Review for Girls Und Panzer Das Finale 2
MVM are always accommodating when it comes to ordering their product directly from their Anime Online website. I had both Girls Und Panzer das Finale 1 & 2 long before their scheduled release dates. But given that there’s no date set as yet for the release of Part 3, let alone theatrical releases in Japan for Parts 4-6. I felt like delaying gratification for as long as possible. So here now is the review for the second part of Das Finale; more cute girls engaging in warfare driving historic tanks. And this time, I’m not letting the real world taint my enjoyment.
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. Miho Nishizumi was escaping this world when she came to Ooarai Academy, a school without a Sensha-do club, but circumstances compelled her to return to the sport anyway. The school was threatened with closure, and the only way to save it was to make a big impact. The school would be saved if it won the world Sensha-do tournament. And so Miho had to take a bunch of quirky girls, and a battalion of salvaged, decrepit tanks, and turn them into a highly trained, tactical fighting force to save the school. Then she had to do it all over again for the movie! As das Finale begins... this time it’s personal.
A year has passed, and it’s all change in the student council, with Miho’s teammates now taking over from the previous administration. Speaking of which, the previous student council PR Manager, Momo Kawashima is in trouble as this film begins. Rumours abound that she has failed her exams and will have to repeat her final year at Ooarai Academy. It’s not quite that bad; it’s just that she’s having trouble with her university entrance exams. So the girls come up with a plan, to get her into university on a Sensha-do scholarship. It does mean that she’ll have to take over as commander from Miho in the forthcoming Caterpillar Tread Cup. It’s a good thing that they’ve found a ninth tank for their team, and a new crew to drive it. Their first opponent in the tournament is BC Freedom Academy, and given all that they have faced, Ooarai are understandably confident. It turns out that they are overconfident, and BC Freedom has their measure as the tournament begins.
At the end of Part 1 of Girls und Panzer das Finale, BC Academy had shocked Ooarai by drawing the team into a trap that they barely escaped. Now on the back foot, Miho has to come up with a new strategy quickly if they are to salvage the match.
Girls und Panzer das Finale 2 gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on this disc. The image is clear and sharp, excellent with detail and with rich colours. This outing gets a cinematic level of production value when it comes to the character animation, and especially when it comes to the tank action. 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.
You have the choice between DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English and Japanese, with subtitles and signs locked during playback. I went with the Japanese audio for the familiarity of experience with the voice actors. The surround track is a step-up from the stereo of the TV series, but I did feel it was a little overcooked when it comes to the character voices, deliberately placed around the speakers in an unnatural way at times for off-screen characters. The action is powerfully conveyed, but to the level that it can overpower the dialogue, or rather the centre speaker needs a higher volume level. Either way, I wished that there had been a stereo option. The surround is watchable enough, but it could have been better balanced. The subtitles are accurately timed and are free of typos.
You get one disc in a BD Amaray style case, with a reversible sleeve (if you don’t like ratings logos). The disc boots to a static menu and the film is followed by a silent translated English credit scroll. On the disc you’ll find the following extras.
Textless Opening (1:46)
Textless Closing x2 (3:42)
Japanese Promos x2 (2:04)
TV Series Trailer (1:24)
Trailers for Made in Abyss- Dawn of the Deep Soul, Princess Tutu The Magnificent KOTOBUKI THE MOVIE, and Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon III.
The big extra on this disc is the Taiyaki War OVA which lasts 12:03. It’s more a companion piece to the first instalment, taking us behind the scenes of when Yukari infiltrated BC Academy on a recon mission, and how BC Academy hoodwinked her.
There be slight spoilers ahead, although given that this six-part movie run follows the Ooarai team through a knockout tournament, you have to expect a string of victories at least until the final instalment. It’s how they win that is the important thing. And just when I think that the writers of Girls Und Panzer have exhausted every inventive and visually exciting tank battle tactic, they come up with a new one. BC Academy may have faked Ooarai out in the previous episode by playing up the divisions in their ranks, but it turns out that their little subterfuge had roots in truth, and while the two factions of BC Academy may not be antagonistic, there are differences and failures in communication that Miho can exploit. What follows is the funniest tank battle since the Anzio match.
There’s a reminder of the whole point of this tournament between the matches, as the girls get some downtime to relax, and we get introduced to Momo’s family, and learn just why she is so reliant on getting that scholarship to university. There are also a few highlights of the other matches that took place in the first round of the tournament and here lies one of the small disappointments with this story.
BC Academy was a new team to the story, a school with a French sensibility, divided into the ‘aristocracy and the peasantry’ awkwardly coming together to create a unified team. It turns out that there were a whole lot of new teams in this tournament, but they all get knocked out in the first round, leaving the teams that we are familiar with from the series, the OVA and the movie. And while it will be fun to see teams like Pravda, Saunders, Anzio, and Kuromoromine again, it’s a shame that the only new team we saw to significant extent was BC Academy, Even the highlights only concentrate on the battle between Ooarai’s next opponent Chi Ha Tan and the team they defeat, Koala Forest Academy. Even that brief glimpse was enough to make me want more of Koala Forest Academy in the story.
But as mentioned Chi Ha Tan are Ooarai’s next opponents in the tournament, and unlike the genteel venue of the battle against BC Academy, this battle takes place in a rainforest. Chi Ha Tan have appeared before, a gung-ho and undisciplined team that had a tendency to throw caution to the wind and charge en masse against their opponents, usually to be picked off with ease. And once again because of this, Ooarai start the match somewhat overconfident. It turns out that while Chi Ha Tan still have a tendency to charge willy-nilly, they have learned that there are multiple directions in which to charge during a battle, most importantly in reverse. And they are now willing to learn as the battle progresses. Once more, and no doubt establishing a pattern for the next three instalments, the film ends on a cliff-hanger, with Ooarai Academy on the back foot, looking to salvage a victory.
Girls und Panzer is thematically predictable at this point. It is fan service in the best possible sense of the word. The creators know just what fans expect from the show and its characters, and they continue to deliver this predictability in inventive and original ways. It sounds like an oxymoron because it is, but it doesn’t matter when the end result is as entertaining, as downright fun as this movie is. You already know if you’re a Girls und Panzer fan, in which case you already have this film, or have it pre-ordered. If you’ve never encountered Girls und Panzer before, I hope this review is temptation enough for you to seek out the original series. You won’t be disappointed.