Good things come to those who wait. That saying rings especially true for the Girls und Panzer franchise. Given that I reviewed the anime way back in May 2014, there has been over a three-year gap between the UK release dates of the series and movie. Either the folks at MVM Entertainment were in no rush to capitalize on the show’s popularity or the Japanese licensors were once again playing hardball with selling off rights to the international markets. One can only imagine how much profit was lost to piracy due to the slow ass localisation. Now that the Blu-Ray is finally out I can reveal if the movie “tanked” or if it is a hit. Read on to find out.
Girls und Panzer der Film kicks off with a 2v2 match, which pits Oarai High and Chihatan Academy against the alliance of Pravda and St. Gloriana. It’s an action packed opener featuring a team who brazenly charge into battle and a squad of British infantry tanks, whose pilots stereotypically love to drink a good cuppa… even in the midst of combat! After the encounter the students of Oarai return home only to discover that their school has been shut down. It appears that the Ministry of Education have reneged on their promise to keep the institution open, on condition that the school triumph in the last Tankery tournament (which they did as chronicled in the series.) Going back on your word is heinous, but in the ministry’s defence you can’t blame them for wishing to cut down on costs. Maintaining a school based atop an aircraft carrier can’t be cheap.
All hope is not lost though. Oarai High’s student council president convinces the ministry’s bureaucrats to sign a legally binding contract that will force them to reverse the closure, should the school’s Tankery club manage to beat a university team in an exhibition match. Victory won’t be easy however, as Oarai’s opponents are led by a child prodigy who is fighting to secure funding for the refurbishment of her favourite teddy bear museum. To make matters worse the university team’s armoured core division outnumbers Oarai – thirty to eight. Not good, when you consider that the rules stipulate that you must eliminate all of your opponents in order to secure a win. Thankfully aid arrives from an unlikely source. All the rivals that Oarai bested in the series join our heroines’ cause and thanks to their inclusion in the Oarai ranks the stage is set for a fair 30v30 brawl.
My rating for Girls und Panzer der Film is a four out of five. I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie, given how little story it has. Most of the two hour running time is made up of two lengthy battles, with only a smidgen of plot sandwiched in between. Usually when a motion picture goes overboard with action I begin to suffer from fight fatigue, but in the case of Girls und Panzer the time flew by. I think Girls und Panzer was consistently entertaining because the onscreen warfare wasn’t just an excuse for mindless explosions. Tactics play a key part in deciding how the skirmishes play out and everyone, from the huge cast, is given a moment to shine. Another thing that kept things fresh were the varied environments where the action was set. During the decisive match tanks traded fire on a rural hillside, a hedge maze and even atop a rollercoaster!
I am usually a vocal critic of CG in anime, but in the case of Girls und Panzer I must concede that the 3D visual effects enhanced the viewing experience. Although I am no expert on the subject, others sources have informed me that the animators did a good job of authentically recreating the look of the WII era tanks that feature in the movie. In terms of character moments, there isn’t much to write home about. What we get however does the job. The manner in which the student body reacted to their school’s closure succeeded in getting me to root for the heroines. I also appreciated the scene were protagonist Miho returns home. After being forced to compete against each other, in the series, I expected that there would be some friction between the Nishizumi siblings. It was sweet to see that I was mistaken and that their family bond remains strong.
Cute girls and armoured vehicles is a strange combination, but somehow Girls und Panzer makes it work. After enjoying both the series and movie I can’t wait to check out the upcoming six-part Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter. Hopefully the UK won’t be made to wait too long for that release. What do you guys think of Girls und Panzer? Let me know in the comments section below. Until next time – “tank” you very much for reading. Panzer vor!