OVA/spinoff review: Girls und Panzer

How many new post features can I cram onto the site? As many as it will take. Several of the anime series I’ve watched so far have come along with supplemental OVAs, or original video animations (meaning as far as I can tell “straight to DVD/Blu-ray” only without the negative implication that term carries.) While an OVA can be a standalone work, the type I’m concerned with here are spinoffs from or additions to existing series. OVAs provide a nice opportunity to tell a side story or to just throw in a fanservice episode as a bonus for fans who support the show and buy the Blu-ray, the main downside being that they often aren’t available to watch on stream either since they are seen as being on the side, just as bonus material, or for licensing reasons.

Up until now, considering both the above and my own carelessness, I generally haven’t taken these side series on. That ends today, starting with a series of six short OVA episodes and one longer special attached to the main series of the tank girl sports anime Girls und Panzer. Let’s see if I’m insightful enough to find anything meaningful to say about this stuff.

Starting with the six short episodes in the (now incomplete) OVA collection, all sorted together into a separate side series running to just about 75 minutes. And what a mix it is, starting with the beach fanservice action you might have been surprised we didn’t get in the TV anime, but here it is. By the second episode, the girls unexpectedly move from the beach to some camping in the woods — still mostly in bikinis strangely enough. Must have been hot out.

I’m pretty sure there’s some kind of “Bikini Girls Driving Tanks” magazine out there

However, it’s not all beach-style fanservice. If it were, I’m not sure I’d bother writing about this OVA series — how much can I say about it? Thankfully, some of this series also serves to fill in gaps left in the main series, like the third episode’s explanation and tour of Oarai Academy’s stupidly massive aircraft carrier (not that the extra detail provided makes it seem any more realistic, but we got well past the point of realism with the girls’ “safe” tank combat anyway.) After episode four, a four-minute compilation (music video?) of each Oarai team doing that weird punishment Anglerfish Dance, we get an episode that follows Yukari and Erwin on the reconnaissance mission Miho sent them on while Pravda had them surrounded and holed up during their semifinal match. Not a gap that I thought needed filling, but it was nice to see more of the espionage expert Yukari’s skills at work.

How do you know Oarai is the strongest team? They wear short skirts even when it’s snowing.

Finally, episode six brings us to the Oarai girls’ celebratory dinner following their victory in the final, where they hold a feast but are also commanded by the always energetic student council to put on a show of their “hidden talents” by tank crew. It’s all good fun and a nice cap to the end of the TV anime.

But have all the gaps been filled? No, there’s a major gap left, one I complained about in my review of the original series. And while I don’t understand why or how it’s not part of the “Complete OVA series” as the above six episodes are billed, I’m happy that I have the separate ~40 minute OVA This Is the Real Anzio Battle! on a separate god damn Blu-ray I bought because unlike those, this one isn’t available on streaming services.*

And of course, in the grand Girls und Panzer tradition, Anzio is just as typically extremely Italian as you’d expect seeing the other nationally aligned schools in the main series, with plenty of passion for their tank sport but much more for food. The Anzio OVA is evenly split between the run-up to the match and the match itself, and that first part opens with more espionage: a team viewing of Yukari’s taped undercover incursion into the Italian school, where both we and Miho and co. learn about Anzio’s equipment, their new secret weapon, and the fact that they hold outdoor festivals with Italian food stalls every day. They may consistently lose in their Sensha-do tournaments, but still, I know what school I’d choose to attend. (I guess for patriotic reasons I should say Saunders, but I have to be honest.)

A typical day at Anzio, setting up for lunch in front of the Colosseum

After more setup, with some special help from the one Italian-fluent Oarai girl in translating clandestinely received Anzio tank blueprints, we’re off to the match that we’ve until now only seen the end of. This second half is essentially another Sensha-do match episode like at least half of the original series is, and all up to the same quality, complete with the action, tactics, and trickery you’d expect. And our Italian-influenced friends have plenty of tricks Miho has to reckon with, centered on a set of decoy cardboard cutout tanks and a large fleet of actual miniature tanks that swarm around their targets and can’t easily be flipped over.

The tactic ultimately fails, but it does give Oarai trouble, requiring Miho to use her creative thinking to overcome.

All these tricks make for a highly entertaining match. Of course, the outcome of the match isn’t in doubt. We already know that Oarai will win, but the fun is in seeing how they get there. And as a nice touch, we get to see exactly how the flagship and its accompanying mini-tanks get flipped into the smoking pile we see in the main series’ victory screen.

But despite their loss, Anzio is gracious. There’s nothing they love better than a feast, and that’s just what they bring with them to share with their opponents when the match is done. And take it from someone with a Mediterranean background, even if not an Italian one: this part still looked familiar to me. That’s one thing we all share in common around that coast (and I guess all humanity in general likes feasts, sure, but there’s a special kind of enjoyable chaos you get in that part of the world in these get-togethers. Though it’s also near impossible to get anything done on time over there, either; that’s the trade-off. Maybe this attitude towards life is common to the warmer parts of the world in general?)

Anzio puts their hearts into combat, but their true skill is in preparing and eating food. Maybe they should be in a cooking competition instead of a tank combat one.

So those are most of the Girls und Panzer OVAs. No, not even all of them: apparently there are a few more around, but I don’t know where to dig them up. I might write more of these posts soon, anyway, since I have still more OVAs to cover from other series.

Until then, remember: it’s good to win, but it’s better to have a good time playing the game. I guess that’s the lesson this time, and it’s one that lines up well with the rest of the series.


* As for the obvious question: the Blu-ray was cheap enough that I didn’t mind, even if there’s just one single 40-minute special on it that could easily be bundled with the main and/or OVA discs. If the cost had been at Aniplex-level pricing, though — let’s just say I don’t blame anyone for going the alternate route to get that last arc of Bakemonogatari over paying $150+.


2 thoughts on “OVA/spinoff review: Girls und Panzer

  1. There’s a total of ten OVAs at the time of writing. You’ve covered everything up to This is The Real Anzio Battle in your post, and there’s three more (one accompanying the movie, and two more so far for Das Finale). The latter three OVAs come with the BDs for Das Finale and Der Film. It means paying an arm and a leg for their BDs if one wishes to view them, but (at the shame of another shameless self-insert), I’ve watched and written about them (if you’re interested in seeing what they entail, feel free to swing by!). The complete list of OVAs, to the best of my knowledge, is

    Water War
    Survival War
    School Ship War
    Anglerfish War
    Snow War
    Banquet War
    This is The Real Anzio Battle
    Alice War
    Taiyaki War
    Daikon War

    All of the OVAs are enjoyable supplements to the main series, but here, I remark that despite being counted as an OVA, This is The Real Anzio Battle is required viewing. I think it was done because viewers in Japan demonstrated a keen interest in seeing it after the original run showed Anchovy’s team looking like they were roflstomped. Luckily for us, that battle was a show of how even a team with weaker tanks on paper could still make things work. With this being said, Girls und Panzer does have a problem that I’m hoping Das Finale addresses, and I plan on writing about it later this month to coincide with the series’ 10-year anniversary. I look forwards to hearing your thoughts on things then!

    • Thanks for clarifying that — I’ll be sure to check out your posts on those later OVAs too once I’ve gotten through them. It’s just as well I didn’t look up the last three, since they are connected to the film and finale series that I have yet to watch, all in good time. At least the Girls und Panzer BDs in general don’t seem very expensive (unlike some series… Aniplex again, man.)

      I also totally agree that Anzio was required viewing, because I really wanted to see how that match went especially based on the ending scene in the main series. The way that match ended was certainly masterful. Girls und Panzer so far is a great sports series for how well it keeps the tension and suspense up throughout each match — I hope fans of the genre who might be put off by the novelty of it or the “girls in tanks” concept can get into it too (though no problem for me of course.)

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