Girls und Panzer der Film (2016) Review
Tanks, Treads, and Tea Bags
Directed by Tsutomu Mizushima (Blood-C, xxxHolic), Girls und Panzer der Film is a sequel to the anime television series Girls und Panzer which was released in 2012 and ran for 12 episodes with two recap episodes, an OVA (original video animation), and seven special episodes (10-12 minute shorts). Speaking as someone who hasn’t seen the original series, Girls und Panzer der Film is a dull and befuddled piece of beautifully animated entertainment.
The film opens with an exhibition match celebrating the Oarai Girls High School big win in the 63rd sensha-do tournament. Once returning, the girls are informed that the Ministry of Education still intends to close down their school despite their verbal agreement of keeping it open if they won the tournament. Their tanks are confiscated and their future is suddenly in jeopardy. Students now have nowhere to live, their favorite clubs are dead, and spending time with their best friends has suddenly been put on life support. A sliver of hope reveals itself thanks to class president Anzu; Oarai has a shot of keeping their school open if they’re able to defeat a university sensha-do team. With a larger army, a child prodigy commanding the forces and an overwhelming amount of firepower, Oarai has their work cut out for them.
Girls drinking tea inside tanks firing large-caliber high-velocity guns at one another; that is basically all Girls und Panzer der Film is. On the bright side, the film is gorgeous to look at. Most of the animation is this eloquent blend of computer generated and traditional animation. Colors are bold and vivid as the scenes involving a setting sun are often the most wonderful. The sea, filled with choppy and flowing waves of water, is also impressively animated to a realistic extent. The film is built around tanks though, so naturally those sequences are what you came to see. They are the most brilliantly executed scenes in the film. The perspective alone, especially during the last climactic battle, entices more than any other segment in the film. Tsutomu Mizushima seems to put the audience directly into the tank during these battles and it absolutely pays off.
These girls are incredibly annoying to listen to and watch when they’re speaking by themselves, but overload the film with what seems like 100 whiny, screaming, crying, and overly dramatic girls and your blood pressure will be boiling over in a matter of minutes. All of these girls look like they’re too young to be in high school. Most look like they could possibly pass for 12-years-old in a dark alleyway if there wasn’t any fluorescent light shining down on them directly. All of these girls sound and appear so similar that you can’t distinguish one from the other. You literally have no investment of who wins and who loses because you have yet to figure out any of their names and you have no idea which team is which or what their teammates consist of.
Girls und Panzer der Film is sandwiched between two massive tank battles. At least an hour of the film is devoted to destructive tank sequences and while this could be viewed as a good thing everything in the middle is practically unbearable. When the tanks are taken away, the girls act like their favorite boy band has slipped by them without acknowledging them in the slightest. The hysterical antics of these girls will get under your skin so much that the film’s two hour duration will feel like a vicious obstacle rather than just a statistic. While the animation is fantastic for the most part, there are certain sequences where the computerized effects in particular look extremely dated. Little girls in tanks seems like an odd concept to dump everything into, especially since its charm wears off minutes after it’s introduced. Girls und Panzer der Film is basically Battlebots with giant guns, tea drinking, and little girls at the helm.
There is some good in Girls und Panzer der Film. The animation is sensational and the tank battle sequences are entertaining to a small extent, but Tsutomu Mizushima’s follow-up to his own series is extremely flat, uninspiring, and tiresome in the writing and execution departments. It may have elements of Fury, Metal Slug, and Plastic Little, but Girls und Panzer der Film is as empty and lifeless as a rusted out tank with no crew or ammunition.