Let’s revisit Girls und Panzer for a second. That anime is great because it’s a sports anime, it’s got the usual “go to koshien” schtiks, the characters are eclectic and fun, and tanks go boom. It’s well-executed. It’s got a lot of heart.
Just about none of those I would say is true for C3-bu. In fact I don’t even know where Author is getting his marketing talk from. No links, bro! It’s kind of amusing, though, because reading his post makes me feel as if he is watching some other show that is entirely different than the C3-bu that I watched.
But I did say this about homework, so let’s compare answers.
First, I should take back one thing: the characters in C3-bu are still fun. Maybe they can be eclectic, just not for me. I think the range is much smaller; from Rin to Sonora, there’s not much of a gap. Karila provides a level of excitement that many of the other girls don’t have for the sport; it’s like she thinks airsoft like how Rento thinks of tea and cake. And to be honest I have a hard time picking out anyone other than Yura, Rin and Sono-chan.
In other words, for better or worse, C3-bu is different. In fact I think it’s unique for the all-girls after school club genre, if such is a thing. I know I enjoyed the show for bits of its originality. It has a mix of actual sport, character-driven development, lofty visualized analogies, dreams and fantasy sometimes mingle with reality, and cold, hard truths. I think it is the story about Yura and Sonora and how they develop as adolescents, even if they’re like Railgun characters in a way, acting too old for their age on paper.
Another way to look at Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 Club, I think, is in the same wrapping context. If Saki is “girls and mahjong and high-tension tournaments” then C3-bu is “girls and airsofts and overcoming deep-seeded, self-inflicted emotional wounds.” In fact I think the whole reason behind why C3-bu is a tough watch compared to these very popular shows in recent years. It’s not a pretty topic.
As much as Girls und Panzer tries to bring this element in, for the most part, it resorts to a checklist style of broaching the issue. There’s the Nishizumi older sister angle, there’s the abandoning the game to help a friend angle, but the show doesn’t really detail “how” Miho overcome her inner struggles, other than having a circle of friends validating each other, as “nakama.” Girls und Panzer is more concerned about glorifying the correct answer without really showing the work, and honestly, we would rather not see all the laboring details, the negative inner emotions, the personal struggles, the repeated setbacks that set the stage in how one may try and try again and eventually overcome. Do we see how Miho obtain her steel-like inner resolve? Her brilliance of thinking outside the box while under siege, in the cold? It’s in the shadow of these brilliant feats of Tankery that I feel C3-bu, instead, takes that brave step forward and gets into the black box that too many shows sidestepped. It’s good time to note that Yura achieved greatness in a very similar way, to honor her friend, but the stories of these two girls are very different, with all the pluck, luck, and “ganbatte” in the world, we see how it could have turned out in polar opposites.
Well, I can’t blame these shows for sidestepping it. The detour to the dark side hampers execution like a wet rag and people in general don’t like that stuff in their escapist fantasy. But this is why I think anime today is great; there’s such a diversity of thought that even within the same, generally stable diet of teamwork-glorification and affirmation of what is universally considered good, a depiction of a girl who answered correctly but still got it wrong on the test. It’s about a person who has everything but lost herself in the process. A teenager who has finally gotten over herself.
Bonus round: Here’s a third way to look at C3-bu, Girls und Panzer, and the Koshien tournaments Japan idolizes. I linked to the article before, it’s worth a read not only as a cross-cultural lesson in sports, but also in getting an idea of what “koshien” means to that country, that society. There’s a reason why these coaches leave these teenage monster arms out in the hot summer sun for hundreds of pitches per game, potentially blowing up million-dollar baseball talents in these bouts of glory. Because it’s all about form. It’s about deeply-held beliefs, almost religious, that transcend physical reality–like heart mixed with courage can overcome the impossible. This is one solution; it just only satisfies some, not all, and certainly not anyone who lost in this negative-sum game.