What They Say:
A piece of spaghetti or a military unit, George S. Patton famously said, “can only be led from the front end.” However, once the heat of battle has cooled and the fog of war turns as thick as minestrone, determining which end was front and who pulled on what can be difficult.
Therefore, for the enthusiasts who’ve puzzled over the epic tank battle between the girls of Oorai Girls’ Academy and their Italian-themed rivals from Anzio High School, we present these classified videos for your eyes-only! Miho and Team Oorai will have their hands full with the impulsive attacks of Vice-Commander Pepperoni and facing the raw fury of Vice-Commander Carpaccio… but the real question is whether they can hold off Anchovy’s ultra-secret secret weapons! Will they persevere? Or will their opponents end up saying “tank” you very much… for the victory!
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 property 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 2014, the transfer for this single OVA is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The OVA runs for thirty-eight minutes total, credits included, and there’s obviously plenty of room to work with. 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 the main key visual for the piece with the Anzio girls in the foreground and a tank obscured in the background, all set to white behind them that lets it all stand out nicely even if it doesn’t go for overly vibrant colors. 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 episode and language access 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 red, white, and green 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.
The only extra included here is the clean version of the ending sequence, which is a good thing as it’s just too adorable.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Coming out some three years after we got the mini OVAs, which in itself came a year or so after we got the TV series, going into this largely standalone installment of Girls und Panzer isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. I liked the TV series well enough and struggled a bit with the OVAs since they didn’t do much to advance things, but they at least fleshed out the world a bit more. With this story, I’ll admit the disconnect has gone on long enough that the characters aren’t exactly having their names roll off my tongue nor any of the larger themes that may be in play here. What I get, and what works for me admittedly, is that we get an OVA that delivers on cute girls fighting in tanks with a mild expansion on the world. And that’s almost enough. Almost.
This special takes place during the seventh episode of the TV series, something that makes it a bit problematic some four years after seeing the series, where the girls are getting ready for their match against Anzio High School. With the heavy Italian theme at play, we get to spend some good time with the Anzio girls and there’s a lot to like, even if you have characters that are terribly named like Anchovy and one of them revealing themselves to be Caesar later on. I half expected the team as a whole to have their names made up from various Italian foods. There are some fun bits with the Anzio team as we see how they operate, their delight at saving up for a particular tank to add to their ranks, and just the general enthusiasm they have before the match itself gets underway.
The show balances things well even though you do expect the non-battle material to take up most of the time since battles are more expensive to animate. When it does shift to the battle between the two sides there are some fun areas of strategy that come into play and a nice mix of different types of tanks in general to give it some pop and excitement. Since it takes place in an area that we already knew about there’s not exactly a lot of tension here but it’s nice to see the way everyone is totally invested in the match but not to a level where they’re mean or cruel or doing underhanded things in order to win. It’s all above the board and they want the honor of winning properly rather than any other way and that says a lo about both sides of the match.
While I’m definitely glad to get more of this property I’m also in the position of wishing I was able to watch it in its proper place rather than three years later. It’s been so long since I saw anything of this property that it’s kind of surreal to get this now, though I understand why. Sentai’s release is solid as they did it up as a DVD/BD combo release in order to minimize how much is truly produced and it’s priced well pre-discounts to make it easy to justify grabbing for completists that might cringe otherwise. It’s a solidly put together little release that adds just a little bit more fun for the fans and while it may not be something a casual viewer will race out to grab, it’s something that will be nice when and if we get a big overall set someday.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, 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: March 21st, 2017
Running Time: 38 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.