Time for more Girls Und Panzer fun! If you haven’t been following this series of posts yet, I’ll be spoiling events of this episode, but nothing further if I can help it. The show is great; consider watching along with this, and experience the awesome wholesomeness for the first time. Now, into the episode.
Episode 4, “Doing My Best as Captain!” starts right where episode 3 left off, with the start of Oarai’s first actual match (albeit an exhibition match as opposed to one in a tournament) against St. Gloriana, otherwise known as the British cosplay school. Oarai’s… creative tanks start to advance, and we get shots of all our tank crews as Miho goes over the basic plan.
We also get what becomes a bit of a running gag as, when asked for a name for their operation, Miho struggles before coming up with the not-particularly impressive “Operation Sneaky.” She might have accepted and embraced her role as team commander, but Miho still has some issues with confidence, and has some awkwardness when put on the spot for something apart from commanding tanks.
The St. Gloriana team, meanwhile, is doing the very British activity of calmly drinking tea as they await the start of the match, and Darjeeling calmly surveys the area before getting her tank, a Churchill Mk VII, and her 4 Matilda IIs, moving—in perfect formation, of course.
Thinking about it now, it was definitely intentional, on the part of the show’s creators, for Oarai’s first opponent to be such a polished, precise, and in control team as this one, for maximum contrast with their talented, but very raw, inexperienced and undisciplined squad. As we will see throughout this fight, this extreme gap in experience and discipline plays a major role, and more important, will ultimately be a good kick for our girls in their quest to figure things out in record time, so they’ll have a chance to compete, and win, in the matches that really matter.
Of course, winning here is important too. Remember, the dreaded Anglerfish Dance looms.
As the battle begins, we again see the scene from the flash-forward in episode 1, though part of it is from another angle, further demonstrating that this show’s creators didn’t cut corners. Also, in this episode we get much more of the battle soundtrack, all original for the show and all excellent. It works well for the scenes presented, more than stands on its own as well.
As the firing begins, we see what Miho’s initial plan is, a simple decoy tactic; she’s trying to get the St. Gloriana tanks to chase her into a position where the rest of her tanks are waiting in ambush in an advantageous position in this rocky, mountainous terrain. There’s be more to say on this later on in the episode, but one of Miho’s greatest strengths as a tank unit commander is her ability to utilize the terrain around her to her advantage—something vital when her team is going to be regularly outmatched, from a technical tank standpoint.
By the 5 minute mark, we pass the shot that ended that flash-forward, so we are now entirely caught up.
Another quick tangent, the show also takes great care in portraying its tanks. The level of detail is quite impressive, and it doesn’t go very far overboard in terms of the vehicles’ capabilities, where most shows probably would. Yes, the tanks are clearly faster than most would have been in real life, and some maneuvers stretch things a bit (though not as much as some might think), but that was all done to enhance the energy and tension of the battles. Also, in-universe, it’s entirely possible that these tanks have been upgraded with more modern engines for purposes of the sport, so the speed doesn’t bug me at all.
Also, bonus points to Saori for being worried about Miho having her head constantly outside the tank. There are advantages to it, but still, I remember that one scene in Fury, and I’d certainly recommend keeping one’s head inside the safety-armored interior.
Now, we cut to the rest of the team, waiting in the ambush points. Most of them are lounging, or playing games (freshmen playing cards, Volleyball Team tossing a ball around.) While we’re about to see their inexperience come into play, there’s really nothing wrong with this, tactically (and we see other teams do this as well.) When waiting at prepared points, staying relaxed can help improved later performance, so long as you ready and act quickly when the order to prepare for combat is given.
Miho gives the order, and they get back in their tanks.
This is where things start to go wrong.
Momo, in the 38(t), gets too trigger happy and opens fire on Miho’s tank as she arrives. Fortunately, these shots miss (keep track of poor Momo’s missed shots, but don’t take a shot yourself each time, please; don’t get alcohol poisoning), but they completely give away the ambush. Even if Darjeeling was going to fall into the trap at all, now there’s no way it can properly work. The ostentatiously colored tanks don’t help the whole ambush idea either.
The British tanks begin to move quickly up the slopes to reach the high ground, while Oarai’s gunners start firing wildly, hitting nothing as they start to panic. The contrast between Momo freaking out and Darjeeling’s calmly voiced orders is a stark one. In terms of discipline, our girls are completely outmatched. St. Gloriana’s tanks close in and open fire, their theme song playing.
The freshmen then crack, most running out of their tank (not a wise choice at all given they were actively being fired upon, but panic will do that.) In a little detail I only noticed on this rewatch, Azusa, the commander of that crew, is the only one who doesn’t completely panic, rather running after them and trying to get them to stop running away. She (and the rest of that team) later really prove themselves, but they are not there yet.
So the M3 Lee is taken out, and the 38(t) loses a track as it tries to evade fire. This tanks small crew is always hilarious to watch in action, between Momo’s frantic shouting to keep firing and Anzu doing pretty much nothing. To those that complained about this show lacking characterization, I think you might not have been paying enough attention. Practically every quick scene the side characters get really helps to show their personalities.
Miho makes the decision to withdraw with their three remaining tanks to the city (safeties have been put in place to ensure no bystanders get hurt, don’t worry, and no we don’t need a full detailed explanation of that), and now we’ll get to see where Miho truly shines. Urban warfare. When you’re outnumbered and outgunned, it’s always a good option. Even better, most of the Oarai girls know the town well, so it gives them more of an advantage.
Oarai’s tanks quickly get scarce, and St. Gloriana now has the unfun task of tracking them down. The hunt is on!
Oarai takes immediate advantage, with the Stug III ambushing and taking out one Matilda II, while the Type 89 gets the drop on another thanks to a heavy duty garage elevator (and there are some great camera angles used here).
Suddenly, it’s a real fight, and Darjeeling is so shocked at the sudden turn that she drops her tea. It’s on now.
The History Club gets overconfident though, and forgets that the cool but tactically idiotic flags on their tank negate its low profile, so they get taken out. And the Volleyball Club’s Type 89, with its very weak gun, ultimately failed to knock out the tank they ambushed, and are also taken out.
One against four now.
The Panzer IV team takes evasive action (and in the process causes one of the Matilda IIs to crash into a shop, to the glee of its owner—I guess Senshaou damage insurance payouts are high), but they quickly get cornered. Is this the end?
Not quite, as the Student Council in their 38(t) comes to the rescue! They apparently weren’t finished off, and repaired their thrown track (and by they I mean Momo and Yuzu, most likely). However, Momo then misses a point blank shot and they are eliminated—but it gives Miho’s team a chance to escape.
Throguh clever maneuvering and good gunnery, they manage to take out the three remaining Matilda IIs, leaving just Darjeeling and her Churchill. After some chasing, Miho tries on last gambit, a move (which I think has a sort of fan name, but I couldn’t find it in time for writing this) where they make a charge at the enemy tank, then sharply turn (and drift a bit) at the last moment to land a close range shot. The maneuver works, but as both tanks fire, the Panzer IV’s gun fails to penetrate the Churchill’s armor, while they are hit and taken out.
A loss, but a very good match, especially for a team with so little experience.
Following the match, Miho briefly meets Darjeeling, at which point her name comes up and Darjeeling notes that her style is very much unlike that of her well-known sister Maho’s. Just keep that in mind for later.
Thanks to their loss, they now have to do the dreaded Anglerfish Dance, but Anzu happily decides that it’s just as much her team’s fault, and says that they’ll do it too.
Smash cut to them all performing the dance on the back of a truck in the street, and it’s as embarrassing as we were led to believe.
After that, however, they have some free time. Mako goes to visit her grandma, while the rest of our main group hits the town, where they happen to run into Hana’s mother and her assistant, Shinzaburo (cue another moment of Saori getting shot down). The meeting goes well enough until Yukari, not knowing any better, mentions that they do Senshadou together. Hana’s mom is horrified, and passes out.
Later, at Hana’s family home, Yukari apologizes, but in typical fashion, Hana brushes it off, blaming herself from not telling her mother earlier. Then they meet in private (with the others eavesdropping), and, after explaining why she has taken up Senshadou in addition to the family art of flower arranging, and refusing to give it up, finds herself disowned.
One of the underlying themes of this anime is being true to oneself, and we have a few family-related plotlines that deal with this. Without spoiling anything, however, it is worth noting that the lesson, as it were, isn’t to throw away family traditions and ties, but rather to find a way to be yourself with your family. A lesser show would’ve gone the easier, more common route of “be yourself, and screw what anyone says.” That’s not Hana’s intent at all here. As she says when she speaks to her friends right after being disowned (and displaying superhuman poise and optimism), she says that she’s confident that one day she’ll be able to create a flower arrangement that’ll convince her mom that she really did need Senshadou to become her optimal self, and to better carry on the family tradition. There’ll be more for me to say about this show’s themes later, but they are all ones that I find eminently positive and good for kids. This is a show that I would recommend kids watch as well as adults (though wait till they can read the superior subtitled versions.)
To close out this episode, though, when they get back to the ship, the freshmen team is there to apologize for flaking out during the match, and pledge to get better—they learn from their mistakes.
Also Miho is given a gift sent from the St. Gloriana team: A tea set, and a note to “Our New Friend.” Yukari mentions that it’s known that they send tea to those they deem worthy opponents, and then mentions a quote that is also related to a key theme of this show: “Yesterday’s enemies are today friends.”
The episode then ends with the tournament drawing, at which Oarai is seeded to face not St. Gloriana, but another very tough team right in the first round, Saunders University Preparatory School—but losing is not an option. And, by the fact that a soft version of Battle Hymn of the Republic starts to play here, you might be able to guess which country they are based off/cosplay as. The last shot of the episode makes it very clear, as we see a veritable army of Sherman tanks driving through a desert.
FREEDOM IS INBOUND!
Our girls have their work cut out for them, if they mean to advance in this tournament, but they’ve learned from their mistakes, and are more determined than ever!
That’s all for this week. Another great episodes. Hope you enjoyed, and that you’ll come back next time, when the tournament begins! I’m greatly enjoying sharing my love of this show with you all.
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