Shimada Kanon aims to be the strongest tank crew in the Kantou region. With her best friends Mariko Mutsumi, and their World War II-era, Panther F, they form the Nora Middle School Tank Crew. Unfortunately, as they have no sponsor to fund their effort, their dream is still just that. However, a chance to make a name for themselves arrives when delinquents come knocking on their school's door riding T-55s...
This is a manga about cute girls... doing cute tank things? How about turning back time and fighting zombies? There is that specific type of wacky humour that Takeshi Nogami, the author, is known for and this manga is pretty much his MAGNUM OPUS. It just never stops to surprise you. Almost every new page throws something different at you and the same kind of pace is kept through the chapters themselves - action just keeps escalating with more and more WW2 vehicles and other adversaries coming out. Although the characters actually have a long-term goal and they work towards it (becoming the strongest tank riders in their area), it's CUHRAYZEE to the point of being pretty random and that might be a turn off, basically for some people it would just feel too retarded.
The panels are made with lots of love, there are tons of references to other manga (some of them are subtle background parts and some are pretty in-your-face). Derpy hand-drawn tank have certain charm that you just can't replicate with tracing. You can just feel that the dude had a blast drawing it. The characters look good when the author bothers do draw them properly... Which mostly only happens on colored pages and the few select ones. Oh, well. Basically, the art is pretty amateurish.
The manga does a good job fetishizing the weapons (they even pull out the "Vampir" IR sustem for their Panther F) and explains them to readers. But there are factual mistakes in so many places, and you may think "whatever, don't be a nerd" and that's true, but it becomes a real problem when the characters plan their actions according to their poor WW2 trivia knowledge. For example they assume that their Panther has less front armour and weaker gun than the Tiger (which is wrong) and fight accordingly. Basically, the research is sloppy. Nevertheless, the author even bothered to crawl into old WW2 trenches with some historians to tell the readers about them. I guess not all of the effort was spread equally.
We follow the adventures of the Panther's team and some of their friends. At least for the main trio it seems that they pass the test (I can describe their personalities without going into what kind of tank job they have). You'd think that's not a bid deal, but it's more than I expected from this kind of wacky manga (or just manga about girls doing activities). They also pretty obviously have their own little storylines (Kanon's mysterious tank driver crush, Mutsumi' family problems and Mariko would probably be either her feelings for Kanon or desire to take over the school). Tama-chan, who joins later, is there to be cute (and narrate). I don't want to spoil the others, but the student council president looks like Integra Hellsing (you can even see her with not-Seras and not-Walter) and shoots double Mausers. Because why not. And then they all get drunk and sing Panzerlied.
Basically this manga never fails to entertain and it also has a bit more of substance than you would expect from random panchira everywhere and almost full-frontals. Check it out. read more