By Oscar Tong / December 7th, 2012
WARNING: The following post discusses spoilers from Girls und Panzer, Episode 7: “Up Next Is Anzio!” If you do not wish to be spoiled, please stop reading now. You have been warned.
Girls und Panzer episode 7 may be entitled “Up Next Is Anzio!,” but it’s not really about Anzio High. I was disappointed the entire match happened off-screen, save for the outcome. I was hoping for at least one episode on the match and a chance to get to know another school’s tankery team. Instead, it seems the producers want to fast-track the girls to whatever ending they have planned.
Episode 7 is really a breather between matches featuring ample character development, including much more about Miho’s past. No wonder Miho’s tankery knowledge and skill are so great—her mother was grooming her to be an heir of the Nishizumi School of Tankery, together with Maho. Too bad she’s a hardliner like Maho. She must have pushed poor Miho very, very hard. I think I can see why she wanted a normal high-school life so badly. Miho is the nice girl of the family—ironically, this makes her its black sheep. (Incidentally, where’s Miho’s father?)
Miho’s mother says the Nishizumi tradition is “to value, above all else, strength and victory.” To me, this implies there’s no room for “weaknesses” like compassion and concern for others. I get the feeling the teammates Miho rescued, rather than being grateful, grew indignant at her for abandoning the flag tank to save them. I bet all her other teammates, Maho, and Miho’s mother hated her for it, too. I agree with Yukari that Miho did the right thing, even if it did cost Kuromorimine its tenth consecutive tournament victory (which Yukari alluded to in episode 5).
I was a little surprised her mother’s strength-and-victory philosophy has continued to haunt her, pushing her to win every match she’s participated in as an Oarai student. Despite this, she’s managed to stay balanced, not allowing her instilled drive to win to overtake her. But I think she now feels conflicted between her mother’s teachings and her own way. I hope she’ll resolve this inner conflict before it causes a lapse in judgment in a future match.
Mako has family problems, too, in the form of her grandmother. What an unpleasant way to start an episode. Mako must be a top student (tardiness notwithstanding) because she has to be that good to placate her impossible-to-please grandmother. Yet, despite her genius, she can’t see her efforts are a Sisyphean waste on someone like her. How can she still care about her despite her intense verbal abuse? How can Miho, Hana, Yukari, and especially Saori, who was in the hospital room from the beginning, just smile and tolerate it, even when it’s being directed at them?
I wonder if taking care of her grandmother is Mako’s way of atoning for her unresolved quarrel with her dead mother. I think she should just leave her grandmother to rot, since she’s so violently insistent on not being mollycoddled. She can clearly take care of herself. Mako doesn’t deserve to be screamed at for every good thing she does; conversely, Mako’s grandmother does not deserve her love. When her scene is finally over, the show briefly cuts to a much nicer grandmother background character and her happy granddaughter, as if to show what a failure Mako’s grandmother is at being a good grandparent.
Mako’s grandmother condemns Mako for being “antisocial.” She’s a hypocrite. The way she screams abusively at everybody—that’s antisocial. It makes me wonder if she’s using Mako as a scapegoat for her own personality flaws. The only good thing I can say about this sordid encounter is that Maho’s comrade, to my surprise, actually delivered Mako and Saori unharmed.
Between Hana’s mother, Miho’s mother, and Mako’s grandmother, that’s three out of the five main girls who have terrible parents. It’s a real shame Mako’s parents are dead. So far, only Yukari has nice parents. They even went to see her at the Sanders match in episode 5. I wonder what Saori’s parents are like.
On the lighter side, it’s amusing to see how awfully fond Mako is of Sodoko—well, Midoriko Sono—even though she clearly dislikes her. However, the show still won’t tell us why Mako likes her so much or why she insists on calling her by the wrong name. I wonder if it’s a case of mistaken identity. In the opening, there’s a brief shot of Midoriko with two lookalikes—triplets, maybe? It’s too bad the other two have yet to appear in an episode.
It’s nice to see Saori, Hana, Yukari, and Mako spend time with the other girls. By developing more friendships among each other, I think their morale and coordination will improve. It’s also good to see them apply their specialties to helping the others, relieving Miho of some of her leadership burdens.
Yukari’s new soul name, Guderian, is most likely a reference to Heinz Guderian, a general of Nazi Germany. Prior to World War II, Guderian wrote many papers on theories of armored warfare, culminating in his influential book Achtung-Panzer! His theories shaped the development of Nazi Germany’s panzer forces. It’s a really fitting soul name for Yukari. I wonder if she’ll start dressing like him…
I didn’t expect Hana to be so good at sifting through all those old school records. I wonder if this skill will come in handy later. Maybe she and Yuzu will dig up some carefully hidden record that will finally explain why Oarai Girls’ Academy shut down its tankery program over twenty years ago (which, if the show takes place in 2012, should place the shutdown year between 1983 and 1991).
(There’s an animation goof in Hana and Yuzu’s scenes. In the first scene, there’s a flower in a vase above their desk. In the second scene, it’s gone. Whoops!)
Speaking of the school, Saori and the first-years finally ponder the question I’ve been asking since episode 1: why do students go to school on school ships, anyway? (I think “school ship” is a misnomer, as it is also a fully functional town and habitat.) Saori says school ships were supposedly created “to produce highly trained individuals capable of excelling in any field” and “to give students the ability to achieve academic and personal success.” However, this sounds like awfully generic political language that could be applied to any highly effective school, whether land-based or ship-based. It does not take being out at sea to develop better students, especially when the school ship environment is no different from that of a land-based town.
Furthermore, it must cost a fortune to build, staff, operate, and maintain a vessel as massive as a school ship, especially for a small town like Oarai. Why make a small town spend the obscene amounts of money it must require to commission and maintain one (two if there’s a separate one for boys)? The more I think about it, the fishier the school ship arrangement seems. Kids, teenagers, and anyone else who works or lives there are basically being isolated from the land on floating arcologies (to use the word loosely), but to what end? This can’t be just a mere “overreaction to the government’s lack of action on educational policy.”
But which party overreacted to the government’s lack of action, the government itself or the citizens? If it’s the latter, that could imply every school ship is privately run, commissioned to accomplish what the government could not. Moreover, back in episode 3, one of Saori’s remarks implied school ships have completely replaced land-based schools. If both are true, that would mean there are no public schools anymore, at least in Japan. That would mean far fewer responsibilities for Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), mentioned by Kawashima back in episode 1. Why overhaul your educational policy when you can shift all the responsibility onto a third party? It would be kind of sad if the switch to school ships were merely a governmental cost-cutting measure.
By the end of the episode, the girls have recovered two more tanks, plus the long cannon of a dismantled, undiscovered tank. I’m glad one of them was stored properly.
It’s too bad after the episode makes a big deal about the girls needing better tanks to beat Anzio, they don’t seem to use them at all. On one hand, I found this rather anticlimactic. After all the trouble they went through, the new tanks should have been in the victory scene. It would have been much more satisfying for the viewer. On the other hand, if they didn’t need the new tanks to defeat Anzio, it either means their skill has improved to the point where they only needed their original tanks to win or Anzio isn’t as tough as their reputation would suggest.
Yuzu suggests forming new teams for the newly recovered tanks. But isn’t it too late to recruit and train more schoolmates? The other students are already committed to their own mandatory electives. It would be impossible to train new members quickly enough to raise their skill to the same level as everybody else. Even if they could, new members would lack the field experience the others now have. I think either Yuzu hasn’t thought this through, or she’s suggesting they form a new team by reassigning existing team members. I don’t want to see the existing teams broken up, though…
If the council really is looking for new recruits, there are some characters in the opening who, except for one, have yet to make an appearance: three unnamed students, the maintenance crew, who I’m assuming are the vehicle club Kawashima mentioned in episode 2, and Midoriko and her doppelgängers. Putting Mako and the three “Sodokos” in the same team would be interesting, to say the least…
With Anzio defeated so quickly, it looks like Pravda is up next.
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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