Review for Girls und Panzer der Film
I knew which side my bread was buttered this time. When the DVD check disc of Girls und Panzer der Film came through my letterbox, I placed it to one side, and pre-ordered the Blu-ray. With MVM’s preferential delivery for their titles, I can still watch the film and get the review up before the scheduled release date. I fell in love with the Girls und Panzer series when I first saw it, and double-dipped for the Blu-ray then and there, and you can bet that I’ll be just as eager to get the Anzio Battle OVA next month as well. And as I write this review, there have been a whole host of announcements in Japan, for Girls und Panzer das Final, the conclusion to the story presented as six theatrical features, the first of which premieres this winter in Japan. This is one franchise that I wish would just run and run, but it’s good to know that there are six movies to look forward to. If they are of the same quality as Girls und Panzer der Film, we are in for a mega treat!
To be an elegant, well refined, and educated young girl takes education, deportment, etiquette, a knowledge of the finer things, and tanks. In the world of Girls und Panzer, young girls are expected to learn and participate in the Martial Art of Sensha-do, tankery, in which they compete in regulated tank warfare games, learning to work together as part of tank crews and battalions, in a world where girls’ schools are set aboard gargantuan aircraft carriers turned into small cities in their own right.
But for Miho Nishizumi, Sensha-do was the last thing that she wanted in her life. Coming from a long line of Sensha-do practitioners, living in the shadow of her mother and older sister, and the illustrious Nishizumi School, she selected Ooarai Academy as her high school specifically because it didn’t have a Sensha-do class. But when the school was threatened with closure, the only way to keep it open was to resurrect the school’s long dormant Sensha-do team, and win enough prestige and titles to impress the Education ministry and prove that the school deserved to stay open.
As the film begins, the girls seem secure in their school, only it turns out that for the education minister, verbal promises aren’t legally binding. They come back after a particularly challenging exhibition match to find the school gates sealed, the announcement made that Ooarai Academy will be no more. All their hard work, their camaraderie, their teamwork was for nothing. But the student council president isn’t one to give up without a fight. This time she gets a promise in writing to save the school. Only this time Ooarai Academy’s tanks will have to defeat a University team, and the Education Minister isn’t above rewriting the rules to ensure the school remains closed. It’s an annihilation match where Ooarai’s 8 tanks will have to face 30. But in all her battles, Miho Nishizumi has made a lot of friends...
The 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on this disc is gorgeous. The image is clear and sharp, with strong colours. There’s no sign of banding, no compression, while the animation is smooth throughout. The TV series looked fantastic, but the film is a whole generation beyond that when it comes to detail, to scope, and to the imaginative action sequences. You’ll never look at a Ferris Wheel in quite the same way again.
The images in this review are taken from the DVD version of the film.
You have the choice between DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English and Japanese, with subtitles and signs locked to the appropriate track. I went with the Japanese audio and was more than satisfied with that. The TV series made some impressive use of sound design with its tank battles, but having the whole feature film in lossless surround is a completely different experience. You really get thrown into the thick of the tank battles, with some impressive and thunderous sound design. And just like the TV series, the tanks are loud! When they’re rumbling past you might have to keep the ornaments from falling off your shelves, and when they actually fire their guns, you’ll probably need to call a plasterer. But this is one film that deserves to be watched loud.
You get one disc in a Blu-ray Amaray case, which boots to a static menu.
On the disc you’ll get the Girls und Panzer in (about) 3 Minutes, the recap of the series that preceded the film in cinemas.
You get the textless credit sequences, and trailers for Girls und Panzer: This is the Real Anzio Battle!, School-Live!, Himouto! Umaru-chan, and Log Horizon.
This is the most fun I’ve had with an anime movie this year, it was the perfect follow-up to the Girls und Panzer series, offering more of the characters, more fantastic tank battles, and more sheer delight. It was brilliant from beginning to end, and I want to watch it all over again right now. I also want to give it an unblemished 10 marks out of 10, just for the sheer grin factor. I am not going to do that. Because much as I love this feature spin-off, if I’m honest with myself, it’s not a great film. In fact it’s not much of a film at all.
The film lasts 2 hours. It kicks off with a 26-minute long tank battle, and it concludes with an hour long tank battle. The character development and story fits in between. Forget plot, forget a three act structure, and forget reversals and plot twists. With the Education Ministry reneging on their pledge to keep the school open, and the challenge to once more take their tanks into battle to save their school, it’s really just a means of remaking the closing half of the TV series over again, tank combat where the stakes are personal, about friendship, and about teamwork. And with the simple nature of the story, it really does play out like a 2-hour long anime episode rather than a feature film.
Yet it’s such a great episode. Tanks and girls are a great combination. You get all the cutesy moe character tropes that contemporary anime fans lap up, coupled with platoons of tanks that will have the military history otaku salivating. The film is replete with the character moments and the gentle comedy that fans associate with Girls und Panzer, and the story allows for all of the different school teams encountered in the series and in the OVA to join in the fun as well. It’s pure service for the fans, and can’t be faulted in any way. Throw in some new characters too, like the Chi-Ha-Tan Academy team, girls who take the words ‘gung-ho’ to suicidal extremes, and you have a great comic relief. I never expected the words “Advance Backwards!” to have me laughing till my sides hurt.
There’s not a lot else to say about Girls und Panzer der Film. It’s not the deepest or most involved of plots, there’s not much of a message beyond that of simple friendship, and it’s about as much fun as you can possibly have with 60 tanks. If you are a fan of Girls und Panzer the series, then this is a 10/10 film, no doubt. You get to see all your favourite characters again, and there’s some absolutely nutty tank combat. If you’ve never seen Girls und Panzer before, it’s not like it’s a premise that needs an in depth knowledge of its back-story, and the three-minute recap does enough to get you caught up. You’ll miss out on the character nuances of course, and don’t expect it to feel like a conventional feature film, but there is plenty to be entertained by here.