"The year Oarai Academy revived its tankery program was also the year when Nishizumi Miho and Miyanaga Saki returned to tankery. The story of the tournament that year also became their story, the story of two girls who had once given up, but became willing to do whatever was necessary to win
and accomplish what they set out to do."
What if Miho wasn't the only Oarai Academy student who gave up tankery as a result of unpleasant experiences with it? What if the game that Saki believed tore her family apart but is also her best shot at reconciling with her sister, was tankery rather than mahjong?Necessary to Win
is a Girls und Panzer
crossover by Theralion, featuring characters from the Saki series attending school at Oarai and other schools, as well as competing in the national tankery tournament. Note that all chapter numbers are those given in the fic, rather than those on Fanfiction.net's numbering; note
Necessary To Win can be found here
. It can be divided into a few story arcs.
Necessary To Win Story Arcs
- Introduction Arc: (Chapters 1-6, Interlude 1) In order to return to tankery, Oarai must gather tanks from around the school ships, and recruit as many students as possible. But even having taken those steps and having recruited so many students, success is not by any means guaranteed...
- Anzio Arc: (Chapters 7-10, Interlude 2 and 3)Oarai goes up against an opponent that's by no means the strongest, but still confident in their chances of winning against Oarai. Meanwhile, Miho is forced to confront the issue that caused her to leave Black Forest...
- St. Gloriana Arc: (Chapters 11-14, Interludes 4 and 5) Oarai realizes that they must improve their skills and their arsenal to deal with progressively more difficult opponents. Their opponent this time is stronger, and is led by a girl from Hisa's past...
- Pravda Arc: (Chapters 15-18, Interlude 6) Meanwhile, on the other side of the semifinals bracket, Black Forest goes up against the team that claimed the championship in the previous tournament. But Maho fears that this time, the battle is about more than a championship...
- Saunders Arc: (Chapter 19-22, Interludes 7 and 8) The difficulty of Oarai's penultimate opponent is significantly above any of those they had faced before, leaving some to wonder whether they can continue winning. Unfortunately, the stakes are significantly higher than they expect...
- The Finals Arc: (Chapter 23-28, Interlude 9) Oarai goes into the decisive battle, with many of its members having a goal to accomplish or something to prove. But even if they do succeed, what will the future hold...?
A prequel, titled Necessary to Win: Paths Toward Victory
is in progress, and can be found here
The fic contains examples of:
- A Day in the Limelight:
- Each of the teams get one in Chapter 2, indicating why they're doing tankery and the search for their tank.
- In Chapter 24, each of the teams is featured in greater detail, showing their thoughts on the upcoming final battle, as well as the possibility of the school shutting down.
- Arc Words: The title is referenced at a few points, such as when the story discusses what must be done to win, whether winning is absolutely necessary, and whether the characters have what it takes to win.
- Bechdel Test: Passes. The girls talk with each other about a variety of subjects.
- Bittersweet Ending: Oarai wins the tournament, enabling it to stay open. Several other characters have accomplished what they have set out to do; Miho has found her own way of tankery, Saki and her sister have reconciled, Nodoka is allowed to stay a her current school, Mako gets the tardies stricken from her record, and Hana has gotten her mother to accept her doing tankery. Not all characters are satisfied, though; Saki and Teru's parents divorce, rather than getting back together as they had hoped, and in the end, many characters, such as Momo and Yumi, are forced to say goodbye to each other as a result of graduating. Some problems remain, as Miho's mother has not disowned her, but does not regret doing so, and the future of Oarai is by no means guaranteed. But the characters remain hopeful, and remain committed to working toward their goals, with Miho and Saki having come to enjoy tankery again.
- Book Ends:
- The story begins with a few paragraphs of information that apply to both Saki and Miho, about how each left tankery, but returned once Oarai revived its tankery program. The story ends by showing what they accomplished.
- In the first scene, Miho is called into the Student Council office to explain her decision not to take tankery; once she does, she leaves, and passes by the mahjong club, who's waiting for their meeting. In the end, she and Saki go into the office to tell the Student Council that they're going to their sisters' graduation ceremonies, and after leaving, pass by the new Student Council, before encountering Yumi and Momo.
- Breather Episode: Chapter 15 mainly focuses on some of the characters' families, and how they feel about tankery and some of the other events.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Several in the first round, such as Oarai vs. Anzio, Black Forest vs. Chihatan, Saunders vs. Joghurt, and Pravda vs. Bosporu.
- Darkest Hour: Oarai vs. Saunders. Octopus Team's tank suffers engine failure in the river, and Miho learns that not only will she get disowned and her friend Nodoka will have to change schools if they lose, but Oarai will get shut down.
- Doorstopper: Necessary To Win is over 275,000 words long.
- Double Meaning Title:
- The title used as a reference to times when one has to win, and the what one must be or do in order to win.
- Chapter 7’s title subtly refers to Oarai’s determination to succeed despite the odds, and Maho’s interest in seeing Miho’s performance.
- Chapter 14: “Reunion.” It refers to Hisa finally recognizing Mihoko, and the Achiga girls’ impending reunion with Nodoka.
- Downer Ending: Most matches end happily for the main characters, but the exception is Black Forest vs. Pravda. Pravda is defeated, dashing their hopes. Maho, by winning, validates Shiho’s belief that Miho is responsible for their previous defeat, and puts her at risk of being disowned.
- Down to the Last Play
- Black Forest vs. Pravda. Hiroe's tank just barely fails to disable the Black Forest flag tank, while Maho takes out Pravda's flag tank.
- Oarai vs. Saunders. Kay pursues Sparrow Team, but is taken out by Hippo Team before she can defeat them. Shortly afterward, Octopus Team snipes the Saunders flag tank from a hilltop.
- The finals, as in canon, goes down to a duel between Miho and Maho's tanks.
- Everyone Has Standards: A recurring theme of this fic is how far people will go to achieve their goals.
- Teru, while saying why she denied beeing related to Saki, says that it's possible for people to consider those who weren't related to them by blood as family, but not see their blood relatives as family. The former applies to a sense with Mizuho, who had a sister-like relationship with Teru and Saki despite being a distant relative.
- Teru's comment referring to people being disowned by their families disturbs Maho, who had considered the possibility of it happening to Miho. Miho is threatened with disownment unless she wins the semifinals.
- When Miho and Hisa are trying to get Anzu to replace Momo as a gunner, Momo remarks that Anzu won't help out outside of an emergency, but Anzu agrees to it after Hisa points out that Anzu doesn't walk away or slack off when times are difficult, "especially not now." Like in canon, Oarai's existence is on the line in the tournament.
- Teru seems unusually interested in hearing about what happened to the members of one of Maho's crews, after they had an accident. She was in a similar incident, and the outcome was much less pleasant.
- Sumire asks Teru if she wants to say anything about Miho's decision to save the sinking tank, and is about to compare it to something else, but Teru preemptively says that the comparison doesn't apply. It turns out that Teru was in a similar situation once in the past, succeeding in saving Saki and herself, but failing to save Mizuho. She believes Miho's decision was easy compared to hers, (since Miho could have aborted the rescue, and could save all the girls), but later tells Miho she did the right thing.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Atago family. Hiroe is Choleric, Kinue is Sanguine, Hiroko is Melancholic, and Masae is Phlegmatic.
- Freudian Trio:
- One is implied between Ami, Kikuyo and Takako in the past, before a rift formed between Ami and Takako over Takako's methods of discipline. In an interesting variation, the conflict is between The Kirk and The Spock in this case.
- Another exists between Nodoka's three friends from Achiga. Shizuno is The McCoy, highly energetic but not much for thinking things through, Ako is The Spock, typically being the one to consider the requirements and ramifications of certain things, and Kuro, being between the two, is The Kirk.
- Fusion Fic: The Saki characters attend the Girls und Panzer schools and do tankery.
- In Spite of a Nail: In the alternate ending, Teru, despite never facing Saki in the finals, still reconciles with her, having been horrified to hear about Shiho disowning Miho, and realizing that the way she had been treating Saki was no better.
- Laser-Guided Karma: The Atagos believe that this is happening to Black Forest in the finals, with "the girl they all but forced out" leading an untested team against her old school. Kuroko, also known as "Jagdpanther-chan" also believes she's the victim of this; she was friends with Miho, but didn't speak out in her defense before she left, so she believes getting detracked by one of Miho's teammates is her punishment.
- Last Episode New Character: The new Student Council appears for the first time in the last chapter, as does Masae's husband.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: A natural result when combining two series that each qualify for this trope. There are more than 100 named characters in this fic.
- Meaningful Background Event: In Saki’s Interlude, a blonde-haired girl is seen walking with Teru as they meet up with Saki and Sumire. Said girl turns out to be Saki and Teru’s foster sister
- Mythology Gag: A few of them, mainly involved with Saki.
- Hisa vaguely references Yasuko losing to someone younger than her in the past, a reference to Yasuko's defeat against Koromo.
- Toki, while hospitalized during the match between Pravda and Black Forest, wishes that she could use astral projection to help Ryuuka know where to go in order to win, much like Ryuuka's ability in the captain match of the semi-finals of Saki.
- As the Saunders team discusses how to deal with Oarai, Mairu suggests that they could afford to make some sacrifices to gain the advantage, not unlike how she favored giving up the vanguard match by placing someone who wasn't good enough to win but wouldn't go under 0, and having the stronger players recoup the losses. Kirame, the said sacrifice from canon, suggests that it would be a way for them to help the team, but Himeko, who, in canon, had reservations about the plan, tells Kirame not to sell herself short.
- In Toki's final scene, it's pointed out that she can't see the future, a reference to her ability.
- Meaningful Echo: In the prologue of Paths Toward Victory, after Hiroe antagonizes Shiho, Masae scolds her, but Shiho asks if she disagrees with Hiroe. When Masae finally is pushed into giving a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Shiho, Miho tries to protest, and Hiroe asks if she disagrees with Masae.
- Not His Sled:
- In Girls und Panzer, while spending time in town after their practice match against St. Gloriana, the girls run into Hana's mother, who disowns her after finding out that she's been doing tankery. Here, the girls just miss Hana's mother, although she finds out later.
- Several canon matchups are different. Anzio loses to Oarai in the first round, rather than the second. St. Gloriana, rather than losing to Black Forest in the semifinals, loses to Oarai in the second round. Pravda makes it to the semifinals, but loses to Black Forest rather than Oarai; Oarai's semifinals opponent is Saunders instead.
- During the semifinals, an incident similar to Rabbit Team stalling in the river happens (but to Octopus Team), and at that point, Momo is forced to reveal that Oarai is at risk of shutting down unless it wins the tournament. In the finals, Rabbit Team makes it across the river, but loses a tread and has to stay behind.
- During the finals, Rabbit and Duck Team are eliminated early on, while the Maus quickly defeats Leopon and Turtle Team, forcing a change of tactics later in the battle.
- One Steve Limit: Averted with a vengeance. Pairs of characters with the same names include:
- Saki Miyanaga and Saki Maruyama.
- Maho Nishizumi and Maho Yumeno.
- Mako Someya and Mako Reizei.
- Momo Kawashima and Momoko “Stealth Momo” Touyoko.
- Hiroko Funakubo and Hiroko Murohashi
- Kei Haramura and Kei Arakawa.
- Origins Episode: The Interludes function as this, with the characters in question telling their stories to others in the present, as well as flashbacks. Paths Toward Victory is this for several characters.
- Plot-Triggering Death: Mizuho’s death serves this role in the Miyanaga sisters’ backstory, resulting in Teru's shift in personality, and the family falling apart..
- Pragmatic Adaptation: A few changes are made to the Saki characters' backstories to accommodate tankery. For example, Kuro is in the same year as Nodoka, Shizuno and Ako so that they could hang out with each other at Harue's club; if Kuro had been a year older, she would be going to middle school out at sea. Since Arata is Kuro's classmate, she is also a year younger.
- Second-Hand Storytelling: Parts of the Interludes are told to other characters in the present, and as such, are often colored by the speakers' biases and gaps in their knowledge.
- Sequel Hook: In the final chapter, Masae considers seeking out Shiho to understand why she would decide to disown Miho, and several of Oarai's former opponents resolve to improve their performance and take the championship next year.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Somewhat on the idealistic side. Characters persist against considerable odds and while they may not always succeed, the fact that they do so is considered admirable, and their efforts often bear fruit in and of themselves.
- Sliding Scale of Plot Versus Characters: Heavily on the Characters side, as characters' conflicts drive the plot forward, and characters' lives are explored in depth in the Interludes.
- Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Done somewhat more linearly than the original series. While Anzio is weaker than BC Freedom, which Oarai faces in the practice battle, the other opponents get progressively more difficult over time.
- Take That: A subtle one to Boys Und Sensha-do. As Maho thanks Masae for being understanding of her true motives, she mentions that she had been worried that Masae would presume to know what she would have done in that situation if she had a sister (as in Boys und Sensha-do, Akio had told Maho that if he had a sister, he would be there for her all the time). Masae then comments that she does have a younger sister(Masaki, who's Hiroko's mother), but she doesn't know what she would have done in Maho's situation.
- The Stations of the Canon: Some canon events are referenced, although they often take place in different settings, and some matches are against different opponents (for example, Oarai practices against BC Freedom, rather than St. Gloriana).
- Title Drop: The title is dropped somewhat frequently, in various contexts
- Chapter 4: While worried about how likely she is to win the tournament, Nodoka eventually shifts her focus to the present and concludes that the practice match is "a small step upward," toward her goal.
- Chapter 7: Maho thinks “Despite the odds" against Miho, she's interested in seeing how she could live up to Mako R.’s claim that Oarai could defeat Black Forest.
- Chapter 17: “For My Sister’s Sake” pops up in Maho and Kinue’s thoughts, in their determination to win for their respective schools.
- Tournament Arc: Chapter 7 is when the touranment begins.
- Unreliable Expositor: What the storytellers of the Interludes say in the present day should not be taken at face value, although it’s more often due to them not remembering correctly than lying about it. In particular, there are several different opinions as to why Black Forest lost the last tournament, each of which is brought up by someone with a bias.
- We Used to Be Friends: Ami and Takako were friends since they joined the Nishizumi School together, but had a falling out over Takako's methods of discipline.
- Wham Episode
- Chapter 9. Mako’s grandmother is hospitalized and Hana is disowned for doing tankery.
- Chapter 18. Pravda is defeated, and Miho is threatened with disinheritance
- Chapter 20. Miho learns that her school's existence is on the line.
- Chapter 23: Teru reveals that she blames Saki for a death in the past.
- Interlude 9. The full details of the tragedy that caused Saki and Teru's family to break apart are revealed, and Teru begins to doubt herself.
- Wham Line
Hisa: (while trying to cross a river) This is Octopus Team! We're experiencing engine failure!
Momo: "Don't even THINK about surrendering or abandoning the flag tank this time, Nishizumi! If you do... our school will be shut down!"
- In Chapter 23, Teru finally reveals the root cause of her animosity toward Saki.
Less than a week before Teru's graduation, her and Saki's parents officially divorced.
- Whole Episode Flashback: The Interludes are this, showing the pasts of certain characters punctuated with brief scenes in the present.
- You Keep Using That Word: Referenced In-Universe with Caesar joking about Rabbit Team getting “decimated” for fleeing the battle with BC Freedom. Azusa points out that not only is Caesar not serious (especially given that Hippo Team was also taken out), but decimation is only one in ten people.