Girls und Panzer was charming to watch. Something about juxtaposing high school girls and the serious, traditional sport of tank battling came off as innocent, cute at times, and a whole lot more precious than I had imagined. Of course, to perpetuate this atmosphere, a lot of issues concerning the plot had to be jumped over, such as people potentially dying, or how the government pays for all the property damage, and- LOOK AT THOSE TANKS. ALL THESE TACTICS. EXPLOOOOOSIONS.
If there was one thing I enjoyed the most about the final arc, and there are a lot of good moments to witness in those last two episodes, it’s the one that exemplifies how enjoyable this anime makes watching tanks. Aside from the respectable effort towards the animation and the accuracy of the tanks themselves, hearing a cute girl’s voice while they’re doing stuff gives each tank a distinct personality. Yes, the tanks may not look cute, but that same juxtaposition comes into play. It suddenly becomes entertaining to see tanks walk and talk like humans at times. Since this anime has so many characters and so little time to use them, development is almost entirely thrown out the window in favor of having them show off as much of their personalities as possible.
As such, my favorite tank of this anime is the Hetzer, piloted by none other than Oorai’s Student Council. Because of the Hetzer’s superior maneuverability, low profile, and ability to deflect shell fire, it can severely mess with enemy formations while staying relatively safe by itself. Not only does this reflect the Student Council’s monolithic yet cheeky attitude, but it also allows the tank to project the President’s mischievous personality towards critical mass.
My favorite example of this comes from episode 11. The Oorai team has planted themselves on top of a hill, hoping to use a height advantage to chip away at Black Forest’s numbers. When the situation becomes dire enough, the Hetzer, which had been busy setting back the reinforcements (by destroying their treads), is given a moment in the limelight. They alone manage to distract Black Forest and stave off further advancement… by driving straight into the enemy formation.
In tactical games, outmaneuvering an opponent is both hilarious for the viewer and insulting towards the victim, even moreso when the victim feels as if they can defeat their opponent so easily. Yet, in this case, the Hetzer takes advantage of its small size and tighter controls and basically runs circles around its enemies. Doing this not only requires full knowledge of your own limits, but also a lot of cheek. League of Legends becomes a lot more fun to play once you figure out how you can outplay your opponent. There are a lot of ways to do this, but the best example comes from playing champions with so much movement speed that they can dodge everything that two, three, or even four opponents can dish out at them.
Playing like this is disrespectful, and rightfully so, but it’s not necessarily unsportsmanlike. It exposes your opponent’s mechanical flaws as well as glorifying your own in the most entertaining way possible. That moment where your opponent just quits chasing you down is the moment where they realize how little you care about their in-game threat. And in the Hetzer’s case, making fools out of such heavy-duty tanks is a strong statement of disrespect. In other words, it’s a powerful demoralizer. Tank battling is just as much about tactical warfare as it is psychological warfare.
So, as much as it may be a statement of defiance towards the superior Black Forest formation, it also shows how much the Student Council, as dire as their situation is, is having fun with this sport. The anime succeeds in not only displaying the superior tactics needed for Oorai to win the tournament but also incorporating the playful and fun personalities of each tank team. Since those two aspects drive the entertainment value of this anime, it’s pleasing to know that it takes so much care to bring out the best of both worlds.
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