Girls und Panzer der Film Part I: Exhibition Match Cold Open

One of my friends sold this franchise to me years ago as Saki with tanks.   And while at first glance, *cough* first three episodes*  cough it seemed like a worst and more boring attempt at that.

I’m eternally grateful that I didn’t drop this because, wow,  am I wrong about my first impression. GuP is an amazing and fun anime series and despite the initial sounding premise, its a very different beast from Saki.

This post would be my attempt to review the GuP movie. So please click the back button if you don’t want to be spoiled.

Ok. With that customary warning out of the way.

Panzer Vor!

So, we begin the movie by a cold open exhibition match between Ooarai and Chihatan vs. St. Gloriana and Pravda ostensibly celebrating Ooarai’s victory.  Now, people without manga knowledge would probably assume that this is celebrating Ooarai’s National Championship

But, I would like to differ. Considering that these guys are around and more importantly they are friendly to Ooarai.

If you are wondering if you missed some ova or an episode because you have no idea who the hell they are. Don’t worry. You are in good company!

Unless you read the manga, you would not know. Heck, even if you read the manga, you might still not know since these girls are barely mentioned. In any case, they are Continuation High School and they are Finish Themed. They were defeated in the second round by Kuromorimine in the series. But, extra materials said that the team put up a great fight using their mad driving skills. So much so, that they nearly caused an upset. This is probably a reference to all those astounding Finish drivers.

And oh… They also defeated Ooarai in a manga only-tournament.

Yep. You heard that right.

Continuation High School beat Ooarai.  .

Don’t ask me how that happened.  That small writing in the orange box is the only manga reference that I could find.

We can assume though that the match is crazy awesome judging from Continuation High’s behavior and even if Ooarai lost, they must still have somehow impressed the Finish Team because Mika and co have joined Darjeeling in her favorite pastime- stalking   watching Miho  and the rest of the Ooarai team.

Also, considering the movie banner  if my supposition is correct and this exhibition match is for the manga only Commemoration High Tournament   –  Ooarai still won that tournament after taking a lost in the first round because of repechage rule.

(Manga only tournament is using double elimination repechage which meant a team needs two losses to get knocked out of the tournament. Of course since some chapters are translated. This is mostly supposition. Take this information with a grain of salt. If you want to know more. This is the chronological order for the manga series   and how they fit into the anime as I see it.)

Little Army Manga —> Girls und Panzer Anime episode 1 to 4 —> Maginot Manga —> Girl und Panzer Anime 5 to 6 —> Anzio OVA —> Girl und Panzer 7 to end —>  Little Army 2 Manga —> Movie

I would like to fit Ribbon Warrior and Motto Love Live somewhere there as well, but eh.

In any case, I seemed to have wandered away,  back to the movie.

Over here, I’ve listed the deployment for the exhibition match for each team. I would be the first to admit that I’m not a tank expert so if you find something wrong. Tell me.

As you can see, each school bought eight tanks. Probably because Ooarai can only field eight tanks and they are the limiting factor. And of course, due to this Ooarai has no change in their line-up.

Their partner -Chihatan – on the other hand is a Japanese themed school and newly introduced in this movie. Though, we did see them briefly against Kuromorimine, where their slaughtered tanks formed the backdrop against Maho’s Tiger.

Chihatan’s tanks are  so-so.

The four Type 97 Chiha they bought  has a similar penetrating power as Duck Team though the tank have better armor and better mobility. (But, everything in GuP has better mobility so it doesn’t really show).

Worse, the lone Type 95 Ha-go has a lower firepower.  Fortunately, the three type 97 New Chiha is slighter better. Though, not really comparable to the St. Gloriana and Pravda’s hardware, these tank at least have a decent gun and may have a fighting chance against them.  As for Chihatan crews’ performance, I could say that their skill level is overall lower than  Pravda and St. Gloriana.

…. So yeah, as far as Ooarai’s partners go, Miho drew the short end of the stick.

In contrast, Pravda appears to have bought a similar line-up that we’ve seen before. Full of late game WWII Soviet Tanks heavies.

St. Gloriana though is where things get interesting. Darjeeling’s Churchill is of course here as well as three Mathilda for escort. The interesting thing is St. Gloriana fielding four Crusader. This is probably to keep up and neutralize Miho’s guerrilla style senshado.

On paper, this match is slanted toward the combined team of St. Gloriana and Pravda.

Heh. Miho must be very very used to this sort of thing by now. lol

The thing though is despite this disadvantage we open the movie with Ooarai-Chihatan MINUTES AWAY FROM VICTORY.  

From the Leopon’s report there are still five minutes before the enemy goes into their position. So that meant there is a full five minutes of shooting that Ooarai can rain upon the pinned St. Gloriana forces.

Considering how even a few seconds can turn the tide of battle, that’s a freaking lot.  If Chihatan tanks didn’t go full leeroy jenkin, I’m 80% sure that they would have won the battle at this point.

Seriously, the positioning greatly favors Miho and co in the cold opening that I really wonder how that happened.

I posit two possibilities.

One  possibility is  that  Katyusha and Darjeeling tried to hide the flag tank while the greater part of their force play hunting for Miho as  their strategy. This is supported by the fact that the Churchill and the Mathilda has a good defensible position.

Unfortunately, Miho  probably deduced this strategy and guessed (In the Saunder’s match, Miho made several guesses about possible hiding place of  the flag tank. It turned out correct. ) Of course,  it could be the result of plain old scouting or both. In any case,  using said  information probably arranged a distraction for the greater part of the opposing team and then made an encirclement for Darjeeling, once she knew that the main force cannot come back on time.

The second possibility that comes to mind is the fact that Darjeeling and co are herded there. Judging from the position of Miho’s tanks, it look like they are giving chase. Miho might have herded Darjeeling to that area and using a a hidden two pronged attack trapped her there. Seeing that breaking through is going to end getting her shot, Darjeeling went and buried herself into the best defensible position and waited for reinforcement to arrive.

All in all, whatever the case.

The movie opened with Miho and co having achieved an enormous  tactical position which I think is very important considering the overall result of the battle.

Sigh…

I can’t help thinking that the Chihatan school tankers are idiots. Spirited and arguable lovable idiots but idiots all the same.

Just look at the blue box where all the Chihatan tanks were.

The Banzai!Charge is the second worst thing that they could have done. (Worst thing is shooting Ooarai’s tank themselves).  It would have been better if they sat quietly there and not have done a thing to be honest.Notice that the Ooarai tank (Miho and co) behind them stopped firing the moment they charged. BECAUSE THEY WERE BLOCKING OOARAI’S LINE OF SIGHT!

Beside dying uselessly, Chihatan tanks became additional meat shields for St. Gloriana which is why Darjeeling was able to safely get out of the hole and start firing back. The stupidity is apparently infectious to their comrades and their antics also disrupted the defensive line and thus Pravda was able to get through perhaps a bit sooner.

All in all, its a great lost of a golden opportunity while at the same time handling Pravda + St. Gloriana the initiative.

Bad Chihas.

Bad.

Closing Notes: 

Its quite surprising that an anime depicts a Japanese themed school as such lovable idiots. But,  I suppose their derpness showed some purpose.  Its probably a reference as well as criticism to the Japanese Banzai Charges which was ineffective and caused a large unnecessary toll of death .

…. Well, at least, the Chihatan could only go up  from here. ^^

Still, I recognized that the Chihatan’s did give some comedy as well as serving as a vehicle to  show that Miho is still an amazing commander (as evidenced by how they are able to almost win in the cold opening) even with the material and training disadvantage. The fact that the movie opened up on this point, I reiterate is important. I feel that the director wanted to show that even though Miho lost, it was in some ways no fault of her own.

It also serves as a reminder  that Miho and Ooarai is still fallible.

Lastly, it might have shown some key areas that Miho needs to improve as a commander. While I know that it can be argued that Chihatan’s banzai charge isn’t Miho’s fault in any freaking way. After all, its a joint team, its not Miho’s fault that her allied  team decides to suicide (while they were winning no less).

But, at the same time, I don’t want to completely absolve Miho because its also clearly shown that Chihatan’s commander  Nishi defers to Miho’s order. Thus, Miho’s clearly the leader of the team there. As the overall commander should have controlled the other team better. Time and time again, it has been shown that Miho’s  lack of force, when she should be forceful on her allies is one of Miho’s few weakness as a leader.

Though, I can’t exactly blame Miho or know how to fix that. Miho’s personality isn’t conducive to confrontation. That and I suspect that due to her past, Miho doesn’t like telling other people what their senshado should be or not be on principle.

So yeah.

Hmm… Maybe  a forceful vice-captain should do the trick?

Want some GuP merchandise? Click the pictures.

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4 Responses to Girls und Panzer der Film Part I: Exhibition Match Cold Open

  1. Vautour2B says:

    I completely agree with this analysis.

    On the situation of starting the film, another hypothesis: Darjeeling is, perhaps, deliberately left circle in order to "fix" Ooarai / Chihatan in the open, in favor of Pravda (and the rest of St. G) . A kind of Waterloo "Version Senshado" with Darjeeling in the role of Wellington and Blücher in that of Katyusha. I am not saying that this hypothesis is correct, but a possibility …

    On Chihatan: the film shows, indeed, that their handicap is not that material. Although Kuromorimine girls clashed with the Panzer II (in the first round of the 63th senshado) this would be completed by the same disaster.
    Anzio has a blundering in its ranks … Chihatan by 90%

    • nightsentinel09 says:

      To be honest, I'm not in favor of any hypothesis that has Darjeeling willingly baiting Miho out there. Any hypothesis that starts with that does a disservice to Darjeeling's strategical acumen. Mainly, because St. Gloriana is very much in a positional disadvantage (Flag tank surrounded and allies a long distance away) that I can't conceive of Darjeeling willing putting herself in such a disadvantage specially when Pravda+St. Gloriana holds tank superiority.

      And yeah. Anzio > Chihatan on the crew members quality.

  2. Zoroastro says:

    you are missing a point, St. Gloriana tanks are hunking down (only their turrets are visible for enemy gunners). This means that the larger and weaker part of their tanks are protected by terrain. Finally a long range engagement negates Miho´s number advantage since most of her tanks are better suited for short range combat being simple ineffective at long range. As you said, it was a lost match since Miho´s team barely fielded 4 strong tanks, Pravda and St. Gloriana got 4 strong tanks each and the gap between their "weak" tanks in way smaller than in Miho´s team

    • nightsentinel09 says:

      Yeah I agree. Darjeeling dd well in hunking down. And yeah, Miho has to get in a bit of a closer range to be able to do some damage to Darjeeling's tank since our protagonist tank suck. And Miho did ask to move a bit closer in the film to bombard St. Gloriana in optimal distance

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