DVD Movie Review: Girls und Panzer: Der Film

By Drew Hurley 27.11.2017

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Girls und Panzer: Der Film (UK Rating: 12)

The "cute girls doing cute things" genre has had a whole host of activities serving as the backdrop for their kawaii antics, but it's hard to find one quite as out there as Girls und Panzer. Set in a world where Sensha-do (Way of the Tank) is a popular activity for girls the world over, Girls und Panzer followed a group of five girls at Ooarai Girl's Academy as they renewed their schools Sensha-do activities, taking part in battles against their schoolmates and eventually going on to championship matches. This story picks up not long after the series and sees a broken promise lead to fresh enemies to overcome in Girls und Panzer: Der Film, which comes courtesy of MVM and is out now.

The series saw protagonist Miho Nishizumi transfer in Ooarai Girl's Academy and is tapped to take part in the newly renewed Sensha-do, something Miho is not particularly interested in as she only joined Ooarai because of its lack of Sensha-do activities. What followed was the usual story of a new girl at school as Miho took up the Tank Commander role of the Anglefish team, getting over her fears of Sensha-do and gathering a group of friends to build the team. At first, this is a team of five who are the main team of the story; flirty Saori Takebe, the Radio Operator who uses Sensha-do to meet men, the quiet one, Hana Isuzu, who becomes the team Gunner, the hyperactive Yukari Akiyama, who serves as the Gun Loader and, finally, the dry and deadpan Mako Reizei acting as Driver. The cast is quickly expanded with tons of characters from Ooarai and rival schools and, of course, these enemies quickly become friends, too.

The main drive of the story was that the Ooarai Girl's Academy was in danger of being shut down unless the girls can win the National Sensha-do tournament, which could bring enough interest and fame to the school to ensure it has enough funding to stay alive. This huge tournament makes up most of the series and all culminates in a face-off between the Anglerfish team and the team from Miho's old school, led by Miho's sister! Spoilers! They win, their school is kept open, and the series closes with a grand tank parade. Open on Girls und Panzer: Der Movie, which starts with a huge exhibition match through the streets of Ooarai, where the Ooarai Girl's Academy teams up with Chihatan Academy to take on a team of St. Gloriana and Pravda. It all seems to be opening harmlessly enough, but after the match comes to a conclusion, the girls return to find their school has been closed.

Despite being told the school would be kept open, the girls were lied to. From here the film plays out an encapsulation of the TV show. The girls all have to deal with the reality of losing their school and are given a last minute chance of saving their home. This time there's a contract to prove the school will be kept open should they win, but there's a bigger challenge ahead of them - they will need to be able to take out a University level team of professionals; worse still, they are massively outnumbered. Child prodigy, Alice Shimada, will lead thirty tanks against Ooarai's eight in an annihilation match, where the only way to win is to destroy all of the enemy's tanks.

Those going into this hoping for a story will be mostly left wanting; there are some fun moments for fans of the series, but there is practically no real character development or three act structure here. That being said, anyone going into this hoping for tank battles is going to be overjoyed. The CG-laden WW2 style clashes are abundant with the majority of the movie being made up of this combat. The film is high quality, too, both in the soundtrack, which incorporates familiar themes from war movies, and even Westerns at one point, along with some original thumping drum themes. The visuals don't disappoint, either; the girls have a diverse cast of designs to live up to their diverse personalities and the CG tank battles are fantastically done.

Anyone who is jumping straight into the movie without watching the original series has a nice little featurette to get them up to speed in the bonus features, entitled Girls und Panzer in Around 3 minutes, which gives a nice little summary of the series from the voice actors themselves. Other than this featurette, there are clean openings and closing videos - a little odd for a movie - and a handful of trailers for other upcoming MVM releases.

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
It's weird that this works, but somehow it does. The cute girls doing cute things moments are charming and the tank battles are surprisingly compelling. They aren't particularly dramatic or dynamic, as the WW2 machines trundle at a deliberate pace, but even so, the huge matches that open and close Girls und Panzer: Der Film are enthralling. It's hard not to prejudge this type of show as being just for the moe-fans out there, but this is one that deserves to be judged on its own merits, of which there are plenty.

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