High School Fleet is a cute girls do military action show that came out in April 2016. The show follows a group of high school girls as they sail a world war two era destroyer (real important themes n shit, I know). Girls und Panzer is the exact same thing but with tanks. What makes me very curious about these two shows is what I perceive as a difference in their levels of popularity despite the very obvious similarities between them; such as art style, over-large cast size and how they both shows exist to fill that specific niche mix of military combat ‘cute-girls do X’ type shows. So, just why is GuP so much more popular on My anime list, why does the Girls und Panzer franchise still have media coming out almost seven years after the original when High School Fleet has nothing and why oh why can Girls und Panzer boast 1520 doujins on nhentai compared to High School Fleet’s measly 23?
Well, for starters - this has everything to do with how the shows were structured narratively and the differences therein. Both shows have largely the same goals: to get as many cute girls and cool ships/tanks on screen as possible, but High School Fleet severely hindered its ability to do this through the decision to tell a linear action story that features the ships and girls more as accessories to the narrative. In Girls und Panzer, the girls and tanks are the point of the narrative.
The use of a tournament arc style narrative - such as the one in Girls und Panzer - is much better for cycling through vapid pics of pretty josei shooting big guns and drinking tea as well as enough historical trivia to make a wehraboo cream his cargo shorts.Most of the fun of these shows come from seeing cool tanks and the cute girls. This need was met many times over in Girls und Panzer, but the same cannot be said for High School Fleet which gets bogged down by its (already generic) storyline and the relative scarcity of cool historical war machines. I think that if High School Fleet had focussed more on just shoving cool ships on screen, it would have succeeded a hell of a lot more... or, at the very least, it would have gotten a much stronger reaction among otakus (and you know these niggas'll buy anything).
Maybe if they had reduced the number of crew members featured from the main ship, and spread those designs among a greater wealth of other ships, the variety on display would have held my attention and the attention of many other neckbeard faggots (with an interest in military history) in the same way that Girls und Panzer managed to do. They did manage to include the graf spee and Musashi – both pretty famous and beloved – but compare those two with the StuGIII, Sherman, Churchill, PanzerIV, chonky KV-2 and even a Maus. Clearly GoP is leading the way in young adult male pacification. Since there are actual life or death stakes attached to each scene, it wouldn’t be sensible for random nation themed school girl crews to just start popping up where ether they wanted as is possible in Girls und Panzer whose story boils down to "oh look at that cool tank", or look at that cute girl", "oh did you hear that reference to Stalingrad" on repeat.
Apart from the structure, there is also the problem of unremarkable character designs. The way the teams are set up in Girls und Panzer - each team to a tank and then each tank company to a nation - allows for ease of stratification and compartmentalization that autists love so much. There's also the basic character traits required to make even the shallowest of cute anime girls resonate with audiences. For example: all the history club girls are stoked for history and talk about historical shit (obviously). Such obvious characterisation, when used on an audience that's already grasping at straws of complexity for a justification of their mindless consumption, allows for only a few minimal variations in character design to be stretched across a boat-load of girls. It becomes possible for the viewer's eye to be caught by either a specific girl cos - idk - Sanders girl No.3 has a cute short haircut but also, for a viewer to just fall in line behind the larger, less specific groups such as the tank crews or the nations (I.E. I really like the british team cos I'm a raging homosexual buuuut, I only really care about Darjeeling or Assam). The inspiration for the Otaku's investment in a character only comes about because of that initial compartmentalization and the use of easy variations.
In conclusion, I do no research, I'm just well smart.
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