Girls Und Panzer, Vol. 1

By Girls Und Panzer Project and Ryohichi Saitaniya. Released in Japan by Media Factory, serialization ongoing in the magazine Comic Flapper. Released in North America by Seven Seas.

I wasn’t sure what to think of this title when I first saw it. It’s based off of an anime, though the fact that the story is by a ‘Prroject’ team clearly says they had multimedia franchise planned from the start. It’s also a moe manga about tanks, and I had assumed it would be similar to Strike Witches, a moe anime about fighter planes. This time, though, the girls are not anthropomorphic personifications, there’s no horribly gratuitous fanservice, and the cuteness actually welds itself into the story with no great effort. By the end of Volume 1, I was surprised to see how much I had enjoyed reading it.


This is not to say that the premise is not inherently RIDICULOUS. In fact, its very ridiculousness was one of the things that appealed to me before I read it. It takes place in a world much like ours except that, similar to flower arranging and tea ceremony, tank driving is a feminine art that all proper young ladies must know. Our heroines form a tank team at their high school and engage in mock combats, all the while extolling the virtues of tanks. If you can’t buy into this premise, this is definitely not the manga for you. It’s also not shy about its fetishing of tanks – there’s minimal fanservice of the girls here, but that’s possibly due to the long, lingering shots of treads and turret guns we see here – for once, we may have a moe manga where the cute girls doing cute things is just a spice.

I understand that the anime follows Miho, the shy but determined girl who seems to have some sort of tragic tank backstory. In the manga, however, she’s more of the cool and awesome sempai of the group. The manga’s viewpoint character is Yukari, who likes tanks a WHOOOOOLE lot, to the point where she’s alienated all of her old classmates. Thus she is over the moon to be attending a school where she can gush about tanks and not be shunned (though the others do think she goes a bit overboard). Yukari is fun, a loud, energetic tank otaku who gets to react a lot, just what you like in a typical cute heroine. The rest of the main cast includes Saori, who is on the lookout for cute boyfriends; Hana, who is the yamato nadesico of the group, and Mako, who seems to be combining the emotionless stoic and the odd weirdo into one cast member. I like her best, probably.

As I said before, what I think I like most about this manga adaptation is that it doesn’t do what I expected (note: this is Volume 1. Future volumes may make me eat my words). There are no long nude bath scenes, no one is groping everyone else’s boobs, no one trips and falls over all the time. It’s just girls and tanks, and mock battles (with hopefully mock ammo – it’s never made clear how injury is avoided). More to the point, the fact that it’s not focusing on the obvious lead character – Miho – gives it a sort of off-kilter perspective I enjoyed quite a bit. It may become more cliched later on, but for now, if you like a gonzo premise, girls being pretty awesome, and don’t mind a lot of tank warfare, this is a title for you.