Welp. Girls und Panzer certainly one-upped themselves with this fight. They’ve managed to do a lot of things right, and even though they have several parts rather wrong, it’s still a great and entertaining effort. Unfortunately, the deciding moment is pretty much a clone of Ooarai’s match with Saunders.
What’s special about this match is that you can smell Ooarai’s big mistake way before the match even starts, even the dimmest of people should be able to see what’s going to happen when Miho listens to her team’s “idea” of essentially running straight at the enemy as fast as they can, if not when she specifically notes that Pravda’s specialty is counterattacks in her notes.
So when the match starts Ooarai drives off towards the enemy at combat speed, ready and willing to shoot them full of holes. It takes a while, but first contact comes in the form of 3 of T-34/76’s, Pravda’s weakest link.
They take two ofthe T-34’s down without so much as a scratch. This only serves to fuel Ooarai’s bravado, and they immediately move to chase down the third T-34 when it runs. All is going well for the Ooarai team so far, their outing only tainted by a “this is going too well” by Miho.
The Ooarai team is led to what is the definition of an “irresistible target”. Two T-34/85’s and three T-34/76’s, one of which is their flag. And, true to the meaning of the phrase, they fail their Willpower checks and jump right in.
One of the 85’s goes down before the rest beat a hasty retreat, now the willingness to lead with their face is in full force with Ooarai as they chase them straight into a huge mistake. That is, a town, or in otherwords: a nest of blind spots and cover.
Miho loses control of her own team at this point. She clearly knows something is terribly wrong but at this point the head can only follow where the body drags it and try not to get into too much trouble.
While her team shouldn’t have chased too far in the first place, all this could have been avoided if miho grew a backbone and bigger lungs. At any rate, into the town they go, where 3 of the 4 tanks mysteriously disappear…
The flag tank however, is in plain view as it (very expertly, I might add) plays peekaboo around the corner of the building and manages to play hell with their aim. After like 8 shots into dirt, Pravda finally springs their devious trap, all of their tanks come out of hiding places behind buildings and in holes and all over the place to reveal that they have their prey surrounded an a death net of bad feelings and sad times.
Luckily for Ooarai, Pravda proves to have marksmanship only slightly better than Saunders, only managing to break a couple modules (main gun, tracks, turret ring, etc.) before Miho and company manage to take cover in a large church.
At this point Miho is given a choice of unconditional surrender, or the destruction of their tanks. There is also a short break where they do some plot revealing, morale boosting, and on foot recon (as well as an episode’s break somewhere in between) before plans are prepared and everyone rolls out again.
This is where the fight really takes off. As expected, Katyusha put up a net around the only door in the church large enough to fit a tank. As Miho and co break out, they head straight for the strongest part of her net, which was the obvious thing to do. (both plot-wise and possibly strategy wise. Katyusha does reveal that she left a hole in her net on purpose, so which way to go is dependent on your confidence in your troops and how deep you read into the situation)
After another rather miraculous set of misses as Ooarai leaves the church, they get in formation and zigzag straight towards their exit point. Due to surprise (as I’m going to believe it), Ooarai breaks through the net easily, and to delay at least a part of their pursuit, the Pz38(t) goes on a rather interesting streak.
This is marked when the president takes over the gunner’s seat (why momo was ever in there is a mystery to me) and knocks out a T-34/85 rather nonchalantly on the way out with a point-blank shot into the side of its turret.
After that, the 38(t) takes on the IS-2, a t-34/85, and two t-34/76’s. The Student council team does some truly brilliant maneuvering here, better than any I’ve seen so far in the show. Knowing the strength of her gun, the president only takes shots when close enough to matter. She even goes for the tracks to stop them from moving, a first (non-accidentally, anyway) in the series. (btw if I were doing that 12 days thing, going after the tracks would definitely be in there)
After all of that, the Pz38(t) is knocked out of the battlefield, leaving two knocked out T-34/76’s, a tracked T-34/85, and unfortunately, and IS-2 with naught but a damaged exhaust pipe.
Meanwhile, Miho and co are busy leading the rest of Pravda on a merry chase. That is, until our tank commander hits upon the idea of taking the StuG with her and going off in search of their flag tank.
And so when they come upon a hill, they wait in a blind spot on either side and wait for Pravda to pass. While I’ll admit it’s hard to see when you’re focused on a chase and inside a tank, come on I know how much people like to poke their head’s outside someone should have made a perception check.
Anyway, they get away clean and now it’s a chase to see who can kill the flag first (sound familiar, anyone?). Of course, realizing they only have a foggy idea of where Pravda’s tank is, Miho asks Yukari to go out and recon once more.
After finding the elusive tank, Miho immediately gives chase. Meanwhile, Ooarai loses the M3 Lee. And so the chase starts properly, with the type running across the snowy plains, and the T-34/76 running between cover and leading the enemy into her friendlies.
Speaking of leading, First up on the list of obstacles was the KV-2. Normally a very tough armored beast, it is here reduced to an example of the second revelation: weak points! Yes, armor has weak points! Are we finally going to take advantage of them? YES FINALLY. It may be because they’ve finally learned to shoot well enough to take advantage of weakpoints, but it’s taken them long enough. (also note how the KV-2 has angled its hull to maximize chances of bouncing, they clearly know what they’re doing)
At any rate, the KV-2 is dispatched without the chance to fire, and Miho is back to chasing the flag tank, and Ooarai has lost their Char (lol) B1! Tension!
Miho realizes what the enemy flag is doing, and has the StuG play the waiting game like a good TD while she leads them into their trap. A very good strategy, one that finally takes advantage of the StuG’s ability to hide, but also extremely dependent on how your target reacts to being shot at, so very risky at the same time.
Both the IS-2 and the StuG shoot at nearly the same time, and both hit the target. The episode breaks here for a cliffhanger, but as I clearly saw (and a couple people doubted me on: https://twitter.com/R1CK_D0M/status/278971960229249025), the IS-2’s hit was shallow, only tracking the type, therefore giving Ooarai the win.
That concludes the battle between Ooarai and Pravda! Now to wait for the episodes with their fight against Kuromorimine. Hopefully I’ll be able to confirm what tanks Maho is using by then.
PS: Why is it that whenever the enemy notices a tank missing or something else out of place it’s always “who cares?” or “Probably just broke”? Please care for once. They are most likely doing something.
PPS: Also, what is the obsession with making your flag tank the smallest weakest thing to run around with and get shot and die? Why not make your flag tank the biggest baddest thing on the lot, something that can fight on its own and draw in enemies to their death while being supported by friendlies, like the IS-2? Or better yet, a tank that’s easy to hide, like the StuG in the above picture? Finding that thing would be dead hard.