Review for Girls Und Panzer OVA Collection
The measure of a fan isn’t in how much they love a thing; it’s in how much they are willing to spend on something that is loosely related to that thing. Admittedly, the Girls und Panzer OVAs aren’t too loose, but when you consider that this Blu-ray disc has just 84 minutes of content (4% more than the PAL DVD disc), but you have to subtract 20 minutes of credits sequences and translated credits for the genuine meat of the content, then you have to wonder if you’re prepared to shell out for an anime Blu-ray disc. On top of all that, only one of the six OVA episodes has a connection with the series storyline; the rest are just fun moments of triviality with the characters. It’s a lot of song and the occasional dance, and a couple of bikini episodes. Typical OVAs, then, but when it comes down to it, I do in fact love Girls und Panzer enough to want even these episodes in as good a quality as possible.
These OVAs are actually the bonus material that came with the Japanese home video releases of the series. In a country where the average anime disc has just two episodes on it, priced at more than twice what we would pay for a whole series in the UK, Japanese fans are justified in expecting a little more. So they got bonus material galore, including these OVAs, radio dramas and more. In the West we get just the OVA episodes, and those as a separate release. There are six in total, running from 5 minutes in length to 18 minutes, and all are presented on one Blu-ray from MVM.
1. Water War!
2. Survival War!
3. School Ship War!
4. Ankou War!
5. Snow War!
6. Banquet War!
Girls und Panzer gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer. You can immediately see the benefit of HD on this show, as along with the bolder colour palette, the smoother progressive animation, and the distinct lack of compression artefacts around fast motion and action scenes, you also get crisper line art and visibly greater detail. While you have the usual cute girl designs, the characters are animated well, and you get to see their different personalities. The OVAs aren’t as heavy on the tank action, so there’s a little less in the way of CG animation, but it maintains the same style and consistency.
You have the choice between DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo English and Japanese, with subtitles and a signs only track locked during playback. The Japanese audio is definitely the way to go here, with bright and lively characterisations, and excellent voice actor performances. There is less in the way of memorable pieces of music, although the show retains the excellent theme songs, and we steer clear of the explosive combat sequences. It’s really a dialogue heavy collection of anime shorts.
You get one disc in a BD Amaray. The disc presents the content with a static menu. Each episode is followed by a translated English credits scroll, and with the extensive cast here, it runs to over 2 minutes on five of the six episodes.
On the disc you’ll find Impersonation Take 2, which lasts 1:26. It’s another look at a key sequence from the sixth OVA episode, where a group in a talent contest do impersonations of other characters in the show. Just for a laugh, the English dub artists got the original voice actors for those characters to also record those lines, so that you can compare and contrast with the impersonations in the episodes.
You’ll also find the textless opening and one textless closing out of the five variations on these episodes.
Trailers on this disc are for other Hanabee titles including Little Busters, Say “I Love You”, Kokoro Connect and Dusk Maiden of Amnesia.
Okay, let’s be pragmatic for a moment. There’s not a lot on this disc, and none of it is essential to your enjoyment of the series or the movie or indeed the Anzio OVA. Naturally the RRP is excessive, but even if you find it in a bargain bucket, you’ll still be paying more per minute for this anime disc, than you would for an anime series or even an anime movie. Who cares about pragmatism though? This is fandom, unconditional love and even obsession. I love Girls und Panzer, and any brief moment more that I can spend in the company of these delightful characters, I’m going to seize upon with alacrity. Were it any other show, any other group of characters, I’d be sticking my nose up at an episode set in a shop, trying on all manner of swimsuits, but this is Girls und Panzer, and I can forgive it that much.
If all the episodes had all been like that first one, I might have thought twice about that forgiveness though. It is the staple for all anime OVAs where there is a large female cast contingent. The girls of Oarai Academy decide to go to a tropical beach for training, and of course they need swimsuits for that. The whole episode is spent in a store trying on swimsuits for the male audience delectation. I have to admit that it is a tad mediocre.
The swimsuits return in the second episode as the girls go camping. But getting to grips with the great outdoors offers a little more variety than the girls’ changing room, and you have to stand up and salute any anime episode that can pull off a Monty Python reference!
The third episode offers some nice exposition which adds to the back-story of the series. Just why are schools based on oversized aircraft carriers? You practically have city sized sea-going vessels devoted to the education of young girls. An episode of exploration ensues.
Losing a tank battle in the early episodes meant doing the Goosefish dance as a punishment. We only caught the briefest glimpse of that in the episode proper. This short OVA offers the Goosefish dance in its entirety, and all of the Ooarai girls get in on the act.
Finally something to do with the series narrative! Snow War tells of what happened during the reconnaissance mission behind enemy lines when Ooarai Academy battled Pravda. It doesn’t amount to much more than singing, silliness and historical trivia, but it at least adds to the main story.
The best is saved for last with Banquet War, which shows how the girls celebrated after the end of the competition. It was a party of course, but the key moment belongs to the talent contest. What the various tank crews come up with (they aren’t allowed to use their established skills, so no Volleyball, History, Videogames or Cars) is often very funny.
I couldn’t recommend the Girls und Panzer OVA on DVD, and I still can’t do it on Blu-ray, even though it looks and sounds so much better. You’d call me nuts for just considering that. But I have to say that my life would feel so much emptier without this disc in my collection. Sometimes you have to let your obsessive, fannish heart overrule the pragmatic and money-conscious mind.