Why Is Girls Und Panzer Brilliant?

If there are any shortcomings to Girls und Panzer, it would be the following:

  • You got the races wrong. Seriously, these people are just Japanese people painted with the respective nationality’s “skin” on it. It’s super inauthentic.
  • You got the wrong main characters. Pick a different set of 5.
  • The budget and resources were insufficient to achieve the director and creators’ vision.

But don’t get me wrong. None of those things, as per the usual late night anime situation, stop it from being brilliant and entertaining. It’s like giving Uesuka Sumire a role as a Russian girl and have her bust out that русский язык. That is one way to phrase it. The other is that simply, those things are not excuses. They’re not valid ones in my book at any rate.

As to the main question at hand about Girls und Panzer’s greatness, I think it simply channels something simpler. It’s almost like the otherworldly nature of karuta in Chihayafuru, where there’s this otaku-centric vertical about military gear and tanks, along side of that para-militaristic cultural tidbits (as far as Japan goes, which somehow has this sub-sub genre regarding WWII), which may be just downright pandering but the imaginative “tankery” barrier gives it enough separation. That’s all on top of the juxtaposition of these stereotypically anime-style high school girls being the subject matter of the story.

To make a parallel with Strike Witches, tankery is basically the lack of pants, not the magic or the striker units–those are like the actual tanks themselves. And I think just about everyone prefers that over the lack of pants. It’s not to say the lack of pants is not a creative idea, it is just, well, problematic and lacks that depth, which now in Girls und Panzer, is deep two ways.

To sum it up, it’s about maneuvering a plot idea in a way where the distance in the perception comes in at the right angle. What is being told by Girls und Panzer is not some totally genius new idea (eg., varsity sports), but we are now approaching this tried-and-true concept from an unusual angle. (And I’m just thankful it’s not the upskirt one.)

PS. This may be relevant.

PPS. The Crunchyroll stream does not feature the “highlight” of episode 8. I’m miffed but it didn’t occur to me until much later on that this was entirely excised. They did a really clean job of it.


9 Responses to “Why Is Girls Und Panzer Brilliant?”

  • DiGiKerot

    I like Girls und Panzer because it’s a lot like Saki, except with a considerably less obtuse game.

    • omo

      I don’t know, the shisha-do aspect of Girls und Panzer is kind of weaksauce versus Saki’s portrayal of mahjong. But I guess that is also reflective of, as you say, MJ’s obtuseness, in that people who understands it will see through it easily. Not so many people can be familiar with how WW2 era tanks actually drive like in real life in 2012.

  • Marina2

    “You got the races wrong. Seriously, these people are just Japanese people painted with the respective nationality’s “skin” on it. It’s super inauthentic.”

    ……………………..

    You might miss some details while watching but…..

    The show intend to make all characters Japanese. St.Gloriana’s students are not British and Saunder’s students are not American. Their schools only take the theme of England and America respectively.

    The same goes for Black Forest school that only use German theme for thier school but like Maho and Miho, their students are actually Japanese.

  • schneider

    “You got the wrong main characters. Pick a different set of 5.”

    History Club, plus one…?

  • praestlin

    Re: Races,

    It’s more culture than race. Notice ep. 5 when Yukarin went to Saunders and comments that they’re all “America-shiki” (American-type). The subbers ran with “They’re imitating America”, and it’s somewhat apt. The teams with an actual theme are pretty much just cosplaying the culture, and GuP seems to know it.

    Re: Choice of leads, I wouldn’t say they picked the wrong ones, but rather they haven’t given us any reason to pick anyone else. Everybody else, history club included, is even more one-note.

  • teruyo

    For me it’s just Saki with tanks. Which makes it great, and is a formula other anime should copy. I don’t think it’s as structurally sound as Saki: there’s less room for individualization via superpowers, there are too many girls per school which leads to dilution, and I fear they’ll start to run out of ideas to keep the tank battles interesting. But you have a core set of cute and idiosyncratic girls, and the overall tone is pretty goofy and positive.

  • Myssa Rei

    I’ll add to what some of the other commentators mentioned: these AREN’T British or American or Russian girls at all, but Japanese high school students mimicking respective national stereotypes for sake of a theme. There are real German tankers, but so far they’ve only been introduced in the Little Army prequel (the team Maho battles is specifically called a German team, and Miho’s new friend was actually born in Germany).

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