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- "We will fight in Tankathlon!"
- ―Shizuka Tsuruki
Tankathlon is the fictional martial arts of the spin-off manga Girls Und Panzer: Ribbon Warrior (ガールズ&パンツァー リボンの武者, Girls Und Panzer: Ribbon no Musha).
Tankathlon is an unofficial form of martial arts, like senshado it uses tanks as weapons, however it lacks Japan Senshado Federation's (JSF) regulations and approval rules, traditionalism and values of it, which makes it marginalized among senshado practitioners and seniors. It involves two opposing teams, each possessing their own set of tanks, combating in Flag Battle matches, the only type of match known for now.
Many school carriers senshado teams are adopting tankathlon for various reasons, which are: lack of a big arsenal, practicing matches, different in-battle challenges, interest in this type of setting.
As tankathlon is unconsidered by the JSF, it has its Tankathlon Committee, they are responsible to set the opponents, the matches' date, place and any other matter involving the event, however, unlike JSF they will not cover the costs for repairing the damages caused to structures or viewers and others conditions included in Senshado Competition Regulations.
For now, there is only one known rule, where the tanks' weight must be below 10 tons, limiting the battle for light tanks only, also known as tankettes.
The lack of rules allows the matches to unofficially happen anywhere, both in rural settings, where viewers can stay in the middle of the battlefield watching if they want and in urban areas, where the citizens/viewers are in the middle of the match. It is the total responsibility of the viewers to ensure their own safety against being hit by a tank or shells.
Tank shops only sell products sanctioned by the Senshado Federation, when Rin and Shizuka go to buy some equipment so they can upgrade the Type 97, Rin doesn't find anything related to tankathlon. However, Shizuka demands for the shop owner to provide tankathlon materials and supplements, he then leads them to the basement of the shop with a huge area dedicated to tankathlon. The shop owner also explains the JSF is being annoying regarding tankathlon materials lately, implying that the JSF heavily regulates the materials and equipment used in Sensha-do as a whole.
These are the teams that currently practicing Tankathlon. While some schools use their real name other more prestigious school practicing under an alias for not compromise themselves in an unofficial sport:
- Leader and Commander: Anchovy
- Co-Commanders: Carpaccio & Pepperoni
- Vehicles: Carro Veloce CV.33 (normal ones & some equipped with Solothurn AT Gun)
- Affiliation: Tatenashi High School
- Leader and Commander: Shizuka Tsuruki
- Driver: Rin Matsukaze
- Vehicles: Type 97 Te-Ke (Team composed of only one tank)
- Affiliation: St. Gloriana Girls High School:
- Leader and Commander: Orange Pekoe
- Co-commander: Rosehip
- Vehicles: Light Tank Mk.VII Tetrarch
- Affiliation: Ooarai Girls High School
- Leader: Possibly Miho Nishizumi (doesn't participate in the matches)
- Commander: Noriko Isobe
- Vehicles: Type 89B I-Go Otsu (without rear sledge to match 10 tons rule)
Fifth Republic Platoon:
- Affiliation: BC Freedom High School:
- Leader and Commander: Asparagus
- Co-commander: Moules (Freedom Side) & Bordeaux (BC Side)
- Vehicles: Renault R35, Renault AMR35 (ZT-1 & ZT-2 variants) & M22 Locust
- Affiliation: Saunders Girls High School
- Leader: Kay (doesn't participate in the matches)
- Commander: Alisa
- Vehicles: M22 Locust (lent by BC Freedom), T7 Combat Car
- Aircraft: B-29 Stratofortress (Used to carry Hamilcar gliders), General Aircraft Halmicar (Gliders to carry the tanks), Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey.
- Leader: Unknown
- Commander: Unknown
- Vehicles: Lt vz.38
Guy Fawkes Team:
- Affiliation: St. Gloriana Girls High School:
- Leader and Commander: Darjeeling (Anonymously disguised as Guy Fawkes)
- Gunner: Assam
- Vehicles: Light Tank Mk.VIII Harry Hopkins (Team composed of only one tank)
Katyusha's Volunteer Army:
Kebab High School:
- Leader and Commander: Bosphorus
- Vehicles: Renault R35
- Leader and Commander: Trout
- Vehicles: Light Tank Mk.VIB
- Affiliation: Kuromorimine Girls High School
- Leader and Commander: Maho Nishizumi (Anonymously disguised as Zorori)
- Vehicles: Pz.Kpfw II Ausf.F (Team composed of only one tank)
- Affiliation: Pravda Girls High School
- Leader and Commander: Katyusha (Anonymously disguised)
- Co-commander: Nonna & Klara (Anonymously disguised)
- Vehicles: T-70
- Affiliation: Kuromorimine Girls High School
- Leader and Commander: Erika Itsumi
- Co-commander: Koume Akaboshi
- Vehicles: Pz.Kpfw II Ausf.F
- Leader and Commander: Aung
- Vehicles: Type 95 Ha-Go
- Leader: Unknown
- Commander: Unknown
- Vehicles: Stridsvagn m/40
West Kureoji Grona High School:
- Leader and Commander: Kiri Shiratori
- Vehicles: Light Tank Mk.VII Tetrarch (with Little John Adaptator)
One day, many girls with passion for sensha-dó from many schools were encouraged to visit a tankathlon event, called "Cauldron." There were 20 different teams participating in total (see "Teams" section of this article for full list) placed in brackets to make ten 1st round matches in the same area. All the teams were presented via beginning ceremony, moderated by the member of Oarai broadcasting club Taiga Ou. Numerous clubs were doing their best to raise money to cover the costs, for example by organizing bets. The rules in this tournament were simply to follow the tankathlon rule of not using a tank heavier than 10 tons. There were several other additional rules that were different in each round.
For the 1st round there are 3 additional rules to make the tournament interesting:
- 1) Each match has its own victory condition
- 2) Both competing teams may call for a reinforcement in form of one vehicle from other teams (Yojimbo rule)
- The reinforcement is not obliged to follow commands, making betrayals or any other form of twisting the situation possible
- 3) The losing team will fight under the command of the winner in the next round, making the finals a huge battle of all the participating teams.
Match no.1: Flying Tankers Volunteer Group vs. Centipede Team
- Condition: 1 vs 1 flag battle
- Winner: Centipede Team
After both combatants met each other in the rough terrain, their respective Yojimbos joined the battle. Alisa's reinforcement, Naomi in another T7 Combat Car, came first followed by Shizuka Tsuruki's choice, Kay. Both parties aimed their cannons on each other, but Kay suddenly aimed at Centipede's tank as she was not obliged to follow her commands. This betrayal got punished, because Centipede team disabled the enemy's flag tank right away, while it itself was eliminated as well, but the video record proved that Arisa's tank was hit first, thus the Centipede team was declared a victor.
Match no.2: Chindits vs. Bonple High School
- Condition: 3 vs 3 annihilation match
- Winner: Bonple High School
The match between Chindits (total newbies in tankathlon) and Bonple (commander Jajka is a "Tankathlon queen") took place in the fields divided by a small forest. Chindits, made of 1st years of St. Gloriana, refused Darjeeling to be their Yojimbo and fought valiantly. In the first stage of battle they managed to halt Bonple's advance and Rukuriri, their Yojimbo, made her fast ambush from behind. But Rukuriri could only see two Bonple cannons aiming at her tank, immobilizing it. Skilled Bonple girls anticipated such a trap, moreover Chindits misunderstood the Yojimbo rule. Jajka then called to charge the enemy head-on and swiftly eliminated another Chindits tank. Rosehip attempted to make things even by the use of her speed, but she failed and was eliminated quickly too. Just before Orange Pekoe could ask the crew of her remaining tank to change position, she too was eliminated by a direct shot. After the match Jajka told Orange Pekoe to gain more experience in the battles ahead in order to become useful. Chindits' horrible performance was quite a disappointment to the spectators who refused to believe they were from St. Gloriana.
Match no.3: Tategoto High School vs Nibelungen Team (Nishizumi Mask)
- Condition: 5 vs 1 king of the hill (annihilation) match
- Winner: Nibelungen Team
The match took place in the nearby spa town of Nozawaonsen with Nibelungen's tank being the sole defender of the town. Just before the match, Nibelungen team renamed itself as Nishizumi Mask team, making people speculate whether the commander is truly Maho Nishizumi. Tategoto girls made their moves to downtown and sent several machinegunners as scouts on the roofs of town's buildings to scout for Nishizumi's Panzer II but everyone failed to see it. A sudden shot from behind eliminated one Tategoto tank which revealed Nishizumi's position. All four remaining tanks made their way through three streets to encircle the enemy, but it vanished again thank to tall buildings. Nishizumi Mask made a surprise comeback in a well arranged crossway in the end of the the right street where the Panzer II eliminated two other tanks. Next tank was destroyed through the narrow space between two buildings and Aung's tank was shot from behind afterwards. Aung regretted she had never seen the enemy in the battle. Thus Nibelungen (Nishizumi Mask) emerged victorious.
Match no.4: Schwarzwald Kampfgruppe vs Duck Team
- Condition: 3 vs 1 arrival battle match
- Winner: Schwarzwald Kampfgruppe
The match took place in a big city of Jōetsu in Niigata prefecture with Duck Team's objective to reach the beach. Kampfgruppe had to either destroy them or to corner them. Before the match Erika tried to secure Maho as her Yojimbo, but instead Koume Akaboshi asked the Centipede team. Shizuka just proposed her to give a fake Viggen school pamphlet about beach volleyball tournament to the enemy in order to manipulate the agile and effective, but quite dumb Duck team in taking the shortest possible route. While Erika was trying to thing how to block a 10 km long line with just three tanks, Duck Team was eliminated quite quickly by a hidden Centipede team without Erika even noticing them as their Yojimbo and upon arrival in the proposed kill zone she was quite surprised the match was already over. Duck Team even didn't mind losing the match as they looked forward to play volleyball from other schools (including Akaboshi) present at the beach.
Match no.5: Chi-Ha-Tan Academy vs Maple High School
- Condition: 4 vs 4 annihilation match
- Winner: Chi-Ha-Tan Academy
Before the match, Fukuda proposed Duck-dono team should be their Yojimbo, but they were still playing volleyball in Jōetsu. Nishi then saw Mika and her crew from Jatkosota school and begged them to be their Yojimbo instead, to which Mika eventually agreed after giving them lots of rice and one extra Ha-Go. The match took place in the center of Uozu city. While Chi-Ha-Tan was waiting to make an ambush and Jatkosota girls were eating apples in the garden with a local citizen, Maple was making their move and called their Yojimbo, local fishermen who lent them their ship to avoid the streets or hills. Maple girls then made their way in the enemy's rear, but Fukuda anticipated something fishy long before and left Nishi's formation. Fukuda then ambushed Maple line of tanks, eliminating one and then called for the rest of Chi-Ha-Tan tanks which quickly came and thank to the chaos eliminated the rest of Maple school's light tanks Mk VI without losing any of their own tank. That was possible because Jatkosota girls then climbed on the roof of a tall building and provided Fukuda with intel. Both teams received thanks from spectators after the match. As usual, Jatkosota "borrowed" one Type 95 light tank and left the site.
Match no.6: Polite Girls vs Fifth Republic Platoon
- Condition: 3 vs 3 annihilation match
- Winner: Polite Girls
The match took place during the same time of the 5th match, but it was located in the official Japanese Sensha-do Federation's Northern Practice Field. Fifth Republic Platoon was utterly crushed by Katyusha. Asparagus who had resigned from the post of a commander to become the tankathlon staff regretted that Pravda girls really had much better combat skills, but she determined that the BC Freedom High School must become united and look into the future. After the match Katyusha told Nonna that BC Freedom is so weak they will hinder her in the next round.
Match no.7: Anzio High School vs Katyusha's Volunteer Army
- Condition: 5? vs 5? annihilation match
- Winner: Anzio Girls High School
The match took place in the village of Makkari in Hokkaido. Both teams chose Hippo Team as their Yojimbo. Erwin and Saemonza allied with Katyusha's Volunteer Army, Caesar and Oryou with Anzio girls. Nina tried to lead the enemy around by nose in the even and foresty terrain to quietly slip behind their lines, but she suddenly stopped due to her sixth sense. She saw a "ghost" looking like Nonna. This was in fact Anzio's Operation Macaroni v2.5. Two Anzio tanks lead by Pepperoni and Oryou then shot at one of Nina's tanks, eliminating it. Next distraction came with a drone that startled Alina, but Saemonza quickly disposed of it. After this the Volunteer Army made a move against the enemy, but Caesar with Carpaccio stopped them with a Katyusha doll hanging on a pole, as the Operation Macaroni 3. Nina and Alina were instructed not to fall for something like that by Katyusha and eliminated Caesar's tank. Unbeknownst to them, in order to do so they entered Anzio's kill and were quickly annihilated by concentrated fire. During all this time Anzio was slowly encircling the entire Katyusha's Volunteer Army using their Yojimbo as a provocation. Nina and Alina came to knee before Katyusha and begged her not to send them to Siberia. She in turn ordered them to continuously learn from next matches.
Match no.8: Maginot Girls' Academy vs Viggen High School
- Condition: ? vs ? annihilation match
- Winner: Maginot Girls' Academy
The match took place on Sado Island, Nigaata prefecture. Only the ending moments of the battle in the Kitazawa Flotation Plant are seen, where two Strv m/40s are shown being eliminated by Eclair. As she was totally unaware of the Yojimbo rule, she fought all tanks of Viggen without a backup just with her FT-17s alone. She got her usual stomachaches after leaning that she could have had a backup. This was also the first time Eclair's new doctrine of "Saint-Cyr style" mobile warfare brought the desired results.
Match no.9: Guy Fawkes Team vs Kebab High School
- Condition: 1 vs 3 annihilation match
- Winner: Guy Fawkes Team
The match between "black tea" and "black coffee" started in a place called Sado mine, with Guy Fawkes led by Darjeeling from the town center and Kebab girls led by somewhat overconfident Bosphorus from the coast. Bosphorus lead her Renault R35 into the city where they were all slaughtered by Darjeeling's sole Light Tank Mk VIII from higher ground. Bosphorus was surprised by her opponent's fast moves but gladly accepted Darjeeling's offer to drink black tea together after the battle.
Match no.10: West Kureoji Grona High School vs Gregor High School
- Condition: 2? vs 2? annihilation match
- Winner: West Kureoji Grona High School
Nothing significant is shown in this battle except the commander Kiri Shiratori that have her spirit higher after Darjeeling, her idol gives her a thumb up and dedicate this victory to Darjeeling-sama herself. Even though the West Kureoji Grona High School is somewhat copying the St. Gloriana school, they proved themselves to fight well against Gregor High School, taking out all their tanks. Their performance was improved by Darjeeling's responds to their commander. This is the last match of the first round.
For the 2nd round there are six rules, very different from the ones from the round 1. In the morning just before the beginning of the fight, each team opened the letter with official instructions. All the teams recieved their assigned colour, one of five.
- 1) The teams with the same colours are allies
- 2) The teams with different colours are enemies
- 3) Victory depends on each team's destroyed tanks and the total number of surviving allied tanks
- 4) If a team of the same colour is annihilated, the other team of the same colour is declared annihilated as well
- 5) The match lasts for 24 hours
- 6) A guest team labeled "Team ONI" will participate as unaffiliated team, the identity of the Team ONI is considered the surprise.
The fighting teams were drawn as follows:
- Red: Centipede Team (+Flying Tankers Volunteer Group) + Bonple High School (+Chindits)
- Blue: Nibelungen Team (+Tategoto High School) + Schwarzwald Kampfgruppe (+Duck Team)
- Yellow: Polite Girls (+Fifth Republic Platoon) + Chi-Ha-Tan Academy (+Maple High School)
- Green: Anzio High School (+Katyusha's Volunteer Army) + Maginot Girls' Academy (+Viggen High School)
- Pink: Guy Fawkes Team (+Kebab High School) + West Kureoji Grona High School (+Gregor High School)
- Team ONI
The fight is thus a six-way battle (4 vs 4 vs 4 vs 4 vs 4 vs 1?)
The match started at 12 a.m. and during the 3 hours all the teams were buying their supplies of food and some tools to make themselves comfortable for the next 24 hours.
All the teams went to their starting locations on the large battlefield.
At first, the Red Team (starts in the northwest) tried to make some recon but the result was no engine sounds, no shelling. Shizuka then proposed the teambuilding event: a tea ceremony. Before that the other three groups in the team proposed three unrealistic plans, but Shizuka wanted to get everyone to know ech other first, and then to select the commander of the Red team.
The Blue Team (starts in the central area) commanded by Erika and Maho tried the blitzkrieg and they were actually the first team on the move and apparently they chose to attack Green Team first as it seems to be the most numerous, with the saying that the best defense is offense. The team then opened the fire.
The Yellow team (starts in the southwest) led by Katyusha and Kinuyo Nishi decided to simply move to the next location in hopes to capture any enemy supply.
The Green team (starts in the northeast) led by Anchovy and Éclair made an Anzio-style party first to get to know each other with other groups of their team. However, they spotted the Blue team's advance and Anchovy ordered to ready themselves to combat, complaining about "How dare the Kuromorimine girls to interrupt other peoples' meal." But she gladly accepted the challenge, moving her CV-33s to the defensive stance and rapidly returning the fire.
The Ping team (starts in the southeast) led by Darjeeling decided to change the position. As they are the furthest from everyone else, nothing remarkable happened next.
The Red team remained the last one which hadn't move yet. While drinking the team, the members calmed themselves down and Orange Pekoe asked Shizuka about her predictions in this battle. Shizuka stated her opinion: This battle is going to be like fighting the warring states and she looked sharply as she already developed a plan.
- Kuromorimine, Pravda & St. Gloriana are the only schools to be represented by two separated teams: Chindits (led by Orange Pekoe) & Guy Fawkes Team (led by Darjeeling) for St. Gloriana, Nibelungen Team (led by Maho) & Schwarzwald Kampfgruppe (led by Erika) and Katyusha's Volunteer Army (led by Nina) & Polite Girls (led by Katyusha, Nonna & Klara) for Pravda.
- All teams that don't use their true name use one that reference the country they represents:
- Centipede Team: The Centipede is one of the symbols that Takeda Clan, from which Shizuka's family descent, used as a crest.
- Chindits: Chindits were a British India special force, created by Orde Charles Wingate in 1942, that served behind Japanese lines during the Burma Campaign from 1942-1945.
- Fifth Republic Platoon: The Fifth Republic is the current French system from which former General Charles De Gaulle, which is Asparagus's name inspiration as one of De Gaulle's nickname was "The Great Asparagus" due to his extreme height (196cm), was the founder and first president.
- Flying Tankers: This an hommage to the 1st American Volunteer Group that fight under Chinese Air Force from December 1941 to July 1942 who were nicknamed "Flying Tigers" recognizable from the Shark face nose-art on their planes.
- Guy Fawkes Team: Guy Fawkes was an English Catholics who was involved in the failed Gunpowder Plot on November 5th 1605 which consisted of blowing Westminster Palace. On 21th century a contemporary version of Guy Fawkes mask became a symbol of anarchism and anonymity since the film adaptation in 2006 of the 1982 graphic novel V for Vendetta. That's why Darjeeling wore one to stay anonymous.
- Katyusha's Voluunter Army: It's maybe a reference to one of the anti-Bolshevik factions during the Russian Civil War. One supported by the Entente the Volunteer Army and the other (unofficialy) supported by Germans the West Russian Volunteer Army.
- Nibelungen Team: The name is a reference to Richard Wagner's opera "Der Ring des Nibelungen". While Maho's disguise is a reference to Zorori from the manga Kaiketsu Zorori.
- Polite Girls: Their name and the fact that Katyusha, Nonna & Clara are masked are a reference to the Little Green Men during the 2014 Ukrainian Crisis also known as Polite People during the annexation of Crimea because of their politeness toward the civilians on occupied area.
- Schwarzwald Kampfgruppe: The name is both a reference to various German combat group known as Kampfgruppen during WW2 and a reference to the Black Forest (Schwarzwald in German) that sits in South West of Germany.