It’s safe to say that I am a big fan of Girls und Panzer. I’ve collected tens of figures, made tens of tanks,made tens of garage kits and made four dioramas from the series.
However, I am not really fund on the main story line. And I really did not like how Nishizumi Miho is portrayed in the anime. If you read GuP light novel, it sheds much better and deeper insight into her inner thoughts unlike anime version where she is portrayed as a fragile and gutless girl who is lacking self-confidence.
She is basically a victim of circumstances. She is neither fragile nor gutless. Alas, the anime adaptation has refused to show any real dark side of her.
Enter GuP Ribbon warrior where it is all about the darker side of tankery. Instead of Nishizumi Miho, we have Tsuruki Shizuka (Last name / First name). She seeks glory. She does not seek victory. She seeks glorious glory. This becomes clearly evident in early volume 5 where she is asked why complicate stuff to be victorious when there are simpler ways.
Her answer is simple: She does not seek victory itself. She seeks glory that usually comes with it. It also means she does not necessarily seek out victories. If she can obtain glory via a planned loss, she will do just that.
Her wish to participate in Tankathlon (Unofficial light tank battles) begins after she watches Nishizumi Miho accomplishes what is deemed the impossible mission. She wants to be there, in the heat of battles.
However, her school does not have a tankery club. She is also not interested in official matches with strict rules and few matches.
Tankathlon, an unofficial light tank matches with loose rules and frequent battles, interests her far more. Coincidentally, someone in her family happens to have a Japanese tank type 97 “Te-Ke” which has been sitting in a storage for decades. She introduces the tank to Matsukaze Rin who is also interested in joining a tankery club after being fired up by Miho’s heroism.
Now, let’s talk about Matsukaze Rin (Last / First name).
Matsukaze Rin is a tank driver and a mechanic. She is a little timid and Shizuka walks all over her literally. For Shizuka, Rin proves to be a faithful horse she can ride on. For Rin, Shizuka soon becomes a beacon of her sexuality.
You see, Rin has a leg fetish, and Shizuka has beautiful legs. Rin doesn’t realize her fetish until she has a dream about it in volume 1 at which point she sort of realizes that she is hentai. That realization doesn’t stop her from becoming more attached to Shizuka’s legs.
In fact, she becomes more and more sexually attached to Shizuka as the story goes on. And Shizuka doesn’t seem to mind Rin’s approach. Actually, she doesn’t seem to care because she is quite preoccupied with obtaining glories.
Once the pair joins up and begin their lives as tankers, you will see all the main schools in some forms.
Saunders, Pravda, BC Freedom, Ooarai, Anzio, Kuromorimine, and there are some minor schools as well. And their stories go deeper than what GuP anime does.
Speaking of which, I should make it clear that the story takes its place after Ooarai school wins the national Sensha-Dō tournament. This fact doesn’t affect most schools, but when it comes to Kuromorimine, it surely does.
The fact that Nishizumi Miho was driven out of Kuromorimine, the fact that Miho restarts her tankery at an unknown school and goes all the way to become the victor of the national tournament. The fact that Kuromorimine or, in this case, Erika, kicked out someone so talented to have single-handedly won the tournament…
And a sad fact that she is nowhere good enough compared to Miho which she feels proven when she loses a tank match to BC Freedom + Shizuka. These brutal facts put heavy weight on her shoulders.
There are a lot of dark thoughts in this manga.
Especially St. Gloriana’s Darjeeling is portrayed to be a master villain. I believe there is a reason for that.
You see, Darjeeling is the only one who Nishizumi Miho has failed to defeat in a match. Miho battled Darjeeling few times in practice matches and she has never defeated Darjeeling. The two have never met in an official match though, yet. I am guessing that Des Finale final match will be between Ooarai and St. Gloriana.
So, in a way, Darjeeling is a joker here. And Shizuka is oddly afraid of her as well.
So, do I recommend this manga?
Oh, hell, yes. Without a doubt, aye. This spin-off series is far better than the original story in every way. The art is better since it doesn’t look generic like official GuP manga/anime do. And the story is certainly far better since it actually goes somewhere instead of purely focusing on tank matches.
Ribbon warrior is also not afraid of upskirt shots which official anime/manga strictly forbids.
The main focus of this manga is Shizuka having glorious moments. She doesn’t win every time but she will get the spot light she wants most of the time even if she ends up losing a match or two.
So, yes, I fully recommend this manga. There are scanlation available, so read it up and enjoy a new take on tankery.