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Girls und Panzer Episode 11: The Best Tanks in Life Are Free

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Girls und Panzer being delayed for three months back in December was like a punch to the gut, the bastion of light at around the middle point of each week’s tunnel being pushed toward the back of several months’-worth of tunnels, the echo of the Sensha-do March acting as the siren song to move us forward. So now, after three months of chasing after this elusive light, we’ve reached it—and it’s just a little brighter and more pleasant to look at than when we last beheld its splendor. Some slight visual polish aside, enough to be appreciated without being terribly jarring, this is the same series that I’ve been frothing at the mouth over since the Fall season. Katyusha even makes several contractual appearances, because how could people not think she’s the most adorable character to come out of last year?

Its strengths, the well-choreographed tank matches and sharp sense of humor, have not been diluted by time. Same goes for the way that the series continuously plays with expectations without outright defying them; usually in tournament stories like this, a team introduced at the very last minute becomes instrumental in some way toward the underdogs coming out victorious. However, the newly recruited tank skirmish enthusiasts served decently as cannon fodder at the expense of actually being useful additions to the team. The proud entrance of Cat-Ears Who Looks Suspiciously Like Me, Momo Eyepatch, and Third Wheel before the final match was quashed anticlimactically before they even had a chance to make an impact. It’s both hilarious and refreshing to see the obligatory blatant otaku bait taken out of any position of relevance before they can damage to the show’s quality, or steal more than their minuscule focus.

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Then there’s the slack that the student council pick up, the president and her lackeys being the only characters that would probably be worth bringing back in a regular capacity, should the show call for a second season. Where the other tanks think about strategic placement, making every shot count, and not getting blown to bits by live ammunition (all important), the student council’s team just fucks the very concept of strategy beyond finding effective cover to launch a surprise attack from, before running through the opponent’s line, scattering them like metal, tread-bound sheep that run on combustion. Hell, the entire episode is an exercise in the student council griefing the more experienced, numerically superior enemy, and it wouldn’t be quite so fun if it were a battle fought fairly on an open field with tit matched for tat. As Darjeeling says best, “Aru izu feya in ravu ando waa”.

Most other matches have lacked one particular team that stood out from the rest, each filling their specific purpose but not going above and beyond to really be noticed, but here it’s the student council’s game through and through; not even Miho’s tank parkour and the automotive club’s creative adjustments their tank could sell the episode this much. However, Miho’s parkour scene is 100% indicative of just what I love most in Girls und Panzer: Inspirational music swelling to a crescendo over slightly dubious CG of girls doing things with tanks.

Being Girls und Panzer though, these unconventional and downright exhilarating moments are balanced quite a few times in this episode by tactics that go against every iota of common sense under the sun. When you decide that you’re going to traverse a river in tanks that occasionally break down and die under normal circumstances, rather than look for another route, it should come as no surprise when the engines give out, or the tank treads sink in the loose sediment. I mean it did give us a chance to see just how limber Miho can be, but she wouldn’t have had to jump across various tanks in slow motion were the risk not so great.

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Then there’s the second time when they get kited into a gargantuan, unwieldy tank that Black Forest Peak has waiting, but at this point nitpicking over Girls und Panzer is kind of silly; the occasional idiotic moments don’t put a damper on what’s shaping up to be a fun final battle between Miho and her sister, and the student council again assuage any of my gripes with their stoic acceptance of their wonderful supporting role. Should Oorai win (most likely) or lose (it’d be interesting), I won’t be the least bit disappointed, though it’d have to pull some other trick for an unexpected victory beyond having Oorai hit the enemy a millisecond before they themselves are hit. Girls und Panzer’s a smart show though, so I don’t doubt that they’ll come up with something new and satisfying to end its brilliant run with.

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10 Comments

  1. Posted March 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    For those who’re familiar with the prequel Little Army, and the confrontation between Miho (in a Panzer IV) and Maho (in a StuG-III) then, expect something similar, except this time the results will likely change. You see, in Little Army, Miho and Maho fired at each other the same time, but Maho was saved because a freaking tree got in the way of Miho’s shot.

    Also, as a World of Tanks player, I am in awe at the excellent display of Hetzing that the Student Council showed. Hetzers gonna hetz indeed!

    • Anonymous
      Posted March 22, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      because a freaking tree got in the way

      I am picturing a tree unrooting itself and just walking up into the line of fire.

    • Inushinde
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 12:54 am | Permalink

      Now that I’d be fine with, the hubris of Black Forest Peak not letting them see the forest for the… well, the tree.

  2. Avv
    Posted March 22, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    That Soviet flag with the rulers as the hammer and sickle and dotted with the scissors as the star is my favorite part of this episode. It’s beyond adorable. I love it.

    Glad to see the anime hasn’t lost its touch when it comes to how it directs the tank battles, how it uses its humor and its characters. Wish we didn’t have this three month break between 10 and 11 though.

    Also, I wouldn’t count you and your tank mates out of the episode yet. Just because they were taken out in the first minute of the match doesn’t mean that they’re effectively taken out of the story for good. The three are tank enthusiasts and I’m sure they’ll find a way to get their tank operational again and do something crazy like a suicide mission to save someone somewhere from something. I suppose if that does occur, it’d still kinda be them playing an instrumental role in the end but to a lesser degree than anticipated.

  3. fathomlessblue
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    Nekota was the only character in the show I thought was kinda attractive, & now I can’t stop picturing her with stubble & a Lucky Star t-shirt.

    I hope you’re happy with yourself.

    • Inushinde
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 12:54 am | Permalink

      You’re welcome.

  4. Hecaton
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 2:36 am | Permalink

    Too bad, Turtle team are all seniors, so the chance of them show up in the possible S2 is practically nil. They would’ve been graduated from high school by the time the world series starts.
    Also, it’s not Oarai’s fault that they got kited by the Pz III. They need to set up an ambush in that complex and they risk being harassed by that Pz III if they don’t take it out.

    • Inushinde
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Doesn’t mean there isn’t college level sensha-do with even greater levels of goofiness. Hell, an exploration of Girls und Panzers’ universe past the high school level would actually be pretty fun. It probably won’t happen, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t dream.

      And it may be that they needed to off it early, but it doesn’t mean they all needed to pile in after it, chasing it down a route that’s kind of easy to get trapped in.

  5. R1CK_D0M
    Posted March 24, 2013 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    I dunno the history buffs are fun too.

    also rather than fucking up traditional tactics, it seems to me that the Student Council is doing more of a berserker run. They know their gun and mobility won’t serve them well in a straight up fight, and most likely they’re the most vulnerable/least useful tank in the team if they were to simply follow along, so they opt for guerilla tactics and a griefing strategy rather than doing any real damage themselves.

    as an example, even though they have shots at kuromorimine’s butt armor for most of their time, they go for nothing but tracks , and most of the damage they do comes from confusing an enemy that does not adapt well. Mind you when they track that JagdPanther for a second time I laughed so hard I fell out of my chair.

    Simply, I’m pretty sure they didn’t go beyond the thought of, “Since miho’s going this way, let’s hide here until kuromorimine passes us and blow spitballs into their hair”

    Lastly, I’m not sure what you see wrong with the Maus? I very much doubt Maho was leading them to it, more like she sat it there in case they ran. It’s not like they’ll need it normally, and it’s really of no use out in an open field where it can’t move very well. Really cities are where the Maus shines.

    Oh wait you’re talking about the PzIII. well it did wait until they were already in the city. I guess that was its job to save the maus time lol.

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