Ongoing Investigations: Case #222

narutaki_icon_4040 I enjoyed reading up through volume 4 of Dengeki Daisy but it does have me questioning the ability of the story to continue for so much longer. It is still running.

At this point, Teru has discovered that Kurosaki and Daisy are in fact the same person (which we the audience knew all along). But she doesn’t confront him with this knowledge nor does Kurosaki realize Teru has figured out the truth. Each has admitted their growing feelings to confidants, with Kurosaki failing miserably to push his aside. Their closeness and the precipice of love is very obvious now.

I found the growing friendships, especially in vol. 4, to be particularly satisfying. Especially that of haughty Rena who is quite hilarious in her feigned indifference to Teru’s life and problems. Kiyoshi having the upper hand (since he knows Daisy’s identity as well as Kurosaki’s affections for Teru) when it comes to Kurosaki is also quite entertaining.

As I’d hoped, more haunts from Teru’s brother (and maybe Kurosaki’s) past turn up at the end of the volume. I am also starting to suspect Teru’s brother may not be dead after all.

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hisui_icon_4040 Never say that I won’t listen to a decent recommendation. Recently I had several people directly and indirectly recommend that I watch Girls und Panzer. I’m not exactly sure what exactly about me says, “This guy would love Girls und Panzer.” Is it that I come off as a person with an open mind and broad tastes? It is because I’m half German and therefore must love Blitzkrieging? Or do people just think I’m some sort of horrible icky moe fanatic?

Then again I’m not sure I want to know what about me says that to my friends. It might just be a secret that is best unexplored.

Girls und Panzer exists in an alternate timeline where tanks warfare is VERY different from what we know. For one thing it is a competitive sport descended from a military science like fencing or jousting. Tanks fire nonlethal shells which set off sensors that gauge hits. The major difference is that tankery is almost exclusively considered a pastime for women.

The shy Miho Nishizumi comes from a long line of tank commanders but goes specifically to a school without a tank program to escape her panzer related fate. Despite her timid nature she makes two fast friends on their first day.  But the student council president blackmails Miho and her two companions into join the tank club under the threat of making their lives horrible otherwise. Can Miho love to love the roar of an M1 Abrams? Can she lead the school tankery team to victory?

Girls und Panzer is a better show that I thought it would be. I’m hardly amazing but it is far better than it has any right to be. That is both a mixture of faint and legitimate praise. Overall the cute girls doing things genre can be pretty awful or just plain tedious so a show that is neither is an accomplishment. But “It is not complete torture” is hardly a ringing endorsement. Beyond that Girls und Panzer has some actually parts that are enjoyable and fun.

Miho is your fairly standard shy but warmhearted female protagonist. She has trouble making friends but is a good person who supports her friends when the chips are down. She is likeable if a bit bland and most of her character beyond that comes from her checked past with tanks and family. Hana Isuzu is a very Yamato Nadeshiko styled character to the point where she comes form a family known for flower arrangement. She is actually be a rebel by being in the tank club. And the main trio is round out by the best member of the team, Saori Takebe. She thinks she is a Gentlemen Killer that is a mixture of Mine Fujiko and Lum Invader that all the men can’t help but fall in love with. In the end she is mostly just a cheerful dork.

Later on the team is rounded out with Yukari Akiyama who is a crazy tank otaku which makes her insanely popular with the show’s target demographic-. If anyone is an audience surrogate character it is her. Mako Reizei is the last to join the team and she is brilliant but lazy.

The girls mainly stick to broad archetypes which is sort of the broad personalities the genre is known for. If you’re looking for innovate characters the closest your going to get is Saori with her odd delusion of being this hyper sex goddess despite being horribly naive. But if you’re sick of the standard cute girl tropes you are mostly going the be massaging your head the whole time.

There are four other groups that make up the other teams at school. They mostly seem to be there to get hit and show how formidable the other teams are. Since there are a lot of them they generally have a group personality with each member having a strong quirk more than distinct characters. The Student council team is there to move the plot and have the President be a manipulative bastard especially to her two underlings. The former volleyball team is filled with girls with “Hard Work and Guts” emblazoned on their souls. The Reki-jo team has to be the oddest bunch of them all. They are obsessive history fan girls who cosplay historical figures. Narutaki put it best when she said it was like they were what would happen if a group of Hetalia fangirls got a hold of a tank. And the six freshmen girls mostly seems to exist to be the absolute worst. At everything. They are distinctly NOT the team made up of Strong Female Women™.

A question I know that will be asked about any of these shows is how bad is the fan-service. While it is not omnipresent it is distinctly present. While there are no major panty shots or lingering cleavage shots there is usually one piece of distinct eye candy every episode. They will go a whole episode without anything major and then the busty member of the student council will be washing their tank in a bikini or they will recruit Mako in the bath. It’s hardly oppressive but it is still very clearly there when it wants to be.

It does also firmly exist in the pink zone. Anyone who is a main cast member is female. Men exist. We see them in the town around the school, watching matches, and interacting with the girls on occasion. But so far nothing close to a supporting character has been male. That said the yuri bait has been fairly minimal. When you have a cast like this the fans are going to make it but the show itself does not overtly cater to it too much. Binbogami ga! had far more in a single chapter than the first 4 episodes I saw combined.

So the real question is should YOU watch Girls und Panzer? The answer comes down to a simple question of “What is my opinion of the “Cute Girls Doing Stuff genre?” If you a sick of it then this is not the show to change your mind. While it executes the formula well it does not particularly innovate  other than the fact that the subject mater is hardly the standard girl joins sport team X and learns the power of friendship (and perhaps sapphic love.)  On the other hand if you still enjoy the formula then this is a nice variation of the theme.

Will fans of fans of tanks like this series? I have no idea. Those people are just weird and hard to please. But so could be said of any military hardware fanatic.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.

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Every Witch Way but Loose

hisui_icon_4040 I am hardly a person unfamiliar with pessimism. As I always joke that some people see the glass half filled, some people see it half empty, but I see it close to empty and probably filled with poison. But at times I have to wonder what dark pool of empty dread like the stare of the Great Old Ones must people be drawing their fears from to get so fatalistically morbid. There is a world of difference between being slightly cynically cautious and unhealthly fatalistic.

Oddly enough Masaaki Yuasa’s “Kick-Heart” Kickstarter seemed to draw out a lot of this negative aura. What should have been a moment of triumph had the feeling of a Pyrrhic victory. It invoked a scene were in the village was technically saved but as the heroes survey the ruins of their home they wonder if they paid a higher price than it was worth. But in many ways the recent smashing success of Time of Eve and Little Witch Academia proves that maybe people were worried over nothing.

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