Been a little while since the last one of these, but I’m glad to be back to finish off Oarai’s first tournament battle. However, I should note that since these posts take some time to put together (they’re rather long, as you can see, and taking the screenshots only adds more time to the tally), I might have to cut back to just one of these a week soon, as life gets busier. Fortunately for that, there aren’t so many episodes to discuss. We’ve got 6 more from season 1, plus the Anzio OVA, and I might do a quick post on the other OVAs. Then Der Film will probably take 4 or so posts to cover, and each part of Das Finale (part 2 was awesome!) will likely take 2 apiece. Enough to last for a while, at least.
That out of the way, let’s get into episode 6, “Reaching the Climax of our First Match”!
We pick up with a quick recap of the end of episode 5, when Oarai successfully ambushed a pair of Saunders tanks thanks to their counterintelligence operation, and managed to take out one. We get the glorious “Jesus!” moment again, so the slight backtrack is completely justified.
It’s a major morale boost for Oarai, but the fact remains that only the flag tank matters, and they are still outnumbered 9 to 5. So, they can’t afford to celebrate much; they must press forward.
Meanwhile, Alisa, in the Saunders flag tank and wiretapping center, hasn’t quite realized yet that she is being played, so gleefully intercepts another Oarai “plan”—complete with maniacal laugh—and tells Kay to head to a new position for an ambush. A quick aside, we spend a lot of time in her tank this episode, and between Alisa’s actions, and the reactions of her poor crew, we get some really great humor. But more on that later.
Kay, still unaware that her teammate is getting her info via wiretapping, orders the team to move to a new position. (Also we get a lot of great reaction shots from her here, and more engrish.)
Meanwhile, Miho and team are determining where the enemy flag tank probably is, and began to scout, while Kay realizes that she’s been again directed to an area where the enemy is nowhere to be found.
Alisa, finally, begins to realize she might’ve been tricked, and then the fog of war provides us with an important moment—and also a hilarious one—as Oarai’s Duck Team (in the Type 89) accidentally stumbles upon the flagtank. The shock on the faces of both commanders is hilarious, and the moment is done all without dialogue. Noriko, the commander of Duck Team, reacts first, signaling her crew to book it out of there, as their tank has no chance of taking on a Sherman.
I need to take another quick aside here, as well, due to the fact that Noriko wasn’t just poking out of the tank, but full on outside of it, holding onto the hatch as this encounter took place. I’ve mentioned before that no one seems to get hurt in Senshadou, despite using live ammo and often not being inside the specially protected tanks, and while it is mentioned earlier in the series by Miho that the odds of a commander getting hit are small, it is still quite dangerous. I recently read a memoir by Israel’s war hero Avigdor Kahalani, who commanded a tank battalion in the defense of the Golan Heights in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It is an incredible story of winning against the odds, and superior training making the difference, but it was striking at just how many fatalities were tank commanders, precisely because their heads were (by necessity) often outside. And they weren’t direct hits, like that one scene in Fury. Even impacts that didn’t outright knock out the tank, or which even just impacted nearby, could and did kill via shrapnel and the concussive force. So it really is dangerous. Obviously, this isn’t the type of show where we’d see that happen, and that’s fine, but it is good to know.
Miho adapts the plan quickly upon receiving the news, and orders Duck Team to lure the Saunders flag tank to the rest of the team. Sensing an easy kill, the flag tank pursues, and the Duck Team utilizes smoke flare (or something like that) to temporarily blind the Sherman, which continues chasing and firing.
Here we get some great funny moments in both tanks, from Noriko making some nonsensical volleyball analogy to Alisa getting very overconfident and aggressive.
Then the smoke clears, and Alisa sees, to her shock, the trap she’s fallen into. And this is where she starts to lose it. She orders an immediate retreat, and finally admits to Kay that she’d wiretapped, and it was turned against them. She gets an earful from here commander, who truly believes in fair play, and begins to flee. You’ll find both hyper-competitive anything goes players, and people who care more about fair play, in all sports. This is no different.
Kay, meanwhile, gives us a true demonstration of the sportsmanship that is a theme of this show. She could come to the aid of her flag tank with her entire force of 8 tanks, but, because of the unfair wiretapping, decides instead to only take a total of 4, so the finally engagement will be 5 on 5.
Here we get a couple reaction shots from people spectating, as the match it about to become a 3 part chase, with Oarai chasing the Saunders flag tank while themselves pursued by Kay and her Shermans.
Pursued and under fire, Alisa completely loses it, ranting about how awesome her tank is, bow bad the enemy team is, and even eventually some boy she’s pining over. Every scene of this, with her poor crew suffering in silence. Helmet-chan’s expression says it all. Don’t worry, you’re not the first or last tank crew to find themselves with a commander who’s lost it this badly.
The Saunders reinforcements soon make their appearance, however, their Firefly with its powerful 17-pounder gun announcing their presence as they join the chase, to the elation of Alisa & her crew. There’s just something very real about this quick scene of them celebrating, and I love it. Also, we get the Saunders theme (the US Field Artillery March) again as they arrive.
Of course, nothing is guaranteed, though Miho and crew know that the Firefly is something that will likely be able to take them out before too long (its commander, Naomi, is also an excellent marksman), so they need to find a way to end the fight quickly. They rearrange formation, using Rabbit & Duck Teams to cover Turtle Team, their flagtank, (and the History Club references several historical battles as they try to determine what’s most similar to their situation) while the spectators enjoy the exciting match. Even in this battle, you’ll notice that while it’s an extended engagement, we aren’t seeing excessive shooting. Girls Und Panzer might stretch reality to some degree, but it does take pains to, on the whole, accurately depict the tanks and their operation. It does take time to reload and aim, after all. And while the tank speeds might be upped, somewhat, from their real life levels, they aren’t unreasonably speeding, giving the fights a real weight, and maintaining tension. Remember, at this point we’re over ten minutes into the episode, and this battle’s been raging the whole time, but it’s not gotten dull in the slightest.
Back to the battle itself, though, things are turning against Oarai, with the Firefly taking out both the Duck Team and the Rabbit Team. They’re running out of time, and everyone knows it. Miho has a moment where she’s paralyzed by indecision, but she steadies herself, and there’s a nice moment where her crew expresses their confidence in her, gives her strength to carry on.
Then, Hana comes up with a risky plan, but which might give them the best chance. They’ll take the Panzer IV up on a ridge, to get a better shot, but it’ll make them much more vulnerable to the Firefly, which of course is sent to take them out. It’ll be a race; can they take out the Saunders flag tank before they themselves are knocked out? There are some great shots of the tanks maneuvering, and some very close calls, before Hana braces herself and takes the shot. The buildup to this is masterfully done, with us seeing every step of the firing process, along with her straining to line up the shot, while at the same time Naomi in the Firefly is lining up her own shot on the Panzer IV. The music is as on point as ever, too.
Then the shots are fired, and we get a rare slo-mo of following the shell to the target. Hana’s shot hits, as does Naomi’s, and after a moment, both the Panzer IV and the Saunders flag tank are knocked out. They’ve managed to win by the skin of their teeth.
Once everyone recovers from the shock, the Oarai girls start to celebrate. Hana brushes off praise from Miho, stating that it was thanks to her encouragement (remember, she was very recently disowned by her mother, and her friends have been a pillar of support), though Miho doesn’t want to take any credit, because she’s not in this for any personal glory; it’s about the team.
We then get a quick post-match bow between each team’s tank commanders as they thank each other for a good match (another nice sportsmanship moment), while the crowd applauds. Our main five are positively glowing as the fact that they’ve won really sinks in.
However, in many ways, the best and most important parts of the episode, from a grander perspective, start now.
Kay approaches Miho, seeking to speak with her opposite number, and then aggressively bearhugs her as she gushes on how exciting a match it was.
After everyone recovers from that, Miho asks the obvious question of why Kay didn’t attack with all her tanks, and it’s reiterated again that for Kay, this is a sport to be conducted in a sportsmanlike manner. It’s not war. Having grown up in an environment where the sport was treated pretty much like war, Miho is visibly elated to hear this. Kay also apologizes for the eavesdropping. Kay is great.
Another battle fought, another new friend made.
Orange Pekoe’s expression here isn’t too far off from mine at the events we just witnessed, to be honest. I know I’m probably repeating myself, but this show’s themes are just so wholesome, and I love it.
Of course, Maho, and especially Erika disagree, but they’re German cosplayers, so what can you expect lol? Lighten up a bit, you two!
The episode isn’t over yet, though.
As our main five watch everything get organized for the trip home at sunset, Mako’s phone rings, and it’s bad news. Her grandmother has collapsed and is in the hospital.
She has to get there right away, but it’ll take time for the transport ship to get them home. Mako, visibly shaken (her grandma is the only family she has, remember), starts pulling off her shoes and socks, intending to try and swim there, an absolutely crazy idea.
As the others try desperately to talk her down, we get a most unlikely assist from Miho’s sister, who says they can take her helicopter, as she orders Erika to fly Mako home.
Maho doesn’t say much, even when Miho thanks her for this, but what she does say, “This is for senshadou,” says a lot. Beneath her very stern exterior, and her laserlike focus on winning at all cost, she does have a code of sportsmanship and sisterhood. Remember that when they were first introduced, I deliberately called the Maho & Erika antagonists, not villains. This is where you start to really see why I did so. There’s more to say on this, but that edges on spoiler territory, so that’s all for now.
Also, Saori goes with Mako (as you might remember, they are old friends, and it’ll undoubtedly help Mako to have a friend by her side now.)
The other three main girls watch the helicopter fly off into the sunset, and the episode ends with the Student Council looking at the tournament bracket, already thinking about what’s next. They note that Kouronorimine (Maho’s school), and Pravda, the Soviet Russia-themed school, will win their upcoming matches easily, and sure enough, we get a shot of Pravda, and one of their commanders surveying a poor, demolished Polish-themed team (that’s an easy historical reference), and Maho, just after annihilating the Imperial Japan-themed team. Two extremely dangerous opponents, who we will be meeting again down the road.
And that does it for episode 6! We’ve finished our first exciting tournament battle, made it to the next round, made some new friends, and seen that our antagonists are not entirely stone-hearted after all! This episode is a great exemplar of the spirit of the show, and even as I rewatched little bits and pieces for taking all these screenshots, I couldn’t help but smile many times. It really never gets old.
G-d willing, there won’t be as big a gap between this and our next installment, and I hope to have some other website content up soon as well.
Also, in the unlikely event you aren’t already aware, I’ve got awesome books of my own out there; book 6 in my Galaxy Ascendant series will be out in under 2 weeks, on March 18th! It’ll be available for pre-order soon, and the other 5 are up on amazon already. I also have both a Patreonand Subscribestarpage, which I hope to use to further fund my writing projects and bonus artwork. Check them out; you get some neat rewards for supporting me there as well.
Until next time!