Surprised to find that I like the show? So was I!
Girls und Panzer is an anime about girls in their early teens being (mostly) nice to each other. It’s also about tanks, and about young girls shooting at other girls driving other tanks. Don’t think too hard about it. The show is actually fairly high quality; the tanks are lovingly rendered in well-done CG that meshes with the rest of the art, and the writing delivers pretty much everything you could want from an anime about young girls and their tanks. Besides which, the premise is just too much fun: Girls und Panzer offers heavily armed and armored vehicles cavorting across the landscape as their adorable and irrepressibly friendly crews wrestle them into thrilling mock-combat.
If that doesn’t pique your interest, don’t bother. If, on the other hand, you think it sounds interesting… read on!
When I say that the tanks are lovingly rendered, I really mean it. The creative team for this show clearly thinks tanks are fascinating machines which deserve all of your attention. Each tank is a distinctly recognizable historical model, with the appropriate technical details happily regurgitated by the requisite tank-nerd character. They have properly sized crews, the right guns, everything. The show does allow for a little extra creativity in the maneuverability department, and I’m really not sure that the gun of a Pz. 38 (t) would be able to penetrate the armor of a T-34-85, but they play it straight for the most part.
Play the tanks straight, that is. The setting is wonderfully ridiculous: according to a PSA in the first episode, Tankery is a highly respected feminine art form with a long history, one which will help girls and women become “intense and strong like [a tank’s] iron, adorable like the clattering of its track, and passionate and precise like its main cannon.” This is taken as established fact, or at least is accepted as true by the various characters involved, and is repeatedly played for laughs even though the characters clearly don’t see anything funny about it. In fact, that surreal straight-man comedy is one of my favorite not-in-a-tank parts of the show.
Leaving aside any concerns about reinterpretations of Japan’s military history (which the show simply ignores, along with any hint of actual war), the show takes its premise and runs with it, letting you enjoy tank battles interspersed with oh-so-cute moments of we’re-nice-friends. There are moments of fan service, but they’re usually subdued and are few and far between. If you want fan service, go watch High School of the Dead instead.
Oh, and just so you can have some idea of how little most of the girls know about hiding their tanks at the beginning of the show, here’s an appropriately titled pic:
If you can embrace its adorableness and its strangely compelling tank battles, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this show too.