What They Say:
The girls from Oarai are back, and whether they’re shopping for swimsuits, camping out or doing the Ankou Dance, they bring their own special brand of Tankery to the task at hand. There’s also a tour of the Oarai school ship, a look at what REALLY happened while Yukari and Erwin were out doing reconnaissance, and a team talent contest that’s not to be missed!
The audio presentation for this release is quite good as we get the original Japanese language track and the new English language dub in stereo, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is one that has its tracks locked, making comparisons between the two of them difficult to say the least. The series is one that has a lot going on with a wide range of characters, many on screen at the same time, talking to and at each other and in a number of different situations that adds to the overall presentation. The dialogue is well placed throughout and some depth definitely works really well with it. When it comes to the tanks and the action, it definitely hits some very good moments throughout as it has some good impact and a heightened audio level that brings a lot of it home in a great way. Some of the scenes where the tanks fire are just strong and definitely stand out, sometimes in comparison to other tank sequences, where it can startle and remind you of what you’re dealing with. Dialogue itself is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 2012 and 2013, the transfer for this six episode series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The OVAs vary in length from five minutes to eighteen minutes, translated credits included, so it’s all on one disc with a total runtime of about 74 minutes. Animated by Actas, the series has a bright, vibrant and appealing look to it both in the regular animation and the minimal 3DCG modeling of the tanks that’s used here There’s a lot of detail to both sides of it and a good bit of variety across the screen with the characters involved and the combination of the two comes across very well here. Colors are bright and full with good saturation while being free of blocking or other significant noise issues. The action sequences are well paced, especially in the last couple of episodes as the battles get more complicated, and it all has a smooth and solid look to it that definitely serves the material well. There’s a lot to like with the transfer here as it gives us a great looking show with a lot of pop.
The packaging for this release is kept simple and similar to the TV series as we get a standard sized Blu-ray case. The front cover for this uses one of the other more common images out there for the property as we get the core team of girls on top of their tank and looking upward while other tanks are surrounding them. With them in their standard school uniforms and varying degrees of smiles, it adds some good color against the more muted colors of the tanks and the pleasing colors of the grass underneath. The back cover uses the pinks and greens in blocks to break things up well and we get some fun bits with the character artwork, shots from the show and the very big tank with the girls in front of it to cement it all. The premise is fairly easy to read with black on green and it covers things well. The extras are clearly listed and we get a clean breakdown of the episode count. Production credits are clearly broken out and easy to read while the technical grid covers the setup of the discs in a solid way that’s accurate. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release at least avoids just replicating the cover art, though it works with some of the themes in a natural and good way. The left third is given over to the actual navigation strip, which doubles as the pop-up menu as well, where we get the breakdown of episodes by name and number where it uses the green, pink and white from the logo in an effective way. The rest of the screen is given over to the character artwork from the back cover with five of the girls against the tank in the background. With a white background that has some of the map material across it, it’s very clean and a bit bright but captures the look well and allows the characters to stand out. Submenus load quickly and easily and the layout is definitely serviceable and sets the mood decently.
In addition to the clean opening and closing sequences, there’s also a second take of the impersonation sequence that’s done with the actual voice actresses doing the parts, which is just weird when you’re really used to a particular voice. It’s short, just over a minute, but definitely a cute addition.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When Girls und Panzer was originally broadcast, issues came up that caused the final episodes to be delayed from their original December airdates until late March 2013. To help alleviate that in some ways, a series of OVAs were produced, totalling six, that ran for different lengths and just had a lot of fun with the characters while also expanding the world a bit. Some of the material really made me wish it was included in the series, and early on, while others are just the usual fluff that you do tend to get from the OVA releases of series so they can provide a bit more fanservice and teases of or outright nudity. That all has its place and Girls und Panzer with its OVAs definitely runs the gamut fairly well of what you can expect here.
Clocking in at just around 75 minutes for the equivalent of about three regular episodes, it’s hard to pin down a lot here and really say much about it because it’s mostly filling in the blanks kind of stuff. The one that stuck out the most for me in terms of being connected was the fifth OVA which takes us back to episode ten of the series. It’s here that we get to follow Yukari and Erwin as they go on recon amid the battle with the Pravda students and find themselves lost after some playful banter. It’s not deep and we see how they ended up getting the Pravda uniforms, got close to that team for a bit and got information that they used to help win the mission when they got back. But it’s the kind of episode that coming in rather unprepared, especially after the standalone nature of most of the other OVAs here, it took me a bit to really remember the structure of that episode. It’s definitely fun seeing them playing up Pravda roles and how poorly they did it.
A far better OVA is the third one in which the girls decide to go and explore the ship. I’m really intrigued by the idea of the school ship and what it represents, but it was so poorly dealt with in terms of explanations and details in the main series that getting some of its history here, and some of the world history that explains why they’re on the ships, is intriguing. It’s not exactly the most sensical thing that the show can come up with to be sure as a way to ease tensions and expose kids to more cultures and types, but spending the time exploring the nature of the ship, the views, the people and even a 1/1000th scale model of it really made for an engaging bit of time. Which, sadly, was followed up by a four minute OVA episode that had the girls – many of them – performing the Anglerfish dance across the ship.
Naturally, there has to be fanservice and silliness as well and it opens with that in a fun way as we get swimsuit shopping and sampling which leads to all sorts of quandaries for various characters unsure about their appearance. And it also leads into another OVA that puts the girls from all the teams going off on a camping trip where they get to frolic in general, in swimsuits and perform most of the usual camping tropes. Because of the run time and the nature of it, it’s not a very character friendly series of episodes in most ways because you don’t really get to know anyone better and there’s no real stress or drama, but it’s like a sea of nameless characters going through the motions that we see in most OVA releases from regular series. And there is a charm to it, especially with the kind of polish we get from the animation and usage of the tropes here, that allows it to be utterly smile inducing as it goes along. For the most part.
Having not paid attention to the TV series and the OVAs for Girls und Panzer when it was all originally happening as the TV series turned me off at first, I had no idea what to really expect going into this. The TV series Blu-ray release turned my opinion around on the show to a large degree and I found myself enjoying that. The OVAs don’t really offer anything significant but it does bring us a lot of silly time with the cast of characters that many came to love during the original show. And getting that time with them in this form definitely makes for a lot of fun overall since even if it is all very familiar, it’s just so nicely done and easy to get into that you can get charmed by it even if you’re not a huge fan. With swimsuits, camping and song and dance numbers, as well as a nice look at the nature of the ship, the Girls und Panzer OVAs will definitely delight fans and it’s just welcome to be able to get this material released.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Impersonation Take 2, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: February 25th, 2014
Running Time: 74 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.