Mako jumps aboard Team A’s Panzer before being run over, and while attempting to cross a bridge, a shot from another team knocks out Hana. Mako takes the controls, and Team A successfully immobilizes the other four teams, winning the mock battle. Hana, Saori, and Yukari name Miho their new commander, and Yukari grudgingly joins as driver. The class president arranges a friendly practice match against the elite St. Glorianna Girls’ School, and names Miho mission commander. The Ooarai township makes port as the match is to take place on dry land.
In spite of the inherent ridiculousness of the premise of this show, we find ourselves eminently charmed by its elegant execution and the earnest portrayal of its many characters. This is a world that is confident in its convictions and in its ability to tell a straightforward story that also entertains and delights. We still aren’t quite sure how no one gets injured from shells being fired at one another (even non-explosive ones – shrapnel, anyone?) but there’s clearly some underlying technology ensuring the girls’ safety (including those automatic white flags). It may lower the stakes, but it also makes a high school tankery team more plausible if the girls aren’t at risk of getting maimed each time they roll out.
We also liked how the various teams decked out their tanks: from feudal banners and war paint to gold-plating. One team even had the temerity to paint their M3 hot pink. Tank history buff Yukari makes sure the Type IV is spared external “personalization”, but the inside is made more livable with cushions and knick-knacks. While it’s never explained why the town is on the flight deck of a huge ship, an even huger ship shows up to dispatch the St. Glorianna contingent, cementing Ooarai’s new Tankery team as green underdogs. They’ll be leaning heavily on Nishizumi Miho’s tank pedigree, experience, and leadership.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Tank Cameos: The St. Glorianna’s team operates British Matilda II tanks, led by a single Churchill Mk VII. (thx Sonya!) Their insignia is of a Western tea service.
Nishizumi Miho moves to Oarai and a new school, hoping to get away from tanks, because she has some bad memories of tanks. But the student council president insists she select Tankery as her mandatory elective, warning her she won’t be attending the Oarai school long if she doesn’t. Miho’s new friends Saori and Hana stand with her, but Miho ultimately caves and agrees to do Tankery after all.
When people tell you they won’t watch anime because it’s too kooky, this is kind of the stuff they’re talking about: for some reason, in the universe of this particular anime, operating tanks is a martial art for girls (and apparently only girls) with a long and storied history. You know, not rolling death machines that are easily taken out by A-10 Thunderbolt IIs. Also, the school, and the entire town of Oarai for that matter, occupy the flight deck of a gargantuan aircraft carrier.
If we asked the creators “Why?” they’d probably answer “Why not?”, not only because it’s the easy answer, but also because it happens to be the best one. Why shouldn’t high school girls operate tanks, and why shouldn’t towns be on carriers? No reason, except that that’s not the way things are in our world. In an anime, you can do whatever you want, so you might as well have girls in tanks…and propaganda films about same.
But take away all the talk of tanks, and this is just another ordinary high school series in which the new girl makes new friends and faces conflicts from rivals. And in that regard, the creators didn’t go far enough with the bizarre factor. Everything’s so…conventional, with the tank and carrier thing seeming a bit tacked-on. And Miho caves far too easily, despite her apparent (and unexplained) past trauma with tanks. Still, it was an enjoyable outing, and the tank animations were decent.
Rating: 5 (Average)
Car Tank Cameos: Are you kidding? We don’t know anything about armor.