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Video Game / War of the Human Tanks

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War of the Human Tanks is the first game in the Japan-based series Human Tanks, Charge! developed by Yakiniku Banzai in December 2008. It was localized by Fruitbat Factory for western release on the 14th of September 2012 on Steam. The sequel War of the Human Tanks – ALTeR - being released on the 13th of February 2015 on the same platform, and the third game, War of the Human Tanks – Limited Operations came out on14th of June 2016. The fourth game in the series was announced at Comiket 82 in August 2012.

The consists of story-driven single-player hybrid turn-based/real-time strategy games where the player controls a force of the titular Human Tanks against an AI opponent. Combat is fast-moving and lethal, with most units going down in one hit, and is heavily affected by the Fog of War. In between levels, the player can develop and build new, better Human Tanks and modules to grow stronger. Story-wise, the games' themes generally revolve around the Human Tanks, the unshakably loyal almost-but-not-quite-human mass-produced soldiers whom the Empire of Japon and Kingdom of Japon field in their war for control of the land.

War of the Human Tanks places the player in the role of the recently unfrozen Lieutenant Shoutaro Daihon'ei, commanding officer of the 4th Armored Corps. You are tasked with assembling and leading an army of appropriately named Human Tanks against the Kingdom of Japon to turn around the war in favour of your own faction, the Empire of Japon, while avoiding deadly pitfalls and plots along the way.


The sequel, War of the Human Tanks - ALTeR is told from the point of view of the Kingdom's Lieutenant Alter Matsuyukishiro. Tasked by her cousin the Queen with removing a traitor in their ranks and staving off a mounting Imperial offensive, Alter must also work out her connection to Elle, a Human Tank whom she befriended as a child and has now mysteriously returned. A Sidequest Sidestory further explores the origin and philosophy of the Human Tanks.

The third game, Limited Operations, takes place 50 years after the Human Tanks were first developed. The radiotoxic particles on which the Human Tanks depend are being depleted, rendering many of them useless and leading to a winding down of hostilities between the Empire and Kingdom. Not everyone is pleased with this outcome, and the Imperial Major Yatarou Shirahase and the 4th Armored Corps are soon caught up in their plots. Gameplay-wise, it breaks from the previous two games in having a fixed set of units available for each battle instead of the player building up their resources and technology over the course of a playthrough.


This game provides examples of:

  • Always Accurate Attack: Anything with the snipe ability, sniper and fighting tanks in particular, are guaranteed to hit even tanks with the evade ability. In fact, they're the only ones that can hit enemies with the perfect evade skill.
  • Attack Of The50ft Whatever: Some types of Human Tanks qualify as this, most notably the Gekkou and giant Imperial Shock Tank deployed in Nagoya. In ALTeR, Albatross and Halberstadt are most definitely this.
  • Action Bomb: Imperial Pochi units and Kingdom Piko Piko units.
  • Ambition Is Evil: The three Lt. Generals.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Radiotoxic particles.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: For a game largely based around Super Deformed Androids killing each other, the games are surprisingly dark.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Liselotte in the first game, Megumin in ALTeR, Hana in Limited Operations.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Detritus does not take Alter killing Shiro well.
    • The Ghost in the Great Cavern of Fuji has never been hit once in ten years and 3,500 fights with Pokari. It does not like this pattern being broken.
  • Boxing Battler: Used by fighting tanks, who specialise in quick and precise attacks.
  • Breather Episode: Episodes 5, 8 and 11.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Choko and Shoutaro.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: All the protagonists. One almost suspects it's a requirement for command.
  • Brutal Bonus Level
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The 4th Armored Corps. Shoutaro spends his days watching Anime and playing Video Games, and does little actual planning and army organisation. And yet, the 4th Armoured Corps have a very high success rate in Combat. Shoutaro is so effective that before freezing, he earned the feared moniker of "The General from Hell". Not that Liselotte believes him when this is explained to her.
  • Butt-Monkey:
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Shoutaro almost always.
  • Consummate Professional: Liselotte.
  • Cool Sword: Imperial samurai and Kingdom knight tanks. Miou's triples as a BFS and Laser Blade.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Many of the attack animations involve damage and explosions far beyond what they actually do ingame or even what the engine is capable of depicting. The more extreme examples involve whole cities or even the planet being wrecked.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: Given that the Daihon'ei corps fights for the kingdom in ALTeR, the "The Will To Fight" ending is canon, although Miou is also back with the Corps, which doesn't happen in that ending.
  • Cyborg: Elle is half human, which shows in her eyes only being half as swirly as other human tanks'. Shoutaro might also qualify with his human tank implants.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The dark tanks, while initially antagonistic, aren't any more malevolent than normal tanks. You can later build them yourself. Even Halberstadt, a massive tank that looks like it was dreamt up by a dead god, only fights you to protect Shiro.
  • Deadly Euphemism: "Fell silent."
  • Deadpan Snarker: Shoutaro especially, being both listless and sarcastic. Everyone does get a few shots in though.
  • Deconstruction: Of Moe surprisingly enough. The Human Tanks will do anything their superiors order them to do, simply to make them happy. Anything. This reaches a head in ALTeR, with the Albatross Multicore Human Tank - a giant Human Tank stitched together from hundreds of Human Tanks - who were all willing volunteers who wanted to be useful to their superiors.
  • Decapitated Army: If either side loses all of their Command Units, they instantly lose.
  • Died Happily Ever After: Every Human Tank in death believes that they were of service to their superiors and die in rapture.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Alter to Shoutaro.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Mix-up Megumin.
  • The Empire: The Empire of Japon.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • In both Kurara route endings, Shoutaro ends up going against Imperial forces alongside the remaining Kingdom forces.
    • And in the "Daihon'ei Rebel Unit" epilogue, it turns out General B and Toyonoshima both opted to elect Shoutaro sole General of the Imperial forces (and effectively Emperor) rather than let Sasagusa (General A) seize power all for himself.
  • The Engineer: Choko, Elle.
  • Evil Old Folks: General B. Also Final Boss of the "Daihon'ei Rebel Unit" ending.
  • Exotic Eye Designs: Most human tanks can be identified by their swirly red eyes. The exceptions are Elle, whose otherwise normal eyes are swirly around where her pupils would be, but solid otherwise, and Yuki, who is a hologram projected by the human tank Shiro.
  • Fastball Special: 08 attacks by throwing things, most prominently other human tanks.
  • Friendly Sniper: The deployable sniper units. The royal ones just look so damn happy, and the imperial models (sans Tougo) have a perpetually relaxed expression.
  • Genetic Memory: If you rebuild Masamune, you see a cutscene where everyone treats her as the same person and she appears to remember the crew, despite having been effectively dead for months (assuming you rebuild her late in the game, which is likely given the amount of research required) and being in a completely new body. You can then build multiple copies of her.
  • Glory Hound: General C A.K.A. Lt. General Toyonoshima, Final Boss of "The Will to Fight" ending.
  • Guide Dang It!: ALTeR's last level. Killed 150 or more units before reaching the final episode, or worse, 300 or more? Congratulations, you just made things much harder for yourself!
  • Improbable Accessory Effect: Red Mufflers. Heshiko's account explicitly states that they allow her to recover from exploding somehow.
  • It's All About Me: Katana Iikura betrays the Kingdom out of anger at Kurara taking the throne with popular support (although she was only a branch family member, she was also the only one from the royal family who didn't run when the Empire closed in).
  • Karmic Death: Sasagusa and General B, the two main causes of the Daihon'ei siblings' suffering, are both killed in some empty field far from battle in "Daihon'ei Rebel Unit".
  • Killer Rabbit: Why are we fighting Mr. Cat? Why is he kicking our collective asses?
    • In ALTeR, the Kingdom of Japon becomes the protagonists.
  • Lost Food Grievance: Kurara in ALTeR demotes Megumi three whole ranks to Second Lieutenant for eating her custom order Mont Blanc cake. Megumi gets re-promoted at the end of the game, only to be busted down again (this time for eating Kurara's specialty ramen).
  • Meaningful Name: Daihon'ei was the General Headquarters for the Japanese Imperial forces pre-1945.
  • Mildly Military: The 4th Armored Corps as introduced definitely do not appear professional at all. Lisolette actually physically assaults Shoutaro, a senior officer.
  • Minovsky Physics: Radiotoxic particles mess up ordinary electronics and telecommunications (and are toxic to humans), but are required for the Human Tanks to function.
  • Multiple Endings: A grand total of four possible endings in the original game. ALTeR has just one "proper" ending, albeit with three variations depending on how many enemy tanks you've destroyed; completing the Great Cavern constitutes a second ending. Limited Operations has two.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • Human Tanks doing laundry.
    • Human Tanks playing baseball, having snowball fights and going on treasure hunts.
    • Human Tanks cooking.
    • Human tanks being used to go shopping. Liselotte is not amused.
  • Noodle Incident: A few show up in dialogue, though they are usually elaborated on in either main routes.
  • Nuke 'em: Shoutaro's iconic tactic, though with Pochi tanks instead of nuclear arms.
    • Radiotoxic Bomb modules
    • The massive Imperial Shock unit deployed in Nagoya.
  • Offscreen Moment of Crowning: In the "The Will to Fight" epilogue, Shoutaro is crowned Emperor of the Empire of Japon and Kurara is crowned Queen of the Kingdom of Japon.
  • The Reveal:
    • Miou was originally part of Daihon'ei's unit.
    • Shoutaro was betrayed and mortally wounded by his then-equals and only survived by becoming 20% Human Tank.
    • The Arc Speech "enemy" the Human Tanks are directed against are humans themselves by the grossly malformed Human Tank in the "Charge! Human Tanks" ending.
    • In ALTeR, Albatross is the secret weapon the Imperial Army was working on all game, using stolen Royal technology.
    • Limited Operations: Alliance leader Endo is the younger sibling of Izumonokami Tachibana, ruler of the Kumano autonomous region. So is Major Shirahase's XO Hana Kurohara. Miss Katsura is the daughter of Choko Dai'honei.
  • Red Baron: The General from Hell.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Human Tanks. Though unlike most instances of the Trope, the eyes of a Human Tank are permanently red.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Kurara leads the Royal Army in battle even in its darkest hours. This is the reason she becomes Queen in ALTeR despite being only third in the line of succession.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Human Tanks are effectively human enough to be regarded as physically stronger (though somewhat mentally deficient) humans. They are so akin to humans that Choko was able to save a dying Shoutaro by "fixing" him with parts of Human Tanks.
  • Sidequest Sidestory: The Great Cavern of Fuji in ALTeR features several new characters and has its own subplot that reveals the origin of the Human Tanks. In fact, it's several times longer than the main story.
  • Single Tear: Pochis and Piko Pikos have them because... well.
  • Super Prototype: Human tanks were originally developped not as superweapons, but to allow for war to be fought without human combatants. As a result, the researchers had to tone down the original models' Super Toughness. Two prototype tanks, 08 and Detritus, can be fought in the great cavern of Fuji.
  • Super Reflexes: Imperial Sekigahara units, Kingdom Milua units and Miou. Bonus levels take this Up to Eleven.
  • Team Chef: Liselotte.
  • Theme Naming:
    • Royal Command Tanks are types or brands of footwear or legwear.
    • Imperial Assault Tanks are Japanese trains.
    • Royal Assault and Imperial Shock Tanks are dogs.
    • Royal Shock Tanks are Japanese onomatopoeias.
    • Imperial Recon Tanks are cats.
    • Royal Intercept Tanks are desserts.
    • Imperial Artillery Tanks are mostly flowers.
    • Imperial Sniper Tanks are fictional assassins.
    • Fighting Tanks are sports drinks.
    • The tanks that appear on the yakiniku maps in ALTeR are cuts of beef.
  • Too Powerful to Live: Heroic example as Shoutaro was dangerously close to being crowned Emperor after the war due to his successes so General A (Lt. General Sasagusa) set him up.
  • Turn-Based Tactics: Though turns come in real-time, commands are given in turns.
  • Undying Loyalty: Human Tanks for their superior. It doesn't matter if they don't have human rights and are considered completely disposable. All they strive and die for is praise from their superior.
    • Liselotte even discusses this with Shoutaro regarding loyalty to the country. She ends up gravely wounded in the "Charge! Human Tanks" ending by saving Shoutaro's life despite her standing orders to kill him if he were to go against the Empire.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Killing Shiro in the Great Cavern gets the player thrown into an unwinnable battle against Detritus. Fortunately there's an autosave a bit before the critical point.
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential: Go ahead, shoot Shiro if you dare.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Any Human Tank that uses a laser based weapon.
  • We Have Reserves: Losing units at most sets you back a lot of supplies, especially if equipped with modules but they can always be remade. You do have the option of developing modules to ensure their safe return.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: The use of Human Tanks as unswervingly loyal, mass cannon fodder is a major theme of the series.
  • You Have Failed Me: Sasagusa to General B in the "Daihon'ei Rebel Unit" ending.


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