Thoughts from Girls und Panzer das Finale Part 3

As Sentai Filmworks gradually releases the Girls und Panzer das Finale films, I look forward to watching them and following the tank girls on this last endeavor. This time, it’s Part 3, and it continues to bring the things that make the series memorable.

To call them films is perhaps a tad misleading, as they usually have about 60-minute run times, and there isn’t really a complete narrative arc from start to finish. It’s probably better to think of them like hour-long OVAs, or perhaps even old black-and-white serials a la Flash Gordon.

das Finale is surely not meant for anyone but veteran fans of the show: The fact that episodes end in mid-match cliffhangers means they have to quickly establish the situation or rely on the viewers to remember where they are. Here, the movie begins with the heroines of Ooarai Academy engaged in a surprisingly difficult battle with the previously weak Chi-Ha-Tan Academy. As the story progresses, evidence of character growth (mainly in the arena of tank combat, of course) relies on having prior knowledge of how they behaved in the prequel works. Case in point, seeing the first-years team start to come into their own in Part 3 means knowing where they started. And while it’s technically not personal development, seeing Mako in a night battle acting hyper-alert—in contrast to her lethargic daytime self—is something I can appreciate both as a gag and a story element for a fight.

Even more than the TV series or der Film, das Finale focuses on tank battles. The willingness to more or less portray protracted fights and not skip around is appreciated. Although the matches between the non-Ooarai teams naturally get less screen time, the ways they show one school overcoming another (as well as how and why) puts the brain-centric combat of Girls und Panzer on full display.

If there’s one thing to take away from Girls und Panzer das Finale Part 3, it’s the way that it emphasizes the importance of protagonist Nishizumi Miho, whose tactical mind is arguably unmatched in the series. The question it presents in this context is whether the rest of Ooarai can step up to the plate when needed. I expect the later films to make this an increasingly prominent theme as we get closer to the end, and I have faith that the team will shine.

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