krpalmer: (anime)
[personal profile] krpalmer
When I got around at last to watching the Girls und Panzer anime, I already had two volumes of its manga waiting to be read, a sort of "doubling down" on the risk of a particular "cross-platform story" not quite agreeing with me I do seem to be taking every so often these days. However, in this case I did grow to feel and enjoy a sense of lighthearted, straightforward absurdity to a tale of cute high school girls in live-fire tank competitions, and I wound up ready to head to the manga. The only wrinkle there was knowing the story was an "anime original": while it's familiar enough to see anime series adapted from manga criticised for "inventing their own endings" or for "stopping abruptly," not to mention for "leaving things out," "not looking as good," or just "getting the pacing wrong" too, manga series adapted from anime can leave me with the suspicion they've been assigned to artists who can't handle series of their own because the cheapskates who won't buy the actual home video releases don't deserve any better.

My impression now for why I'd started buying the manga as well in that case now has something to do with having overheard it took a slightly different tack on the story and focused not on Miho Nishizuni, the at first reluctant tank crew and school team leader, but on Yukari Akiyama, the shell-loader on Miho's crew, who quickly shows great enthusiasm for tanks in general. With that in mind, I could get over a first impression that there was something awkward to the art; I did eventually pick up, though, that where in the anime the girls had crosses on their sailor uniforms as if they went to a religious school, in the manga they had German military eagles (not quite going all the way to a full and no doubt controversial emulation of the World War II model).

There was a big surprise worked into the manga partway through, where the story gets to the battle against the schoolgirls in Italian tanks that was skipped over in the television series; in the manga, Yukari takes command of one of the latest tanks the team has scraped together, which was completely different from the battle animated later in "OVA" form. I was inclined to be impressed, even imagining how the rest of the story would play out after this "point of divergence"; however, once it was over Yukari was back in Miho's tank slinging shells again. That was somehow a bit of a letdown, at least until I did happen to think the art had improved with practice almost while I hadn't been noticing.

Right around then, though, I had to face how while I'd started off being able to read the first several volumes of the manga in rapid succession I was now stuck waiting for the final instalment. In the meantime, however, another manga in the franchise had been published in English, "Girls & Panzer Little Army," set back in Miho's grade-school days. The art in it seemed just a bit better to me, but I did have the strong impression it amounted to a "true prequel," the sort of work that only really works when you're aware of where the main character ends up; I eventually got to wondering, though, if it did so much with "interpersonal drama" as compared to the original story where everyone was enthusiastic and got along pretty well that some of the absurd fun was missing. I was, in any case, able to ponder a bit about how the spinoff's original characters might be fit back in "after" the main story.

A while after that, the concluding volume of the "core" manga showed up. In the final showdown of the anime the focus had concentrated to some extent on Miho, and in the manga Yukari seemed mostly just there to think about the struggles and successes of her captain. The story also seemed a very close adaptation of the anime by now as well. It was still a fun conclusion, though, and this particular echo of the anime left me feeling all right again.
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