Review for Girls Und Panzer OVA Collection
When Girls Und Panzer showed up last month, it briefly became my anime of the year. It may play to the usual anime niche, with its cute girls in tanks premise, but it is abundant in the most fundamental requirement of entertainment. It is stupendous fun. It’s the kind of show that may not rank highly in lists of critical acclaim, but it is the kind of show that gets watched the most of all. It does for tracked vehicles what K-On did for guitars. With that kind of mass appeal, you don’t just leave it at twelve episodes. You have to keep the audience supplied with even more cute girls in tanks, and it’s no surprise that OVAs have been made too. Note that this isn’t the Anzio OVA which tells the story of the battle that was so unceremoniously glossed over in the series. That is due for Japanese release later this year, and if there is any justice in the world it will eventually make it to the UK too.
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 a single layer DVD 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 anamorphic transfer on these discs. It’s a nice, clean and colourful native PAL image, which brings out the animation to excellent effect. While you have the usual cute girl designs, the characters are animated well, and you get to see their different personalities. These OVAs pull back from the tank combat of the main series, and concentrate more on the characters. On occasion you can see the budget slip with more in the way of static scenes, but the character designs remain consistent throughout. The image up-scales pretty well, but fortunately for anime fans with HD screens, MVM are bringing the Girls Und Panzer OVAs out on Blu-ray as well.
You have the choice between DD 2.0 English and Japanese, with optional subtitles and a signs only track. 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.
The discs present their content with static menus navigated by a nice little tank cursor. The audio selection screen is a little counterintuitive, as it’s the highlighted options which are deselected. 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”, AKB0048 and Accel World, although the latter is coming out this month from MVM in the UK.
There’s 81 minutes of footage on this disc... Strike that, once you subtract the run time for all the credit sequences, and the translated credits, there’s 53 minutes of footage on this disc. I love the Girls Und Panzer series, and I enjoyed these OVA episodes too, but they really are just exercises in fan service. It’s a chance to spend some more time with these characters as they goof around, and there is very little of narrative interest here, and with one exception, there’s nothing that adds value to the story. It makes it difficult to recommend something that by all common sense should have just been bundled with the series. The R.R.P. of £19.99 is excessive for what you get here.
If the episodes had all been like the first one, I might not even have enjoyed this collection. It is the staple for all anime OVAs where there is a large female cast contingent; a swimsuit episode. The girls of Ooarai 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. Not even the predictable punchline saves this first OVA from mediocrity.
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.
If this were a world where money were no object, then I’d recommend the Girls Und Panzer OVA as a light bit of fun, which while it doesn’t add to the main series all that much, does complement it. It’s a chance to spend a few more minutes in the company of these likeable characters, and that isn’t to be sniffed at. But we don’t live in that world. They really should have been bundled with the main series. As it is, they’re really just for the hardest of hardcore Girls Und Panzer fans with money to burn.