For Japanese tank fans and military otakus, June 22 did not just mark the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, but it also marked the birthday of Girls und Panzer’s Saori Takebe, who is voiced by none other than Ai Kayano (AnoHana’s Menma).
And true to anime fan fashion, fans have arrived in the Girls und Panzer holy land of Oarai, Ibaraki in droves, just to celebrate Saori’s birthday.
Fans celebrated the birthday of the Angler Fish Team’s resident radio operator with lots of food, including birthday cakes featuring Saori herself. Life-size standees of Saori and the rest of the Angler Fish Team were also present.
There was even a program dedicated to Saori as people gathered in the small fishing town which has gained notoriety among anime fans.
They even sang Saori the birthday song!
— ひやまゆう (@hiyamayu) June 22, 2015
Saying that Girls und Panzer is big in Oarai (and Ibaraki Prefecture in general) is a huge understatement as the town celebrates the anime and has made it a huge part of their annual Angler Fish Festival celebrations. The town’s tourism has grown exponentially since the anime was first aired, with Girls und Panzer fans coming in from all over the world just to visit the hometown of the Oarai Girls’ Academy tank battle team.
Heck, even the prefecture’s local football team, Mito Hollyhock, is Girls und Panzer crazy and is even sponsored by the anime. They even feature the anime’s logos (Oarai Girls’ Academy and Angler Fish Team insignia) in their jerseys