Girls und Panzer Original Soundtrack – Review

Anime Title:Girls und Panzer
Artist:Shiro Hamaguchi, Masumi Ito, Tsutomu Mizushima, rino, Kana Yabuki,
佐々木裕, Steffe John William, John Philip Sousa, Hoffman, Niel Herms,
Knipper Lev Konstantinovich, Blanter Matvej Isaakovich, Hisako Kanemoto,
Sumire Uesaka, Sayaka Sasaki, ChouCho, Mai Fuchigami, Ai Kayano, Mami Ozaki,
Ikumi Nakagami, Yuka Iguchi
Catalog Number:LACA-9256~7
Release Type:Soundtrack
Release Date:December 26, 2012
Purchase at:CDJapan, Play-Asia

Review: The rich history between music and the military is wide-ranging, encompassing the proud marches of John Philip Sousa, the bombast of the “1812 Overture,” and the innumerable wartime folk songs from cultures worldwide. Its varied moods can range from the solemn to the brisk to the proud-chested and pompous, but, needless to say, the heritage that binds music and the armed forces is undeniable.

Girls und Panzer’s OST, scored by Shirou Hamaguchi of Tari Tari fame, draws from this vast reservoir of tradition in the form of the western military march. I’ll go ahead and say it: Girls und Panzer’s score, when at its best, is an absolute success.

Well, at least one track is. The first disc starts strong with “Senshadou March – Panzer Vor!,” the piece which, in a lot of ways, has become THE piece of Girls und Panzer, with good reason. It’s a 3-minute-14-second-long love letter to the grand canon of military marches the world over. An exquisite tribute and its own profound statement, “Panzer Vor!” captures and distills to the very essence what makes marches great. It’s whimsical and lighthearted, yet serious and prideful; delicate and dignified, yet stirring and emotional; stately and composed, yet rowdy and unrefined. Though it unfortunately doesn’t conform quite as neatly to the traditional march form as I’d like, it’s still utterly fantastic.

But therein is also the problem. Hamaguchi was likely so pleased with himself after composing “Panzer Vor!” that he decided to sprinkle it across the entire soundtrack.

What initially comes off as thematic development is really just the unabashed, graceless, sometimes awkward reuse of melodic elements from “Panzer Vor!” Proper theming includes the careful and purposeful reintroduction of themes and motifs throughout a musical work to invoke a recollection in the mind of the listener, thereby instilling a desired effect. Hamaguchi’s orchestration is not always so clever – more often than not, he simply lifts the melody from one song to another. It really is a shame; with such a fantastic main theme, a more subtle touch with the thematic development could have had a very powerful effect. Instead, the tracks come off as stale, redundant, and often ham-fisted in their execution. This might not have been a problem had the theme not appeared so often:

Tracks that Contain Themes from “Senshadou March – Panzer Vor!”

  1. Advance Ooarai Girls’ Academy Team
  2. To Ride a Tank
  3. The Academy Ship Boldly Sails the Ocean Each Day
  4. Cute Decoration of the Tank
  5. I’ve Made my Decision
  6. Come on! I Want a Challenge!
  7. Stalemate on the Front!
  8. A Tense Situation!
  9. Yesterday’s Enemy is Today’s Friend!
  10. You’re All my Best Friends
  11. Tank Anthem

Granted, not all of these are as bad as I make them sound (some of them, like “A Tense Situation!,” are decent in their own way), but when a solid third of the tracks on a disc use the same general melodic components, not even the best arranging can prevent it from sounding wearisome.

If all of this sounds very negative, I don’t mean to say there’s absolutely nothing else to like. Some truly good tracks are sprinkled throughout the first disc, and they’re always the ones that avoid sounding anything like “Senshadou March – Panzer Vor!”

“Senshadou is an art for girls to master” is an incredibly moving track with a distinct Spanish edge to the tone and a rosy, emotional outro. If there’s any track that’s in need of some additional development of its ideas, it’s this one, as there are some truly sublime themes here that are sadly underutilized.

Much the same can be said for the very British-styled “The glory of the national Senshadou tournament,” which sounds as if the British March King himself had returned from the dead to pen this gem. It plays like a long lost first draft of another one of his masterful marches that never was, and that it likely will never be anything more than that is really a shame.

When depicting the day to day and not march-inspired, the tracks get almost unbearably generic and flavorless. Tracks like “Hidden Feelings Felt” exemplify this; mild, inoffensive, and bland, they make even less of a statement than if they were outright terrible. Bizarre electronic additions such as “Arrival at the tank-café” and “Sports news, the daily report on Senshadou” offer some variation, but are altogether vanilla and unstimulating.

Shows like Nichijou and Kamichu! proved that songs depicting the everyday don’t have to be boring. Yet, Garupan’s score, when not at the top of its game, is utterly uninteresting and forgettable; what is actually good is either beaten into the ground through tiresome repetition and reuse or too thinly wrought to really come into its own.

Thankfully, the second disc is much more consistent, but not necessarily on account of Hamaguchi. A small collection of renderings of existing march songs from around the globe, these numbers are an authentic snapshot of the celebrated heritage Garupan’s score is inspired by. It feels strange to credit an original soundtrack for tracks that are, well, not original, but what’s included is without question impeccable. Some of the best march music the world has to offer is here, and they’re so lovingly recreated that one can overlook the fact that their origins are external.

Sousa’s own “US Field Artillery March” is still the grand, stomping good time it has been since 1917. Strangely, the entire first and second strain of the original score is omitted, replaced by another repetition of the arguably more iconic trio and breakstrain. Regardless, its inclusion was more than a pleasant surprise in the show and on this disc.

I’d be remiss not to mention this show’s version of “Katyusha.” As if the melody weren’t hopelessly catchy already, the incorporation of the vocals of the characters from the show sung by their respective voice actresses makes the track nearly irresistible; this is the kind of song that will make you want to bear arms and fight for the Motherland yourself. I can’t speak for the Japanese seiyuus’ reproduction of the Russian lyrics (likely horrendous), but given how well the track as a whole was executed, it’s difficult to take issue, especially if you’re not familiar with Russian.

It’s difficult to rate soundtracks like Girls und Panzer’s. Do the thrilling march numbers compensate for the lackluster bulk of the first disc? Or do the swing-and-miss daily life tracks inevitably diminish the snap and crackle of the home runs of the score? I’ll honestly have to call it somewhere in between.

Rating: Good


A huge jazz nerd and unabashed fan of alternative rock, I joined Anime Instrumentality in December 2010. I tend to get very passionate when it comes to music and try my best to understand how it works. An enormous fan of The Pillows, among my favorite anime composers include Ko Otani and Yoko Kanno. My tastes in anime vary wildly, but I try to be as thoughtful about my viewing as I am about my listening. I play the saxophone.

12 thoughts on “Girls und Panzer Original Soundtrack – Review

  • January 14, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Can you comment on the Katyusha song and if the version on Crunchyroll without that song did have any effect on that scene compared to the Japanese broadcast version with that song?

    And did Tsutomu Mizushima, the director of the show, do any parts on the OST? I know directors get some creative input on the show’s musical score, but listing him as one of the artists made me thought he wrote some of the music or something.

    Anyway, I just want to say I love this show. Beautiful art and well-done execution. The premise might be a turn-off for some (especially those who saw Strike Witches and hated it), but this show had the perfect balance between fanservice and actual plot. And I’m a fan of tactical RPGs, and that is a plus.

    • January 15, 2013 at 12:21 am

      While I’m not the author of this review, I think I can answer the questions you put forward.

      I do think that the Crunchyroll version that lacked Katyusha was a much inferior product compared to the original Japanese broadcast with the song even though removing Katyusha did not affect the plot in any meaningful way. Much of what made the anime fun was the details paid to elements like tank design and the touch of nationalism that’s on display (and heard prominently through the marches used during the course of the anime). Not having that glorious scene lessened the impact.

      Yes, Tsutomu Mizushima did compose a song, specifically, the “Anglerfish March.” It’s actually kind of annoying to listen to if you’ve heard it on the OST.

      Finally, as someone who isn’t a fan of Strike Witches, I’m finding Girls und Panzer to be far more palatable. Enjoyable even!

    • January 15, 2013 at 10:21 pm

      I really do mourn how the “Katyusha” insert was omitted from the Crunchyroll release. It’s an indication of the sad state of America’s copyright laws, and it’s paying consumers like the folks who subscribe to CR that are the ones hurt in the end. It one of the best songs on the discs, and in its own way encourages paying users to turn to fansubs. Definitely a bad move.

      I didn’t mention “Anglerfish March” in my review, but it was something to behold. I wouldn’t call it something I’d listen to every day, but it was absolutely, if nothing else, interesting. And hilarious. I think it gave me cancer.

  • January 15, 2013 at 5:21 am

    Re: Katyusha, one of the seiyuu who performs the song, Uesaka Sumire, is actually a Russian speaker, and according to a friend I have who is qualified to comment, her Russian pronunciation actually isn’t bad. The other voice on the other hand, Kanemoto Hisako, is apparently pretty hilariously terrible, although she was at least able to receive some coaching from Uesaka on the part of the song that appeared in the TV series.

    • January 15, 2013 at 10:26 pm

      Thanks for the info. A cursory search on Uesaka Sumire does indeed reveal that she speaks fluent Russian. To be honest, though, to someone who knows nothing about the language, I really can’t tell the difference between Uesaka’s and Kanemoto’s pronunciation. If anything, I would have guessed that Kanemoto was more accurate. A bit ironic that Katyusha herself would be the one to ham up the Russian.

  • January 22, 2013 at 10:15 am

    i really liked this ost.i think im gonna buy it.theres so much stuff on my bucket list lol

  • February 10, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    I like the way you reviewed the Girls und Panzer OST. I enjoyed listening to Senshadou March – Panzer Vor and Katyusha. =)

  • April 10, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    As musical elements on a soundtrack your comments are well founded regarding the thematic variations of “Panzer Vor”. However those pieces work wonderfully well behind the animated scenes they were intended to inform. In that context I find them very enjoyable.

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  • July 23, 2013 at 3:37 am

    I must say that the “Katyusha” performance by seiyu for my astonishment is not bad. They just can’t pronounce “r” letter. But in spite of that fact it is quite good. Well, not horrendous as you supposed, he-he. But it was fuI must say that the “Katyusha” performance by seiyu for my astonishment is not bad. They just can’t pronounce “r” letter. But in spite of that fact it is quite good. Well, not horrendous as you supposed, he-he. But it was funny and pleasant to listen, as for Russian. I definately can say that I don’t feel negative feelings for what they have done with this grand and important piece of music for us, Russians.

  • July 23, 2013 at 3:41 am

    I must say that the “Katyusha” performance by seiyu for my astonishment is not bad. They just can’t pronounce “r” letter. But in spite of that fact it is quite good. Well, not horrendous as you supposed, he-he. But it was funny and pleasant to listen, as for Russian. I definately can say that I don’t feel negative feelings for what they have done with this grand and important piece of music for us, Russians.

    P.S. Please, delete previous not redacted comment.

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