This will be a quick one. I'll assume you've already seen Girls und Panzer and are wondering whether the OVA is worth checking out. If you haven't watched the show yet, it's best to watch it first but you could probably still enjoy this title on its own if you really wanted to. Although you will find a lot more to like about it if you're familiar with the original tv series.
The story takes place during the battle against Anzio, a "Japanese-themed Italian school". Be prepared for a lot of deliciously animated pasta.
Just about all the elements you loved about the show are here. The
characters are up to their usual antics - Mako sleeping on the job, Saori being an air-head, and of course Miho whipping up moments of tactical brilliance when it matters most. Technically the outcome of the battle is already known to begin with, but this doesn't really take away from the watching experience.
Anchovy brings a (highly tongue-in-cheek) Italian flair to the mix, and there is plenty of humor to be found throughout the 40 minutes of screen-time. One of her generals is even called Pepperoni... Feel like a pizza yet?
The lead-up to the battle is plenty of fun and Yukari's recon mission is a highlight. However, the OVA really shines when it's time for the main event.
The battle is shown from multiple perspectives, and there's a plethora of strategy and mind-games going on as usual. This is the real magic of the Girls Und Panzer franchise: It's written in a way that balances comedy and action like almost no other. The viewer gets treated to a comprehensive view of the battle, and the quality of animation is even better than it was during the original series. The time and effort taken into making this OVA look and feel beautiful very noticeable and rewarding, particularly during the more intense moments of the battle. It must be difficult to balance such a vibrant colour palette with gritty tank warfare but somehow it all works.
As usual, tank otakus will probably relish the more intricate details to be found over the course of the OVA. There's also a fairly good balance of screen time for the main girls, so your favourite character will almost certainly get the time and attention that only you know she needs.
In short: This OVA is a treat. Side-effects may include a heightened enthusiasm for Italian cuisine, but it all goes away after you eat a good pizza. Panzer Vor!
I rated the original GuP a 9, and that's actually because the original production hit a snag after episode 10, which the cast joke about during a live show:
"Well, you know, we were going for the split 1-cour release. It could be a thing."
"So what were you girls doing during those weeks where you weren't broadcasting?"
I suspect that the production staff actually wanted to do the second round match, but because time/budget was tighter than expected, they basically cut the entire thing out except for the final white flag. It worked as a punch line, but if you enjoyed the series and wanted to see
the completed second round match, here it is with the lead-up and aftermath.
The "old friends" subplot involving Caesar is cute, but a bit meh for my tastes. It's good to see the show putting a little spotlight on someone other than Team Anglerfish for once, but I guess Caesar was selected this time around because Rome/Italy.
As for the Italian-themed team, like the other teams, the jokes are stereotypical: the general ineptness in combat is a callback to the failed invasion of Greece (the Germans then had to clean up their mess), the "we had to save up to buy a P40" is a shout out to Italy's economy (such as it is), etc. The biggest thing that revealed the staff's ignorance of Italian culture is Pepperoni's pasta recipe (Italians, unlike the Japanese, don't mix eggs and tomatoes as a general rule), but that's nothing worth writing home about. Fortunately for those who get wound up over their home nations getting stereotyped like this, they do it to Japan in the movie. Heh heh.
As always, the scenario is ridiculous: why in the world would you put tankettes like the CV-33 into the match? The answer, of course, is so we can see them flip over and over when hit, and we want to see Team Duck and Team Rabbit score some kills for once-- the Type 89's gun is so bad that the CV-33 is probably the only thing it could reliably penetrate, and while the M3 Frankentank wasn't as good as the Sherman, it still held its own historically.
Without spoiling the story, I love how the show explains why Anzio wasn't spectating the final match. Delightfully in-character and unabashedly pulling on Italians' chains.
The main additions to the already excellent soundtrack are Le Fiamme Nere, Funiculi Funicula, and a new BGM for Yukari's covert ops scene featuring "drunken clarinets" as I like to call them.
In conclusion, hilarious episode, but this one's mainly for fans of the show.
Did you ever think you would see a show where adorable high school girls casually rode tanks through a small town, demolishing buildings like they’re flimsy cardboard replicas? Neither did I. Welcome to Girls und Panzer, taking place on a military base… on a battleship… that looks like a town, where girls are funded by the government to join the prestigious tank club and volley against each other in nationalistic teams to beat each other in a survival game of sorts.
• There are townspeople in this series that actually hope that their store or home will get demolished during a tank skirmish, so that the
government will pay to renovate their old building. There are other ships with similar situations, that look like floating islands, representing different nations. This series is the epitome of every military otakus’ fantasy.
• I am personally not a military otaku myself, but I found this show to be one of the funnest anime series that I’ve ever watched. It’s ridiculous and does ridiculous things knowing that it can get away with it because it’s fiction, and because no one’s going to take a series seriously that has teenage girls battling in tanks.
• There is depth in the characters. The main girl, Miho, comes from an abusive, high maintenance military family that disowned her because she couldn’t battle in tanks due to psychological trauma. She developed PTSD from her comrades nearly drowning in their tank during a skirmish with dangerous weather conditions. Her older sister is hailed as the best tank commander, and so comparatively, Miho has to deal with real world problems and living in her sister’s shadow.
• She’s decides to get in a tank again with her friends’ coercion, but there’s a lot of internal struggleーwith the memories of her past failure residing in her psyche. The other characters are really likable: there’s a girl who comes from a high-class family that believes in traditional Japanese women should partake in flower arranging, instead of firing paint shots from a tank. After all of the ridicule and fear of opening up to them, she stands up to her family’s rigid traditions and is able to make beautiful flower arrangements WHILE ALSO putting her all into her tank hobby.
• There’s a girl who’s desperately trying to find a boyfriend, but ends up joining a tank club of all things. A military otaku who lives and breathes tanks and artillery guns. And, lastly, a cat-like girl who sleeps all of the time. Because, every moe show needs one of these.
• There’s also a very diverse and interesting line of characters from the other ships that are entertaining to watch. I found the Russian team particularly interesting. Overall, if you have free time and a craving for something that is campy and amazing, then pick up or stream Girls und Panzer.
• I was amazed with how much I liked it, as a girl who has no interest in those sorts of things. It even made me consider collecting model tanks. This series is empowering, brave, and bold! I give the TV series for Girls und Panzer a 8/10, the OVA a 6/10, and the first film a 6/10.