DreamRiser by ChouCho
I just feel my wind
I just feel my shine
Rise & ride into the sky
I knew it was going to be an annoying dream from the start
No matter how many times I’m wounded by the uncaring wind,
I’ll reach my hand out towards the Sun,
Feeling the resonance between it and my fingertips
I want to feel it, even a blink
You can always just make up a reason later
Now that you’re trying to act like an adult
To protect yourself, you’re going your bright way
Having made their way into the sky,
The rays of light race forth,
Racing off to be first, at a speed that wakes you up
My heartbeat can’t keep up as it pulls me along
Making all of this more likely to happen
Rise to my feet!!
After a few weeks off due to procrastination, it’s time for a new Under Your Radar! This time, we’ll be covering a series by the name of Girls und Panzer, a 12-episode anime original series that was adapted into manga and light novel formats that show the story from different perspectives. There was also a prequel manga with the subtitle Little Army, which cover a pivotal point in the protagonist’s life, which happened in elementary school. While not required reading (unless a second season is made, in which case it could easily be), it provides a lot of context to the end of the series. The anime also has a few OVAs that explain the less important characters and also provide context, all of which are included on the physical releases (and I didn’t get to see these since the English release is not out yet). An additional OVA and a movie will be released soon.
The series is, as its title outright states, about girls and tanks. In this series, as is explained in the bonus material that comes with the physical releases, competitive tank combat is a team sport exclusively for girls that is played using false ammunition and special technology that makes tanks recognize when their armor has been penetrated, cease function, and raise a white flag. Only tanks from World War 2 or earlier are allowed. Additionally, schools are now exclusively on massive aircraft carriers which have entire miniature towns on them.
In this world, we’re introduced to Miho Nishizumi, a high school girl from a family that is extremely famous in the tank world for their ability to win quickly, ruthlessly, and by the book. Miho has been kicked out for breaking the family’s long winning streak by causing their loss the previous year by saving her drowning teammates, thus leaving her tank unguarded. She moves alone to a small school in a small town named Ōarai, specifically because it does not have a tank program, deciding she’s done with tanks. Little did she know that they had just revived their tankery team, and the student council wants her in it. So, in addition to offering a large amount of benefits to students who take the tankery elective class instead of the far more awesome-sounding ninjutsu or magic electives (yes, those were on the forms you see in the first episode), they pretty much bully her into becoming team captain.
After that’s out of the way, we’re introduced to the team and tank battles ensue. The series follows a simple pattern of character development followed by tank battles throughout the national tournament, and not only are the battles rather exciting, most of what took place in the series (but not all of it) is apparently actually possible. One fight in the tournament (the second one) is skipped due to being a complete steamroll by Ōarai, though it will apparently be the subject of the upcoming OVA. The manga covers this fight, showing the opposing team as being less incompetent, but also necessitating a retcon to work. The series ends with Ōarai taking the championship, defeating her older sister and proving that Miho’s style, which goes completely against what her family taught her, is not wrong.
I was happy to see no fanservice whatsoever in the main series, though one of the OVAs has some. The series has its focus on the goal at all times and rarely takes a break, though that caused a lot of problems when a single person managed to screw up production on the series, forcing people the studio to air two clip shows in the place of two of the episodes, which would not run for another three months. It also caused pacing issues, which could be felt towards the end of the series. You simply cannot do a fleshed out tournament in an anime in 12 episodes without getting massive pacing issues, it seems.
Sentai Filmworks has the license, with a physical English release. Crunchyroll simulcasted it.
Side-note: One of the characters (who’s basically a tank otaku) is providing narration, in-character, for a tank documentary. I find this hilarious.
Anyone going into the series expecting a generic high-school-girls-act-cute series will be in for a shocker, as the series has more to it than that. Go into this expecting tank combat made by people who seem to really be fans of tanks, and it will not disappoint. This was easily one of the best anime of 2012.