By Oscar Tong / December 14th, 2012
WARNING: The following post discusses spoilers from Girls und Panzer, Episode 8: “We’re Fighting Pravda!” If you do not wish to be spoiled, please stop reading now. You have been warned.
The semifinals begin in Girls und Panzer episode 8, “We’re Fighting Pravda!” Unfortunately, just when it seems the Oarai girls are becoming a solid team, they (aside from Miho’s friends) stupidly defy their captain and endanger the entire team. They seemed compliant before, so why would they act out now? I think their victories over Sanders and Anzio and being celebrated at school have made them terribly overconfident. I would go as far as calling it blind arrogance.
The girls have gotten as far as they have because they trusted Miho and followed her orders. When St. Gloriana was closing in and they had no idea what they were doing, when Sanders seemed to know their every move and set them into a panic, who got them out and gave them a fighting chance? Miho. But now, the girls think they know better. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement.
Having said that, Miho must also take some of the blame. She let them pressure her into fighting their way. As captain, she cannot bow to pressure from her subordinates. Although she isn’t the type to assert authority, she must. She doesn’t need to bark at them like Kawashima, but she needs to make it clear she is their leader, and they need to trust her completely to win.
The worst part is Miho had correctly anticipated Pravda’s strategy the night before. Had her teammates simply trusted her judgment instead of becoming drunk with confidence, they could have avoided ensnaring themselves.
Since Oarai Girls’ Academy faces closure if it doesn’t win the National High School Tankery Games, isn’t it rather irresponsible of the student council to splurge on dining tables, hot plates, microwave ovens, and refrigerators? Surely they could have spent the money more wisely. Or maybe they’re spending lavishly because they don’t think their school can be saved.
It seems the normally scheming Anzu has developed a genuine fondness for Miho. I liked how she kept dodging the subject of the school’s closure to spare Miho the burden of being the school’s savior. I think it’s the nicest thing she’s ever done onscreen for someone other than Kawashima or Yuzu. It makes her a much more likable character. Maybe her trademark impish smiles aren’t all fake, after all.
Through Anzu (and later Miho herself), the show has raised again the issue of practicing tankery for fun versus practicing tankery to win. Miho felt torn over this last episode—for the show to bring it up two episodes in a row suggests to me it will be a significant issue for some time. I’m starting to wonder if Miho acceded to her teammates in an attempt to counterbalance her Nishizumi training, to “just go with it.” Unfortunately, between Pravda’s crushing fighting style and Oarai’s threatened existence, she has picked a bad time to readjust her leadership style.
It’s also bad timing because Miho’s mother has come to disown her. I’m not sure what she means exactly when she says Miho “does not care what she does,” but I interpreted it as meaning she thinks she lacks discipline. At the match, she’ll see a team led by her daughter over which she has lost control and that has charged blindly and recklessly into a painfully obvious trap. This will only reinforce her low opinion.
Surprisingly, Maho doesn’t look or sound as icy as usual. I think she actually sounds concerned about Miho and is trying to keep their mother from acting against her. Or maybe it’s just the jitters one typically gets when talking to one’s parent, especially an iron-fisted, authoritarian one. Why she puts on an icy front before Miho and everybody else I don’t quite understand. I suppose she doesn’t want her or her Kuromorimine teammates to see her softer, “weaker” side (assuming that even is a softer side we’re looking at). She probably acts the way she does to earn her mother’s approval. But is this even what she wants?
Another character who may have something to hide is St. Gloriana’s Darjeeling. Ever since St. Gloriana’s practice match with Oarai, she has been watching them with interest. She’s constantly thinking and analyzing, and every word she utters feels laced with hidden meanings and intents.
Her comments so far suggest she’s supportive of Oarai. That’s why I don’t understand the purpose of her visit with Pravda’s Captain Katyusha and her lieutenant Nonna. She uses their tea as an excuse, but that’s an obvious lie. As a tea connoisseur and a student of a very wealthy school, she should have no problems obtaining any tea she wants. She wouldn’t need to go out of her way to visit Pravda or any other place just to enjoy a certain type of tea.
Why would she go all the way to Pravda’s school ship just to tell Katyusha and Nonna they’ll be facing Miho in the semifinals? She has nothing to gain by disclosing this, and Katyusha and Nonna would have found out themselves eventually, since it’s not privileged information. Darjeeling strikes me as someone who meticulously calculates every spoken word. In other words, if she says something, it has to be for a reason.
I can only guess wildly at this point, but I’d like to think she’s telling Katyusha about Miho to manipulate her into becoming overconfident. Katyusha reacts dismissively upon learning her next opponent is the younger Nishizumi sister, not the elder. She remembers her as the Kuromorimine commander who abandoned her flag tank, giving her team an easy victory. She may lower her guard because of her already low opinion of her. Darjeeling tells Katyusha that Miho has gotten the rookie Oarai team as far as the national semifinals, but she says little else. I think Katyusha will dismiss this as dumb luck, become even more determined to dominate Miho and Oarai, and become blinded by her massive hubris in the process. She doesn’t really know what Miho is capable of.
Katyusha is one of the most sickening characters I’ve seen so far. Not only is she extremely smug and overbearing, she’s a kid, which makes her even more disgusting to me. Few adults can match the pure, unrestrained malice of a child. Not content with simply defeating her opponents, she takes perverse delight in dominating their will, crushing it. She seems like the type of kid who isn’t satisfied with frying or crushing ants, preferring instead to chop them in half and watch them writhe and die slowly for pleasure. She’s a sick, twisted pint-sized bully—except she’s a bully with her own fleet of tanks.
Why does she act this way? Was she bullied badly in school? She’s a prepubescent (or at least a prepubescent-looking) girl in a senior high school, so it’s not implausible. Or maybe she really is that sick.
Why would the comparatively polite, mild-mannered, and rational Nonna serve Katyusha, anyway? Is Katyusha the daughter of Pravda’s headmaster? Is she richer than her? Is she the direct descendant of a czar, Stalin, or Lenin? What’s weird is that Nonna doesn’t seem to mind serving Katyusha at all. She quietly carries out her commands, seldom complaining, if ever. (Incidentally, there’s a Soviet self-propelled mortar called the 2S9 NONA.)
New to the Oarai tankery team are Sodoko and her lookalikes, who, judging from their very similar appearances, I’m going to assume are her sisters.
Of all the students Anzu could have recruited, why’d it have to be her? She seems to think just because she’s a perfectly by-the-book hall monitor, she’s better than everyone, especially Mako.
Sodoko accuses Mako of being arrogant, but when Mako says she expects Sodoko to read the manual for her tank and practice herself, which, I think, is a pretty reasonable expectation, Sodoko accuses her of being irresponsible, then demands she show her everything there is to know about driving a tank. Later, when Mako helps drive her tank over a snowy hill, instead of being grateful, she grows indignant. To me, Sodoko is the arrogant one. Why does Mako like her, anyway?
Sodoko is a stickler for the rules. As a hall monitor, I imagine she’s used to clear, predictable procedures, similar to a police officer. However, the battlefield, even that of tankery, is highly unpredictable and volatile, the opposite of a hallway environment. Rules and regulations quickly fall apart as improvisation and chaos take their place. More than the other girls, Sodoko is especially ill-suited to the tankery field. Her hasty, most likely barebones training only exacerbates this.
Sodoko’s sisters don’t say much. The one with the longest hair and the nicest facial expression is Gomoyo. The one with the shortest hair and slightly droopy eyes has yet to be named or to show any personality. It’s hard to say how they’ll figure into the match. I hope their characters will get a chance to shine next episode.
Of course, that’s assuming our trapped and slightly crippled girls can get out of their nightmarish predicament. To make things even worse, Kawashima has blurted out the school’s predicament to Miho. I guess she won’t be having fun with tankery for the rest of the nationals. I wonder how this will affect her leadership from now on…
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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