Girls und Panzer und Boys- Now what?


Chapter 1: OCs, here they come!

Boys Und Sensha-do is one of a large genre of Girls und Panzer fics that make a simple yet surprisingly popular change to the concept- adding boys. There are quite a few possible reasons for this. Some see it as a logical change- why shouldn't boys get involved in tankery? Others see it as a way of inserting their original characters into the plot.

Another Fandom-Specific Plot that exists on a lesser scale is boys flying World War II-era fighter planes.

Boys Und Sensha-do is not the first to go down either road, but it's one of the more popular Girls und Panzer fics on the site. And so, after seeing it on the Fanfic Recs page, I decided to give it a look, and found that it made an impression on me in a few different ways.

I'm neither a die-hard fan nor a rabid hater of this fanfic. There are things that it does well and things that it does not. But I have found a great deal to talk about regarding it, so much that I cannot fit it all into one of Fanfiction dot net's reviews. And so I decided to establish a liveblog, to provide a more comprehensive look at this fic.

I will admit to having certain biases, though, some of which are more obvious to others and others are ones I may not be fully aware of myself. For example, Maho has been my favorite Girls Und Panzer character since I first saw Chapter 7 of Little Army. I also don't know that much about tanks, so if you want an analogy, my perspective is closer to Saori's than Yukari's.

There's yet another disclaimer; there will be unmarked spoilers for Girls Und Panzer and this fic. With this fic, I will occasionally allude to future events, but I can't guarantee I won't spoil anything.

Now let us begin.

The fic, not unlike this liveblog, begins with a long author's note. The author expresses his desire to not refer to tankery by its English term, but its Japanese name. I tend to disagree, since I found tankery to be a good translation of the term, and tend to prefer using English terms when there is a good equivalent; when I write fanfics, I tend to use Japanese Honorifics and Japanese Sibling Terminology, and that's about it. The author tends to disagree, but I'll elaborate on that more later.

The author says that he gave everyone simunitions, saying that the sport was "dangerous enough" already. Fair enough; you need to approach tankery with a certain level of suspension of disbelief. However, this is not consistent with the impact rounds have when striking surfaces like rock and dirt; I doubt that the damage to those was somehow simulated, or that Hana could have blown up the snowbank like she did in Episode 8 if she were using a simunition round. Of course, the fact that they are simunition will become plot relevant later.

The author promises new schools and new characters. The use of OCs in fanfics can be risky; sometimes they can be pulled off well, but often, they come off as forgettable and cliche, if not a Mary Sue or Gary Stu.

Now the fic proper begins.

Much like Girls Und Panzer, it begins with an action scene. Before I discuss the particulars of that scene, I would like to point out that it's less necessary to do so here for the anime, and possibly even detrimental at that, given that it's in a text format. In the anime, the tank combat doesn't begin until near the end of the second episode, so there has to be something to hook viewers. In Girls Und Panzer fan fiction, there are good fics that forgo tankery combat entirely.

But one problem fanfics have is trying to live up to what canon did and falling short, to say nothing of attempts to improve on it (Do not even get me started on the attempts to "improve" Naruto by turning him into a cynical anti-hero who hates the Leaf Village and is willing to kill Sasuke).

Unlike the anime, in which the girls shown were entirely new to viewers who hadn't looked at summaries of the work or promotional material, and only Mako was referred to by name, there's a mix of familiar and new characters. A newcomer named Akio observes the tanks with Miho, taking a more active leadership than Senmonka, Keibiin, or Gunjin.

Miho and Akio's tanks fire on the enemy, taking out two of them. This seems somewhat easy compared to most of Miho's matches, but I'll go with it for now.

At this point, Akio thinks back to how he got here- an odd thing to do in the middle of a battle, but a decent segue back to the actual start of the story.

The scene shifts to Akio- the male lead and most important OC, with his grandfather. Akio reveals that he would be doing Sentoki-do, the family's art of flying a fighter plane, but for the fact that he is too scared to try it. This would suggest some degree of similarity with Miho, but Akio's grandfather is relatively understanding.

At this point, the Gratuitous Japanese begins, not just terms like "school ship" and the aforementioned "sensha-do" and "sentoki-do", but also "Ojii-san" (for "grandfather"), and even "Hai".

The discussion continues, and Akio reveals that 1)his school ship has been shut down, and 2)he's transferring to Oarai, which is now accepting boys because of financial problems. The first is entirely plausible; the official the Oarai student council mentioned that they were in the process of consolidating, and it took an extraordinary effort for them to save their school. The second is slightly harder to swallow, since I've rarely heard of schools going coed just to get more students.

Akio mentions that there are few electives that would appeal to him as a man, apart from tankery. I can see this being true for Flower Arranging, Incense (which Miho chose instead of tankery) and Tea Ceremony. You could make a case for Calligraphy and Magic. But what about Aikido, Long Sword, Archery and Ninjutsu? Manly young men could take those without losing any of their "street cred", so to speak, and while I can understand Akio choosing what he does, I think he's ruling out the other options too easily.

Akio's grandfather mentions that he managed to get the Sensha-do federation to allow men in exchange for letting Kuromorimine into the Aces Authority. The fic goes into some of the politics behind tankery (I'll keep on using this term except for the name of the Sensha-do Federation).

We return to Oarai and our canon characters. Evidently, the switch over to a coed school happened mid-year, without much warning or time to adjust. This seems like a somewhat impractical decision, but also one that lets the author keep the third-years, such as the Student Council, most of the Auto Club, Sodoko and Piyotan around.

Miho hears that 16 new males have joined the tankery team, and Miho goes about assigning them. Six of them get assigned to a tank whose members have similar interests to theirs, and the remaining ten need to put in new tanks.

The narrative returns to Akio and his former schoolmates on a plane, where it's made clear that Akio is deathly afraid of flying. To get his mind off of it, they discuss the Oarai vs. Kuromorimine match. The conversation eventually turns to the transfer, and Isamu is fairly excited about being with girls who haven't seen boys in weeks and weeks.

Unfortunately, by this point, I'm not getting much of a feel for the new characters apart from Akio. Granted, most of Girls Und Panzer's secondary characters don't have all that much depth to them, but Saori and Hana establish their personalities as a friendly and energetic boy-chaser, and an elegant and proper lady fairly quickly. These characters seem to be on level with Rabbit Team in that they only have slight variations from each other.

The fic goes back and shows Anglerfish for the first time, briefly describing their personalities. I won't repeat it here, since if you're familiar with the show, none of what is said about them in those paragraphs will be new.

The fic then mentions that Miho won against Kuromorimine and her older sister Maho. What is new, is that:

"Miho heard that her mother intended to disown her. She still did, but then Maho told her to avoid speaking with mother at almost any cost."

The second sentence is extremely confusing. Does it mean that Shiho has, in fact, disowned Miho? Later developments seem to suggest that's not the case, even though that's what I gathered from the sentence.

As for the entire subject of disowning, the fic seems to be going by the anime continuity. In the manga, Miho is told in Chapter 10, after the off-panel dinner with the student council, that she will be disowned if she does not win against Pravda. Obviously, she does, but the scene in which she's planning to surrender despite knowing that becomes as painful to read as it is painful to Yukari (Miho's fangirl, who overheard the conversation) to watch. The manga also explains why Shiho went home without saying anything to Miho after the match; if Miho wins, she doesn't have to follow through.

Some Sentoki-do planes arrive, but are set aside, because the minimum time for joining the Sentoki-do Aces Authority is a year. That's somewhat interesting; most fics would have included the planes immediately. Yukari is disappointed to hear it, though, although one would have to imagine that if Sentoki-do existed in the Girls Und Panzer universe, we'd have heard about it from her.

The teams get set up, and in the middle of putting the tanks into storage, they find two tanks in the same location of long-term storage. Granted, Oarai is short on cash, but one has to wonder why they are finding tanks when they searched the entire ship, and only found the Chi-Nu because it was in the middle of the parking lot, and had been passed over because the search parties thought that it was worthless if it had been kept in plain sight the entire time.

Akio finds that his apartment is next to Miho's and, almost like Anteater Team before him, a new tank is found around the time he joins. If you've started reading after the pairing brackets were added to "Miho N" and "OC" on this site, you can tell that they're already setting up Miho and Akio to get together.

Akio's crew gets the Panzer III/IV, while the boys of the model club get the KV-1S. The former is "super-rare", and as it was never even prototyped, only replicas exist. The latter is not as good as the Porsche Tiger (although presumably free of its mechanical flaws), but better than most of the other tanks.

Granted, the crews have been put into whatever tanks were newly available around the time they were found, and the author later makes a point that the canon characters would have to relearn their new tanks. But it seems a little unfair that the newcomers get tanks superior to those that their contemporaries get, and a possible sign of them becoming overpowered in the future.

The chapter then ends with Miho setting a practice time.

An author's note describes some of the tanks, and suggests that if the fic goes on long enough, we will eventually get to see Sentoki-do in action.

Now for a comments section of what I liked, what I didn't, and what I think of Akio in the story thus far, taking into account what has happened until this point.

What I liked:
  • Exploring the long-term struggles Oarai might face in the future.
  • Actually having a plausible reason for boys to suddenly show up at the school.
  • Significant amount of worldbuilding.

What I didn't like:

Evaluation of Akio So Far: He's not especially interesting at this point, but doesn't seem like much of a Gary Stu.

Please feel free to leave comments, questions, criticism, or so forth- after all, I am sharing my opinion on this work- and stay tuned for the next installment, which will go into Chapter 2.