Girls Und Panzer: OVA

“Well there’s egg and bacon; egg, sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg, bacon and spam; egg, bacon, sausage and spam; spam, bacon, sausage and spam; spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam; spam, spam, spam, egg and spam; spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam, and spam; or lobster thermidor aux crevettes with a mornay sauce garnished with truffle pate, brandy and a fried egg on top and spam.” – Terry Jones. 

You may think that there is little point in getting this on Blu-ray and DVD. Six little episodes of Girls und Panzer, ranging from 5 to 15 minutes long, costing around £20 depending on the retailer. But reserve judgment, because there are one or two things that might tempt you into purchasing it.

The OVA of Girls und Panzer is a selection of six episodes of the alternative history series. The first, 10 minutes long (although it is more like 7 when you take away the opening and closing themes) sees the members of Oarai’s tankery teams trying to buy swimwear for a trip. The second, at 15 minutes, finds them on a camping holiday together. In the third, again 15 minutes, sees Miho and the rest of the Goosefish team taking a tour of the ship that their school is stationed on. The fourth, the shortest of the lot at 5 minutes, just sees the pupils in costume performing the comic Goosefish Dance. The fifth episode, the longest at around 16 minutes, is mainly a two-hander between tank-loving Yukari and WWII history buff Riko “Erwin” Matsumoto going out on reconnaissance during their battle with the Russian-style Pravda High School. The final episode, set after the finale of the original series, features the students at a banquet where they hold a talent contest. It also relates to the only relatively interesting DVD extra in this collection: an alternative reworking of one of the talents skits, in which the Volleyball-laying “Duck” team do impressions of the other students. 

Some of these plots are not that interesting, and it is not as action-packed as the original series. But they do have their odd moments of merit. For example, the tour of the ship in episode three gives you a bit more of the context as to the background of the show. The fifth episode adds bit of extra depth to the Pravda battle storyline. But personally, my favourite moment comes in the second episode, primarily due to an unexpected reference to a part of British culture.

In this episode the character are preparing a meal and they talk about the rations soldiers had during WWII. At one point they mention that they had canned luncheon meat, which if you watch it in the subtitled form is referred to as “s*am” and partly gets bleeped over. However, this leads to what is personally one of my favourite moments I’ve seen in anime in a while. While talking about s*am, the first year students in the “Rabbit” team start mentioning some meals with s*am in it, such as “egg and s*am”, “egg, bacon and s*am”, “egg, bacon, sausage and s*am”, and “s*am, s*am, s*am, egg and s*am”. Then they cut to some of the girls in a café, dressed up as Vikings singing, “s*am, s*am, s*am, s*am, s*am, s*am, s*am, s*am” cutting to black-and-white footage of a longboat, and then one of the other girls tells them repeatedly to shut up. This makes it one of the few anime made to quote Monty Python. Speaking as a Python fan, I approve of this very much. Because of this, it does slightly annoy me that the Goosefish Dance is not the Goosefish Slapping Dance, but you can’t have everything. But I love this sort of thing. Two great art-forms combined: Japanese animation and British humour, all rolled into one.

This is what is great about anime. They might be large moments where it is dull, but then you come across one little thing that will stick in your head for ages. If you can find that, you will be happy for a long time, and this anime has made me happy in the most unusual way.

6 / 10

Ian Wolf

Ian works as an anime and manga critic for Anime UK News, and is also the manga critic for MyM Magazine. Outside of anime, he also is the editor of On The Box, data specialist for the British Comedy Guide, is QI's most pedantic viewer, and has appeared on Mastermind.

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