I came to Girls und Panzer very late and for an odd reason — the soundtrack amused me. I’d written the series off as moe fluff (it is that), but something about the soundtrack on top of all the enthusiasm for the series prompted me to give it a try. I started watching the series a week or so ago, and found myself plowing through all the episodes.
Between its production values and charm, it’s no wonder so many people rated the series so highly. I’m sure it’s been talked to death.
But I want to express my appreciation for one thing the series does that’s rarely done so successfully: we see a brilliant tactician at work. We see Miho being brilliant, we aren’t just told how brilliant she is. We see her scanning the landscape through her binoculars, we see staring at her knees as she mentally tabulates her resources and the resources of her opponents. We see the flash of inspiration that leads to the audacious move that carries the day.
Anime (nor any other fiction) rarely pulls this off. After all, it takes a bit of genius to show us the work of a genius (you can borrow some of that genius though: I suspect the military otaku have dissected each of Oarai High School’s battles and found possible inspirations in the history of tank warfare for Miho’s successful maneuvers).
Fortune favors the prepared. We rarely see genius, even less often do we see the 99% perspiration that accompanies the 1% inspiration that makes up that genius.
We see it just a bit in Girls und Panzer as Miho spends a late night contemplating the forces tomorrow’s opponent will array against her. We saw it as Marika in Bodacious Space Pirates struggled for sleepless days to hatch a plan to take on the shocking new opponent who had appeared and was destroying her fellow pirates.
One of the best renditions of the genius-by-sweat-equity was portrayed by the character Shinon in Starship Operators. Throughout the series we see her strategic cunning at work. Then at the end of the series, when the odds looked hopeless, Shinon spends several days in the simulator, running battle plan after battle plan, looking for one that has a prayer of keeping them alive through the coming conflict. She emerges with a plan that uses her ship in a completely unexpected way, and they live to fight another day.
(I guess we do see a lot of the “hard work and guts” school of winning the day through sheer determination and strength of will. I’m not talking about that, here.)
Girls und Panzer does this subtly and well. It was a joy to watch.