In a world where tanks are a part of everyday life, and pre-UN countries send teenage girls out in war machines to fight not to the death, but to the white flag, one rag-tag team will face their toughest opponent yet. Can they overcome all the odds, work as a team and deal with all of their various family issues and rise to the top?
Of course they can. Girls Und Panzer is an underdog story with just about every trope from the genre ticked off. Think Cool Runnings as an anime, except tanks instead of bobsleds. The knowledge that the girls of Oorai High School can't lose - at least not always in conventional terms - should make this a by the numbers affair. That it manages to be not only supremely entertaining but equally tense and heartfelt speaks volumes for a familiar idea well implemented.
Sasami-san@Ganbaranai (Sasami@Unmotivated) is very SHAFT. A useless description as everything the studio produces is by definition very SHAFT, but as an adjective it encapsulates the studio's infamous approach: an unwavering confidence in delivery, a devotion to pop-culture and often a production led by designers rather than artists and script writers rather than story. In the pantheon of its shows then, Sasami-san has far less protracted banter than Bakemonogatari but a stronger narrative than Tsukuyomi.
But it's still inescapably SHAFT, and it may be the tired old man in me, but I really wish it wasn't.
time travelling golems and family members repeatedly rising from the underworld
As a modern take on the the collage of stories from Japan's spiritual history it's fascinating and barrels through the often mercurial Shinto "religion" with its rich pool of deities and paraphernalia, from Amaterasu to Kagusutchi. This isn't however My-HiME's naming of super-powered critters, or the sword naming scheme of innumerable JRPGs, but a fresh story with these multifarious gods and demons set in modern day and all its trappings. Coupled with a dreamy pastel art-style and animation that shoots precipitously from "we'll fix this in the Blu-ray release" to "three animators died producing this" and all the pieces are in place for a must-watch bonanza.
Your enjoyment of Vividred Operation can be accurately measured by whether you prefix "bums" with "little girl" in the phrase "it's full of bums". Thankfully you don't need to wait long for an answer as it's a scant twenty seconds into the first episode before a sunrise from the top of the Tokyo Sky Tree is framed between the legs and crotch of the series' antagonist. You can switch off right there (advisable if your screen is in any way publicly visible) and be safe in the knowledge that the series doesn't get much better.
the smaller the girl, the bigger the hammer
As an entry into the "magical girl" genre it feels a lot like painting by numbers. Spunky and earnest protagonist that acts as the lynchpin of the group? Check. Antagonist who must be won over by the all-encompassing power of friendship? Check. Colour coded sentai team? Check. And yes, red is the leader. Everyone knows that.