Review for Girls und Panzer: This is the Real Anzio Battle OVA
Hot on the heels of the Girls und Panzer movie comes the final piece (for now) of the Girls und Panzer puzzle, the Anzio Battle OVA. Given how much I love the series, and how much I adore the film, you can bet that I have been looking forward to this release as well. It’s an essential piece of the puzzle too, as it covers the Anzio battle from the tankery tournament in the first series. You might recall that the second round was glossed over in the series, the Up Next Is Anzio episode concentrating more on character development, and throwing in a glimpse of the conclusion of the match as an afterthought. The animators saved that storyline for this OVA release, taking a leisurely 37 minutes to tell the story, instead of just trying to cram it into the usual 20 odd. On top of that, if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll recall the fantastic imagery of a baby tank atop a rollercoaster, and the quirky commander piloting it. If you want to know more about Anchovy, Pepperoni and their cohorts, then this OVA will be essential doubly so.
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 is the last thing that she wants in her life. She may come from a long line of Sensha-do practitioners, living in the shadow of her mother and older sister, and the illustrious Nishizumi School, but she’s chosen to leave all that behind, and has selected Ooarai Academy as her high school specifically because it doesn’t have a Sensha-do class. Too bad, because as soon the School Council President learns that they have a Nishizumi coming to their school, she becomes intent on reviving Sensha-do in their school after several years absence from the curriculum, and she’ll even resort to blackmail to recruit Miho to the cause. But with the new friends that Miho makes at Ooarai Academy, she might just find that cute girls taking part in tank combat is a whole lot of fun!
As it says on the tin, This is the Real Anzio Battle covers the second round match in the tournament, the build up on both sides and the tank combat action.
Girls und Panzer gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer. You can appreciate the bolder colour palette, the smooth progressive animation making the most of the fast motion and action scenes. You also get crisper line art and excellent detail. While you have the usual cute girl designs, the characters are animated well, and you get to see their different personalities. The budget goes to the tank designs, which manage to inject an air of authenticity even in this cutesy, primary colour world, and which through the use of deft CGI blended into the 2D animation really comes across well. You get all of the edge of the seat action and tank strategies brought to life in this anime. And when it comes to the tank action, you have the directorial and visual finesse that was apparent in the feature film, applied to what is essentially an extra TV episode.
The images in this review are taken from that soft DVD, and don’t represent the quality of the Blu-ray image.
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 Japanese audio is definitely the way to go here, with bright and lively characterisations, with excellent voice actor performances. The music of Girls und Panzer is a key selling point, and you get the TV show theme songs here once more. The action comes across astoundingly effectively, and tanks are loud! Their engines are loud, and their cannons will have you rapidly dousing the volume on your TV, hoping that the neighbours won’t sue. Also, having surround sound vitality applied to an extended TV episode is a definite treat.
You get two discs, one on each inner face of a Blu-ray Amaray style case. Alas, there is no inner sleeve art. With this being such a short release, you can guess that the value for money is eked out by making this dual format.
It must be said that the DVD version is a blast from the past, an NTSC-PAL standards converted effort with all the softness and ghosting that you would expect, although the sound is in DD 5.1.
You get a static menu on both discs presenting the content.
The sole extra is the textless end credits.
Otherwise there are trailers for Girls und Panzer der Film, Kokoro Connect, Amagi Brilliant Park, and Angelic Layer.
MVM got things the wrong way around this time. They should have released this before the movie, to serve as an appetiser for the feast of girls and tanks action that was to come. There’s no way that the Anzio battle can compare to that absolutely insane feature film, jam packed with characters, and replete with tank battles so absurd, so inventive that it’s just a total joy to watch, and it has since joined the list of my go-to comfort movies. Watching this disc afterwards can only be a deflating experience if you start comparing the two.
Actually, This is the Real Anzio Battle will even be a tad disappointing if you watch it following the television series. You have to put its story in context. The Ooarai Academy has put together its Sensha-do team, and they have started training, and building their numbers up. The tournament has come around, and they’ve just got through the first round, and have to face Anzio in the second, a team rumoured to be very strong. But Ooarai still have to work out the kinks in their teamwork, and haven’t yet got all the skills in place that they need to battle the top teams in the tournament.
The actual Anzio battle is pretty straightforward, lacking much of the inventiveness and visual pizzazz that would mark the latter rounds of the tournament, and would be turned up to eleven in the movie. The real joy in this storyline is in getting to know the new characters from Anzio, as well as spending some more time with the familiar characters from Ooarai. The one disappointment I had was that Anchovy wasn’t commanding that cute baby tank from the movie, and was instead helming Anzio’s secret weapon.
This is the Real Anzio Battle is fun and it’s entertaining, but as a standalone OVA it lacks the strength and the uniqueness that you might expect from a one-off. Put it in its correct place however, watch it following episode 7 of the TV series, and it will fit just like a glove. Oh, and remember to stick around following the end credits.