I’m a sucker for cute girls, whether its in manga or anime or visual novels. However, I find it hard to believe that the ones in the dating sim Panzermadels can be even remotely considered to be tanks from World War II. When I had backed the Kickstarter I actually thought that they were just girls with personalities of their namesake armored vehicles of death. Nope. It’s taken almost as literal as going out with a bird or dragon. If it weren’t for the awfully cheesy dialogue I would have cringed the entire time I played the current beta build released to backers.
All right, so what exactly is Panzermadels beyond being a slightly disturbing take on the genre? Here’s the basic story. You’ve enrolled in a school for tank warfare, hoping to get some education on combat tactics and how to handle these machines of war in the hopes of becoming an officer. So far so good. However, it’s when you get to said “tank school” that everything just gets weird. The first clue is that said school is in the middle of Akihabara in Japan. For those that don’t know, this is basically mecca for technophiles.
Anyway, your first day is as shocking as you’d expect. You see absolutely no tanks, no MPs guarding the gate, and it looks just like your average high school. Are you being pranked? Unfortunately, no. It is a tank school. Just not what you expected. It’s a school where actual tanks go to learn to be better at fighting. It just so happens that each one is a cute girl. And that’s when the story goes literally offtrack. It makes no sense from any angle.
Before I go any further I want to point out here that the main reason why I even considered backing such an off-the-wall concept is that I’m a fan of World War II. Each of these lovely ladies are named after well-known tank designs of the period, and frankly their personalities reflect both their nationalities and roles in the war. Which makes for some interesting interactions between them. Particularly seeing Panzer IV and T-34 hating each other. Or having Tiger I constantly breaking down and worrying about getting sand in her treads.
Aside from all of the World War II references the only real saving grace of Panzermadels for me is in the humor. Honestly, if it weren’t for all of the sexual innuendo jokes I would probably have given up on trying to get to the end of the beta build. From IS-2 asking if you’ve ever been inside of a tank to the gunnery sergeant (one of the few non-tanks in the school) revealing that he loves giant ammo racks and penetrating the enemy from behind there’s plenty for the non-prudish to laugh at here. Just don’t expect anything deeper than juvenile humor.
The beta build ends just as you’re starting to get close to one of the tank girls, just a few days into your enrollment at school. I personally chose to hook up with Panzer IV because, other than the M4 Sherman, it was one of my favorites in production at the time. That said, while I love tanks I just don’t love them in “that way”. Even someone as perverted as I am has their limits.