterans in their big machines nuts.
And it has cute girls operating heavy war machinery, just in case I haven't mentioned that before.
Go ahead. You won't regret it.
While I took the one and a half weeks to view Girls Und Pantzer, two inconceivable ... really on the verge of shocking … things happened along the way:
1) Even though there were so many obvious parallels, never in viewing the Netflix dubbed version did I make immediate associations to Chidori RSC. I guess it's the nature of what the series called ‘sensha-do’ (the way of the tank). As alike as these two series are, there is that essence of difference, like making comparisons to a man with a super-soaker and one with an AK-47.
2) I never imagined that sensha-do was anything more than a fabrication. As ridiculous as the core concept was, the presentation gave it an inkling of feasibility. I mean … tank battles among the girls academy … sensha-do brings forth true femininity (so say GUP) … battling at full speed, with live ammo, employing precision handling … and no one ever gets killed.
What is so far-fetched about this?
The main hurdle of credulity centers on the leaders of the student council coming forth and selling sensha-do among the girls of Oarai Academy. We learn later of the reason for this duplicity. But attributing all the advantages for the modern-day adolescent girl in shooting up the terrain with a Sherman or Pantzer borders on the tongue-in-cheek. I loved all this sarcasm except for one point ... the thought that all the zeal of sensha-do would be lost on boys. Beg to differ. Boys, who always liked nifty things as vehicles, destroying stuff, and loud noises, would have enjoyed sensha-do immensely. Girls have every right to promote their cause and plan for their advancement, but not at the point of demeaning the masculine. If so, we have one more pointless jibe of feminism which reduces all of us guys under the symbol of Mars to respond that such is the mouthings of female chauvinist sows. And with this pet peeve pondered, let's get to the premise of the series.
The main character is Miho Nishizumi who is the daughter of one of the elite families in the art of sensha-do, but her act of compassion in saving a drowning teammate led to a rare championship loss by her team. Shamed by mother and sister, Miho leaves home to find a small school that doesn't offer tankery. This would be Oarai Academy which is targeted for closure by the prefecture school commission. The student council realizes that to prevent this from happening, Oarai must win the sensha-do tournament. They force Miho to join the rejuvenated team and soon tap Miho for that special blend of Nishizumi tank-skills. At first, Miho is daunted by the task, but, encouraged by her friends, she warms to the task, and soon proves to be a regular Hannibal eking out victories in hopeless situations.
The individual tank squads for Oarai Girls’ Academy are built up from various groups … school council members, volleyball players, history buffs, first-years, automotive club members, eccentrics ... all who meld their differences into an effective fighting class. They are held together by Miho's understated inspiration and tactical guidance. The diversity of personalities offers the humor in the series. The council members display a pushiness (due to the fact that they are hiding the secret of Oarai's up-coming closure if they lose the tournament). The first-years are always apologizing for their bungling. The history buffs are quoting military/historical adages. The eccentrics act dorky. But they drive toward the common goal, to save their school despite knowing that the schools they must compete against are far more advantaged in number of tanks and experience.
While the ‘way of the tank’ does not exist, GUP is quite informational about types of tanks, their attributes (in the final battle, Kuromorimine’s super-tank Maus is hardly a mouse, and it takes all of Miho's ingenuity to defeat it in the championship battle against her sister's school ... her former alma mater), the various styles of tank warfare (Pravda is Russian, St. Glorianna is British). The information factor gives GUP high points for ingenious explanation of subject matter.
The animation was basic until the furious ultimate battle episodes where fast-action sequencing brought the final exchange of fire which produced so much smoke that it was uncertain if Oarai or perpetual champion Kuromorimine comes out on top. An emotional powder keg of desperate maneuvering and subtle ploys for that decisive shot. Miho demonstrates her savvy for tank battle, knowing that her patronizing and derisive sister is in the other tank.
Despite the ridiculousness of tankery as a high school competitive sport (think of the school budget for the purchase and maintenance of twenty plus war machines!), the concept of Girls and Pantzer is a high adrenaline rush where action is so pumped that, for action, it takes something grander as Attack on Titan to trump these adventures of warrior girls.
Cute School Girls in World War Two Armored Vehicles
What this one comes down to is whether you really like your world war two tanks and also cute innocent school girls doing their typical things while driving said tanks? If the answer is yes to both then stop reading this and go off to watch the show.
The animation is done well and the old tanks are faithfully rendered. The music and sound fits with the overarching theme well enhancing the show.
The characters are numerous and pretty shallow (they are young school girls) and there is no real development amongst them.
The plot is a simple affair with one unsubstantial surprise and no twists or turns anywhere along the line. but this does not really matter. The plot is just an excuse for the very entertaining absurdity of cute little school girls to fighting each other with vintage tanks, and entertaining it is.
Making it's way to the legion of solidly crafted anime, namely the Toradora's and Kobato's. Girls und Panzer fits comfortably in to this category of well aniamted, character driven, grounded stories that find themselves having little to no flaws at all.
The first thing I noticed was that the characters had such strong identities that it was impossible to forget who they were. There the one that's doing it to be popular, the sleepy one that's doing it for credit, the one that's a tank nut and the one that's doing it for the thrills. This kind of character design paves the way to being likeable protagonists.
GUP has a knack for humour as well, especially when it comes to ludicrous set-pieces. Ignoring that fact, the characters alone have equally hilarious quirks and personality.
The art and world design is very bold and living, you kind of get the idea of how huge the scale is when you see an entire town atop an aircraft carrier and yet we still get to see the smaller details like the residents going about their daily business in the town or spectating matches. Even the civillians have personality and aren't just there to fill up the background.
I specifically recall the scene where a shopkeeper remarks how his store was wrecked in a tank match and is looking forward to being compensated for it.
That is world building with substance.
It's also worth noting how dedicated the studio was to tank terminology and strategic accuracy. I especially like how it zooms out to an RTS view when they are executing manuevers.
The opening is great too with a pleasant vocal song and striking visuals. It manages to not be break away from genric opening design by being unique in it's presentation resulting in something I seldom skip.