After another delay (partly due to current events, partly my own fault), let’s get into episode 7 (Anzio is Next!) This is one that I remembered less well than others, as it’s a rare episode without much tank action in it (those epic moments are those that tend to be easiest to recall). However, this is an extremely important episode in terms of character stuff. Lots of feels this time, so hang on. But it’s also super wholesome, as usual.
So as you might recall, last time, our girls’ celebration of winning their first match was cut short by the news that Mako’s grandmother had collapsed and was in the hospital. This episode picks up the following morning, with Miho, Hana, and Yukari going to visit them (and Saori, who went with Mako) at the hospital. (And I think this might be the first time we see any of the girls in casual clothes, as opposed to one of their school uniforms. You get a real sense of each of their personalities by their choice of attire—this show never wastes a moment, and makes good use of an opportunity once again to show, rather than tell.)
As they reach the right room, though, they hear arguing inside. There’s some uncertainty over whether they ought to go in, but Hana (who remember, was just disowned by her mother) decides for the group that they won’t turn back.
They go in, and they (and we) get to meet Mako’s grandmother, who has a rather fiery, abrasive sort of person that you see in old people in fiction quite a bit. There are a lot of funny moments here, with Mako for once being on the back foot as her grandmother orders her to thank her friends for coming to visit.
They really came for Mako rather than her grandma, after all. Mako and her grandmother talk to Miho a bit here, who assures grandma that Mako is actually quite a helpful member of the team (and Yukari lends her support too), though Mako’s grandma is still reluctant to outright praise Mako.
Before long, it’s time to go, with Mako heading back to school with the others.
As Miho, the last of the girls in the room, heads out, though, we get to see another side of Mako’s grandma. She truly does care about her granddaughter, and Miho promises that they’ll take care of her.
On the train ride back, Mako (who presumably was up all night) falls asleep, and the others talks a bit, with Saori, who has been friends with Mako for a long time, mentions that part of why earning these credits is so important is that Mako could then graduate sooner, to spend more time by her grandmother’s side. (She lives on land, rather than on the schoolship.)
We follow the group as they continue their trip, stopping to get food before getting to the small ship that’ll take them back to Oarai itself (Hana carrying an unconscious Mako on her back for much of this time.) (Also, there are some neat little character details here I only noticed upon rewatch, such as Yukari giving an officer at the train station a little salute.) They’re talking over the montage, and we get to learn a bit more about Mako’s backstory, and that her grandmother is her only family. Her parents died in an accident some years earlier—which might explain why she’s grown up to have such a distant sort of personality.
On the boat, most of the group falls asleep (of course Yukari dreams of tanks), and Miho & Saori have a moment to talk.
There’s a lot more wholesome here as well, with us learning that Mako had actually been worried for Miho, who’d come to Oarai all alone, leaving her family behind. Mako’s mother, you see, had apparently also been a bit abrasive, like her grandma, and the last time Mako had spoken to her, they’d had a fight. She never had the chance to apologize, and clearly that was what has made her worried for Miho. They all really are good girls. I told you there were a lot of feels in this episode. Throughout this scene and the next, the soundtrack really captures the mood well, with a somber, subdued version of the main Oarai theme.
As we return to the ship, we’re suddenly treated to a flashback of Miho’s last interaction with her mother, which was not on good terms at all. Family really is a theme in this show, particularly about the importance of still sticking with them even when it’s tough and you disagree, all while being true to yourself. We’ve already scene Hana’s own family conflict arise, while Yukari’s parents are fortunately very supportive of her (perhaps too much so), and now we have Mako and her grandma. The only main group member whose family we don’t see at all is Saori, actually. Families fight, and everyone has problems, but you need to make things right with them. Sometimes it takes a while, but you will regret it if you do not. (This really isn’t something you see very much of in modern fiction, and I’m glad it’s here.)
But back to the flashback, Miho is basically getting chewed out by her mom following that match where she gave up a chance at victory to save people from drowning, thus not acting in the spirit of the Nishizumi senshadou style. Yes, it’s very unreasonable, but family rifts have been caused by far less. Worse for Miho, her sister, who she’d been very close with, is now closed off to her as well, firmly on their mother’s side in all this.
As the flashback ends, we see that Miho was actually replaying those events in her mind while back home in her room, obviously thinking about it now after hearing about what happened with Mako and her mom.
She’s still contemplative and a bit down in the morning, but when Saori shows up, struggling to carry a mostly unconscious Mako, she re-focuses on helping her friends.
When they get to school, there’s a rather funny moment when they meet Sodoko, the head of the Morals Committee (otherwise known as the No Fun Squad), but Saori’s eyes are drawn to a massive banner congratulating the senshadou team on their victory. Maybe she’ll get the popularity she seeks after all!
We next cut to lunchtime, where we see that our whole group had the same idea of going to eat lunch on their tank (well, Mako had skipped class and was sleeping in it.) They talk as they eat, about senshadou, and Miho, still thinking about her family, mentions something she’d been raised on, that victory is all that mattered, realizes that they all, in their own way, have had a lot of fun with this, and brings up how after she lost that match, she just wanted to run from the sport. It has never been about fun for her. It was just something her family did, and they treated it like a war game. So after losing that, it makes sense that she’d instinctively want to run from it.
Yukari, as we have heard before, actually watched that match on TV, and we now get a full flashback to those fateful events (and the soundtrack nails it once again). One of the tanks fell into a river in a freak accident, and quickly began to capsize. Miho, the team’s vice commander, had been in command of the flag tank, but abandoned it to jump into the water to save the tank’s crew. Because of that, her tank was left vulnerable to attack and eliminating it, costing the team the championship, and her school it’s long winning streak.
However, despite everything, and despite the clear fact that Miho made the correct, heroic choice to save them, she’s still a bit uncertain, at least until Yukari assures her that it was the right thing to do. More important to save lives than win a sporting match. We can argue about what the right call would’ve been in an actual combat scenario, as that’s much more complicated, but as Kay said last episode, senshadou isn’t war. Treating it like one, at least beyond a certain point, is unhealthy. Well, unless you’re a wehraboo maybe.
There’s some more fun banter, and they decide that they’re going to make their own style, and you can see on Miho’s face that this is something she needs, for her own personal journey.
However, we still have a tournament to win, with round two coming up soon. The Student Council is a bit worried that they might not have good enough equipment to win, though they are determined to, at all costs. They’re going to be facing Anzio High School, and Italian themed school, which has a team they describe as eager and energetic, though they aren’t a powerhouse school. They must be taken seriously nonetheless, and the team can’t be allowed to get cocky after their first win.
So, it’s training time! Fortunately, the girls are all eager and fired up.
Also… Caesar, what are you doing there lol?
We’re then treated to a training montage as the girls practice driving, loading their tanks, shooting at targets, and more.
That evening, after a long day of work, the girls are all back in the tank garage. Then, Miho is suddenly inundated with help requests and questions from the others. Momo wants to work on tactics, Yuzu needs a list of parts they need to order, the Volleyball Team has questions about improving their driving, Erwin asks about firing while moving, and within moments, yet more (many less important) questions pop up, quickly overwhelming Miho’s ability to focus and answer.
Fortunately, the rest of her crew comes to the rescue. Yukari offers to help with mechanical questions, Hana offers to assist with paperwork, Mako volunteers to answer driving related questions, and Saori eagerly takes on the role of answer relationship-related questions. It’s a nice little moment, showing our entire main group stepping up into leadership roles themselves—and of course it takes the pressure off of Miho.
What follows are short scenes showing each of our main girls taking on these tasks. Yukari talks to the History club about their Stug III, and gets a firsthand experience of their enthusiasm, Mako demonstrates driving for the Volleyball Club, and learns that it’s not quite as easy for others to pick things up as it is for her. And Saori… gets unintentionally BTFO-ed by the freshmen. She’s really a fraud when it comes to giving relationship advice lol.
Meanwhile, Miho and Hana are with the Student Council in the office; Hana doing paperwork, and Miho gets both a congratulations and a thank you from Anzu, the president, for all she’s done so far. However, in typical fashion, Miho turns it around and says she should be thanking them for being the cause of her getting back into senshadou, and rediscovering it. It’s been a healing process. By now, of course, any possible lingering sense of the Student Council being antagonists of any sort is put to bed.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t laser-focused on victory, though, and they ask Miho how things look going forward, in terms of their equipment. The unfortunate truth is, as Miho says, that while they have enthusiasm and are improving their skills, most of their tanks aren’t the greatest. However, just then, Hana mentions that she’s found record of more tanks they might find.
We immediately cut to several search parties; Miho, Mako, and the Volleyball Club, Yukari and the History Club, and Saori with the freshmen.
We get some nice little bits of worldbuilding here; a bit about the schoolships, and the reasons for them (we get much more in one of the OVAs), and we learn that Oarai had a long tradition of senshadou—since the 1920s!—before its program was closed 20 years ago, and most of the tanks—the good ones—sold off.
Soon enough, some discoveries are made. A massive cannon, and a Renault B1 Bis tank. A start. (Also worth noting as a fun little detail, Yukari gets nicknamed Guderian by the History club, which suits her quite well.)
The cannon and tank are brought to the garage, but it’s getting late, and Saori and the freshmen aren’t back yet. Mako’s meowing phone then rings, and they find out the group is lost inside the ship. Time for a rescue mission! Miho and crew are promptly nominated by the Student Council for the job.
We next see them making their way through the dark interior of the ship (of course Yukari has a hardhat with a head lamp.) Between the dark and the noises around, most of the group is a bit nervous—Hana excepted, being unflappable as always.
Meanhile, our lost friends are starting to lose it. The freshmen at least. Saori is indeed getting some of the popularity she’s sought—but not the type she had hoped for as she tries her best to play the role of chaperone.
Just to note another funny little moment, Yukari’s phone ringtone is of course a tank firing, which spooks poor Mako. The joke is isn’t overemphasized, and you can miss it if you aren’t paying attention.
But they got more directions—albeit determined by divination—from Caesar up above, and it does indeed lead them to the lost girls. As they celebrate the rescue, Miho notices something big, right next to them. Another tank! Both these new tanks won’t be ready for the Anzio match, but will be for round three.
The team unwinds with a bath in the hot spring, and it also doubles as a team meeting, where Miho, as the captain, is forced to give a short—very short—speech.
Then we cut to the end of the Anzio match, as Oarai claims victory. (Yes, it sucks that the battle itself was skipped here, but don’t worry, we get to see it all, and more, in an OVA. I won’t cover that until after episode 12, because the OVA’s little epilogue spoils something from episode 12.)
That’s all for now! Don’t worry, next time we’ll get back into the tank action, but this episode was as important as any of those. G-d willing, you won’t have to wait too long for it.
And, don’t forget, I’ve got a whole heap of awesome fiction out there for anyone stuck in quarantine to enjoy! Galaxy Ascendant 6 is now out! Additionally, I just revealed an art update for the 7th and final book in the series, as well as the cover art for the first book in my next series, the IDF isekai Light Unto Another World, over on my Patreon and Subscribestar. All tiers have access to this update, so for just a dollar or two a month, you get the first look at these, and at future art–and there will be many over the course of the year.
Hope to see you there!