I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Shiro Hamaguchi -- Senshado Koshinkyoku! Panzer Vor! (戦車道行進曲!パンツァーフォー!)

This was taken a couple of days before the
premiere of "The Force Awakens". My friend who runs the
movie theater told me that within a few hours of opening day,
BB-8 was summarily decapitated by Dark Side vandals.

Several hours ago in movie theatre not too far away, I finally got to see "The Force Awakens" in IMAX 3D. Well, my verdict is that it's a fine movie far better than the prequels but I don't think it is quite up there with "A New Hope" or "The Empire Strikes Back" (to be honest, it seems like an alt-universe version of the former movie), and it is certainly not The Movie of the Year as one Toronto Star critic gushingly described. Without going into a full review, I can say that I enjoyed myself and despite all of the many characters in it, it is definitely Rey's movie!

A few years back, just some months after returning from Japan for good, my anime buddy and I started our now-long-running routine of meeting up on alternating Sundays for food and anime. One of the first programs on the slate was "Girls und Panzer" which was pretty much as it stated in the title: girls and panzers. I think my friend did forgive me when my face showed some skepticism about the concept.

So the screen went on and the first scene from "Girls und Panzer"(ガールズ&パンツァー)was the view seen through the scope of a tank with girls just nattering on for several seconds before the first sightings of said girls in high school uniforms improbably took their stations in the tank and rolled on. Then this march promptly started which immediately had me thinking of music from "The Dirty Dozen" and "Bridge on the River Kwai".

Although "Girls und Panzer" from 2012 had its proper opening and closing themes, "Senshado Koshinkyoku! Panzer Vor!" (The Way of the Tank March!), I think, will always be THE song when I think of the anime. As crazy-amazing as the whole premise of uniformed Japanese schoolgirls driving tanks while studying and living on massive community-carriers is, "Girls und Panzer" has an adorable beating heart which is essentially what I look for when I want to enjoy any movie, TV show or anime for that matter. And "Panzer Vor!" rather reflects that heart through the cheerful pluckiness of its melody composed by anime composer Shiro Hamaguchi(浜口史郎). It is the true theme for the tank club at Ōarai Girls' High School.

Shortly after viewing the entire series, my anime buddy even made the trip to the real Oarai in Ibaraki Prefecture. The town is sleepy but apparently the charms of the series were not lost on the folks there. One tonkatsu restaurant had their own tank-shaped deep-fried pork cutlet on the menu, and there was plenty of "Girls und Panzer" paraphernalia at the local train station. I'm sure while my friend was walking through the area, the march was happily playing in his head.

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