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)
The friendly between Oorai and St. Gloriannas begins with a simple baiting tactic Darjeeling easily sees through. Her counterattack causes Team D to panic and abandon their tank and Team E loses a track. Miho orders C and D to fall back and re-engage the Brits downtown where they use stealth tactics, and Miho even has Darjeeling one-on-one at point-blank, but the Churchill’s superior armor wins the day. After losing and performing the Anglerfish Dance with Team E, Team A shops around town. They bump into Hana’s mother, who faints upon hearing she has joined tankery. Hana refuses to budge, and her mother disowns her. The girls recieve tea from St. Gloriannas, a symbol that they were a worthy opponent. They enter the national tournament.
This week the show about teenage girls battling in tanks who live on giant city-ships goes for realism: that is to say, when it comes to the ultimate result of the Oorai Tankery Club’s fist match. It leaves victory in reach as long as it can, but ultimately St. Glorianna’s prevails, as it should have. It’s a hell of a fight, though, with tanks darting all over the place. We’re still not clear how this is at all safe (especially when the tanks start doing real damage in the town), but…who cares! As Miho continues to improvise ways to keep her chances alive, Darjeeling gets more competitive, even spilling her black tea – something she promised she would never do! Still, training, discipline, experience and armor win out over rawness, pluck, luck, and a commander still finding her footing.
The tank battle never lags, and as we said, had our belief in the underdog’s defeat suspended. But surprisingly, the friendly isn’t even the whole episode. After the Anglerfish dance (which indeed looked just as horrible as the girls insisted), they simply enjoy the town that graciously and eagerly hosted their battle. And then they bump into Hana’s mother, and we learn that even in this world that deems tankery the most feminine thing you can do, there are some who harbor the opposite opinion. Hana’s is a family of flower arrangers, and it’s shocking how swiftly her quick-to-faint mother freakin’ disowns her when she refuses to give up tankery. Miho simply allowed herself to get mixed into something she was already very well versed in, but Hana has forsaken her family calling and dived into the glory of tankery head first. That makes her pretty cool.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Tank Cameo: The Oorai team’s next opponent, Saunders, is from America. They appropriately ride in M4 Shermans – lots of them – to the playing of The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
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.
With only one rusty tank in the garage, the newly-assembled Tankery class must search for four more, which they find in a forest, on a cliff, under a pond, and in a warehouse. They clean the tanks up and await their instructor, Chouno Ami, who drops from the sky in an airlifted tank. A mock battle is commenced, in which the five teams must get their tanks into starting position. The last tank mobile will win. While escaping a pincer attack, Miho’s team nearly runs over the perpetually sleepy Reizei.
This show continues delivering what the title promises: Girls and tanks. More girls than tanks: by our count, there are twenty-four characters: the main group with Miho, the four other teams, Miho’s sister Maho, and the instructor Ami. (No guys!) We’re not even going to try connecting a face with a name – especially since not everyone is given one! – but we’re now reasonably familiar with Miho’s group: Hana, Saori, Yukari, and Reizei.
We like how this episode wastes no time getting the girls in tanks, even if they’re old, rusty museum pieces, and the girls don’t know how to operate them. For what it’s worth, they’re really cool tanks. We’re also a little fuzzy on details like the nature of the ordinance: you’d think live ammo would certainly result in some fatalities, especially when most of the tank operators don’t know what they’re doing. Ah well, we’re sure they’ll be fine. We wish we had the opportunity to operate tanks in high school.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Car Cameo: We caught a glimpse of a Daihatsu Materia and Nissan Silvia, but most prominent is the school principal’s Ferrari F40 – one of only 1,315 ever built – which is utterly wasted by Instructor Chouno’s tank-drop. A sad day.
The Tanks: Team A: German Panzer IV. Team B: Japanese Type 89 I-Go. Team C: German StuG. Team D: American M3 Lee. Team E: Czech Panzer 38(t). Instructor Chouno:
M1 Abrams a brand-spankin’ new Mitsubishi Type 10 MBT.
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.