Something that I have discovered whilst watching Girls Und Panzer is that trying to convince people that it is genuinely a fantastic show is nigh on impossible. I don't blame them, if someone had told me before I watched it that I'd be rating it an 8 and calling it a highlight of the year then I would have greeted them with a doubting look, wondering whether they were joking or whether they just had bad taste.
It's obvious why there's so much doubt, it's the premise. Cute girls driving tanks immediately brings up memories of shows of "cute girls doing cute things" or of "Cute girls doing [insert unusual activity here]", both have which rarely produce anything other than mediocrity at best. With this overwhelming abundance of poor shows, the ability to believe that Girls Und Panzer could be anything other is incredibly difficult.
Believe me though, Girls und Panzer is really the diamond in the rough.
The natural question here is what sets it apart from the rest? To put it simply, it is its comedy, its earnestness, its action, but above all its execution.
Girls und Panzer is a show with a ridiculous premise and setting, the show acknowledges this and embraces it to deliver great comedy. No matter how ridiculous the happenings or plot points, like friendly tank battles being held in town centres, or a man thinking it's good luck that a tank crushed his shop, it plays it straight and just lets you enjoy it, without it pointing the joke out to make sure you got it. It mocks clichés by putting them into stupid contexts and then blowing them completely out of proportion. There will always be something there to make you laugh, the humour of the show is very consistent, and though it's not the biggest draw of the show, it's what helps to make the show so enjoyable.
The characters are incredibly likable and work perfectly within the context of the show. There are a large number of characters, but every single one, whether it be someone on the Panzer squad or someone on the opposing team, will bring a smile to your face at some point. These aren't deep characters, but they don't need to be, they often have stupid and ridiculous traits, but that's the point, whether it be the girl who also sits on her lieutenants shoulders to put her above everyone because she's got a complex about being childlike, or the vice president who's usually calm and collected who goes crazy when she's battling in the tanks, they bring enjoyment by being so stupid.
The really surprising aspect about Girls und Panzer is how realistic yet still ridiculous the tank battles are. The people who choreographed the battles obviously knew the tanks involved inside out, providing startlingly realistic battles, all whilst the tanks are running around coloured bright pink or with Edo period flags. The battles are amazing in how much the intelligence of the realism and tactics conflicts with the bizarre and absurd nature of events. You will be entertained, and there is sometime genuine tension in the battles, especially the later ones. The animation of the battles improves greatly as the series progresses, in earlier episodes the CGI looks awkward, but by the end it's much better and used very well with solid animation, providing fast exciting action. The camera angles are done very well, particularly in the last showdown where I can only say they were perfectly done.
The animation as a whole started off fairly average, but as the episode count increases it's obvious that the budget increased significantly, by the end the animation was excellent, it's visually appealing and there are no mistakes or off model characters. The soundtrack was strong on the whole, with some great military marches and themes that really added to the scenes and battles. The voice acting was strong, making sure to keep everything straight (and often hilariously over the top) so that the humour was conveyed correctly. The opening "Dream Riser" is an uplifting track which suits the series well, and the ending "ENTER ENTER Mission" is generic but rather catchy.
Overall, I'm not saying that Girls und Panzer is the best show out there, but it executes what it's trying to do flawlessly. The show plays everything so honestly and with such earnest that you cannot be cynical about it, but wish to enjoy the show like it wants you too. This show is really the height of entertainment, and during the weeks that I watched it, despite myself I grew to love the show more and more.
You may still be doubtful that Girls und Panzer is the brilliant show I'm painting it to be, but I whole heartedly recommend you go and give it a try, as it really is pure and enjoyable entertainment at its best.