A friend of mine sent me a birthday present, but after unwrapping it, I could see that it was a locked metal box, with a huge combination lock on it. The lock had 8 rings, each featuring the digits from zero to nine. Obviously, I will have to rotate all of them to the correct position. The box was quite strongly built, so I didn't dare to break it open, as it would have needed considerable force or maybe even power tools, and I would risk damaging the contents.

Why would anyone send me a present like this? Ah, there is a letter! After the greeting and the birthday wishes there was the explanation.

I hope this present will teach you to value subculture a little more!

Well, I know he was quite eccentric and had all kinds of vastly different hobbies, he played in a marching band, collected manga, liked fishing, and did lots of other stuff I probably don't even know half of them.

After some examination of the box, I decided to carefully turn it over, and there was a sticker glued to the bottom, with a numbered list on it.

The top part was visibly torn off, and as the list started with the number two, I guessed only one line was missing. However, even that second line was illegible, as it was scribbled over multiple times.

The next line said

  1. Denza

The fourth one had some Japanese text on it, which I couldn't understand. After that came the lines

  1. Wiehle
  2. Blanter
  3. Vesterinen

The last line again in Japanese.

As there were eight digits on the combination lock, and eight lines on the sticker, I guess it should be part of the solution.

However, with so many information missing, with one line torn off, another scribbled out, and two in Japanese, how can I solve this puzzle? I can only read half the hints, and even those don't mean anything to me.

Hint 1

One comment on one (very partial) answer suggested that the names are authors of marching songs. The builder of the box specifically mentioned subculture, and knowing some hints about his personality, why wouldn't you start getting known some of that subculture he wanted to hint at? Maybe there is something where all the most famous compositions of these authors are present, and then the rest can be figured out?

  • $\begingroup$ Can you add the Japanese text here? $\endgroup$
    – Zimonze
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Zimonze : No, and even explaining why I won't, would be a huge spoiler. The puzzle is perfectly solvable without it. If I add further hints, they probably won't be the actual contents of the Japanese texts. $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ Has this problem been asked before, or somewhere else? I googled some of the content and found links like spoiler. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ @WeatherVane : It would be highly unlikely it was asked, especially in this form. I didn't copy it from anywhere, I made it up myself. Of course, the trivia I based it upon can be easily found on the Internet. You can always post an answer and put your spoiler link there. Then I can answer whether we were thinking on the same thing. $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 19:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If someone solves the puzzle, do we get to figure out what's in the present? :P $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 23:02

3 Answers 3


After doing extensive googling, it appears that

These composers are all composers of works which were featured as theme songs for Girls und Panzer, a Japanese anime. This could be the 8 schools that competed together in Girls und Panzer: Der Film.


  1. (Torn)

    This could represent St. Gloriana High School, the British-themed School. The theme song is The British Grenadiers, a traditional marching song.

  2. (Scribbled)

    This could represent Saunders High School, the American-themed School. Their theme song is The Battle Hymn of the Republic, written by Julia Ward Howe.

  3. Denza

    Luigi Denza wrote Funiculi Funiculà, the theme song for the Italian-themed school Anzio Girls High School.

  4. (In Japanese)

    This could represent Chi-Ha-Tan Academy, the Japanese-themed School. Their theme song, composed by Nagai Kenshi, is Yuki no Shingun.

  5. Wiehle

    Kurt Wiehle wrote Panzerlied, the theme song for the German-themed school Kuromorimine Girls Academy.

  6. Blanter

    Matvei Blanter wrote Katyusha, the theme song for the Russian-themed school Pravda Girls High School.

  7. Vesterinen

    Viljo Vesterinen wrote Säkkijärven Polkka, the theme song for the Finnish-themed school Jatkosota High School.

  8. (In Japanese)

    Ooarai High School is the first high school involved, it appears they are the protagonists. Their theme song appears to be Sensha-dō Koushinkyoku! Panzer vor! written by Tsutomu Mizushima.

This is where my extensive Wikipedia knowledge stops....it could be possible that

Based on the hint, all teams meet exactly once, in a battle against the University All Star Team. They bring with them a number of tanks: St. Gloriana: 3
Saunders: 3
Anzio: 1
Chi-Ha-Tan: 6
Kuromorimine: 4
Pravda: 4
Jatkosota: 1
Ooarai: 8

The combination is then



Not sure if I got the order right... I think Chi-Ha-Tan and Ooarai are the two Japanese teams; but not sure about the difference between the torn part and the scribbled out section. I think it must be either St. Gloriana or Saunders, but it might not matter since they both brought 3 tanks. Update from OP: the torn part represents the fact that The British Grenadiers has no known author; the scribbled out section represents the fact that The Battle Hymn of the Republic has a number of disputed authors.

Thanks very much to

this website for helping.

  • $\begingroup$ Correct direction. And while there are more then 4 other schools left, not all of them get screen time, and especially don't show up in one of the most crucial moments. (yes, having seen the anime/movie would help, but the puzzle can be solved without having seen it) $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Commented Apr 14, 2019 at 13:43
  • $\begingroup$ I have no idea how to continue, but how does this look so far, @vsz ? $\endgroup$
    – El-Guest
    Commented Apr 14, 2019 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ 4 might be the one in your eighth spoiler, it is Japanese. $\endgroup$
    – Krad Cigol
    Commented Apr 14, 2019 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ @KradCigol the last line again was in Japanese $\endgroup$
    – El-Guest
    Commented Apr 14, 2019 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ Nr. 4 is in Japanese, so it can't be the one you listed. Still, you guessed correctly for all 8, just in the wrong order. That two are Japanese, should help. that one is scribbled over, and one is teared off, also contains information. And last but not least, there are other numbers much more important than their schools' names. All these 8 schools meet together on the field exactly one time, and they bring much more valuable things with them than the number of characters in their names. $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Commented Apr 14, 2019 at 19:34

Partial solution

Denza, Wiehle, Blanter and Vesterinen were all composers.

I guess the solution is related to one of these:

Date of birth
Date of death
Date of famous composition
Date of their work being used in a movie
Date of the composer appearing in a movie

The puzzle has some missing lines, there are clues for

1 x
2 x
3 yes
4 x
5 yes
6 yes
7 yes
8 x

My guess is that having found the

relevant dates, they will overlap each other to solve the puzzle. The Japanese is a red herring.

  • $\begingroup$ Given one of the hobbies, I had the hunch that they might all have to do with rot13(znepuvat fbatf). Although without any knowledge about the Finnish language, #7 is hard to tell. As such, rot13(Lūwv Xbfrxv) would form a smooth fit by years with rot13(Ebrv ab Hgn) as #8. Also, rot13(Gbxvpuv Frgbthpuv) might fit the bill as #4 with rot13(Jnefuvc Znepu). I was just musing whether #2 might be rot13(Wbunaa Fgenhff V, Enqrgmxl Znepu), but now I'm starting to think the solution might indeed not include 8 matches. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 20:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Did you mean 8 matches or 8 marches or 8 marshes? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ I meant 8 one on one matches as in having one solution for each line. While I do not think that parts of the riddle text are just fluff to throw us off, which means I am missing some/most of the clues, I agree that the four names might form more than one digit each. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ In what I searched so far, I also came up with the first three of your guesses about what's related to the solution and tried to list them. Problem is that if the #3 is the one I am thinking about, I can only find your 3rd guess (also not free of ambiguity), while 1st and 2nd seem to be lost in insignificance, while for the others 1st and 2nd are clear, while the 3rd guess is quite debatable. - Maybe I am marching up the wrong track here. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 21:14
  • $\begingroup$ good direction with rot13(znepuvat fbatf). But you'll have to go some levels deeper. $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 21:38

Of course you could always:

Brute force the lock combination. There only $10^8 = 100000000$ combinations, which, at 1 combination a second, would only take you 3 years, 61 days, 15 hours, 21 minutes, and 28 seconds to crack.

Potential/Partial alternative:

Denza is a Chinese car manufacturer founded in 2010, adding these digits together gets 3.
Wiehle is a station is Virginia, which began operating in 2014. Adding these digits together gets 7.
As your friend was in a marching band, I assume Blanter refers to Russian composer, Matvey Blanter whose most famous song was "Katyusha" (1938). Adding the digits of 1938 together until it forms a single digit gets 3.
Vesterinen Yhtyeineen are a Finnish indie pop group, who released their debut album in 2009. Adding these digits together makes 2.
This means that the overall combination would be $??3?732?$
From this, I can see that there is symmetry in the $3$s, so if there were symmetry in the whole, it would make $?237732?$ but this still has some values missing.
This then only leaves 10 possibilities to brute force past.

  • $\begingroup$ its an 1/10 tryout whats pretty good $\endgroup$
    – user52327
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ As people here can solve extremely obscure puzzles, I didn't put too many hints in, some of them I reserved and will add later if no significant progress is made. (By hints I mean additional information, because the sticker on the bottom of the box will stay the same, as it should be). However, the puzzle is strongly centered around a certain theme, so don't take the numbers so individually. $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ Why have people downvoted this answer? $\endgroup$
    – AHKieran
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 8:41

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