A few months ago, on a whim, I decided to watch some anime. I started with Howl's Moving Castle and My Neighbor Totoro, neither of which I had seen before. Then I watched Highschool of the Dead. It was like a switch flipped in my head. I've watched little other than anime since then.
I especially enjoy light hearted serials, such as Girls und Panzer. It's a well written and beautifully animated 14-episode series. The plot is delightfully bizarre. In this alternate world, Japan's most popular sport for girls is the martial art sensha-do. This is the traditional martial art of fighting with tanks.
Girls und Panzer has developed a large fanbase filled with creative people. Let's look at some of arts and crafts that they've made.
I haven been unable to discover which artist is responsible for this great mashup of Girls und Panzer and the classic American war movie Kelly's Heroes. Here are Pvt. Kelly (Clint Eastwood) and Sgt. Oddball (Donald Sutherland) flanking Kay and Yukari.
There are at least two references to Kelly's Heroes in the series. While infiltrating a rival team, Yukari (brown hair) goes by the name "Sgt. Oddball." And in episode 11 at the 14:30 mark, the characters watch Kelly's Heroes on TV.
Here's a cake made by a Japanese fan. It looks just like the Hippo Team's elaborately decorated Sturmgeschütz III. The crew consisted of avid history buffs who were not fans of camouflage. In an early episode, their flamboyant style got them knocked out of a match.
If you'd like to make your own tank cake, here's a video that shows you how to assemble Turtle Team's Hetzer tank destroyer. It consists of layers of crêpe and cream cut and shaped into the form of that tank.
Here's a pillow inspired by the show. It's shaped like a 7.5 cm cannon shell fired by the Panzer IV, which is the tank commanded by Miho, the main character of the show.
In our world, there are bars and restaurants devoted to particular sports, such as soccer and football. In the world of Girls und Panzer, there are sensha-do shops and tank cafes. In one episode, the main characters visit one and eat tank-shaped cakes. Patisserie Swallowtail White Rose in Tokyo briefly made and sold real-life versions of them.
You won't be able to squeeze inside your tank if you eat nothing but sweets all day. Try this healthy tank-shaped sushi. It's one of several made by the restaurant Naver in honor of the show.
Before I started watching anime, I was vaguely aware of the term "chibi," but probably wouldn't be able to define it. Now I can. It's a style of rendering characters to have small, round bodies or resemble children. This is a chibi-style image of the main characters composed by an artist named Bocchi.
The different schools against whom the main characters compete are styled after different nations that operated tanks during World War II. As an American, I found the depiction of the American-styled Saunders University High School funny.
Sensha-do competitors from Pravda High School drove the famed Soviet T-34 tank. Here's a model of one of them and two of their chibi crewmen made by Celso Ryuji.
Fans built a foot-powered model of the Turtle Team's Hetzer tank destroyer for a fan convention in Oarai, a real city that was the fictionalized setting of the show. You can view more photos here.
The people of the real Oarai have embraced the show. For the fan convention, they carved the show's tagline "Panzer vor!"--"Panzer forward!"--into a field in view of train passengers. Skip to 1:03 in the video and view more photos here.
Fans can be subtle in their references. This gearshift knob is made to resemble the one on the main characters' Panzer IV.
In the comments, please offer your anime recommendations.
It was unlike anything I've ever seen before. But I like guns, so I can work with it. Hopefully it'll introduce some elderly milsurp bolt actions in other episodes. I want to see a personification of the Mosin-Nagant.
I think that the difference now is that instead of borrowing whatever anime is available on VHS tapes, I can choose pretty much any anime ever made and watch it on my computer. I can get very selective and find stuff that is precisely what I like.
I did enjoy Macross II, which is from that era. I have a big poster of Ishtar and the Macross fortress hanging in my home.
Anime can be very compelling, and I can see how it may help shape the Japanese character. After all, one of the signature phrases of the series "Aria" is "Let's work hard to earn our qualification". There's one series (Moshidora) about a girl who reads Drucker's "Management" in order to manage her high school baseball team. The series features quotes from Peter Drucker on 'what is marketing' and 'define your product' and such like. A recent series that just concluded its first season is "Silver Spoon", about a student at an agricultural high school. He learns about raising pigs, tending horses and making smoked meats Much more appealing than my description, and I suspect it is a bit of propaganda to encourage young Japanese to consider the farming life, to revitalize the rapidly ageing farming sector. Anime can be a fascinating subject.
I've seen Grave of the Fireflies and have had my fill of sadness for, well, forever.
I hope this is not inappropriate, but I watch my anime online at crunchyroll.com. It's a totally legit site that had started out as a place to see fan-translated/fan-subtitled anime. They somehow negotiated deals to stream subtitled anime with advertiser support or subscription, and it has a great selection.