DVD: £19.99; Blu-Ray: £24.99
09 Jun 2014
It feels like barely five minutes since we described the Girls und Panzer Complete TV Series Collection as “Fresh, funny and charming from start to finish”. With this in mind, expectations were high that this OVA collection from MVM Entertainment would provide more of the same.
The set starts as it means to go on, with a time honoured anime trope in the form of a beach episode, complete with swimsuit shopping trip and one thing the series proper managed to avoid: fan service by the bucket load. Next up, the girls head for some survival training, still in their swimsuits - yup, more fan service. Then we take a tour of the School Ship, with some explanation of the ship’s background and layout thrown in before we inevitably find ourselves led into the ship’s hot springs. The fourth episode in the set is dedicated entirely to the Anglerfish (Ankou) dance - to my mind this episode somewhat degrades the dance’s appearance in the series by removing the context and the embarrassment surrounding it. Hence, the sequence becomes purely about titillation, something far removed from the innocent charm that can be found in the series proper. Things take a slightly more serious turn in the penultimate episode, which covers a recon mission that took place during the match against Pravda Girls High School. The collection finishes with the girl’s victory party, which turns out to be more of a talent show than a party.
You’ve probably noticed from the above synopsis that there’s a distinct lack of tank action in these OVA episodes, and you'd be right in thinking that this set is all about fan service, making these episodes more akin to Girls und Pantsu than Girls und Panzer. The jokes come thick and fast from the outset, but the comedy here is much more overt and considerably less witty than the humour in the series. Crude humour and in-jokes are the mainstay here, marking a complete change of tone from the series and an unwelcome one for this reviewer. Even within that context most of the jokes fall flat - by far the best moment in the entire set comes in the second episode with a Monty Python reference, and that’s only funny because... well, it’s Monty Python (and even then it's only funny if you’re familiar with the reference!)
While the series proper is a unique blend of comedy, drama and sports anime, this OVA collection is pure fan service and is only sure to appeal to those fans who thought the series itself was missing the usual anime tropes such as visits to the beach and hot springs. The set’s entertaining enough but pales in comparison to the series, and as such it feels much more like a set of on-disc extras than a stand-alone full release. There’s a good reason for that, because for the Japanese market these OVAs were extras - due to restrictions placed by the Japanese licensor it’s a separate release here.
With that in mind the big question remains: is it worth the money? In my humble opinion, at the full SRP, no. The set feels like an extra to the series rather than a fully fledged release, which is hardly surprising given the format of the Japanese volumes, and it feels like a stretch too far to price it as a full retail release. Perhaps if the price drops at retail it would be easier to recommend, but as things stand it’s one for the die-hard fans and completionists only.