The Ooarai team nevertheless keeps Black Forest Peak on its toes through the use of unconventional tactics like smokescreens, towing their slowest tank with the others, reaching the high ground, then using the 38(t) to weave in and out of the enemy formation. The orderly discipline of Black Forest Peak is shaken up, allowing Ooarai to break through and make a run for it. They ford a river, but the Rabbit team’s M3 stalls in the middle. Rather than leave it behind, Miho stops and helps them out. They enter a town, but a super-heavy Maus is waiting, and takes out the Ducks’ Type 89B and the Hippos’ StuG III.
We were going to wait until the twelfth and final episode aired to do a review, but then we thought, “why would we do that to ourselves”, and also didn’t feel like waiting. We daresay it was worth the wait: this episode provides perhaps the most tank-on-tank combat awesomeness per minute than any previous episode. And with good reason: it’s the final battle! Not only is it yet another underdog battle, but it’s also a battle of wills and philosophies. Miho wants to conduct a caring, loving Panzerfahren that treats no one as disposable and puts the lives of her comrades before victory, while still aiming for victory, in defiance of the Nishizumi School.
The thing is, while their cheeky and audacious tactics do indeed rile up a good many of the Black Forest Peak team – and piss off Erika to no end – Peak’s leader, Miho’s sister Maho, remains an island of tranquility in a sea of chaos. Whatever her lil’ sis throws at her, she’s not going to lose control of the situation like Miho’s previous foes did. Even with all of Ooarai’s efforts, the fact is they’ve lost three tanks and are down to five against Maho’s seventeen, including that ridiculously massive, scary Maus. Despite all of their small victories throughout this episode, by it’s end, defeating Black Forest Peak seems no more plausible than the first time we laid eyes on their massive force.
Saunders’ Arisa continues to cheat, but she leads Kei to an empty location. One of the Oorai teams finds Saunders’ flag panzer by accident, and they lead it into the clearing where the other Oorai panzers are waiting. Kei balances the battle by relieving Arisa with just four of her panzers, including Naomi in the Firefly. Two Oorai teams are taken out, and the remaining three are sandwiched between the flag panzer and the rest of the Saunders team. Miho’s panzer climbs a ridge, and Naomi follows them. Hana manages to take out Arisa’s flag panzer a moment before Naomi takes them out, and they’re victorious. Their day of victory ends with a call to Mako informing her her grandmother fell; Miho’s sister lends her a helicopter to rush to Oorai.
After all the twists and turns and distortion of reality in the Eureka Seven finale, it was nice to settle back into some nice, uncomplicated girl-on-girl tank warfare (that just sounds wrong). And after really putting the nasty, f-bomb-spewing cheater Arisa (voiced by Haruhi herself) right in our faces for extended periods of time, we were pretty confident the episode wouldn’t let someone that insufferable win and gloat about it later on. Instead she gets scolded by her Commander Kei, who preferred a fair fight to total domination.
Saunders lost, but it was a honorable and exciting battle, not an easy, boring win. Such chivalry is part of Sensha-do, or Tankery, or Panzerfahren, or whatever you wanna call it. And it was exciting: lots of tanks chasing other tanks like a game of armored tag. And it’s not a total victory for Oorai either, but a win by the seat of their pants, as Hana manages to get her shot off a heartbeat before the too-cool-for-school, gum-chewing Naomi. Mako’s sudden family emergency caught us off guard; it was apparently a reminder that at the end of the day, all this playing around in tanks isn’t as important as family…we guess.
Rating: 6 (Good)
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.