Girls und Panzer Ep. 5.5: Introductions!

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

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WARNING: The following post discusses spoilers from Girls und Panzer, Episode 5.5: “Introductions!” If you do not wish to be spoiled, please stop reading now. You have been warned.

Girls und Panzer Yukari, Mako, Miho, Saori, and Hana

Girls und Panzer episode 5.5, “Introductions!,” turns out to be a clip show. It’s not a total waste, however, as it reveals the names of all the Oarai girls and some trivia about them. It also gives an overview of their tanks’ capabilities. To my surprise, Miho knows a lot about her classmates, even though she’s never interacted much with them off the tankery field. It reminds me of how she had learned all their names back in episode 1. She’s very observant. Or maybe she just got to know them offscreen. Either way, it’s good she knows each classmate to some extent. I think it’ll help her command them.

Since Miho is spending an entire episode talking about her friends and classmates, I’ll take the same opportunity to mention some character observations I couldn’t squeeze in before in addition to observations from episode 5.5 itself.

Miho’s Friends

I didn’t notice in episode 5, but Miho and her friends have named themselves Ankou Team, after the dreaded ankou (Japanese, as it turns out, for “goosefish,” a type of anglerfish). It’s strange that they’d name themselves after the animal whose namesake dance greatly embarrassed them in episode 4. Maybe it’s their way of overcoming the embarrassment? Or maybe they’ve adopted it as a reminder to become ever stronger.

Girls und Panzer Miho Ankou Dance

From dance of shame…

Girls und Panzer Ankou Tank

…to badge of honor.

Saori

Normally, Saori is “fun and cheerful,” as Miho describes her. However, on two brief occasions, she has exhibited a darker, meaner side. In episode 2, while visiting Miho’s home with Hana and Yukari, upon seeing how much the others were struggling with cooking, Saori took over—but not before muttering under her breath how “useless” she felt the others were. And in episode 5, while visiting Yukari’s home with the others, she grumbled out loud that she thought Yukari’s childhood punch perm was the real reason Yukari had no friends in the past. Her voice turned into a hoarse whisper as she said this, an unpleasant contrast to her normally sweet tones. It didn’t help that Mako then quickly changed the subject before Yukari could fully comprehend the insult.

It unsettles me to hear her talk like that. It seems to me she looks down on any girl who can’t cook or whom she considers ugly. Is this just a character flaw, or does her usual disposition conceal a less pleasant personality?

Girls und Panzer Saori, Hana, and Miho

Saori as she normally presents herself

Girls und Panzer Saori

Saori’s hidden mean side

Hana

Hana calls her mother okaasama. I’m no expert on Japanese customs, but calling your parents “-sama” sounds pretty extreme to me. I doubt she calls her that by choice; it has to have been drilled into her from birth. Either Hana’s mother thinks very highly of herself, or she takes the idea of a family hierarchy very seriously. I’m guessing it’s more the latter.

That Hana’s mother is on a higher hierarchical plane than most parents would put themselves may further explain why she takes Hana’s insistence on practicing tankery so hard. Hana isn’t just doing something her mother detests—she’s openly defying the family hierarchy. To her mother, Hana’s desire for “more vigor” taints the traditional Isuzu style of flower arranging, tarnishing the Isuzu name and depriving her of her only heir to the style. I think it’s all a bunch of crap and doesn’t excuse her one bit, but it may at least explain why she acts the way she does.

Girls und Panzer Hana's Mother and Hana

Mako

Mako’s personality is typically very subdued. Every now and then, though, I see flashes of something more (aside from any freak-out reactions), like her unladylike pose at the Oarai docks in episode 4 or her quiet, cutting retort to Maho’s smug comrade in episode 5.

Girls und Panzer Mako Girls und Panzer Mako

Miho says Mako “cares a lot about her grandmother and her friends” and has “a warm heart.” Personally, I don’t see how she “cares a lot” about her grandmother. All I’ve seen so far are fear and maybe resentment.

Girls und Panzer Mako Freaking Out

Mako fears her grandmother’s wrath.

Girls und Panzer Mako, Hana, Yukari, Miho, and Saori

“I need to see my grandmother [obaa], or she’ll kill me.”

As for caring about her friends and having a warm heart, she doesn’t show it overtly, so maybe it’s something I can’t perceive, but Miho can. I suppose her loyalty to Miho for helping her in episode 2, her not wanting to fall a grade behind her friends, and the way she waited for her friends before boarding the Oarai town-carrier in episode 4 despite making herself late by doing so could have been hints.

Yukari

The punch perm hairstyle Yukari wore as a kid was a Japanese men’s hairstyle popular in the 1970s and 1980s. It consisted of tightly packed curls that somewhat resemble a Chia Pet. Its popularity faded when the yakuza adopted it en masse, inextricably associating it with them.

Why Yukari’s dad styles his hair that way is beyond me. Maybe he’s just old-fashioned. Or maybe he’s a closet yakuza admirer, but I strongly doubt that. Considering the punch perm’s yakuza connection, maybe Saori’s assertion that Yukari’s old punch perm prevented her from making friends isn’t entirely preposterous. Maybe. I think she just doesn’t like how it looks.

Real-life punch perm Girls und Panzer Yukari’s Dad Chia Prez
Girls und Panzer Young Yukari

Student Council

Miho says all three councilors yelled at her a lot, but that’s simply not true. Kawashima was the only one who ever yelled. Anzu prefers veiled threats, and Yuzu tries to make peace with everybody. I don’t know why Miho would say they all yelled at her. Maybe she tends to think of them as a collective instead of individuals. Or maybe the writers goofed.

Girls und Panzer Kawashima Screaming
Girls und Panzer Anzu Girls und Panzer Yuzu Attempting Diplomacy

History Enthiusiasts

Miho says the history enthusiasts go by their “soul names” instead of their real names. Interestingly, all their soul names appear to be those of historical figures. Either they’re just glorified nicknames, or the girls believe they’re the reincarnations of those figures.

Caesar

One of Caesar’s favorite tanks is “Da Vinci’s circular tank.” Leonardo da Vinci designed (but never built) a hand-cranked armored combat vehicle with a conical shell and cannons in every direction. The angular armored shell would have deflected projectiles more effectively than a box shell—a technique also used by modern tanks.

It seems Caesar’s love of the Roman Empire also extends to Italy. Both Da Vinci and Caesar’s other favorite tank, the Ariete, are Italian.

Erwin

Erwin is probably named after Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who commanded Nazi Germany’s 7th Panzer Division. Other Nazi soldiers considered him difficult to work for or with. His enemies respected him as an adversary. He was known for disobeying orders to execute prisoners of war, Jews, and civilians.

Girls und Panzer Erwin Erwin Rommel

Saemonza

Regrettably, I’m not resourceful enough to figure out exactly whom or what the name Saemonza refers to. The kanji for Saemonza, 「左衛門佐」, is also a Warring States period (a.k.a. the Sengoku period) rank or title with the reading “Saemon no Suke” or simply “Saemon-suke.” It may date as far back as A.D. 811. The Japanese Wikipedia may have more information.

Oryou

Oryou might be a reference to Ryou Narasaki, wife of Ryoma Sakamoto, a key figure in the ending of the Edo period and the beginning of the Meiji Restoration. Our Oryou’s black robe resembles Sakamoto’s.

Girls und Panzer Oryou Ryoma Sakamoto

St. Gloriana

Miho says St. Gloriana has won the national semifinals before. She doesn’t say exactly when, but I can’t help but think it was the previous year, when Kuromorimine lost the semifinals—which, if true, would mean St. Gloriana beat Kuromorimine.

Miho

Curiously, there’s no trivia for Miho like there is with the other Oarai girls—no favorite flower, no miscellaneous trivia, no favorite tank. Maybe she’s just modest and doesn’t like to talk about herself. Maybe she doesn’t say much because she’s already the focus of the show. Or maybe talking about herself would mean talking about her past, and she doesn’t want to talk anymore about it beyond the vague details she’s already disclosed. I can’t even imagine what it’s like growing up with only hardcore tankery practitioners for company. It would definitely be more pleasant for her to think about her new friends and classmates.

The clip show ends with a preview still of episode 6. It depicts a Kuromorimine aircraft with what appears to be Mako in the passenger area. What’s she doing aboard a Kuromorimine aircraft? Has she been captured? Was she forced to work with them? Are any of the others aboard?

Girls und Panzer Kuromorimine Helicopter

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.

About Oscar Tong

Oscar joined oprainfall late September 2012 in response to a recruitment drive. He quickly discovered his job was much harder than he had anticipated. Despite the constant challenge, he has come to enjoy his responsibilities.

When he is not scrambling to meet a deadline, Oscar enjoys story-driven games with a strong narrative. He is especially fond of computer adventure games, role-playing games, and visual novels. He hopes the world will one day awaken to the power of video games as a storytelling medium.