By Oscar Tong / November 8th, 2012
WARNING: The following post discusses spoilers from Girls und Panzer, Episode 4: “Captain Does Her Best!” If you do not wish to be spoiled, please stop reading now. You have been warned.
In Girls und Panzer episode 4, “Captain Does Her Best!,” the Oarai and St. Gloriana tankery teams begin their Total Annihilation practice match. With a name like that, I wonder how morbid the names of the other match types are. Not surprisingly, with the Oarai girls’ almost nonexistent training, things don’t go well, especially with Kawashima’s extreme aggression and trigger-happiness.
I am very disappointed in Kawashima. I thought she had more discipline than that. I think I’m starting to understand why she puts on a veneer of authority. This is just conjecture, but I think she feels weak-willed inside, so she yells, screams, asserts authority, and, in this case, blasts everything in sight to hide her weakness (or at least her feeling of weakness). Unless she can learn to discipline herself on the battlefield, I think she’ll continue to be a liability for Miho and the others.
Miho, with her tankery experience and natural leadership skills, is the girls’ saving grace. She’s also a creative tactician, which she demonstrates when she sends the remaining tanks into town to take advantage of the girls’ knowledge of the terrain. Maybe she realized this was the one weapon the girls could use despite their limited training—quite brilliant, I think, reflecting creative use of limited resources (skills, in this case) and an unwillingness to give up or write her classmates off as useless.
Somehow, I didn’t notice the land-based town the girls had disembarked at last episode was also called Oarai. (There’s a real-life Oarai, too, believe it or not.) I’m guessing the Oarai town-carrier is considered an extension of Oarai proper. I most certainly didn’t expect the local authorities to allow tankery matches to extend into town or for the townsfolk to be highly enthusiastic about it.
I’m really proud of Miho. Throughout the practice match, she stayed cool and assertive as a leader, demonstrated sound judgment and creative tactical thinking (at least as far as I, a civilian, can tell), and remained resolute to the end. She’s every bit as unflappable as St. Gloriana’s tankery leader—perhaps even more so, as the latter flinched briefly, dropping her teacup.
Also, have you noticed Miho kind of looks like Maho when she’s issuing orders? Creepy…
The St. Gloriana tankery leader is quite formidable herself in that quiet, sophisticated English way. I felt she was rather snobbish at times, but I could be misreading her. She does send Miho that lovely tea set, after all, with a letter addressed “To Friend” quietly praising her over Maho. At the very least, she has come to respect Miho as a rival.
I wonder what she means when she says Miho differs from Maho. Miho is obviously less ruthless than Maho, judging from the latter’s icy disposition, but I wonder what other differences there are. Personally, I’m hoping she means “different” as in “better” than Maho as a tankery leader, at least potentially. On the other hand, she could also mean “different” as in “not ruthless enough.”
The president surprised me in this episode. I didn’t expect her to willingly dance the ankou dance with Miho, nor did I expect her to so freely admit she and all the other girls shared the blame for losing. Of course, it could just be part of a plan to get on Miho’s good side. I’m hoping that’s not the case—it would be nice for her to have some genuinely likable traits.
Mako’s home situation isn’t exactly happy. Her grandmother seems very, very strict, which would explain, at least partially, why Mako is so afraid of her. Mako refers to her as obaa instead of the typical obaasan (Japanese for “grandmother”). I’m hardly an expert on Japanese customs, but I think the absence of “-san” means Mako dislikes or outright resents her.
Mako’s grandmother can’t be as bad as Hana’s mother, though. As far as I’m concerned, her graceful Japanese clothing and mannerisms are nothing more than a mask for her true vileness. I can sympathize with her strong dislike of tanks, but I can’t understand why she would react so adversely to Hana’s desire to be more vigorous or how she could conclude illogically that tankery has made Hana dishonest and unkind.
Maybe it stems from a traditional view of femininity. I don’t see what that has to do with honesty and kindness, though. I’m also not sure whether Hana wants to arrange flowers with more vigor literally or metaphorically.
If Hana’s mother hates tanks so much, why did she send Hana to a town-carrier for school?! Surely her level of society operates prestigious land-based schools. Why didn’t she send Hana there?
During her tirade against tanks, I think I saw sorrow mixed with her disgust. I never saw Mr. Isuzu throughout the episode. Maybe she lost him in a tank-related incident? Imagine if that hypothetical incident were related to Miho’s unpleasant past…
Yukari almost snapped over Hana’s mother’s tirade. I think this could get the girls in trouble later.
At least Shinzaburou, the Isuzu household’s apprentice servant, seems to care about Hana. I think he might care to the point of romantic interest, judging from his loud sobbing while taking the girls back to the town-carrier. Or maybe he’s just a deeply devoted servant. Hana blushed through the whole ride, which only makes me wonder even more.
Back at the town-carrier, Mako addresses Sodoko by her first name, and, as usual, Sodoko gets mad. If you freeze-frame the video just before she gets mad, you’ll see her blush a bit with a kind of embarrassed expression. My guess is as a kind of authority figure, she thinks being called by her first name instead of her last makes her seem less able to be taken seriously. I didn’t expect her to blush or look embarrassed at all, actually—she seems like a really stern person.
Oarai’s next opponent is Sanders College High School (spelled “Saunders” on its insignia). I don’t see how our girls can beat an opponent with an entire fleet of tanks. Scary. Even Kawashima grits her teeth at this and seethes, “Whatever happens, we can’t lose. If we lose, we…”
I suppose she’s referring to what the vice president mentioned back in episode 1, that the school’s welfare depended on success in tankery. I didn’t think she’d care; I thought only the vice president cared. There’s something about the intensity of Kawashima’s reaction that really unsettles me… Is there more at stake than just the school?
If you can read Japanese, you can see the names of several other high schools on the 63rd National High School Tankery Games tournament board.
Oarai is in slot 8, and St. Gloriana is in slot 10, so it looks like they’ll face each other again in the finals. I don’t see “Nishizumi” (西住) on the board, so it looks like the Nishizumi School hasn’t drawn a number yet. Nishizumi could end up in slot 4, but that would mean Miho would fight Maho before St. Gloriana, which, I feel, would be anticlimactic. If they end up in slot 12 or 15…well, I don’t see how even St. Gloriana could prevail against a team as hardcore as they are. Maybe Oarai and St. Gloriana won’t be having that rematch, after all…
Meanwhile, Maho and her blonde comrade from the opening watch from the shadows…
Girls und Panzer is currently streaming on Crunchyroll. New episodes air every Wednesday at 8 PM Pacific Standard Time for premium users. Free users will gain access the week after.
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